In the silence of the house her soft giggles were nearly deafening. She knew that anything louder than a whisper would get them caught but nothing could contain the joy that bubbled past her lips. Uncertain hands grasped at the staircase railing while she carefully shuffled towards her gesturing friends. It was half past midnight; they were late already. The car they arrived in had to be parked a whole street down so when they arrived no one would see them coming. Days of planning went into tonight's escape. Her parents were so strict that even going to regular get together was a nightmare, forget an entire house party. Each step felt like an eternity and by the time she reached the bottom she was ready to run out the back door. Her heart pounded in her ears. At sixteen she'd never gone behind her parents back. Tonight marked her first taste of true freedom. Before she knew it the door was being quietly shut behind her and locked with a spare key. Cold air blew through the holes in her jeans, causing goosebumps on her arms through her jacket. A soft bump from one of her friends made her grin.
"You ready?"
"Ready?" Her voice came softly at first. She took a deep breath before shoving her friend back, causing her to nearly crash into the other two. "Race you!"
"Hey!"
Laughter, pure and bright, followed their clumsy steps as they stomped through the neighborhood. Her throat burned from the cold, her nose began to frost, but it only made her run faster. The darkness of the night gave way to streetlights that had never looked so beautiful and the streets seemed so much bigger without cars driving by. The world was completely theirs and she was never giving it back.
"Sarah!" Her friends were calling from behind her. "The car is here, girl!" They were laughing, maybe more excited for her than she was for herself. Sarah jogged back to them, not yet realizing how much energy it took from her to run so fast.
"s**t, my bad." She gave a breathless laugh.
"Don't sweat it, just get in." They all disappeared into the car. It was much warmer in there. As they drove away the excitement became guilt for just a second, though not for long. Being sandwiched between good friends had that power. Sarah joined in on the jokes, the joints, and didn't look back.