Don't Look Back
(A Sadie Saga)
Chapter Eleven: A Journey

Seven thirty-six.
Sadie gazed out of the window of the bus at the darkening skyline, pursing her lips as she considered her day. After having discovered that the woman at the airport had been right, she had managed to purchase a ticket to Los Angeles and the man there had informed her the next bus would leave at seven that evening. She had counted the remainder of her money - a mere twenty five dollars, which had panicked her once she'd realised that the trip across America would take two and a half days to complete, and she'd need to buy food along the way at stop-overs - and had done some half hearted sightseeing in the city itself, taking a few photographs and buying the cheapest sandwiches she could find. She had also invested in a packet of cigarettes, knowing that by the time they reached their first lengthy stopover in Cleveland she would need them, and she did not know how long she would have to buy things other than food.
She glanced around the bus, taking in her fellow travellers. In the seat in front an elderly man had nodded off already, snoring gently at intervals and muttering under his breath. Across the aisle from him a tired mother was scolding her restless daughter, who persisted in climbing up on the seat to stare. Behind her, she knew, was a man with long hair pulled back in a ponytail, who had been kind enough to help her when she had dropped her change all over the kiosk floor. A few rows back was a woman who had clearly had a couple of drinks, though she had been deemed sober enough to travel, and she was busy having an argument with the luggage rack. Sadie shivered. The bus was not scary, but she was still scared. It was a long way to Los Angeles, over three thousand miles and she had no way of knowing what would greet her when she got there. For the first time she began to doubt. Would Topaz want to see her? Or would it be different, out in Los Angeles, where Jewel were such a huge success? Had she come all this way for nothing?
"But I had no choice." She mused to herself. "I have to try this."
She had been greeted with several curious stares herself, for her soft brummie tones were more than a little distinctive and it was not hard for the rest to realise that she had never travelled across the United States before. Noone had been unfriendly to her, but she had preferred to be left to herself to think, for she did not know who she could trust in this strange land and her natural wariness preferred to keep her apart from any warm overtures.
It was for this reason too that she had not settled down to try and sleep, even though she was worn out from the day's exertions. She was afraid that if she closed her eyes, even for a moment, someone might take advantage and swipe her bag, and it was now all she had to cling to. A measly twenty one dollars sixteen cents clattered around in her purse and she had no mind to lose it. She didn't want to starve between New York and California.
The landscape had already become a blur, as one unfamiliar thing replaced another, and though she tried to keep alert, it was proving difficult.
"I may never get another chance to see so much of America." She murmured. "And all I can think of is what's gonna happen to me when I reach LA. Oh, I wish I hadn't've had to do this journey on my own! I've never been the most confident traveller and I never expected to be on a bus like this for almost three days! By the time I get to the west coast I'm going to be frazzled."
She settled herself more comfortably in her seat, reaching into her bag and pulling out one of the two books she had purchased back at Birmingham Airport. Her conversation with Shock there now seemed an aeon of time away, encased in a whole other world of which she was no longer a part. She flicked open the covers but she did not get much past the first two lines before she sighed, lowering her book and biting her lip. It was no good. She couldn't relax yet. It had only been half an hour and already she was restless, nervous, anxious about the trip ahead. The flight to New York had been gruelling, but the ordeal this posed her was something yet worse, for every moment took her closer to a goal which was becoming more and more uncertain the more she thought about it.
"Topaz is my friend, she won't let me down." She told herself firmly. "And her bandmates are really nice. They won't turn me away once they understand, I'm sure. I got past immigration, I'm not going to get least, I hope I'm not." She frowned, glancing down at her bag. She didn't know if identification or anything else would be checked at state borders on her trip, but she sincerely hoped not. She knew that she had no paperwork to remain in the United States as long as she intended, and her diary would soon give the game away should anyone decide to probe deeper into her plans.
"This seat taken, miss?"
Startled by the sound of an older woman's voice, she glanced up, shaking her head as she moved her bag off the seat. She had not noticed how full the bus had become at the New York stop and the subsequent ones inside of New Jersey, and she shyly smiled her apologies at the heavy-set woman, who sank gratefully down beside her, beaming.
"Didn't think I'd find a seat." She admitted. "Going far yourself? I'm going to visit my daughter and her husband in Chicago - been a year since I saw them, can't wait to see my grandson again."
"I'm going to Los Angeles." Startled by the unassuming friendliness of this woman, Sadie found herself relaxing slightly. "I have a friend there."
"Well well, you're no local east coaster, are you!" The woman seemed amused. "Unless I miss my guess you're British, am I right?"
Sadie blushed, nodding.
"I stand out like a sore thumb." She admitted. "It's my first time in the US and it's so frightening...I don't know how anything works."
"Oh, nonsense, girl, nothing's as bad as it seems." The woman grinned at her. "Listen. When we get to Cleveland I'll show you the best place to grab a bite to eat - you know, avoid the queues and get you back to the bus before the crush, all right? Daresay you'll be starving by then, anyway. Know I will be."
"Oh, that would be kind of you, thank you." Sadie was touched by the woman's generosity. "I'd appreciate any help at all. Three thousand miles is a long way and I'm not sure quite how this all works."
