I was released from the hospital a few days after I turned 18, which meant the state was no longer responsible for me, which is why I found myself looking at a future in a homeless shelter, if I couldn’t get it together and find some way to make some money so that I could eventually help pay the rent to the apartment the state was providing for me.
“Hate to leave you like this” My social worker Jessica Martin said and I try hard not to roll my eyes. Of course she hated to leave me in a state provided apartment; she just wanted to be rid of the responsibility of caring for another ward of the state. She was like many of the foster parents’ I’d found myself living with. If there was a foster parent who cared about helping the children they took in, I hadn’t seen one.
Jessica was thirty nine and had been my social worker since I had first come into the state’s care. She was red headed with a temper to match, I didn’t like her anymore now then I had then.
“Let’s cut the crap” I say my bitterness coming out in my tone of voice. “You don’t hate to leave me here at all, you don’t want the responsibility of caring for the girl no one wanted.” If I could have gotten myself out of the car at that moment, I would have I didn’t want to spend any more time with the fake Barbie doll wannabe then I had too.
Putting the car in park at the shelter, Jessica got out of the car, and went around and got my wheelchair from the back. Since I had no money to my name whatsoever, I was stuck with one of those wheelchairs that you had to push yourself around in.
“You’re lucky I even drove you here” she snarled at me as she opened the door and pushed the wheelchair closer so that I could lift myself into it. “The state could have just left you at the hospital.” I knew that too, but I wasn’t going to let the state worker know exactly how scared I was to be out on my own. I had no money, and no way of making money. I’d taken independent living a couple years ago. It taught you about getting jobs, and money management as well as helping you get out on your own and help you with an apartment.
Which is how I found myself and my very little belongings being moved into a rattrap of an apartment, I wondered as I looked at the rundown building, how good the security could possibly be in such a place. You would think the state would find better places for their wards. You wouldn’t want a gunman to run around loose in the place.
I shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth, I should be grateful for having a place to stay at all. I guess I was still moody from the fact that I haven’t been able to sleep well due to the fact that I had yet again woken up from a nightmare, one of the worst since the shooting, as a matter of fact. I probably should seek help for what my doctors had called PTSD post-traumatic stress disorder, which was a result of witnessing the shooting and then nearly being killed. I was tired of waking up in a cold sweat every single morning. The dreams were always the same Tommy and Rodney were about to kill me when Tommy’s face morphed into Gaelyn Thomas’. I didn’t understand why he haunted my dreams so much, it wasn’t like I went out of my way to see him, especially after I had gotten released out of the hospital. I still wondered about his cold words, and if he’d really meant what he’d said about no one wanting a broken down little girl. Something about him had changed and I couldn’t put my finger on it, but he wasn’t the same Gaelyn I remembered when I was ten years old.
Jessica helped gather what little belongings I had and pushed me into the sparsely furnished apartment. Once I had gotten inside my new home, Jessica lay my bags down on the floor next to my so called bed was, which in reality only a mattress on the floor was what it was. I look around me and frown, I knew the state couldn’t exactly afford really nice apartments but surely they could have afforded something more than this.
Sighing, I pushed myself over to my bags and started taking the few clothes I’d brought with me. As I set about putting my clothes into the small dresser they’d provided, a wave of loneliness filled me. Sophia and I had once planned to get an apartment together when we had turned 18. Obviously that plan had fallen through, and I found myself missing the only person I could have called a close friend. I hated that I had been in the hospital for her funeral. I couldn’t help that considering my situation, but I still wondered if there had been something I could have done to have prevented the whole shooting. Maybe if I had let them kill me off from the start, then maybe Tommy and Rodney wouldn’t have felt the need to kill sixteen other students. Then again I knew why they had done it, I just wondered if they thought it was worth it as they sat in jail awaiting trial. In the end I don’t think it was, killing several people and then losing my freedom for it, well, I could have thought of better ways of dealing with the situation.
Finished with putting my clothes away, I roll into the kitchen, the counters were too high for me to reach from my wheelchair, which I figured they would be but still it would have been nice if they could have found better accommodations for a handicapped person. I sighed as I rolled over to the sink and realized I couldn’t even reach it. This situation was only getting worse by the minute.
Glancig at the clock on the wall, I wondered if I had time to get to the grocery store that was only a few short blocks away. I didn’t relish going out after dark, but I needed to stock my fridge so that I could at least have some food stocked up.
As I rolled towards the door, I grabbed my purse and apartment key off the floor. These arrangements were far from perfect but I would make it work. I would overcome the depression that had fallen on me since I’d found out about my best friend’s death. I had to fight for every moment of joy that I had, but it was a fight well worth it in the end.
“Sophia, I finally made it out on my own. While it’s not exactly the best circumstances, I will work hard to make the best out of them.” I said as I took one more look around my new apartment. “Things would be so much better if you were still here, but since you’re not I guess I’m going to have to do my best to live so that you can live through me.” I knew getting through my grief wouldn’t be easy, but I couldn’t let it get me down, I couldn’t let it drag me down into a deep bowl of depression. Sophia wouldn’t want that to happen, she’d want me to find happiness in whatever situation I was in. right now I couldn’t see myself being happy being stuck in a wheelchair for the rest of my life. But eventually I would come to terms with my disability, and I would find the happiness that I deserve. I wouldn’t always be the orphan no one wanted. It would just take me a lot of time to get to that point, because I was still thinking about the things I would never be able to do.
Sighing, I rolled out of my apartment, shutting the door and locking it behind me. I dreaded this moment but I needed food, and I could foresee anyone else coming to help me right now. As I started rolling down the hallway, I noticed the door beside mine open and close quickly, looking back to see who my new neighbor was. I was shocked to see Gaelyn coming my way.
