|Raines room was at the very end of the hall. Her bed was a very small twin bed and the walls were painted pastel yellow and green. It seemed that Gwen Camble’s, the lady that owns the shelter, favorite colors. Raines roommates were Stacie and Isabelle. Stacie had two sisters that lived adjacent to their room and Isabelle had a very sour attitude. Raines bed was pushed up against the window, out of the way of the small amount of floor space the girls shared. The other two beds were pushed up against opposite walls and the door was opposite Raines bed. There was a small closet that was stuffed to the brim with clothes that looked to be very worn in and old. The sun was setting outside of the window as Raine slipped into the long night shirt that Gwen had loaned her for the night. All the other girls were still downstairs chatting and playing cards. When Raine had left no one really seemed to notice except for Gwen. It was ok with Raine, she didn’t want the other girls to notice her, didn’t want to be seen. It was best that way. The covers on her bed were soft and warm. At home the full size bed she had shared with her sister had very scratchy sheets and blankets that were so thin, almost like the ones she slept under when she was on the sheets. They even smelled the same except the ones at home smelled more of alcohol then dog hair. She crawled into her new bed which proved to be very comfy and warm. She lay facing the wall and stared out at the setting sun, watching the colors mold together. Yellow to orange to reddish-pink to the blue that was left at the edges of the sun set. She let her mind wonder, she remembered what it was like to be happy or at least tried. The only memories that came to her were those of her 5th Christmas when her dad had yet to discover Egg Nogg and her mother was still living in the house full time and not on any kind of drugs. She was the only child then and got presents that weren’t stolen or second hand. That Christmas she received her one and only Barbie that came with a Barbie sports car and a small paper house. But the happiness faded when she tried to remember what happened to the car, the paper house and the head of her Barbie. When her dad began to drink a couple weeks after that Christmas, her Barbie car and house were crushed under an angry foot. Her Barbie’s head was twisted off when she didn’t clean her room right and thrown into the toilet boll and when the toilet became stopped up, it was her fault for making him through it in it. Again that day, she began to cry. The tears spilled out of her eyes and onto the down pillow that her head rested upon. A sound from behind her startled her making her back stiffen and a gasp fly out of her mouth like a canary finding an outlet from between a cats jaws. “I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to startle you. If I’d have known you were coming to bed I would have said goodnight. I was waiting downstairs for you to come back down and you never did.” River hastened the words as if someone was about to cut her off and she had to get them out. Slowly Raine turned over to look at River, she didn’t want her to see the tears that fell slowly down her ivory skin but she didn’t want to be rude and ignore the girl. “It’s alright, I’m just so tired and it’s been a trying day.” Raine propped the pillows up against the iron bed frame and sat up slowly still watching River. “Are you alright?” she stepped forward until she was in the middle of the room. “You look like your crying! Did I startle you that much? I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to scare you, just wanted to make sure everything was alright.” River, who seemed to be such an independent and dominant girl, began to crumble at the thought of making someone cry. It made Raine smile a bit. “No, you did not make me cry. I was just remembering things from my past and they got to me a little too much. Nothing big, you don’t have to apologize.” With a big sigh of relief River walked over to Raines bed and sat down on the edge slightly touching Raines calves. The jolt of the touch sent shivers up Raines spin. “Well then, you shouldn’t think of bad memories or memories at all. All you have now is to look towards your future and live your present. I hate to see someone cry, especially someone as beautiful as you…” River let the sentence drift away into the air. The silence filled in the gaps around them for awhile until Raine spoke softly. “I’m not pretty. I’m just skin and bones; I have no breasts, no figure. I might as well look like a boy. It would be much easier.” Raine looked up into Rivers emerald green eyes and wondered what kind of beauty this girl could be finding in her. Was she lying? Was she just trying to make her feel better? That could be the only explanation. “You are beautiful. You might be skinny but that doesn’t take away from your strikingly beautiful blue eyes…any guy would be lucky to have you…” With that River stood up. I better be off, I have to wash up before I go to bed and I still have some English homework to complete” She stood up and looked at Raine for a beat or too. “Sleep well, see you tomorrow sometime.” She walked to the door, hesitated and then walked out, shutting it slowly behind her. Raine turned over, and cried herself to sleep.
