I looked out the window at a new world. A new life. Getting here hadn’t been that hard. I’d been good and scared but I got here. Fear brings out the best in people. At least that’s what mama used to tell me.
“Bein’ ‘fraid, makes you stronger,” she’d tell me in her drunken southern drawl. Mama with her eye shadow put on real thick to hide another black eye. Mama who put Maybelline foundation she stole from Walmart on her arms to cover up the bruises. The bruises were from the needles and any man who paid her $20 for a quick fuck, $10 for a hand job. The social worker didn’t like it when I said fuck, but mama said it every time she opened the door to another man. How was I to know it was a bad word? Mama said her black eyes and the bruises on her arms that looked like leopard spots were a bonus, no extra charge. She’d let them beat her. She was a human punching bag.
Mama was an influence on me, not the way a normal mother should have been, but an influence. The day I turned 12, I ran away. Because of her influence. Which I’m pretty sure was not good. I heard mama telling her friend Charlene that as soon as I was a grown woman, I was going into the business with her. A grown woman according to mama was 12. So, on the morning of October 15th, my birthday, it was a Tuesday, I ran away, for the eleventh time. But this time, I had a plan. This time, I wasn’t waiting for anyone to take me home to mama, and I wasn’t sneaking back home because I was hungry and wet. This time, I had a plan. This time, I was NOT going home to mama.
I took the number 3 bus and paid the man with the dollar I stole from mama’s change purse. Asked the man how to get where I was going and he gave me a paper transfer and showed me where to get on the number 15 bus. Thanks to the lady driving the number 15 bus, I got off on Magnolia Street and walked up the long street, and found the tall, white stone building. The sign out front said Children’s Social Services. So I knew I was where I wanted to be. And so far, I hadn’t been afraid or fearful. So far, I was feeling strong without being fearful so maybe mama wasn’t right about everything.
I pulled hard on that heavy glass door and walked into the building. Over on the side was a counter where a very big lady with very big blonde hair was sitting. I walked over and the very big lady asked me if she could help me.
“I’m here for a foster family, please.”
And I turned and looked out the window of that Children’s Services building. I wasn’t fearful any more. This would be my new world. My new life.