A girl stood in front of a bodega in busy Manhattan, she kept looking from an envelope in her hand to the large numbers on the awning of the store. "What am I going to do now?" The girl said aloud to herself. She pulled her backpack off of her back, she set it at her feet; she pulled a wooden box out and put the envelope into it. After putting everything back in order she walked over to an enclosed bus stop. She took deep breaths slowly blowing the air out of her puckered lips, blinking away the burn of the tears threatening to overcome her control.

This girl's name is Ana, she is a seventeen years old girl with blond hair and big green eyes, she is very smart, she always received high honors and special awards for academics. She had been through a lot in the last few years; first she lost her father, who was stationed overseas. He died in a friendly fire accident and his friend was the one who brought his body back to them. Not too long after, her mother fell in love with the soldier; he was always there for her, by her side every time she had a breakdown. What a kind man to help, when she needed someone; he had asked her to marry him only a few months later; they had a quick ceremony at City Hall.

Once they were married things began to change… He changed. He started drinking, only a few beers a night at first then it increased it an entire twelve pack a day. When her mother asked him to try to find work he blew up yelling that he had been hurt in the friendly fire accident and he couldn't put too much pressure on his leg without being in excruciating pain. To cover the bills that were starting to build up as well as his drinking habit, she had to get a second job. When Ana turned sixteen she got a job to help her mother with the bills.

"Ana, while you're in the kitchen bring me another beer." Jeff told her.

"I'm making dinner right now, you come and get one yourself." Ana told her stepfather.

"Do what I tell you, you little bitch!" Jeff said as he stood up, watching the kitchen to see if she was doing what he told her too or not.

"I have to take dinner to Mom, she only gets a short break and it's coming up soon." She told him as she started pulling out the containers that she used every night to bring dinner to her mother.

After waiting another two minutes Jeff got out of his sweat stained chair he pushed the swinging door open, anger burned in his eyes. Ana moved so that he could get his own beer, to her surprise he did not go to the fridge he went to her and slapped her catching a handful of her long brunette hair. "Don't you EVER tell me no!" His breath reeked of drunkenness. "Do you fucking here me?!"

As soon as his hand made contact with her face it felt like her cheek had exploded, tears pouring over her cheeks as he wrenched her head backwards by her hair. She fought him, trying to pull herself free from his grasp, he only pulled harder.

"Now do as I say and get me a beer!" He yelled, she felt spit hit her face as he yelled, only inches away from her face. Still clutching her hair he walked her over to the fridge, "Open it!" He ordered, she did as he said. He walked her into the living room he released her then sat back down in his chair. "Now give it to me!" She handed him the beer then ran into the bathroom.

She examined herself in the mirror, her chick was bright red and stung badly when she touched it. After splashing cold water on her face she returned to the kitchen to finish making dinner. Ana, held a pack of frozen peas to her face as she filled the containers with her mother's food. "Dinner is done." She told him as she grabbed her car keys.

"If you tell your mother that I hurt you, I will do worse next time!" He told her as she was leaving.

Ana parked her green Jetta in the parking spot next to the convenience store's door. She grabbed the insulated bag from the passenger's seat and climbed out of her car, locking it behind her. "Hi Mom!" She said as she walked into the store.

"Hey Sweetie!" Her mother greeted with a smile. As soon as Ana reached the counter her mother's smile fell. "What… What happened baby girl?" Ana hissed and pulled herself away when her mother touched the bluing mark on her cheek.

"Oh, it was the kitchen door." Ana told her. "I was too close when it came back at me."

"Are you okay?" Her mother asked.

"Yeah," Ana smiled, her cheek stinging as she did. "I put frozen peas on it. I'll be fine, I was just stupid that's all."

"Laura!" A man in slacks and a button-down shirt came walking in. "I told you your daughter is not allowed to park in the spot! It's for customers only!"

"I'm sorry Sir, I was just going to tell her." Ana's mother responded.

"I'm just leaving anyways. I'll see you in the morning Mom, I love you." Ana smiled.

"Goodnight baby girl, I love you too." Her mother answered.

When Ana got back home she went into the kitchen to grab her own dinner. The kitchen was a disaster, all the pots and pans were in the sink full of water, food still inside. There was fool flung everywhere, she stood in shock.

"Oh, you're back!" He said as he entered the kitchen. "The food was burnt! You want me to hit you again?"

"No, sir." She answered.

"Then you better clean up this mess! And if your mother finds out…" He glared evilly at her, it was unnecessary for him to finish his statement.

Ana stayed up until four in the morning, making sure every inch of the kitchen was clean. Ana wondered if Jeff hurt her mother like he hurt her that night. That night was the first of many violent altercations between her and her stepfather.

Ana, counted what money she had left, the bus ticket cost a lot more than she had expected. She only had a handful of single bills and her stomach was growling, she walked back over to the bodega and bought herself a pack of ramen noodles and a can of soda. After paying for her items she smashed the hard noodles with her fist; she opened the plastic packaging she removed the flavoring packet and sprinkled it over the noodles, shaking to disperse the salty powder throughout the package. She started crunching on the dry food, the last time she had eaten was a cup of coffee and a bag of plain chips she had bought out of vending machines inside one of the bus stations ten hours ago.

"You must be really hungry." A man at the bus stop chuckled as he watched Ana inhale her meager meal.

Ana wasn't sure how to answer him, or if she even should. "I… I guess."

Apparently he could tell she was running low on money, "My name is Marcus."

"I'm Ana." She answered cautiously.

"I went out for dinner and got so stuffed that I had to get to go boxes." He smiled at her. "I think you might need the food a bit more than I do." He passed a brown paper bag to Ana.

"Thank you." She told him as she accepted the bag. She opened the bag and looked inside, he must have been a light eater because there was four Styrofoam containers in the bag. The hissing sound of bus' airbrakes caught her attention and she looked up.

"It was nice meeting you Ana, maybe we will cross paths again someday, goodbye." He said then climbed onto the bus leaving her all alone at the bus stop.

She returned her attention to the bag sitting on her lap, removing each container one at a time, she took inventory of the items; there was four full, untouched dinners in the bag. "Thank you, Heavenly Father" She said as she looked to the sky, tears of thankfulness ran down her cheeks as she began to eat a steak from one of the containers.

Now that her stomach was full her next obstacle hit her… 'Where am I supposed to sleep tonight?'