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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2126958-A-Homeless-Story-Touched-By-Grace
Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Experience · #2126958
The names have been change to protect the innocent


( Word count 1997)
A Homeless Story (Saved By God's Grace) The names have been changed to protect the innocent

          Staci was barely a teenager with her life ahead of her. But living with her mother and step-father was becoming unbearable. The day she left, Staci was in her bedroom doing her homework when her step-father burst through the door and accused her of pouring out his whiskey. Then he choked her. She kicked and tried to scream then she passed out. When she came to, her stepfather was gone. But the hand prints on her neck told her she had not been dreaming. It was ten till nine p.m. Her Mother got off work at nine. Quickly, she packed all she could carry into two paper bags, ready to leave. She figured living on the streets would be easier than taking her stepfather's beatings.
          Her mother had blamed Staci for her real father leaving them. Even though the beatings from her step-father happened when Staci's mom was at work. She knew her mother would never protect her. Her mother was weak. Fearing being alone, she endured him, just to keep him around. But Staci knew that her mother was just as unhappy as she was. Just last week, Staci had made a joke and her mother, caught off guard, laughed out loud. In that moment, Staci realized she had not heard her mother laugh in years. She slid her two full paper bags out the window and followed them out. Stopping for a moment to pick up a picture of Staci with her mother and father laughing. Everyone in the picture seemed happy. It was her favorite picture.
          Once she was out the window she ran. She ran like a track star with the finish line in sight. She didn't look back. She had decided weeks ago that if she left she could never go back. She knew if she did her step father would surely kill her. She ran until her heart was thumping so hard she feared having a heart attack. She stopped, dropped both of her paper bags to the ground, and turned and threw up twice just missing her sneakers. She had run so fast that she no longer knew where she was. Nothing around her looked familiar to her. She threw up again.
         The summer night was warm and she was glad. She had not thought to grab any kind of jacket. She saw a lady pushing a grocery cart full of what she assumed was probably all the lady owned. By the look of her messy hair, it was clear the lady was homeless. Then it hit her like a punch to the gut from her step-father, "I'm homeless too!" From a distance she followed the lady with the cart. The lady walked like she was on a mission and determined. She forcefully pushed her cart, making it jump up on the curve in one try. Staci was impressed. After going about two blocks the lady, without turning to look toward Staci, hollered, "If you're thinkin' 'bout robbing me, I know karate!" With that she held onto her cart and kicked one leg sideways into the air. It wasn't until the slow motion of her leg going back underneath her five foot tall body, that Staci realized the lady was elderly. Maybe forty years old! With this knowledge she felt less scared. "I don't want to rob you, I was just wondering where you were going.?" The lady spun around and looked closely at Staci, who had moved closer. "And, just what business is it that of yours?" she asked. She started to say more but realized she was looking into a child's eyes. Her tone softened to a whisper. "Lord, Child, what are you doing out here? Before Staci had a chance to answer, the lady ask another question. “Where do you live, are you lost?” “You know,” she continued “the streets are no place for a child.”
         Staci took a step backwards. There was a smell about this lady that Staci had never smelled before. She was stunned by the lady's lack of two top front teeth and how she spat when she talked. Using every muscle in her body to not cover her nose or run, Staci told the lady her story and how she could never go back home. When she finished talking, the lady stuck her hand out toward Staci and smiled a toothless smile. “Hi, I'm Anita. What's you name, child? “My name is Staci”, she replied as she met Anita's hand in the air and shook it. Staci couldn't help but see the difference in the two hands. Staci's was soft and clean and well groomed. Anita's hand was in bad need of soap and water. Her nails were chipped and there was dark dirt under her nails. When Anita let go of Staci's hand she tried to wipe her hand against her clothes in a way that Anita would not see her do it. “My place is right up here around the corner,” Anita said as she grabbed her shopping cart and started again in the direction she had pointed. Around the corner was a shock to Staci. Just off to the side of another street was a cement stoop beside a factory that had long ago closed. That stoop had a large cardboard box on it. It was Anita's Home Sweet Home. The smell was even stronger and Staci almost gagged. Anita pulled a small flashlight out of her cart. She pulled back a dirty sheet and shined the flashlight beyond the sheet to reveal the inside of her large box. Staci had never seen a box this big before. She imagined that at one time it had held a refrigerator.
