A House Away From Home
The house was small, but all of the houses were small. You were rarely given anyone with a reasonable amount of money. At least I wasn't. There wasn't a grass lawn, or a garden leading up the walk. No children playing across the street or loving mother cooking dinner in the kitchen. Just cracked stairs leading up to a termite eaten, beaten down house with unhinged shutters that were a dingy grey but looked like they used to be white.
I stepped out of the car, slinging my worn down bag over my shoulder. Sharon, my social worker, gave me a weak smile before driving away, leaving me by myself at the edge of this strangers walkway. No one came running out of the rusted wooden door to greet me enthusiastically.
I climbed up the crumbling steps and knocked on the door. I waited, counting the seconds. Mum always told me to count to sixty and then knock again. Fifty-one, fifty-two, fifty-three…; seven seconds later, I knocked again. The silence stretched to uncontrollable lengths. Eventually I gave up and just sat down on the cold concrete stoop, leaning up against the door frame with my bag propped up behind my head. The familiar feeling of the rough fabric washed over me; so many nights out on the streets trying to get away from another slurring man holding a metal rod over my head, or a minister beating the beasts out of me in my own bed. Only it's not my own bed, it's a beaten down mattress thrown on the floor, bare and empty, but covered with so many unbearable memories.
I close my eyes and picture my mother. Except it's not my mother. This woman is happy and smiling. She's picking me up and giving my petite body a hug; pushing my long brown hair out of my face. This woman I see is my mother, but she isn't, because the woman who is kind, happy and gentle now sits in a six by six jail cell, paying time for alcohol abuse, drug trafficking and faulty checks; the mother who ruined my life for her selfish needs.
I run my fingers through my short, cropped brown hair, bringing myself back to the sad pathetic house.
Just as the sun sank down below the horizon, two headlights blinded my vision before shutting off completely, plunging me into darkness. A man and a woman appeared from behind the vehicle. They were arguing, but their voices were too quiet for me to eavesdrop much. Their conversation halted the minute they saw me stretched out on their doorstep.
"Who are you?" The man asked unkindly, his loud booming voice disturbing some birds nestled in a nearby tree. I stumbled to my feet, quickly extending my hand to the beast of a man while saying my name.
"Andy, eh?" He grunted and pushed passed me to enter the house. The woman stayed still, looking over me curiously. She wasn't a small woman. Maybe twice my size, but she didn't look overweight. She had jet black hair that just touched her shoulders and a sneer that seemed to be a permanent feature on her face. Sweat began to form on my forehead, and her stare provoked the little hairs on my neck to rise.
"I'm your new foster kid," I desperately wanted to show this person I wasn't afraid of her, but my voice betrayed me and cracked on the last word.
"I thought we had asked for a girl."
"I-i guess they made a mistake," the word was like having sandpaper dragged up my throat. That word 'mistake', I'd heard it leaving the mouths of several families who decided I was too much of a freak for them to want around.
The woman, whose name I still didn't know, beckoned me to follow her inside. I didn't know anything about these people. Didn't know their interests, background; nothing. Yet there I was, walking into this house that looked just as unfriendly as the people who lived in it.
The space was small, which wasn't a big surprise to me after seeing the outside. They had a simple style – if you wanted to call it a style – but not as filthy as I had thought. A rough looking couch was placed in the centre of the area with a tiny television set propped up on some old magazines. Beer bottles and a half-finished long neck bottle of vodka littered a coffee table which was also balanced by magazines. The walls were bare and just as dingy as the exterior. The room reminded me of the black and white Kansas from The Wizard Of Oz.
"Hey Andria," I turned my head at the sound of my name being called, realising my mistake a second too late. Her smirk sliced through me like a butter knife, "your bra is showing." Sure enough, my plain black, wireless, A-cup bra was peeking out from underneath my baggie blue t-shirt. Heat rose to my cheeks, and I automatically ducked my head, but this time, rather than going through another couple of months of hell, I pulled up my shirt, hitched up my almost empty knapsack and walked straight out the door, cursing my mother for ruining my life.