Raine woke to a very loud and shrill alarm clock that was followed by “Mofuckin fuck! Turn that fuckin shit off Stacie!” Followed by a pillow flying through the air. The room became silent as Stacie turned it off. “I’m sorry, I have work today and my old alarm clock broke so Gwen gave me this one, just go back to sleep Isabelle, you still have an hour before your bus comes. Sorry Raine, I’ll get a new one with my savings today.” Stacie said as she got out of bed and stretched and yawned at the same time. “It’s alright Stacie; I’m used to waking up early in the morning. My dad made me get up to make his breakfast a lot when I was little before he lost his job.” Raine propped herself up on her elbow and looked around the dim room filled with shadows. “That’s a nice sob story girl but I’m trying to get some damn sleep over here before class today.” With that Isabelle turned over with a loud huff and covered her head with the blanket. Stacie chuckled a little, grabbed her toiletries and clothes and headed for the bathroom. Isabelle mumbled in her sleep something incoherent and her body jerked a little. Raine got up slowly, stretched and walked towards the door. If it was this early she might get the kitchen to herself and be able to have a few seconds alone before she had to meet and greet everyone once again. She made it almost to the end of the hall before a door opened and someone emerged. It was either Tina or Bess wobbling towards her from the opposite direction. “Hey Raine, why up so early? I’m usually the first one awake. The baby won’t let me sleep past 6 anymore. She or he is very hungry all the time.” She smiled at Raine and headed down the stairs with her. “So when are you due…err…Bess?” “It’s Tina and I’m due in about a month or so. I couldn’t give an exact date of when I became pregnant because me and my guy had been sleeping together for almost a month when I found out I was pregnant. Now my guy is in prison up on some drug charges and my mom and dad still think I’m a hoe. Great day to be alive isn’t it?” She laughed as she wobbled off the last step and towards the kitchen.
About 30 minutes later, more groggy girls appeared at the doorway to the kitchen. Isabelle, Gretchen, Laurie, and Sylvie gobbled down eggs and toast before they all left on a bus for an alternative school. Stacie, Margaret, Tamara, and Samantha stumbled out the door for work after guzzling down as much coffee as possible. After they left, Gwen, Raine, River, Bess and Tina were sitting at the kitchen table talking idly until it was time for Bess’s doctor’s appointment and the shopping spree that Gwen was taking Raine on. Tina and River were staying home to work on their GED’s. Every now and then Raine would catch River staring at her out of the corners of her eyes. When she was washing dishes she felt as though someone was staring holes in the back of her head. It sent chills down her spin and the hair on the nap of her neck to stand at attention. She didn’t feel threatened but felt like she was dancing at the tip of a pen. She felt awkward in front of River and couldn’t figure out why.
After they dropped Bess at the office building for her appointment, the taxi drove Gwen and Raine to the Salvation Army where she found 2 pairs of girl’s jeans that barely fit her slender hips and a pair of boy’s jeans that fit her perfectly though they were a bit baggy in the legs. Gwen insisted on her buying 3 pairs of shoes, work shoes, sneakers and something to wear around the house and also a couple of t-shirts and one or two girly tops that fit snug against her body and made sure to shoe that she wasn’t wearing a bra. After the shopping spree they picked up a beaming Bess at the office building and listened to her talk about how the doctor says that she is going to be giving birth to a healthy baby boy in a couple of weeks and to have a bag ready by her bed incase she goes into labor in the middle of the night. Gwen was smiling and chatting about the baby with Bess excitedly while Raine tried to figure out how she was going to get her GED or if she could even get her GED, did it cost money?
When they reached home, River was sprawled out on the couch asleep with her English notebook strewn across her chest and Tina was rocking in a chair sewing what looked to be a baby’s booty. Gwen went to wake River up and Bess ran to Tina to tell her the good news. Raine smiled at the interesting family that was in front of her and slowly walked up the stairs to put up her new clothes. She was smiling as she walked into her room and found the drawer that was set aside for her. It had her name imprinted on the handle. Gwen had put the label on it this morning before they left so Raine would have something all to herself other than the bed. It made her feel so special. She had never had her own drawer, she always shared one with her sister and the extra clothes were always in cardboard boxes or milk cartons when there was one to spare. Humming to herself she put up her clothes slowly running her fingers over the embroidered patterns on one of the pants legs. While she was putting away her clothes her hair kept slipping out of the knot that she had tied it in, she blew it out of her face, tucked it behind her ears. She tried to remember when the last time she had gotten her hair cut but couldn’t. And that’s when she got this bright idea. She was going to cut her hair. She put away the rest of the clothes and went straight for the bathroom.
Raine stood gawking at herself in the mirror. After searching through drawers and finding some very out of place garden shears she got very carried away with cutting her hair. It had never been the short. It was a little uneven and it came to her chin. She stood there for what seemed like hours trying to figure out how to get the hair that littered the bathroom floor back on her head when a knock at the door brought her back to reality. “Hey Raine? I need to get in there, are you almost done?” It was River. O God, it was River. She began to lose it. She didn’t want River to see her, didn’t want her to see this lopsided hair cut that seemed like such a good idea a moment ago. “Hey Raine, you ok in there?” River began to turn the knob to the bathroom door and it began to creak open slowly. “Raine?” She was now visible to the one girl in the world she would like to be invisible to at this one moment. River took in the site with a very confused eye. She looked at Raine, then at the hair strewn across the floor and back at Raine. Tears welled up in Raines eyes and she began to sob. “Oh, Raine, its ok hun, it doesn’t look bad.” She stepped into the bathroom and put her arm around Raines shoulders, enfolding her into a long hug. “I can make it more even if you would like.” Raine began to shake with the sobs and her knees buckled. In one fast move the Puppet Master let loose of the strings causing Raine to go weak all over and slip to the floor. River went with her making the fall soft and she found a place in Rivers lap and continued to cry.