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Drama Sad

           Tammy sat silently as she watched over her younger brother and sister. They were huddled together for warmth beneath the East Street bridge inside their makeshift home made from a refrigerator box that they found on the side of the road.

           Tammy, her little brother, Jacob, and the youngest, Abigail, ran away from home three hours earlier. The atmosphere of their home was that of fear. Their mother, Helena, had been hospitalized one afternoon when their father, Jake, came home from the bar reeking of whiskey; a situation that was repeated almost daily. Helena was trying to make a meal out of the little bit of food that they had in the house when Jake came home. He took a spoonful of the dinner and spit it out in Helena’s face. Then he grabbed the handle of the saucepan and hurled it across the room, splattering the contents on the wall and floor demanding that she learns how to cook and for her to clean up the mess that he just made.

           Tammy and her siblings cowered in the shadows inside the single bedroom that they shared. They listened as their mother scream out in pain with every strike that their father laid upon her. The beating continued until Helena’s screams ceased. She had passed out from the pain. Jake grabbed a beer from the fridge and went down the hall to the bathroom. Tammy quickly threw a few items of clothing for her and her siblings into a plastic bag and hurried them out of the room. As they entered the kitchen, Tammy tried to cover the eyes of her brother and sister. She did not want them to see the bloodied face of their mother and start to scream. They quietly opened the front door and ran as quickly as they could down the street.

           A few blocks away, they took a short break by a payphone where Tammy called the police to report the beating. Then, after they had rested, they made their way to the edge of town. Tammy wanted to get them as far away from their father as she possibly could.

           Reaching inside her jeans pocket, she pulled out the small amount of cash that she had been able to hide from her dad. There was just enough to buy them a meal or two, so she needed to find another way to get by.

           At sixteen, Tammy was an attractive girl, and being on the street was not the best place to be, especially in the wrong neighbourhoods. She had enough trouble warding off the advances of guys she knew, but it terrified her when she began feeling the eyes of strangers on her as they walked down the sidewalk. A grubby old man in a dirty hoodie started whistling at her as they passed, so she told Jacob and Abigail to pick up the pace.

           Before dark, they came upon a playground on Juniper Street, just before the East Street Bridge. Her siblings pleaded with her to let them play. They had not been to a park in ages and wanted to do something fun since they had been walking all afternoon. Tammy scanned the area, and it appeared to be quiet and somewhat safe, so she agreed.

           As the sun began to set, she told them that they needed to find shelter for the night. As they continued along Juniper Street, they found a large refrigerator box that would be big enough to fit both Abigail and Jacob, so she grabbed it and dragged it behind them. When they reached the bridge, Tammy opened one end of the box and told her siblings to climb inside. Abigail was fearful, but eventually submitted and laid down inside the box.

           As darkness set in, Jacob asked his big sister if they were going back home soon, to which Tammy replied, “We are on our own now, guys. Mommy can’t help us anymore and daddy gets mad all the time. We need to find somewhere safe to live, okay?”

           The younger siblings had difficulty sleeping but eventually dozed off. Tammy, on the other hand, stayed alert in case a stranger came close. After a few hours of fighting off sleep, Tammy leaned against the box and closed her eyes as well, only to be awakened by the sounds of the horns of passing vehicles.

           Noticing an opening in a fence next to the overpass, Tammy decided to stash the box inside it in case they needed to return to it that night. They started their day with more time at the park, then they wandered into the next town. A few onlookers gave the three some uncertain looks as they walked down the street, but for the most part, they were completely overlooked.

           Abigail began to say that her tummy was angry, so Tammy brought them to a local Waffle House where she ordered them each a waffle. Abigail chose the peanut butter chip topping, while Jacob decided on the chocolate chip topping. Tammy had a couple bites off each plate to satisfy her hunger, but her stomach still growled in disapproval. It wasn’t as if she had plenty to eat at home, but her mother always did try to make sure they were fed somehow.

           Before leaving the Waffle House, Tammy insisted that her siblings go into the restroom and do whatever they needed to do, because it might be a while before they could stop again. As they continued through town, they wandered into a less pleasant neighbourhood. Tammy began to feel as if they were being followed and kept checking over her shoulder. Every noise she heard, made her jump, which in turn, made the other two jump. They were almost through the downtown area when one man approached from the front. As they turned to go back the other way, a second man approached from the rear. Tammy wrapped her arms tightly around her brother and sister and prepared herself for the worst.

           The two men were almost upon them, when they were frightened off by the sound of a police siren. The police cruiser pulled up beside them and two officers got out. The first officer asked them their names while the second wrote them down in a notebook. Tammy was asked to explain what they were doing wandering around in that neighbourhood alone. She tried to avoid the truth at first in fear of being returned home, but eventually told them everything.

           The officers ran the names through the police database and found no missing persons report for any of them, but they did find an arrest record for their father. The three were brought back to the police station where they waited in an interrogation room and were offered food and hot chocolate until a representative from Child Services arrived.

           After speaking to each of the children separately and getting the same information, she decided it was in the best interest of the children to have them removed from their family home and placed in the care of the State. Tammy insisted that they not be separated. The Child Services officer could not make that promise, but she told Tammy she would do whatever she could to make it happen.

