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On Being Homeless
By Marcia Miller-Twiford
Friday, October 30, 2009
Rated "G" by the Author.
Some effects of our current economic crisis.
As if it wasn't bad enough that the little one's dad up and left us without so much as a good-bye, now we were homeless too. As far as I was concerned it was good riddance to him. But two of the kids left shortly after he did. I think they're too young to be out on their own. Maybe they went looking for him. If they decided to come home they wouldn't be able to find me. All they'd find was an empty house with a "Foreclosure Sale" sign in the front lawn. I would miss them more than words can say but found comfort in knowing I now only had three to look after. That would be difficult enough. Five would be next to impossible.
It was rough at first. We missed all the comforts of home: a warm bed, regular meals, a nice yard where for the kids could play. All that and more we missed. But we had each other and eventually we adjusted somewhat.
After awhile you get used to the hard pavement and the looks of uncaring people. That's if they care enough to even look your way. One day a nice woman pushing a shopping cart with all her belongings in it threw us an old coat. She was obviously homeless too, and giving us that coat was a real act of kindness. Some people do care.
With a wooden packing crate box, an old smelly blanket and the coat the woman gave us we at least had shelter. But autumn was almost over and the nights were getting cold. It wouldn't be long before the rains started. The box was in the corner behind a stairwell and couldn't be seen from the street. We felt almost safe and would gather as close together at night as we could to keep warm. But the kids were always hungry. Keeping them fed was my biggest worry.
On the second day of our plight I discovered the deli restaurant down the block. When their kitchen became too smoky or hot they'd open the door to the alley. It was easy for me to sneak in and grab something off of one of the prep tables while everyone was busy up front. But they didn't open that door every day and on those days unless I found something edible in a dumpster or trash can we all went hungry. Sometimes the food I did find was half rotten but we managed to keep it down. A starving stomach will tolerate thinds a well fed one won’t. Getting water was another problem. We craved fresh water as much as we did fresh food.
There were other homeless on the street we now called home but they took no pity on us. Some of them shared what they could scrounge up with the others but not with us. Nary a morsel.
With the kids following behind me we'd go for walks just to get out of that box and hoping it would still be there and unoccupied when we returned.
We'd walk around looking for food or water. And on the days when we weren't hungry we'd go to the park so the kids could play. They'd climb the trees and run all over the place having a grand old time.
One day we ventured to the amusement park and lo and behold there was all kinds of food everywhere: half-eaten hot dogs, french fries, and corn dogs. A special treat were two hamburgers we found on a table; only one bite had been taken out of each and there were slushies next to each. Made of mostly ice they quickly melted to the much desired water. No one came back and we had a real feast.
Wherever we ventured as soon as the sun started to go down we'd hurry to our makeshift home.
We'd learned right off that being out at night was not for the likes of us. There were all kinds of creepy people, dogs, rats, raccoons, you name it, and we were no match for any of them in our weakened condition. And there were police cars driving the streets all night. The shelters were all full and I knew what would happen if they spotted us.
There was one man who had spotted us. I think he was drunk most of the time. I knew the smell from when we had a home. He thought I was pretty and told me so. That made me nervous. But he'd just talk as if he expected me to carry on a conversation with him and then stagger on, much to my relief. The first time he stopped and said something to me I thought the kids were going to jump him but they didn't. They were as scared of him as I was but they would have protected me if it came to that. Little did they know it was my job to protect them.
Then the rains started. We stayed in for two days and it poured and poured. We were hungry and thirsty but we were dry so just slept most of the time. The lightning and thunder scared us but we huddeled together and rode it out.
On the day the rain stopped I heard footsteps approaching where we were. Then I heard a little girl's voice say, "Mommy, look. Oh, how sad."
The woman peeked in at us and told the little girl to go to the car and get the towel she kept there out of the trunk. When the little girl returned she asked, "Mommy, can I keep one?"
"We're taking them all Cindy. They're going home with us. They look half starved and they've been through enough without also being separated. You pick up the kittens, wrap them in the towel, and I'll take the mother cat. I wonder how they ended up like this?"
© Marcia Miller-Twiford
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|Reviewed by Annabel Sheila
|Well done Marcia!!! I was choking back tears at the thought of a mother and her little children homeless...on the street. The clever turn of your pen at the end lifted my spirits back up....I LOVED your story.
|Reviewed by Georg Mateos
|And you were having doubts about writing short-stories? Girl, your pen should be giving freedom, cos, it writes wonderfully!
|Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado
|Heartbreaking reality for far too many; and the trouble is, the government just doesn't give a dang! Sad! Powerfully penned sadness, Marcia; well written!
(((HUGS))) and much love, your friend in Tx., Karen Lynn. :( *tears!*