Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Life (06/15/06)
TITLE: Abba's Home
By Ann Darcy
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I’d picked a lousy time to run away. It was right after the Christmas season had ended; for the most part people had put their Christmas trees and decorations away. Maybe one lit house to every six blocks. The eggnog was gone and the “cheerful giving” had ended. The Salvation Army had put their bells and red buckets away and turkey was no longer served in the kitchens. The only thing left over from Christmas food was the soggy green bean casserole. See, Christmas ends and the people forget about those of us on the streets all over again.
I ran away three weeks and two days ago. The sad thing was these past three weeks had been the best weeks of my life. Most day’s I played through my life, going over and over the reasons I had run away. Even if I wanted to go back, and I didn’t, I was three hundred miles from home in the coldest month of the year.
My life had been filled to the brim with slurs of swearing and late-night visitors. Visitors who enjoyed putting “Jon’s little girl” to bed more than he did. I could still smell the alcohol on their breaths as they would lean in close and kiss me goodnight, but not on the forehead with wishes for good dreams, but full on the mouth with tongues that reached to places little girls didn’t know they could reach. I could still feel the fear tremble from my spine to my toes, and closing my eyes till it was over.
Daddy never cared much for me. I was nothing more than a slave to make him lunch, which he would usually end up forgetting to eat… and to clean up his messes. In his drunken rages he would yell and kick the walls. Then I would receive calls from the neighbors who demanded me to shut him up. Of course I never could.
No, at least living on the streets, if something happened to me, it was because I did something to make it happen, or just cases of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Most nights I put my head against some brick building and hum to myself while imagining some good, kind person who would see me and take me in. Maybe they would have a wonderful son who would fall in love with me and show me the life that girls were supposed to live. But then the fantasies would fade, and I would wake suddenly be brought back to the present reality by the strong grumbling of my stomach. And I would realize that men weren’t like that, they just weren’t nice like they were in the movies.
I got up and walked a little ways, deciding to look for a homeless shelter, maybe just one that would let me stay the night. I was 18 years old, so they wouldn’t call me in, I could be on the streets if I wanted to. And life would continue. Someday, someday I would find a way out of this and then I would never let this happen again. I would make sure that I could feed myself and keep myself warm.
Then I looked up, from hiding my face from the chilly wind and saw a sign gleaming overhead. It said “Welcome to Abba’s Home. A home for the least of these.” I hesitated for a moment, realizing that they would probably push tracts in my face and expect me to “repent” right then. Most of these places didn’t actually think that people on the streets needed more than one meal of real food.
The cold bit at my fingers, and I took a step away from the door, but stopped short to look back at it again. I could feel the subtle heat that radiated out of the lit doorway, heat that would be wonderful to bask in. I didn’t want to risk getting involved in another one of these places. But still… Maybe one meal wouldn’t do any harm, and with that, I stepped inside.
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