I awoke to the smell of her cheap perfume filling the air. “Mom?” I asked confused.
“Get up,” she growled, scratching the skin of her neck. “Get dressed. I’m taking you somewhere.”
She never stayed long unless she needed something, and the previous night she had been in a fight with my stepdad, because he didn’t give her money. I got up and walked to my room, her sunken face making me nauseous. As I was getting dressed, I overheard her telling my stepdad she was taking me shopping and demanded he give her money. I grew excited to spend the day shopping with my mother; it had been a while since I’d seen her. It was about 3:00 when we left the house, and she had been driving for about ten minutes, anxiously itching her arm and looking around nervously. I had been looking out the window watching the blur of colors pass by when the car came to a halt. I looked to the right and saw ratty looking apartments and creepy men sitting outside.
“Mom?” I questioned. “Where are we? This isn’t the mall,” I whispered, frightened. I knew this was no place for a ten-year-old girl.
“Shut up,” she replied, yanking me out of the car by my arm, introducing me to these strange men. We began to walk up the stairs and into a room filled with smoke and the smell of weed. She gave money to a man and told me to sit on the couch, which smelled like spoiled milk, and wait for her. As she walked into one of the mysterious rooms, shutting the door, anger rose in my throat. My own mother leaving me with strangers, lying to my stepdad. I began to look around at the other people in the room, their dirty, crooked teeth, sunken faces, skinny bodies, and crazy, wide eyes creepily watching me. My eyes continued to scan the room, finding small bags of a crystal-like substance, followed by a man counting money.
A horrible stench permeated from the room my mom walked into, a burnt chemical-like smell. She had been in the room for about two hours. I could hear her muffled laughter and whispering. Meanwhile, I had sat there watching people exchange money for tiny substance-filled bags, people coming and going red-eyed and in a daze.
Unusual men would sit next to me and try so start conversations. Holding back tears, I would respond, asking them to leave me alone. It was about six o’clock when my mom finally came out of the room. She was unusually energetic, talking at an alarming speed, “Alyssa, your Uncle Matt is coming to get you,” and left with an unfamiliar man. It took about 5 minutes for my uncle to arrive red-eyed and dazed also.
The car ride was silent. Staring out the window, I wondered who my mom was and why I couldn’t live a normal life and have a normal family. I had been shaken out of my thought when I realized the car was at a stop. I got out of the car and saw more gross apartments and unfamiliar people. He gave me an apartment number and told me it was my aunt´s house. Leaving me no room to ask questions or to ask him to take me home, he shut my door and sped off down the street. When I walked in, I was met with the smell of vomit and alcohol. I looked over to see my aunt watching TV and popping pills like a zombie.
I yearned to go home. I prayed someone would come get me. I was left there for three days. At night my cousin would sneak boys into the apartment and take them to the room. It always ended with him screaming, throwing things, and her crying. On my third morning there, I awoke to the banging on the door. My aunt walked to open it. Once she opened it, I jump up and ran. It was my stepdad here for me. His tear-streaked face showed me he had been crying, “Get your things. I’m taking you home.”
Alyssa Gibb is a sixteen-year-old feminist with a severe coffee addiction. Alyssa aspires to be an author and apply to NYU’s creative writing program. Alyssa enjoys reading and writing. Her passion for writing sprouted when she began to write as an outlet.