Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: GRATE (11/19/15)
- TITLE: Kylin Rizzo's Grate
By Ingrid Forsberg
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Kaylin kicked an empty soda can as she scanned the street for a warm place to spend the night. She thought about Jered. They were together for several years before he died and her world crashed. Jered, drunk as usual, ingested a small amount of heroin. But the combination of heroin and alcohol killed him and left her homeless. Now she was a stranger in a city over two thousand miles from Beverly Hills. With one dollar and fifty-six cents to her name, she had no place to go and no one call for help. A sarcastic thought crossed her mind; I should have taken the course on how to survive as a homeless person while I was still in college. She dropped her cardboard “mattress” on a sidewalk grate thus claiming her spot for the night.
It was Thanksgiving eve. Fox’s on scene TV news reporter, Trever Nelson, described the deplorable living conditions of the homeless. “They sleep on sidewalk grates to remain dry and warm,” Trever said facing the camera. Katlin pulled the grimy blanket she recovered from a trash bin over her head. She did not want to be seen sleeping on the street by anyone. Trever saw her blanket move and walked towards it. He stopped in front of Kaylin. “Hello,” he said, “anyone there?”
Kaylin peeked from under ragged filth in horror at the sight of a TV camera aimed at her. “This isn’t Fox News is it?” she asked Trever. Her Fox fan aunt in California had a severe case of diarrhea of the mouth. If she saw Kaylin on TV, the entire west coast would hear about it.
“It sure is,” said Trever. He pointed to the logo on the camera, “See? It says, Fox. I’d like to interview you.”
Kaylin’s Aunt Myrna was tired after a long hard day at work. She entered her house, flopped into her favorite chair and turned on the TV. It was time for the evening news. Filling the screen were the empty eyes of a homeless person. “Lazy white trash,” she muttered not recognizing her niece. “Go to school, learn something, get a job, work,” Myrna yelled at the TV. “Worthless, totally worthless,” she grumbled as she changed the channel. “I don’t need to abuse my eyes with that garbage.”
“What ya watching mom?” Myrna’s teenage daughter Baylee asked as she entered the room.
“I was going to watch Fox News, but they were showing homeless scum. It was irritating, so I’m watching HGTV instead,” Myrna answered.
“Being homeless is like, so sad,” said Baylee. The doorbell rang. “My date is here, gotta go.” She was gone before Myrna could answer.
“Have a good time dear,” Myrna said to no one, her eyes glued to the home improvement program.
The next day Myrna, Baylee, and her boyfriend drove to Beverly Hills for Thanksgiving. Myrna knew she would gain at least five pounds. Eating at her brother’s was a Thanksgiving ritual, always a feast.
Kaylin was among the record number of homeless people eating turkey in the east coast Salvation Army shelter. “God bless the Salvation Army. Best food I’ve ever tasted,” said the smelly old man eating next to Kaylin.
Kaylin thought about the many Thanksgivings she spent with her family in Beverly Hills, “It is the best,” she said.
After the tables were cleared a Salvation Army officer gave a few closing remarks before dismissing the crowd.
“Thank you for joining us today. We are here for you because Jesus cares about you. He understands about being homeless. Jesus experienced being homeless. He went from having everything to having nothing. Homeless, he spent many nights sleeping outside in an olive grove. He offers you love and forgiveness for everything you need to be forgiven of. There is a path to a new life for you. Come talk to us.”
Kaylin somehow realized her nights of sleeping on sidewalk grates would be ending.
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