Raine is lost and alone. Will the helping hands of strangers changed her future?
|Sometime in the middle of the night she felt it. “It” being the urge to leave, to run as far away from the hell hole that she had lived in all her young life. Being 3 days shy of 18, Raine felt more independent, more in charge of her life. Slowly she got out of bed so she wouldn’t wake her baby sister lying beside her. She took great care in holding the sheets up above her head so she could make a smooth leave, and then positioning then around the body pillow that her grandmother had left behind before she left to the nursing home. As quietly as she possibly could, Raine put on her warmest pair of jeans and a thick cotton shirt that was one of her last without holes. She packed her favorite textbooks from school and some clothes with a heavy heart. The planning was so perfect except for the small fact that she would be leaving school behind, no more English class filled with new books to read or Math problems that she pretended to dread so no one would think she was a nerd. With a smile she realized though, that she would never miss the teasing from her peers because she was poor or because she never had the right clothes on, the right hair cut, or the right thing to say. With a lighter heart and a heavy bag and bent over to kiss her sleeping sister goodbye and walked out her bedroom door, to the living room where her drunken parents slept on a pull out sofa. Tip toeing around them, she vanished through the front door, letting the screen door hit softly against the cloth her mother tact on to the door frame so there wouldn’t be any more loud noise when her little sister ran in and out.
The first days were ok, even her birthday was exciting. Though she had to drink from the fountain in the public park and shake up with the people under the bridge, she felt it was the best birthday ever. Her dad wasn’t spoiling it with his drunken outbursts, her mom wasn’t missing in action, she didn’t have to dread over the fact that no one remembered to get her a cake. It was amazing. The people that lived under the bridge with her felt sympathy for Raine, giving her the scraps of food they could spare and a blanket or two that were thin as paper. The life was so freeing for her, she could go to the zoo every day and study the animals with no charge because she still looked under 15 and the workers never asked for I.D. But soon the elements of nature got to her, the feeling of loneliness crept up her spin and spilling out her eyes in long hot streams down her face. Occasionally she would get a pat on the back from the old bag woman who shared a mattress with her every night or she would get a strange look from a mother wheeling her cooing baby through the zoo and parks. Her clothes that she took so much pride in began to show wear and holes began to pop up. This new found independent left her mouth dry and her stomach cramping from lack of food. Her universe was turning into a nightmare, almost as worse as the little shack her parents were living in. It had been 10 days and she doubted the only one to miss her was her little sister but she would get over that fast, her 4 year old mind was to small to hold one thought for to long. But this, this living under a bridge and at the zoo was a lot better than the shack down on Walton Blvd. by far.
Instead of going back to the bridge under 12 St, Raine began to walk. She walked for about 3 hours before she found that she was standing in front of be bus station. She stopped to look up and was over taken by the beauty that the brick gave off. It was so tall and inviting. She must have stood there for awhile staring because she finally looked down when a business man slammed into her on his way inside. Instead of an apology she got a glare from him in her direction. Blushing slightly she walked towards the revolving doors wondering what this magnificent building would old for her fragile soul.
She found a set against the wall not wanting to take up space on the bench’s for the travelers. This got her funny looks and long stares. She watched the crowd sway and shift, new people step through the doors to find their bus and people who were visiting the station for the first time. She saw their expressions of wonder at the many brightly colored walls and statues placed in random places along the floor. A woman, in her late 20’s or so, suddenly appeared through the crowd. It could have been her long curly hair that had the color of chestnut brown, or that she was very tall in her high heels. The closer she got, the more thrilling it was for Raine to watch her. The makeup she had over her big brownish green eyes was so vibrant green and her lips were a pouty pink. Her eyes met Raine and a jolt spread through her body. With fear of the woman getting angry with her, she lowered her eyes and pretended like the gum on the bottom of her shoe was the most interesting thing of all time. For a second she thought she was clear, that the tall woman had not noticed the panic that went through Raines eyes and that she would be on her way, but Raines hopes fell when a shadow began to loom over her and the gum was not enough to keep her interested any longer. Slowly she picked up her head as if she was a puppet and the puppet master gave her no choice but to look up. Again, she met though brownish green eyes but instead of looking in wonder, she was looking at this woman in terror, fear that she would through her out, banish her from this brightly colored hall filled with people with a purpose. “Are you all right?” She asked with a silky voice with a hint of some kind of accent. Raine stuttered and spit out sounds that could not be made into any words at all. Things like “ahh….uhh….rr…umm…” would not form into “Yes, I’m fine, thank you.” Her eyes filled with the need for this woman to go away, to stop humiliating her so. But instead, an arm covered with a green sleeve of a business suit and a strong tanned hand was held in front of her face. “What is your name?” She asked with the same silky voice with a hint of some kind of accent. Raine could not think of anything let alone her own name. She didn’t want to lie but she couldn’t give out her real name for some reason. “Raine” stuck in her throat and all that came out was “Rai…” The woman looked at her a little funny and took her hand away slowly. “Well, Rae, when was the last time you ate? You looked starved and your clothes aren’t very much clothes anymore. I’m guessing you have been living on the streets?” With this her right eyebrow went up in a smooth arc exposing more of that green eye shadow that Raine thought was so lovely. Instead of answering the woman’s questions she stared at her eye shadow, trying to figure out of that shade of green would look pretty on her, though her skin was the palest you’d ever see. “Well, if you’re not going to talk, you can follow me, I run a shelter for run away teens and we’ve got an extra bed if you would like to take it. My name is Ms. Camble, Gwen Camble.” With that she turned on one of her high heels, which was also green, and began to walk towards the revolving doors. For a couple of seconds all Raine could do was stand there in utter silence. Me? Shelter? Bed? The last question she asked herself made her start to sprint towards Gwen Camble and pray to God that this woman was not joking.
Outside she found Gwen Camble signaling for a taxi. She stepped right behind her and to the side just incase she decided to take back the invitation for the bed and shelter. Gwen Camble began to de-send into the cabs darken interior as soon as it pulled up. The bags that Raine had not noticed until then, which were lime green in color, were being loaded into the trunk. “Well, Rae, are you going to be accompanying me?” That silken voice made the puppet master guide her into the seat next to this woman in silence. The only different thing was that the master had enough heart to let her hang her head so she wouldn’t have to meet the searching eyes of this stranger.
After a long silent ride to the shelter, they pulled up to a very small house sandwiched in-between two others and no yards in site. Gwen got out of the cab first, paid the driver and got her own bags out of the trunk. “You coming kid? Or are you going back to the bus station?” Slowly Raine unfolded herself from the taxi and stood beside the woman and a little behind because the fear of being any were close to equal to this woman didn’t seem right. Gwen Camble smiled at Raine and began to walk up the steps to the door of the small house. Through the windows Raine could see a table with papers flung all over, an over stuffed chair with a very pregnant girl occupying it, the flicker of a TV and a very big, orange cat playing with a ball of yarn. When she turned her attention to the door and Gwen Camble, all she saw was a looming door that held the prospect of a warm bed and maybe a shower.
To be Continued