-TO HER OWN DEVICES-
“How did I get here?” Cree asked herself while walking the rainy street of Ohio.
How quickly things change. Just days ago Cree was living the life of a normal teenager. “How did things go so wrong?” She wondered. All she knew was that she didn’t have a home anymore. She looked down at her hands.
“This is your fault. I hate you.” She took off running believing that if she ran fast enough, the reality of her situation would suddenly disappear. That’s what she wanted, simply to disappear, but like all the other wishes in her life, it didn’t come true.
She trudged on…her road to nowhere. Rain soaked her hair and clothes, and her tennis shoes squeaked loudly. She was a little embarrassed by the sound but still she kept going.
She soon found shelter where she could take a rest and get out of the rain. Wet hair flew into her face, stinging her skin. At that moment she wished she were home, but she no longer had a home. She could barely recall how it all happened.
One moment she was in her mother’s kitchen washing dishes and the next thing she knew Elizabeth Bowman was ordering her out of her house. Cree wanted to blame someone, but it was her own doing. She had become careless that day, her thirteenth birthday.
The gifted hands she thought she had been blessed with had become a curse. Cree slumped down onto the only dry spot on the ground. The rain continued to pour down. The strike of thunder made her jump out of a sitting position. The rain wasn’t about to let up.
Cree waited for the longest time, but soon she was shivering and her hands felt is if they were about to freeze. She concentrated all her energies on her hands. She wished to be dry under this leaky structure. She closed her eyes, hugging herself while slinking down into a fetal position.
Something was happening. Something that both terrified and excited her. Slowly her body warmed itself. She opened her eyes to see that it was raining as hard as it was before, but she was completely dry. Her once limp hands were rejuvenated.
She looked up to see the holes in the worn tarp, but no rain came through them. Had she touched the tarp and had not been aware of it? The whole situation spooked her. She ran from the shelter and into a nearby diner. She was damp again but not nearly as much as before. She sat down at the corner booth at the far side of the door. She became paranoid that people were staring at her, but the diner was practically empty at this time of night.
She heard a ticking sound above her head, and looked to see a clock. It was a circular chicken clock whose feathers served as the clock’s hands. She looked around being wary of everyone in sight. She saw an old man shakily eating a bowl of soup with a small spoon.
She also saw a young couple in a romantic embrace in the booth on the north end of the diner. Besides the counter girl with the greasy unwashed hair, Cree saw no other signs of life.
The girl with the greasy pony-tailed hair came sashaying up to her table. She was wearing a stained waitress’s uniform that at one time could have been white. The dress was two sizes too small, making the girl look pudgy.
“What’ll it be, honey?” she said, snapping her gum.
“Coffee, please,” Cree said, her raw throat cracking her speech.
“Anything else?” the girl asked after another snap.
Cree shook her head and the girl walked back behind the counter. At that moment someone stepped through the diner’s front door. Cree slumped in her seat feeling a sudden pang of nervousness. It was a man about thirty wearing an old flannel shirt and grimy jeans. She looked out the window to see a huge semi-truck parked on the opposite side of the street.
She wondered if the rig belonged to him. She hadn’t seen it there when she came in, but Cree didn’t feel she needed to be very observant tonight. The man said something to the waitress that Cree couldn’t hear. Then he looked over at her. She slumped down again. She didn’t want him to notice her, but it was too late. He was walking her way. She closed her eyes and wished with all her heart that she could disappear, but he had noticed her and sat down in the seat opposite her.
“Hey, little girl, what’re you doin’ out after curfew?”
Cree didn’t answer. Instead she looked out the window.
“Waiting for someone?”
“You ask a lot of questions,” she said still looking out the window. “That rig yours?”
“Yea, headed to the big apple. Ever been there?”
“No,” she said, lowering her head.
She saw the paper lying on the table. It was the New York Times. There was a picture that caught her eye. It was a picture of middle-aged man standing in front of a large building. She picked it up and read the caption.
‘Doctor Martin Drell, owner and operator of the Drell Institute gives speech today on Sadian Rights.’
She stared at it for the longest time, before the stranger sitting across from her coaxed her out of it.
“Hey, what are you lookin’ at?”
“Nothing,” she said.
She looked down at her rain-worn clothes. An idea popped into her head. Her best bet to getting away from here was hitching a ride . The Drell Institute , she thought. Maybe that’s where she belonged.
“Hey,” she said. “Do you think you could give me a lift. It so happens that we’re headed in the same direction.”
“And why would a little gal like you be travelin’ alone?”
“Why all the questions?” she asked as the waitress came with her order.
“Okay, you had the cheese steak, and you had the coffee.” She practically dumped the food on the table and left as quickly as she came.
“Is that all you’re having?”
“Not hungry,” she said sipping her coffee. After a few minutes she said, “Since we’re headed the same way, you think you could give me a ride?”
“I’ll give you ride alright, a ride home.”
She shot up from her seat. “I’ll take that as a no. I’ll get there on my own.” She ran out of the diner forgetting to pay for her coffee. She figured that act now made her a thief. She didn’t care anymore. She had spent too much time being a good girl, for all the good it did her.
The woman she once thought of as her mother used to tell her that if she were a good girl all of God’s gifts would come to her, but she no longer believed that. Like her mother, she believed God had turned his back on her. She was left to her own devices. At thirteen she was thrown into the adult world. It was a den of wolves where she was the prey.
The rain had let up some, but it was now darker than it ever had been. There were people on the street but not the kind of people who would offer help to a homeless girl. Parma was among the lower class suburbs. Those who lived there were usually those from its mother city who made a little money whether legally or other wise.
Those who weren’t among the high-class derelicts were retirees whose time was running short. They only wished to be left alone to die in peace.
To be continued….