The water in the sink had turned a disgusting shade of brown with a thick layer of grease floating at the top.
“I can’t wash the cups in this mess. I need to change the water.” I said to myself.
I need to get these done before Ms. Penny gets here. She hates it when the house isn’t immaculate when she comes home from wherever it is she goes to everyday. She doesn’t work so I assume she spends her days at the corner bar.
When the water finished draining, I rinsed it and began to run the water for a fresh sink full of the sudsy water. Out of all the possible chores in the world I hated dishes the most. Penny knew that too, that’s why she made it my personal chore everyday. The woman hates me and I don’t know why. As far as I know I haven’t done anything to justify the constant beatings and torture that I receive daily.
I tried to tell the school in hopes that someone would come and take me from her home but instead when they showed up, they interviewed her and said the case was unfounded. That’s New Jersey for you. I can’t wait to get out of this state and never look back. I’ve got enough saved up to get a bus ticket and one night at a hotel. That’s it. I need just a little more, so I can find a house or somewhere to lay my head at least. I have a few more prom dresses to collect payment for and then I should be set.
Satisfied with my chore finally being completed I pulled the plug and let the water drain. I wrung out the dishcloth and proceeded to wipe down the countertops when I heard the front door open.
“Crap!” I whispered quietly and made my way around the rest of the counters in a hurry. Then I saw it. That small coffee cup in the corner slightly hidden from the view of the sink. If Penny sees this, I’m in for it.
I heard her footsteps in the hall staggering towards the kitchen, so I quickly tucked the mug as far back as I could and prayed that she wouldn’t see it.
“What are you doing in here?” Her voice was sharp and cold, and her breath smelled of cheap cigarettes and whiskey.
“Just finishing with my chores Ms. Penny.”
Her eyes bore through mine with a hatred like nothing I had ever seen before and it frightened the crap out of me. Why does this woman despise me so much? Maybe one day I will get the chance to ask her.
“It’s about time you made yourself useful. Get out of my way,” she slurred and pushed me across the room with the full force of her body weight. The side of my rib hit the counter causing me to cry out from the pain. Big mistake.
“Shut your mouth you little cunt. Shut up!”
I pressed my lips together to stifle the cries trying to escape me. My rib was throbbing. I think it’s cracked or something. When I stole a glance over at her she was staring at me through eyes full of pure evil as she held the coffee mug that I had forgotten in her hands.
“Finished your chores huh? What are you trying to do, give me roaches or ants?” she screamed.
She swung her arm out towards me and slammed the mug against the side of my face. The mug had fallen from her hand and shattered against the linoleum floor.
Stars danced across my vision as I tried to regain my composure. Another piece of glass came down hard on the top of my head, shattering all around me. There was a trail of blood flowing down the side of my face but that didn’t stop her.
She came at me this time with a wooden cutting board and I knew that if she hit me with that, I would definitely be dead or unconscious or in a coma somewhere.
My heart was racing now as she stalked me, armed with her slab of wood. She doesn’t get to win today. Today I will fight back. My blood was now boiling with anger and reciprocated hatred.
Penny was only two steps away from me now as she brought the cutting board up over her head with both arms. I threw my arms up to protect my head from another blow and screamed.
The kitchen had erupted into flames. “Where the hell did the fire come from?” I asked myself. Penny stood there, arms now at her sides as she let the cutting board slide from her fingers.
“Don’t just stand there stupid, put it out!”
That was the final straw. I was out of here. If I have to live on the street until I can find somewhere else to live than that is what I will have to do. I turned my eyes to Penny. I closed the distance between us and got close to her face.
“Put out your own damn fire!”
I left her in the kitchen and ran up the stairs, knocking from room to room to let all the other children know that they needed to go next door to the neighbor’s house and call 911. Running to my room last I got down on my knees in front of the bed and pulled out the black duffel bag I had stowed there when I first plotted my escape. I checked the side pocket to make sure that my cash was still hidden there and tossed the bag over my shoulder. I made my way back down the steps, ignoring the screams coming from Penny still in the kitchen.
The children were standing on the neighbor’s yard watching as the house was slowly engulfed in flames.
“Penny is still in the house. She won’t leave.” I said as I walked passed the neighbor stopping only long enough to hug each of the younger kids that had been my foster siblings.
The fire trucks were coming, their sirens repeatedly wailing in the distance. I needed to go now before they got here because I know Penny will undoubtedly try to blame this on me. I’m the one whose head is split open and possibly has a fractured rib, but she would get away with it because she always does.
Thankfully the bus station isn’t that far, maybe a block and a half. I’m getting dizzy and the blood thicker. There it is. I can see it. There was no way I could run so I walked as fast as I could, pushing through the dizziness plaguing my vision. “I need to clean up before I get the ticket. I don’t want to scare anyone and draw attention to myself.”
The bathroom was empty thank goodness, so I locked the door and immediately stripped myself of my blood-stained clothes. I took a moment to look at myself in the mirror to examine the extent of my wounds. She sure did a number on me. I pulled a small thin piece of glass from my scalp and held my shirt over the wound to block the fresh flow of blood. It was glass from the coffee pot. She broke the carafe over my head. The crazy bitch.
I bundled a handful of paper towels in my hand and held them under the warm water in the sink and proceeded to clean my face and head wounds. Even with the blood gone, you could still see that I had been beaten. The bruise was already forming on the side of my face, compliments of the coffee mug she hit me with.
Once I was dressed in fresh clothes, I tossed the bloody ones in the garbage and made my way to the ticket counter.
“How can I help you today?” the elderly gentleman behind the counter asked me politely.
“I need to purchase a one-way ticket.”
He stared at me over the counter, suspicion etched in his features when he asked, “Where to?”
“Where is the next bus going?”
“New Orleans, Miss.”
New Orleans would be perfect. I have always wanted to go there and visit the French Quarter.
“New Orleans is perfect. I’ll take a one one-way ticket to New Orleans please.”
“Ok. I need to see your id and the cost will be Three Hundred Forty-Six Dollars and Fifty-Six cents. Will that be cash or credit?”
“Crap! I can’t show him my ID. He’ll know I’m underage.”
Pretending to dig through my bag to find it I handed the man my cash, about five hundred to be exact. That was everything I had. If he accepted my bribe than I would be on my way to New Orleans. I would just have to figure out how to live on the streets because even that is better than staying with Penny.
“I seem to have forgotten my ID and I really have to get on that bus sir. Is there any way you can help me out?” I held out the cash, so he could see the extra money and he nodded.
“One ticket to New Orleans,” he said as he handed the shiny ticket out to me.
“Thank you so much. You are a lifesaver.”
I ran through the glass doors that led to the platform and sat on the bench. My ticket said the bus was due to depart in twenty minutes, I just needed to catch my breath and steady myself. The dizziness was coming back, threatening to overtake me. “Just hang on. Just a few minutes longer and then I will be free.”
There was only two other people besides me making the trip to New Orleans from New Jersey. Of course, we would be picking up more passengers along the way. I walked all the way to the rear of the bus and settled into my seat, finally allowing myself to smile. I was free.