Invisible Innocence: my story as a homeless youth

Invisible Innocence: my story as a homeless youth

 

Chapter One

 

I remember the hunger. The apartment was cold because there was no heat. It was dark because there was no power. But all I could think about was how hungry I was. All I heard in my system was “hungry... hungry... hungry... I need to eat.”  I didn’t have any money. I didn’t have any family. I was by myself. I was alone. 

 

I was a senior in high-school.

 

I remember being angry. Anger helped make the hunger go away for a while. I was angry at my family for leaving me without a care in the world. I was angry for all the beatings I took from the time I was six years old to when I was sixteen. Some nights I was angry at the whole world for where I was and how I was living. 

 

No one knew what I was going through, because I never told anyone. My friends at school never knew my story, because I didn’t want them to think of me as poor. I didn’t want them to know that I was homeless. My teachers never knew that I was alone, because I was embarrassed to tell them. I was too proud. Pride is no match for hunger. When they face each other, it’s always just a matter of time when pride will surrender and hunger will take over.

 

I had spent so much of my life’s 17 years wondering what I could have done differently. After my auntie’s husband would beat me, I would sit in my room and cry and wonder what I could have done or said to avoid the whoopin’. Now I was almost out of high school, but instead of looking forward to the future I was abandoned and alone. I was just trying to survive.

 

Sitting on an old cardboard box in that cold and dark apartment during my senior year, I thought about something I wish I had done when I was a kid. I thought about my mother, and what I could have done to save her. 

 

My mom worked at night. When we were in kindergarten, she would tell my brother, Boo, and I stories before she left for work. Then in the morning she would come home and cook breakfast for us like nothing ever happened. She tried to be a regular mom, but she was never there.

 

I never knew my father and my mom never talked about him. She had her boyfriends who came and went. There was one guy named Otis who always called me his daughter. I went along with it, but I knew he wasn’t my father. He wasn’t a nice guy. He was nasty to me. My mom never paid attention to it, until she saw for herself what kind of guy she slept next to at night.

 

She must have heard something and was suspicious so she snuck up on us. She turned the corner and saw Otis fondling and touching me. My mom shouted at him and it led to a huge yelling match. I remember being proud of my mom for sticking up for me and figured that was the end and we would never see Otis again. Then he reached back with his giant arm and hit her. My mom dropped to the floor like a rock and didn't get up. I thought she was dead. 

 

Otis turned to me with blood-red eyes that were full of hate. I was backed against the wall and he was coming towards me yelling, “This is all your fault! I’m gonna teach you a lesson!”  I was so paralyzed with fear that all I did was close my eyes and cry, hoping my mother would wake up and make it all go away.

 

There was a pounding knock on the front door. Otis turned his head for a second, and when he did... I ran to the door like it was my only hope. I didn’t care who was there. I was going to run out of the house and as far away as I could. When I got to the door and opened it, I looked up and saw who it was. Someone had called the cops. 

 

One of the officers pulled me out of the house while the other charged in and wrestled Otis to the ground. I turned back and glanced into the house long enough to see Otis writhing and screaming as the cop cuffed him. Behind the struggle I saw my mom motionless on the floor and wondered if she would ever get up again.

 

There was a fleet of police cars in the parking lot of our apartment when they dragged Otis out. He looked at me with the same blood red, hateful eyes as they shoved him into the back of one of the cars. I tried to look away, but I couldn’t. His eyes locked onto mine and held my gaze until the car pulled away. I was surrounded by police officers, but knew for the first time that the world is dangerous.

 

That was the last time I saw Otis or my mother’s house. 

 

I was 6 years old. END OF FREE SAMPLE

 

© 2019 Fred Smith

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