"No problem, honey." The woman beamed. "Glad to help. Hey, what part of Britain you from? London?"
"No, further North. Birmingham." Sadie told her. "It's not quite as big a city as London."
"Never been to it." The woman admitted. "My brother, he worked in the UK for a year or two and I visited him in London once, but I never went further north than that. I remember going to Stonehenge and other places, but I don't remember visiting your hometown." She beamed. "I just realised, you haven't told me your name, child. Hardly a good way to begin an acquaintance, I should have introduced myself! My name is Gladys Palmer...yourself?"
"Sadie Monahue." Sadie's cheeks pinkened. "It's nice to meet you."
"You too." Gladys told her. "Haven't been on the old Greyhound for a while, I had a bad leg and couldn't travel this way for a while, but it's always nice when I do. I always meet the most interesting people travelling this route."
"Really?" Sadie was curious. "What kind of people?"
"Well, anyone. Majors. Actors. Even the odd politician, when it's coming round to election time." Gladys beamed. "And occasionally folks like yourself - travelling in from abroad. Mind you, I've never met anyone braving the whole trip before. Three thousand something miles is a heck of a long way, I take my hat off to you!"
"It terrifies me." Sadie admitted. "But it will be worth it to see my friend again. It's been a while."
"Ah, it's always nice to see people you care about after a long time away." Gladys nodded sagely. "Absense makes the heart grow fonder, or so they say."
"Yes, it's true." Sadie agreed, her mind flitting back to Alyssa and her family in Birmingham. Despite herself, she swallowed hard. How long would it be before she saw them again? Would they be safe from Neal now she was gone? She could only hope so.
"Hey, kid, what's wrong?" Gladys asked kindly, seeing Sadie's eyes filling with tears.
"I'm sorry, I think I'm just tired and nervous." Sadie blinked them back. "And I'm missing my sister, too. I wish she could have come with me."
Gladys looked at her companion thoughtfully, then she lowered her voice.
"Would I be making a wild guess here, honey, if I was to ask you whether or not you're planning on going back to your Birmingham, when your visa out here expires?" She asked softly. Sadie bit her lip.
"I...don't know what you mean." She faltered. Gladys grinned.
"Oh hell, sweetie, you're not the first young lady I've met from foreign parts who's looking to make a new life for herself in the US of A." She told her companion comfortingly. "Don't worry, I won't blow your cover. Far as I'm concerned, everyone should have the freedom to live where they want. Just bureaucracy, that's all it is. You come here if you want to. Land of freedom, that's America. Ain't no place like it."
"I'll agree with that. New York was something else." Despite her natural wariness, Sadie felt that Gladys was telling the truth and she smiled. "Don't get me wrong, I love England and I didn't want to leave, but I didn't have a lot of choice. Someone...threatened my life. I had noone else to go to but my friend in California."
"Someone hurt you?" Gladys looked shocked.
"Sort of." Sadie nodded. "I don't want to cause trouble, Gladys, or break any immigration laws. I just want to spend some time with my friend and get some space and perspective whilst I work out what to do. Really. Is that very bad?"
"No, honey, it's not bad." Gladys grinned. "We're all immigrants sometime, ain't we, after all?"
"I suppose so." Sadie turned this over in her mind, nodding. Gladys gestured out of the window.
"See, out there? Most of this land was populated by your folk, way back when." She continued. "New England, that's what they call it. So you missed the Mayflower, honey? You're more than welcome anyway."
"Thank you for being so nice to me." Sadie offered a slight smile.
"Hell, it's nice to have company on a long trip." Gladys shrugged. "I'm not bothering you with my chit chat, am I? My daughter says I could yap for America!"
"No, of course not." Sadie hurried to assure her. "I didn't realise how alone I was feeling."
"Well, I'll see you safe as far as Chicago." Gladys winked at her. "Then, well, you just keep your chin up and you'll find yourself in Los Angeles before you know it."
"Sounds so simple." Sadie mused. Gladys laughed.
"Always is, sweetie, when someone else puts it to you." She said wisely. "If I were you, I'd try and grab a wink or two of sleep before we get to Cleveland. It'll be early in the morning when we get there and you'll find you're less tired if you can sleep an hour or two inbetween."
"I'm too wound up to sleep." Sadie admitted. "I daresay I'll settle down eventually, but right now I'm too revved up and nervous. Have...have you ever been to Los Angeles?"
"Cousin of mine went once...can't say I've been there myself." Gladys admitted. "Big country, this one - you can't visit everywhere."
"Yes, I suppose that's true. I mean, I haven't even been all over England, really." Sadie remembered. "My father's in the military but my mother never liked us to move too much, so Dad probably passed up transfers and promotions to keep us in the same location. I remember too as a kid he'd get posted out places but we'd stop in Birmingham so our school wasn't shaken about."
"Sounds like your mother had a sane head on her shoulders." Gladys looked approving. "My eldest son went into the Marines and I'm proud of him as anything, but the number of times he's relocated, it just isn't good for the family. His eldest just started school this fall - and God only knows whether she'll see out first grade in the same school, either. Poor kid."
