Welcome again to YAFF Muse: blog rounds. The ladies of YA Fiction Fanatics have come together for YAFF Muse. To have a little fun, explore different styles of writing and to give you some kick-butt shorts to read. Enjoy!
Photo by: phypet
Long Ride Home
Leaning, with my elbows against side the viaduct, I peered out at the old neighborhood. The rundown apartment I shared with Mom. The train tracks below, where I played chicken with the subway. But nothing felt like home more than the maple tree at the far end of the road. My haven whenever Mom had a fight with one of her guys.
I inhaled the stale air, thick with the scent of rust and moldy wood. Who knew one breath would bring back the past?
The clatter of alcohol bottles echoed in my mind. I put my hands over my ears, but the cli-clank of glass got louder. And the neighborhood before me turned fuzzy like an out of focus lens.
Music blared from a boombox on the floor next to the coffee table, competing with the screams of my baby brother. Mom’s by the door. A guy stands next to her. Long greasy hair stringing past his shoulders, a scar on his right cheek and a bum eye.
“I’ll give you a half ounce, for five minutes alone with your daughter,” the man said. He dangled a small bag full of white powder under Mom’s nose. She probably thought I was too busy making the baby a bottle to hear, but I heard everything. And this guy was not going to lay a finger on me. Not one.
I watched the door closely for any signs he might push his way in. Mom’s feet shifted as she twists to glance at me in the kitchen. With the rear of her hand, she wiped her nose. Her nostrils flared and beamed bright red against the pale of her skin. The consideration in her drugged gaze was all the indication I needed to go to my special spot.
Slipping from the kitchen, I edged the wall of the living room. And while they negotiated I sneaked to mine and my brother’s room. His tiny hands reached. Not for me, but for the bottle. I wondered if Mom fed him while I was at school. I pushed the bottle into his mouth, kissed his tear covered cheek then laid him back in the crib.
“Someday I’ll take you from all of this,” I said and turned to the window, knowing that was an awfully big promise for a twelve year old to make.
I sighed, taking one last peek at the crib before I shimmied down a vent pipe. The rusted metal scraped like gravel on the way down. But scratched hands were nothing compared to a mutilated spirit. The tips of my toes touched down and with the earth beneath me, sirens wailing around me, I raced to the end of our road, climbed to the highest spot I dared to climb in my tree and waited.
Waited for the sun to come up.
Waited for Mom to pass out.
Waited for the men to leave.
Waited for the five o’clock train to tell me it was safe to go back to my brother.
I listened for the train now, but instead…
“Are you okay?”
My eyes refocused and I glanced at the hand grasping mine; the fingers aren’t as tiny as they were then. “Yeah,” I whispered.
“Is that the train you took me out on?”
I searched the commuter cars, long deserted on the tracks, their graphitized walls.
“That’s not the one.” I shook my head. “Ours went the other direction. Downtown. To the police station.”
“Hey kids,” Aunt Pauline called from the end of the viaduct. “It’s getting late and you still need to eat and shower.”
Off in the distance I heard a screech on the rails. I squeezed my brother’s hand thankful for the five o’clock train.
©2010, September 15, rmg.