“True strength is keeping everything together when everyone expects you to fall apart.”
“Look at you, pathetic, can’t even defend yourself,” My father taunted, at the eleven-year-old boy who laid curled up with fear. “Are you going to cry? Are you going to call out to mommy? Do you think anyone would want ya? Huh? Look at you. Ya ugly, ya weak, and ya worth less than that old piece of junk sitting on my porch.”
The eleven-year-old boy was scared to move, worried that he would’ve angered the man above him even more.
“Guess what, no one will help you,” the man lowered his face to the little boy’s ear. “No one will care about you, no one will show you, love, you are a stupid, stupid boy, and I regret ever putting myself into your mother to result in such a disaster such as you.” He spat in the boys face, before unbuckling his belt.
The boy felt bile rising from his throat as he knew what was going to happen, it was a routine, something he expected to get used to. But he never did.
Each time felt worse than the last.
His heart hammered in his chest as he shook his head, no. He could feel the sweat even more now than before. He fisted the rug beneath him in his palm, the rough material leaving tiny splinters, probably from a previously broken bottle.
His eyes scoured over the tiny hallway they were in.
Was he really going to do this here? He thought to himself,
“And remember if you tell anyone, they won’t believe you, and if you run away, they’ll send you right back here, and I’ll kill you. You wanna be a man? Men take whatever they get, and they’re never weak.”
He heard the same thing almost every night as his mother laid stoned on the living rooms couch. Or what they called a living room.
“Manni? Manni!” Startled, I looked up at whoever was calling me and found a young woman scowling at me.
“How’d you get in here?” I ask, confused and she kisses her teeth.
“I have a key, you’re rent is due.” Running a hand over my face I sigh.
“Breane, you know I don’t got the money, but—,”
“Give me a few more weeks, give me a couple days, blah blah blah,” she mocks, and I knew I was done. “Pack your stuff and leave, you have a week to get out before I get the cops to handle you.”
“Breane cmon, where am I supposed to go? I got Geegee sleeping on a bed while I sleep on the floor you know my situation.”
“I’m sorry Manni, but we’ve been letting you slide for more than five months now, there are people who need this place who can actually pay,” She says, and I resist the urge to snap.
“Cmon, let me think of something, I’ll—,”
“A week.” She cuts me off sternly, and I clench my jaw as she turns to leave, closing the door with her.
“Morning Geegee,” I sigh, turning towards my little girl. Her brown eyes stared up at me curiously, her curls mopped all over her face. Geegee was five, barely reaching my knee. She had beautiful brown skin, her badly stitched teddy bear currently tight in her hands.
“Are you hungry?” I ask her, and she nods. “Go brush your teeth and I’ll make something quick for you,” in her little washed out Mickey Mouse pajamas, she nods again before obediently scurrying off.
I open the fridge to find a half-drunk carton of milk, half an onion, and a bottle of water. I grab the milk, hoping that there was cereal in the cupboards and to my extreme pleasure, there were a few cornflakes left, enough to stuff a bowl.
She came back out and plopped onto the floor which is where she enjoyed eating. I put the bowl in front of her and her face sagged as she saw the box of cornflakes.
“Again?” She pouts.
“You know what it is Gee, eat up.” She sighs loudly, before beginning to eat and I had to occupy myself before I broke down in front of her. That’s the last thing she needed.
I had to figure out where I was going to stay before they kicked me out, I could stay on these streets, not with a daughter, and there’s sure no way in hell that I was going back to the place people were supposed to call ‘home’, so I had to think, and fast.
While she ate I decided to take a quick shower and put the better one of my last three pair of jeans. I threw on a decent enough shirt and laced up the shoe that had the least scratches.
I didn’t have any hair, this little apartment came with a shaver, and I taught myself a thing or two before I completely dropped out of high school, so I was neatly kept in that aspect.
“Gee, are you done, mama?” She came running in the room, milk on her chin and I smile. “You made a mess,” I tease while lifting her and carrying her to the bathroom where I used a wet cloth to wipe her mouth. She squirmed in my arms.
“I need you to take a bath, so daddy can go look for a job,”
“Does that mean I’ll have to stay with Breane?” She asks, and I nod.
Despite everything, Breane lovee Gee, and I get it, she was just doing her job, but I knew one thing she wouldn’t turn down, is me seeking help with Gee.
I pulled out a little one suit and some tiny black socks, laying it out on the small bed. After she was done, I wiped her and had her get dressed.
“There’s a spot daddy,” Gee frowned.
“It’s just a little stain Gee, don’t worry about it.”
“Other kids don’t have stains,” She mutters and once again, there was a strong tug on my heart, as I simply ignored the statement and walked up to Breane’s door.
“Gelan!” Breane grins as she grabs her from my arms, Gee wraps her tiny arms around her neck immediately.
I scratch the back of my neck. “You know I ain’ really have nun’ to bring up here.”
“I got her Mani, good luck today.” I nod, kissing Gee’s forehead.
“I’ll see you later okay Mama,”
“Bye,” she says, blowing me kisses and I smile.
“Bye,” I blow them back and they both disappear behind the wooden door.
Now, onto more difficult things.