"It's not easy being the child of a military man, no matter how much they love you." Sadie said with feeling. Gladys nodded.
"Good father, is my son." She responded. "But he has to go where they tell him, see. I don't know. No doubt all will be well in the end."
"I'm sure it will." Sadie nodded. " have many children?"
"Three." Gladys seemed to glow with pride. "Two boys and a girl. Good kids, too. Brook is in the marines, Randall is a computer programmer in Milwaukee and he's damn good at his trade and my daughter Bonnie is a vet in Chicago. Three grandkids too - Brook has two girls and Bonnie a son." She looked rueful. "Randall hasn't taken a wife yet, but then, he's always been slow about those things. He'll get there in the end, no doubt."
"It must be nice to have such a big family." Sadie sounded wistful.
"You mentioned a sister yourself - you have family back in England, then?"
"Yes...I have two brothers and two sisters, and my father is still alive." Sadie nodded. "But since my Mum died we've not all kept in touch so well. My younger brother and sister I don't see or speak to at all - just worked out that way. My older sister Alyssa is married and she has two daughters with a third kid on the way - they're hoping for a boy this time, that's what the scans said. Her husband is the sweetest guy, she's so lucky to have him. My older brother Mark lives with his girlfriend in Stoke on Trent...I love him and he loves me but I'm closest to Alyssa."
"Ah, I understand. Came from a big family myself, and I was always closest to my younger sister, Margot." Gladys nodded understandingly. "Often seems to work that way in big families. Lucky for me with my children, the two boys tended to look out for Bonnie, since she was the baby, and noone got left out. And of course, since I lost my husband four years ago, well, I've spent a lot of time travelling states to see them all."
"You must have seen a lot of America."
"Lots of American roads, too." Gladys chuckled. She reached into her bag, pulling out a bag of sweets and taking one, offering one to Sadie who hesitated, then accepted with a grateful smile. "Nothing like a mint to travel with, I always say. Settles the travel nerves, at least, I always think so."
"I'll remember that." Sadie tesponded, popping it into her mouth. "God knows I need something to calm my nerves."
"Listen to me, Sadie, child." Gladys fixed her with a serious look. "When you get to Los Angeles, take every chance you're given, okay? I've seen too many pretty girls in my life who've had dreams and hopes of new lives and future happiness, and so many of them have wound up in a mess. You keep your chin up and make sure you get what you want there, okay?"
"I'll do my best." Sadie looked taken aback. "And I hope my friend there will help me. Maybe she'll even be able to tell me how to find work or..." she blushed. "Or get a visa. I...don't actually have one at all."
"Not at all?" Gladys looked stunned, then, "How did you get into the country, then?"
"I don't know. I think they were in a hurry." Sadie confessed. "I slipped through the net."
Gladys let out a low whistle.
"Well, all I can say is that the good Lord must be on your side, honey." She said at length. "Guess you we're fated to come to America!"
"Oh, I hope you're right." Sadie said fervently. "It's been nervewracking enough getting there!"
"Well, you needn't worry that I'll cause trouble for you." Gladys winked. "Your secret is safe with me!"

Sadie's Diary: August 27th, 2013
Chapter One: Jewel
Sadie's Diary: August 28th, 2013
Chapter Two: Topaz's Bombshell
Chapter Three: News
Sadie's Diary: August 30th, 2013
Chapter Four: Award Night
Chapter Five: A Refuge
Chapter Six: An Old Foe
Chapter Seven: Jetta's Advice
Sadie's Diary: September 1st, 2013
Chapter Eight: Sadie Acts
Chapter Nine: Dilemma at the Music Company
Sadie's Diary: September 3rd, 2013
Chapter Ten: A Change Of Plan
Chapter Eleven: A Journey
Sadie's Diary: September 4th, 2013
Chapter Twelve: Girl's Night

Copper, Nancy, Sylva, Anna, Blade, Raesha, Sirena, Topaz, Aaron, Sophie, Justin, Elliot, Rosita, Luis and any other characters in this fiction which do not appear in the animated Jem series are copyrighted to me (E.A Woolley) as of January 2002 <unless otherwise specified> and are not to be reproduced without permission ANYWHERE. Jetta, Pizzazz, Stormer, Roxy, Raya and all other original Jem characters are the copyright of Hasbro Inc, Sunbow, Christy Marx and the other writers of the Jem series. The future world of Pizzazz, Raya, Jetta, Roxy, Stormer, Clash, Synergy, the fate of Jem and her memorial are all copyrighted to me. The future world of Kimber and Shana is copyrighted jointly to myself and Gemma Dawn.
The concept of 'Jewel' is entirely my own, and any apparent link with any fictional or actual person or persons of this name is entirely coincidental. Equally the characters in this fiction are not based on any real life individual.
The concept behind the future world of Danse, Aja and Craig, the idea behind Jerrica's futureworld and the split of the Holograms is copyrighted to Gemma Dawn, whose Teenangel Outsiders fiction is directly twinned with Just a Dream. The character Sammi and any of the other Teenangel Outsider characters mentioned in this fiction are entirely copyright to Gemma Dawn and appear here only with her permission.
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