“What are you doing here?” he asks as he enters the elevator beside me.
“I just moved in today, thanks to the independent living program I went through when I was sixteen.” I reply wishing I could stop the racing of my heart at the sight of him. My heart didn’t seem to notice the cruel way he’d treated me, it recognized a person who was just as broken as I was.
“The state couldn’t afford a better place for you?” he asked, his blue eyes narrowing. He seemed to be more sober than the last time I had seen him, which could possibly explain why he was being so nice to me. I shrugged my shoulders and tightened my hands on the wheels as the elevator came to a slow stop.
“It’s not the safest part of town to live on” Gaelyn said after a moment of silence “So be careful if you have to go out at night, in fact you shouldn’t go out after dark alone at all.”
“I don’t know why it matters so much, but I am 18, I can take care of myself.” I assured him wondering why he was so concerned when I knew that he couldn’t stand the sight of me. Something niggled at the back of mind, making me think I was missing a bigger part of the picture. I ignored it and started for the exit as soon as the elevator doors had opened.
“You may be 18 but you’re also in a wheelchair, that won’t stop a guy from trying to rob you or worse.” Gaelyn hollered before I reached the exit of the building. I turned and looked at him, and saw him watching me with a frown on his face. He seemed like a completely different person from the one I’d seen in the hospital. I wondered briefly if he had a Dr. Jekyil and Mr. Hyde personality disorder. Something wasn’t right about his mood swings and I wasn’t quite sure I liked it.
“I’ll be okay” I call again as I meet his eyes again, his blue eyes shone with so much brokenness that my heart ached for him. I knew it hadn’t been easy to deal with losing his sister in the violent way he had, and then from what I understood from another mutual friend, he’d been more or less kicked out of his family for going to his sister’s funeral drunk.
A strange longing to hold him and take his hurt away overcome me and I turned away frowning. I didn’t understand why, he’d treated me poorly for years, so why should I have cared if he was hurting or not. Still I couldn’t just turn off the way I’d felt for him just like that. To see the pain he was still in weeks after her death hurt me more than words could explain. I needed to stay away from Gaelyn Thomas if I planned on keeping my sanity intact.
Sighing, I rolled my way around the block to the small ramshackle grocery store, as I entered I noticed the inside was just as run down as the outside was, and I wondered if this whole neighborhood was run down. Grabbing some bread off the shelf, I turned down an aisle in search of some peanut butter. For now until my first disability check came in, this was all I could afford. It was kind of embarrassing how broke I was, and I hated the look of sympathy I got as I paid for the few items I’d purchased.
Rolling out of the door, I pushed myself back towards my apartment. As I rolled down the sidewalk, I took in the deplorable conditions of the houses and buildings that lined the streets. No one looked any better than the last, and I wondered how many kids the state had sent to live in this particular neighborhood. It made me sick to think of that, they don’t really want to help us, so they pawn us off to the worst possible circumstances, and then expect us to just survive off of the limited help they give.
Finally reaching the parking lot to my apartment, I push myself towards the door, it shuts before I get there, leaving me to struggle to get it open. I swear under my breath as I lose my grip on my groceries and the door.
“Here let me help you” a voice calls from behind me, I look over my shoulder to see Gaelyn coming my way, he reached down and picked up my bread and peanut butter, he frowned when he saw the limited items I had bought but said nothing as he held the door open so I could get through.
“Did you have a personality transplant?” I ask him as I roll through the door. I was honestly confused about the way he was acting; he could have actually passed for a gentleman which was shocking enough. Gaelyn chuckled low in his throat, and shook his head.
“I’m not somebody you want to be around” he said “In fact you should go the other way if you run into me, I’m not a good person at all.” I frown as we enter the elevator.
“You were when I was ten” I remind him as I watch the doors close, trapping us within its belly.
“I haven’t been that person in a long time” he replied and I could hear the brokenness in his voice. What had happened to make this man so down on himself? When we were younger he’d always been confident about his abilities. Sophia had shared with me some of the stories he’d written and I been blown away by his talent.
“Do you still write?” I ask suddenly breaking the silence and I see his bright eyes dull and go cold, and he just glared at me. I almost felt small in my wheelchair and wondered what had been so wrong about my question.
“That’s none of your business!” he snapped, making me cringe and back away from him, though I couldn’t get that far because of the limited space. As soon as the elevator had stopped and the doors opened, Gaelyn had practically sprinted out of the doors. I pushed myself out of the elevator and towards my apartment feeling hurt and bewildered. I don’t understand completely what had happened but one thing was certain I didn’t want to get around him again. His mood swing had been kind of scary and I didn’t ever want to get that close to him again.
Sighing, I somehow managed to unlock my door; I ignored the fact that I could hear something breaking from within Gaelyn’s walls. Entering my apartment, I shut the door and locked it behind me; rolling into the kitchen I put my bread and peanut butter on the counter, leaving them barely on there so that I could reach them. Pushing myself towards the restroom, I frowned when I noticed I couldn’t even get my wheelchair into the bathroom.
“Just great!” I muttered angry at how Gaelyn had treated me for asking a simple question and angry at the fact that social services had given me an apartment that was not at all fitted to my needs.
After I finished checking the bathroom out, I pushed myself to where my mattress lay on the floor. Groaning, I manage to lift my out and lower myself to the mattress. Once I was seated on the mattress, I scooted backwards and dragged my useless legs up one by one. Once I was comfortable, I lay back and I let the tears fall. I cried for Sophia and the fact that she’d never grow old and we’d both never get married because she was gone and I was broken and nobody wanted a broken girl. I cried for the fact that no matter how kind Gaelyn acted he was still a jerk, who had shattered my heart.