The prompt this week was to write a 1,000 word story about someone who has no self-awareness, or alternatively, someone who has far too much. Include the following words: curve, substitution, relief, sacrifice, and strikeout. The genre was open.
My story is about a girl who has pretty much lived her life with a count of three and two. I wonder what will happen when this latest pitch crosses the plate…
I have a date tonight. Well, it’s not exactly a date as dates go. It’s more of a meet-and-greet thing. Oh, who am I kidding. Sandy, he isn’t going to like you. Chalk up another strikeout. They take what they can get from you and move on. It’s what you deserve anyway because you’re nothing. Mom always told me that, so it must be true. I so wanted to be just like the ladies I saw as we walked past the fancy shops, with their clean clothes and shiny hair. If we stood too long in one place though, the shop owners would tell us to move along. See, our clothes weren’t all that clean and my hair was never shiny.
Mom liked to smoke stuff that she said made her forget. I used to ask her if it was me she was looking to forget, but at first, she said it was just things that happened before I was born. When I got a little older, she told me that I was what she wanted to forget because if I had never been born, she wouldn’t have had to sacrifice… She passed out before she finished that sentence, and I never asked again.
I learned all about men from Mom too. She told me all about the married people stuff and it sure sounded icky at the time, but Mom seemed to like it. At least twice a week, she would find some guy who’d take us to a motel and they would do the married people thing in one of the beds and I would get to sleep in the other. When they were done, the man would give Mom money to buy the stuff she liked to smoke and toss me a little to get a burger with. Most of them were pretty nice, but they always left after they gave us the money. The good thing was that we could stay in the room for a few more hours until the Manager threw us out.
I asked Mom about my Daddy and she said he was nothing but a goody-two-shoes who thought he was better than us. She told me to forget all about him because he was a bad person. I’ve wondered about that ever since I found the letter, but since it upset her, I never spoke to her about him again.
We were in one of the motels off Highway 108 and it was crummy, but the good news is that we could stay in this one for the rest of the night. Their married people thing went really quick this time and the man told us he paid for the whole night. Mom didn’t like anyone going in her bag, but she was out cold, I was hungry, and I thought I saw a candy bar in there. That’s when I found the letter.
It was from some man who said he cared about Mom and always would, but he couldn’t stay with her if she kept using the drugs. He begged her to give him his baby after it was born so he could keep it safe. If she wanted to get better, he put his number in there and told her to call any time.
Mom never did get better. I woke up next to her one rainy morning in the doorway of a little market where we slept sometimes. It was nice there because they had an awning, and it kept the rain off of us and the owner’s wife always brought us coffee and a doughnut when they opened the store. Sometimes, life throws you a nasty curve though because that morning, I had the whole cup and all of the doughnut because I couldn’t wake Mom up. She was all cold and stiff and I heard somebody say that she had just stopped breathing. I guess relief can come in different ways.
The store owners took me to the police so I wouldn’t be alone and I ended up in the court. The judge was nice and told me I deserved better than living on the street. I knew he was wrong, but I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, so I kept quiet. He said they found my Mom’s sister who wanted me to live with her and her family. He said a substitution could be made by placing me with strangers, but he would let me decide. Apparently, this new aunt of mine had been searching for us when she heard I was born, but with us living mostly on the streets, we were hard to find. I chose to stay with family. If she had been looking for me, maybe I was worth finding after all.
My new family tried hard to help me fit in. They sent me to some group where people talk to each other about how they feel and what they want from life. All I wanted was to understand why I was. They told me to stop wasting their time, so I never went back. All that mattered to me was that my clothes were now clean and my hair was shiny.
My aunt and uncle arranged for me to meet William tonight since they’ve known him for some time. My aunt said when I came to live with them, she called him and said he was very anxious to meet me. Hopefully, he won’t be disappointed.
I’ve often wondered why I was permitted to survive since there never seemed to be any real purpose behind my existence. But by tomorrow morning, I just might have my answer.
A knock on the door. He’s here. God, please let him like me.
“Hello, Sandy,” he said softly. “I’ve been searching for you forever it seems. Is it really you?”
I took a deep breath.
“Yes. It is really me. Daddy…”