I woke up to my body throbbing from head to toe. I tried to open my eyes, but succeeded in only being able to open one. I pushed myself up into a seating position, only to whimper as a result of the pain in my side. I gently reached up to touch my face and examine the rest of my body. I was still in my work uniform, but it was completely ruined. There was blood all over it and tears throughout the fabric. I could only imagine what my body looked like...I glanced down at my watch. There was a huge crack in the screen and it seems that it stopped working.
I started coughing into my elbow. Looking down, I realized I was coughing up blood. Oh God. I suddenly remembered my bag. Where is it? I quickly turned around, ignoring the stabbing pains erupting from my torso, only to find that it was missing. No no no! Everything I had was in that bag...what am I suppose to do? This can’t be happening. I pushed myself up to my feet, swaying slightly as I felt dizzy. I reached up again to touch my head and saw that there was blood on my hands. What do I do? What do I do? I had no one to go to...except for two people...Mo and Chelsea. But they will both be working by now right? Maybe I can catch one of them on their lunch break. I wasn’t sure what I planned on doing exactly but I didn’t have anywhere else to go...no else to go to...
I took a deep breath before making my way towards the cafe. Luckily, it didn’t seem to be busy out so I didn’t attract attention. I’m not sure how long it took me, but I know it took me longer than usual to get to the cafe due to my injuries. After not being beaten in so long, it seems to have taken a greater toll on me than it would have before when I was getting beat on a daily basis.
When I finally made it to the cafe, I had plans on staying hidden while I waited for Chelsea or Mo to come out but that plan fell a part quickly. Meghan was outside of the front doors, almost like she was waiting for someone....She couldn’t possibly be waiting for me right? I tried to hide in a nearby alley before she saw me, but it was too late.
“Oh my goodness, Ally! What happened to you?!” She exclaimed loudly attracting the attention of the few townsfolk that were out and about. She ran over to me, gripping my arm tightly while she practically dragged me into the cafe. I had to take a deep breath to stop myself from having a panic attack when she touched me.
“Meghan, no stop! I’m fine really! Just get Mo-”
“Non-sense! Everyone has been so worried about you Ally-dear, let us help you!” I suddenly remembered what Chelsea was telling me about Meghan and what Meghan did to her. She couldn’t have possibly have gone as far as to set this up could she? Over a guy nonetheless?
“Oh my...Ally! What happened? Who did this to you?” Chelsea’s voice rung out towards me. The once noisy cafe, became dead silent as everyone turned to look at me. My heart started pumping and my breathing sped up slightly.
“I...I-I” I tried to utter out some excuse but I couldn’t think of anything.
“I found her outside like this. What happened Ally? Please tell us.” Meghan asked as she turned towards me. I could see the glint in her eyes that wasn’t there before. I took several steps away from her. I was speechless as things started to click into place. If Chelsea was right then-
“Pumpkin?” It was Andrew. My gaze turned to slowly meet his, along the way meeting Chelsea’s and Mo’s. Andrew took a step towards me, making me take a couple back away from him, only for me to stumble over my feet as my dizziness got worse. I saw him coming towards me, the action causing me to further panic as I attempted to crawl away from him.
“Man.” It sounded like Walter’s voice. I saw him shake his head to Andrew out the corner of my eye.
“Suga’ it’s okay. You’re safe here; you’re safe with me. I won’t hurt you...we won’t hurt you” Chelsea said as she took slow steps towards me. I knew I could trust Chelsea, that she hasn’t done anything to hurt me. But I couldn’t control my breathing and how to continued to speed up as I begun to hyperventilate. I felt her familiar touch on my arm that caused me to tense up, but she stayed put as she continued to talk to me; instructing me to take deep breaths and that I was safe here. Once my breathing became regulated, my vision came back into focus- as much as it could in this state-, and I was able to return to this seemingly nightmare of mine, I noticed that Meghan had stepped out.
“Pumpkin what happen-”
“Ally! Is this yours?” I looked up, as Chelsea helped me back to my feet, to see Meghan holding my bag. How did she get that?
“Meghan. Don’t.” Chelsea said. Don’t do what?
“How...how did you get that? Did you-”
“Oh!” Meghan exclaimed as she poured out everything from my bag onto the floor. “Are...are you homeless Ally? Is that what happened? Did someone try to mug you?” Heat flooded my cheeks and my throat felt like it was closing up as tears sprung to my eyes threatening to overflow. The silence has seemed to grow even thicker as everyone looked down at the contents of my bag before looking at me.
“I...How did you...” I started to ask her once again, I needed to know the answer but I couldn’t seem to get the words out.
“Ally dear,” I shivered at her name for me, “you should’ve been honest in the first place! We could’ve helped you and avoided all of this!” Was she blaming this on me?
“You wretched wench.” Mo’s voice erupted from the crowd. She came to stand in front of me, protecting my from most of the gazes in the cafe. “How dare you even think to blame this on her? How dare you act like ya even care for Ally? How dare you touch her stuff and go through her items? She is a sweet, genuine, caring young lady who has more dignity than you ever will!”
