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The Wanderer

story by Deidre Pulley

"I'm sorry mom, but I left. I can't stand living here. You said you didn't care what happen[s] to me so please don't call the cops." Maggie Alcantara, 17, ran away from home on Friday October 14, 2016.

At 9:15 p.m., Lilia Alcantara came home from work at La Bodega, a Mexican market in Paducah. There was a note in the kitchen by the microwave. She opened it. "I can't explain. It was very hard," she says about reading the note.

This was not the first time Maggie ran away from home. It all started her freshman year of high school when she ran away after a fight with her mom. Over time, tension between Maggie and her mom grew. "One day she loves me, and the next day she's mad at me," Maggie says.

For two days Lilia drove her youngest child, Donny, to school, but not Maggie. After school, Donny would stay at La Bodega but now without his sister beside him. While Maggie was missing, Lilia had to keep La Bodega open. She couldn't afford to close the store that she has owned and operated for three years. "This is like my second home. I'm here all the time," she says about the store.

On Wednesday, October 19, just as Lilia and Donny sat down to eat after school, Lilia got a phone call. The police had found Maggie. They immediately left La Bodega to pick her up.

On being home again Maggie says, “[It was] kinda the same as before. We just acted like nothing happened and move on.”

Lilia says, "Sometimes I tell her 'Yeah, run away, I don't care what happens.' But she's my daughter and I love her. She's my baby.”

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Maggie picks up her luggage from the friend's house where she stayed when she ran away. Her friends says, "Oh, you're going home?" She replies, "I got caught."

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Maggie left a handwritten note in the kitchen for her mom to find.

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Lilia and Maggie look through an old yearbook that Lilia found while cleaning the house.

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Lilia asks Maggie if she wants to keep the book titled "Parents, Please Don't Sit On Your Kids. A Parent's Guide to Nonpunitive Discipline" that she found while cleaning out the house.

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Maggie goes inside after taking her dog, Munchie, outside for a quick walk. "She's my baby. She's always with me. We grew a bond. My mom says [we] are the same because we're both reckless and don't like to listen."

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Maggie and her younger brother, Donny, sit on a couch in La Bodega after school. They hang out at the store while their mom works until close at 8 p.m. "Me and my brother are so close," she says.

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Maggie takes a moment and watches her dog, Munchie. The pit bull mix got surgery on October 17, and must stay in the cage until her stitches heal.

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Lilia holds up an old family photo. Pictured are Lilia, Roberto, Angelina, Melissa, Jessica and Maggie in blue. Her sisters and father live in Perryville, Missouri, and visit every Sunday.

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Maggie sits on her bedroom floor and puts makeup on before school. "This is the first time I've put makeup on in, like months," she says.

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Maggie goes to bed on her third night home after running away. "It's just normal," she says about being home.