         After parking her cart behind her large box, Anita got down on her knees and crawled in to her home and waved the flashlight toward Staci for her to come in. Staci was shocked at all that was inside this box, but saw that everything was organized. At first Staci was holding her breath trying not to breathe in the smell, but after a couple of minutes she gave that up. After showing Staci where she could lay, Anita motioned for her to lie down. Anita laid down beside her but put her back to Staci. She said, “You're safe now, child, get some rest and tomorrow we will see what we need to do with you.” With that she turned out the flashlight.
         Within seconds of the light going out, Anita told Staci her story. She was forced into a divorce and lost her house within two months. She had expected to be without a home for a week. That was three years ago. She couldn't get help from the government because she had no physical address. She became a street person. At first she would dress up and go on job interviews, but she had no phone so no one could call her about a job even if they wanted to. After her first four days on the streets, she was robbed for the first time at knife point and they took everything she owned. No matter what she did she never seemed to get a break. Staci listened to Anita's story and the more she heard the more afraid she got. Finally, mid-sentence, Anita started to snore.
         Staci could not go to sleep for the longest time. She wondered what her mother was doing and if she was ok. She readjusted her head against her two paper bags that held everything she owns. She heard every little noise including a rat scampering around under a street lamp. Exhaustion finally won and she fell into a deep sleep.
         The next Morning Staci woke up to Anita opening the flaps on her house. She saw Anita's frame outlined by the daylight. It was then that she noticed something jumping around on Anita's head. She knew what it was because she had seen the same thing on a stray cat she once tried to bring home. Anita had fleas!
         Anita's voice was soft as she spoke, “Ya need to get up, child, We have to figure out what is to become of you.” She turned and smiled a toothless smile at Staci. They headed back out onto the street after Anita retrieved her buggy. Before long, Staci's stomach let a loud, lingering growl. Without saying a word, Anita made a sharp turn to the left. Staci followed. Within twenty feet after making the turn, the smell of pancakes and bacon filled Staci's nose. She licked her lips without even realizing she had done so. But, Anita had seen her and smiled. “You ready for breakfast?” Anita asked looking back toward the restaurant where the wonderful aroma was coming from. Anita walked right by the door to the back where the dumpster was. She reached in and pulled back a handful of bacon. She offered half to Staci. For a moment Staci hesitated to take the bacon. She had to let go of the many thoughts that ran through her mind. Pushing them aside she took the bacon and said a quick thank you to Anita and to God and she ate. She also ate a couple handfuls of pancakes and drank from a bottle of water. She had to ignore thoughts of where her breakfast had come from and who might have been the first to eat it before she got it. Anita had saved enough of the bottled water to wash the pancake syrup off of their hands.
         Anita had watched Staci as they ate breakfast and, quietly, she made a decision. She knew she needed to get this child somewhere safe. Without saying a word, she reached into the dumpster once more and grabbed a bottle of orange juice that was half empty. She handed it to Staci saying “here drink this honey, then we need to be going.” Staci took the juice and downed it. Wiping her mouth Staci ask, “Where are we going, now?" Anita answered "I know a place where You can go and be safe. I can't keep you with me. The streets are no place for a child." Without another word Staci followed Anita about twelve blocks. Anita parked her buggy against a gray brick building and stuck her head in the door and motioned for someone to come outside. A slender, tall lady came to the door and looked down at Anita, "Can I help you?" she asked softly. Anita pointed to Staci and said, "Well, this child needs some help. She needs protection from her step-father." The lady looked at Staci and said, " oh I see." She motioned for Staci to come inside. Staci started toward her but stopped short and turned to Anita. Her mind was racing trying to think of some way to thank Anita for all she had done for her. The tall lady motioned again for Staci to come with her and Staci saw her name tag for the first time. Vicky, Child Protection Agency. She stepped toward Anita and gave her a hug that took Anita by surprise. Within an instant she took off her watch and gave it to Anita and simply said "thank you, will I see you again?" Seeing tears well up in Anita's eyes, Staci touch her cheek and caught her first tear. "sure you will Child!" Anita managed as she nodded for Staci to follow Vicky inside.
          That was fifteen years ago. Anita and Staci have stayed in touch. With Staci's encouragement and as unlikely as it seems, Vicky and Anita became friends. Vicky helped Staci get Anita off the streets and into a low income apartment. She now receives Social Security. As for Staci she is doing very well. She has told me many times about the short time she was homeless. She told me because Staci is my mother! Vicky adopted Staci, my mother, a year after their first meeting. Vicky is my Grandmother. {c:}
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