“Dignity? She has no dignity. She homeless for God’s sake! That’s why she looks dirty most of the time! No reason for her to be comin’ round here acting like she can have whatever and whoever she wants when she don’t even have a toilet to piss in!” I couldn’t stop the tears from overflowing at this point. “And you say she has more dignity than me? At least my parents love me! Unlike hers who beat her and used her!” It was silent for what felt like ages, but was only a moment. My mind couldn’t stop racing. How did she find out? Who told her? Did she find my parents? Do they know where I am? Am I going to have to leave this town? What’s going to happen?
“That’s right, she’s used! She’s nothing but a filthy low excuse of a woman who’s good for nothing but laying on her back!” I let my head fall in shame and embarrassment. How can she do this? Bring up my past in front of practically half the town?
“For you to come in here with the intention of humiliating her is down right disgusting. You have no idea what this girl has gone through! None. Yes, she does have dignity, more than you, because she gives more than any of us despite having less than all of us. She works hard each and every hour of each and every day without complaint, she actually does it with joy unlike your sorry behind!” Chelsea exclaimed from beside me. She was right all along. I’m so stupid to believe that Meghan was actually my friend...
“Meghan. Get your things and get out. Ally sweetie-”
“What? I’m trying to help here! I was the one who found her! If it wasn’t for me, none of you would even know that she was homeless!” I glanced up at her, only to make eye contact with Andrew. I quickly looked back down, becoming slightly dizzy again. He hasn’t said anything since Meghan announced my status of being homeless. I felt anger quickly boil up in me, at a rate I never felt before. “You all should be thanking me-”
“It wasn’t your business to tell.” The words slipped out of my mouth. I don’t know if the blood loss was getting to my head or the anger, or perhaps both.
“Excuse me?” Her clipped town was directed at me. But I didn’t back down, for all I know this could be my only chance to say what was on my mind. Besides, I had no idea if my parents were coming back...I could be dead tomorrow for all I know.
“It wasn’t your business to tell. But you did. Congratulations you exposed my secret! Tell me Meghan, how did you find out? How did you get my bag?” I can make out her eyes narrowing at me, through my disrupted vision. “Was it you who has been following me these past couple of weeks? Was it you who beat me last night? If so, you’re going to have to try a lot harder than that. I’ve taken worst beatings- I’ve had my behind handed to me on a silver platter and you think that little beating you gave me is going to bring me to my knees? If you do, it just re....” I had to steady myself on Chelsea’s arm
" ...it just reinforces the fact that you know nothing about me. Let’s fill everyone else in shall we? Yes my parents used to beat me everyday and let their junkie friends join in on the fun too. Yes my dad sexually abused me too, and allowed his junkie friends to do the same. I may be used, but I didn’t want it- not once. So I ran and decided that I’d rather die on the streets than stay another day in that house when I found out my own parents- my own blood- the ones destined to take care of me, wanted to sell me so they can make a quick sum of cash! You didn’t have to do all of this to prove how unworthy I am Meghan, I already know!” I paused for a moment.
“I thought you were my friend Meghan” Her poker face seemed to crack for a moment. “I trusted you. I supported you. I listened to you. I gave you my tips just so you can have extra money for shopping while I went home starving in the cold! But I didn’t complain, I didn’t even mind because I considered you to be my friend and I’d do anything to help you and make you happy! At least now I know the truth.”
“Ally, sweetie you can’t possibly blame this on me-”
“I do.” Mo slowly approached my other side, opposite of where Chelsea was, and wrapped her arm around me.
“Come on, sweetie, let’s get you cleaned up and see if we need to take you to the hospital okay?” I made sure to avoid eye contact with everyone as Mo and Chelsea led me to a back room that acted as Mo’s office.
“I’ll be right back. I’m going to go grab your things okay?” Chelsea said before quickly leaving the office and heading back into the cafe. I was grateful for the cover of the bathroom. I didn’t think I could face anyone after everything that just happened. Mo didn’t say a word as she grabbed a near by chair and helped me to sit down on it. She took out a first aid kit and started to clean my face.
“Mo, I got it-”
“No. Sit still and let me help you for once” She said in a tone that even stopped me from arguing with her. A few minutes later, Chelsea came back in with my bag in her hands. I quickly reached for it to look through my items. Everything was there, except for my money. There wasn’t a penny left from the $1900 that I had kept in this bag. Thankfully the other $1000 I had stashed in some of the clothes that I left here, but nonetheless that was a huge blow to my savings.
“Ally, what’s wrong? Is something missing?” Chelsea asked me.
“It’s gone. My money is gone! I don’t...I don’t understand, Meghan-”
Chelsea got up before storming out of the office back into the cafe area. I could no longer hold back my tears as I begun to weep. I wept for my loss of money, for the exposition of my secrets, for my loss of family, and the betrayal of a friend.