           A few hours later, Tammy, Jacob, and Abigail were brought to a house in a part of town that they had never been before. There were children playing in the streets, people walking together as families down the sidewalk, and the house was clean and brightly painted. There was a birdhouse near the front window, and a sparrow poked its head out from inside as the three approached the front door.

           The woman from Child Services rang the doorbell, and moments later, it opened with a middle-aged couple greeting them with smiles, welcoming them inside. The woman, Karen, guided the three siblings to the backyard. There was a small inflatable pool and a swing set for them to play on. Abigail’s eyes lit up like a Christmas tree. The man, Larry, then led them back into the house and down the hallway. He opened the door to a bedroom. Tammy looked inside and asked if that was where they were going to sleep, but she was surprised when Karen spoke up and said that they would each have a room of their own. They had never had separate bedrooms, let alone separate beds, so this concept came as a shock to them. Karen asked them if they would like to stay with them for a while, and without hesitation, all three said yes.

           With that being said, they got settled in and immediately went out back to play and swim. Tammy sat in one of the lawn chairs without saying a word. Karen approached her and asked if she wanted to talk about what was on her mind. Tammy was reluctant at first, but eventually explained that she worried about her mom. She still didn’t know if her mother were alive or dead, so Karen told her that she would see if she could find out for her.

           Weeks seem to pass like days, but then came the day that their mother came looking for them and asked for her children to be returned to her. A court hearing took place, and this was the first time that the children had seen their mother since that day they ran away. She was completely healed from the beating and was dressed nicely in her favorite outfit. When she saw the children, she tried to run to them, but was held back by her attorney. Abigail also tried to run to her mother but was restrained delicately by the woman from Child Services.

           Tears began to run down Abigail’s face knowing her mother was so close, but she couldn’t hug her. Tammy whispered into Abigail’s ear and told her that she should be able to see their mommy again soon, but for now, she had to smile so their mom would smile too. That seemed to do the trick, and the tears disappeared.

           The judge listened to both sides then decided in the end that at that time, their mother was not financially stable enough to support three children on her own, but if she could prove herself capable of supporting them properly, then she may receive custody again. Their father, although still in prison, was denied custody or visitation rights. The foster family was awarded temporary custody of the three children until such time that Helena could provide proof of a steady income and a steady living arrangement that was suitable for her and the kids.

           It took eight months before Helena was able to get back on her feet. She returned to court and was granted custody. It was a tearful goodbye when Helena came to pick up the children from Karen and Larry. They each gave them long hugs and thanked them for everything. Helena thanked them for providing such wonderful care for her children, and asked Karen if the kids could drop by for a visit sometimes to say hello. Karen was ecstatic over the idea. They had both grown very fond of the children, so having the chance to see them again felt amazing.

           Helena drove away, but Tammy noticed she was driving in the opposite direction of their old house and asked her mom where she was going. Helena just smiled and said, “you’ll see.” Ten minutes later, they pulled up in front of a townhouse complex. In the center court was a large playground. At the far end of the lot was a clubhouse where they put on regular activities for the families who lived in the complex. Helena told the kids to grab their bags and they followed her up three steps to the entrance of one of the townhouses. She opened the door and walked inside.

           It was brightly lit and had clean, grey-colored carpet throughout. There was not a lot of furniture, but that just made the rooms look even larger. She led them down the hall to the bedrooms. She apologized for not being able to have a bedroom for each of them, but she told Tammy that she had the option of bunking in with Abigail, or she can use the pull-out couch in the living room instead. Tammy jumped at the chance to sleep in the living room.

           It did not be as nice as Karen and Larry’s house, but they were simply happy to have their mom with them again. Helena had enrolled the kids in school; something they missed most of their lives, then she headed off to her job as a student counselor at the local high school. Before meeting Jake, counselling was what she did for a living. Because of the constant conflicts at home, and the repeated bruising on her face, she was let go. The school could not have someone in her situation giving advice to students.

           Her job allowed her to provide a decent living for her and the kids, and the work hours did not conflict with her time spent with them. When Jake was released from prison, Helena immediately filed a restraining order against him. He was not allowed within five hundred feet of her or the children. His custody was revoked indefinitely as well. Occasionally, Helena would spot him lurking on the corner watching the house, but she would simply call the police and he would end up back in jail.

           Helena kept her promise to Karen and Larry and made regular visits so they could see the kids. They were amazed at the progress the kids had made since the transition. Helena herself had grown quite fond of her children’s former caretakers and became close friends with them.

           On the refrigerator at home, Helena posted a quote that had helped her get through the tough times:

           “Rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”

August 26, 2022 21:04

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1 comment

Bonnie Clarkson
02:20 Oct 02, 2022

Good story. You kept it moving. Good ending. Even better, if some mention of Jesus could have been made as her solid foundation. "head out from inside". Head out implies from inside, so from inside is not needed. The refrigerator box is mentioned at the beginning of the story, but it is more appropriate where it was mentioned the second time. The saying is, "Start the story as close to the action as you can." Consider dropping the first paragraph. Add Tammy's age to make it clear she is not 10-12 years old. I suggest you start the story wh...

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