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Chapter 2

Fourth Grade - First Day

Momma promised to buy me clothes for school, but I know she won’t. She yelled at me for asking, and she didn’t get me school stuff either. My old clothes don’t really fit, and they have holes and stuff. She’s not really buying food anymore, so I stole some money from her. I feel really bad, but we need real food. Am I horrible to steal from my momma?

“Momma, I’m going to school,” Lily called out. She knew her mom didn’t hear, though. She was out cold, her and her boyfriend having been up late, doing what they do and making lots of noise, which unfortunately kept her up too.

She had grabbed a bowl of cereal before leaving, knowing she’d be hungry again well before lunch, but there wasn’t much else to eat. She was lucky there was even milk.

Lilly walked to school, listening to songs on her iPod, and humming along with them. She almost dropped it as she was shoved from behind. Looking over her shoulder, somewhat annoyed, she saw her best friend.

“What’d you do that for?” she asked, pausing the music.

“You looked like you needed to be woken up,” Sarah replied, with that sadistic smile she was so good at.

“It’s only the first day of school, and already I’m too tired!” she exclaimed.

“Why are you so tired?” Sarah asked.

“Momma and her new boyfriend made noise all night long,” Lilly replied.

“Eww,” Sarah mouthed. “Lilly, I hate to tell you this, but your pants are a little short, and I don’t think they’re supposed to be capris,” Sarah observed.

“Momma didn’t take me to get new clothes yet, and I guess I grew some,” she explained. “Hopefully, we’ll go this weekend,” she added, after a moment.

“You don’t sound like you believe that,” Sarah noted.

“Since she dated Randy, she stopped buying much food, and she doesn’t seem to care about buying me school clothes, or supplies,” she said.

“She’s not dating Randy anymore?” Sarah asked.

“No, she’s dating some guy named Matt now, but he’s a lot like Randy was,” she replied.

“Do you have stuff?” Sarah asked.

“Yeah. I don’t like that I did it, but I stole money from her purse to get school supplies. When she went to work last Saturday, I went to the store and bought a notebook, and some pencils and pens, and paper, and junk,” she told Sarah, but neglected to tell her she didn’t have everything she needed.

“What’s up with your Mom?” Sarah asked.

“I don’t know, but since she dated Randy, it’s like I’m the grownup, and she’s the kid. Maybe it’s the medicine she started taking when she was dating Randy,” she said.

“What kind of medicine is she taking?” Sarah asked.

“I don’t know, but she takes shots all the time and she’s very sleepy and weird when she does,” Lilly replied.

“Maybe she’ll get better soon,” Sarah tried to assure her.

When the weekend arrived, she went to her mothers room, and knocked. Of course, there was no reply.

“Momma, when are we going to get school clothes?” Lilly asked through the door.

“Ye ungrateful wee mink,” her mother said, opening the door.

“Momma, you promised!” Lilly said.

“Ye dornt appreciate anythin’. Ah born ye an’ buy scran fur ye, an’ thes is whit Ah gie,” her mother said, her brogue a bit thicker than usual.

“I can’t understand your Scottish shit!” Lilly screamed

“Ye dornt gab tae me ’at way!” her mother said.

“I hate you!” Lilly screamed, and ran into her room. She curled up in the far corner, and cried for hours.

Arguments with her mother became a regular occurrence, many of them ending with Lilly getting slapped, often hard enough to leave a bruise. Lilly did what she could to make sure they weren’t seen, but they couldn’t always be hidden. Even makeup, which she’d managed to steal from her mom, didn’t always cover them up. When asked, she’d make up some kind of story to keep her mom out of trouble.

As time passed, Lilly began stealing money from her mother, more and more often, just to get food. She even found herself stealing small amounts of money from her friend’s parents at sleepovers, mostly from Sarah’s. She’d always cry when she had to do that, and was always afraid they’d hear her crying in the bathroom. Occasionally, she’d swipe enough to get a piece of clothing when she really had no other choice, her clothes quickly becoming worn and too small.

Every time she stole, she lost a little bit more of her conscience. At least, she suppressed it, not really seeing any other choice. She sometimes wondered why no one ever confronted her when she stole, but she didn’t question it, because she didn’t know what else to do. She often wished someone would say something. At least then, her shame would be out in the open.

The opportunities for stealing became less frequent, as her sleepover invites became less frequent. Although it took awhile, she wondered if she had in fact been caught, and they just weren’t saying anything. There was nothing she could do about it, though. With the shame of what she did, and pretty sure she was gaining a reputation for stealing, she often cried herself to sleep.

In the second half of the year, the school had a big anti-drug campaign, including drug awareness and prevention classes. That was when Lilly began questioning the medicine her momma was taking. The symptoms they taught about heroin use looked a lot like how her mother acted, including not buying food and stuff, along with not showering regularly and often wearing dirty clothes, not to mention not brushing her teeth.

We had a drug class today, and they told us about the different drugs, and how bad they are. Momma looks like the people that they showed us that use heroin. Is my momma a drug user? God, I hope not.

Although Sarah didn’t say anything to her, she knew her best friend thought the same thing. They talked a lot about how her mother acted, and the different men coming and going, along with how she acted when she took the ‘medicine’ she took. Sarah never came out and said it, though, but Sarah had been drifting away from her, anyway.

I stole money from Sarah’s parents when I spent the night over at her house last night. I’m a horrible person. I hate myself! I don’t deserve her being my friend. I suck!!!! Why can’t I have a momma that’s not on drugs and loves me?

Lilly cried while writing that entry in her journal. There were a number of small wrinkled places, where the water from her tears had messed the paper up, a little.

Fifth Grade - First Day

As fifth grade began, Lilly didn’t bother asking her mom about new clothes, and Sarah hadn’t asked her over since the beginning of the summer. No longer worrying about whether it was right, she swiped money from her Mom to get at least some of the supplies she needed, along with at least a little bit of decent food. Of course, like the previous year, she didn’t have enough. She never had enough, but she had already learned to make do with what she did have.

Her mother did buy food, but it wasn’t often, and usually consisted of sweets, like Twinkies. As much as she’d always loved them, Lilly had gotten to where she hated to see those little yellow pastries, with the yummy white goo inside. Her mother should be worrying about her eating junk, not the other way around.

In order to make her clothes last longer, she had started wearing stretchy skirts, with tights, and sometimes baggy sweats. Those choices gave her at least some growing room, but her tights and even her skirts often had holes in them. For tops, she started getting over sized tee shirts, and sweatshirts, which also often had holes. She bought most of her clothes from thrift stores, and occasionally WalMart, if she happened to be there when something was cheap enough on clearance, and she happened to have money when she saw it. Although she tried to avoid doing it, she occasionally swiped clothes from stores, among other necessities. Just like with her friends, maybe former friends, she was surprised she’d never been caught. In only a year and a half, her life and who she was, had completely changed.

Christmas of 2012 came and went, having passed without notice by her mother. Lilly cried through the night, the holiday always having been special for them. It was a time when she and her Momma spent special time together, and simply enjoyed being with each other.

Christmas. Momma didn’t even care about the Christmas present I made her. She just got a damn Twinkie and went to her room to shoot up again. I hate her. There was a lot of scratched out stuff, followed by, I miss her. As with her earlier entries, where she confessed stealing from her friends, there were tear stains on the paper.

That Christmas was finally too much. Lilly had had enough. The next morning, she banged on her mother’s door very early, not caring if her mom had brought a man home or not. She’d long since quit keeping track of her mother’s boyfriends, or what hours she kept.

“Mom, let me in. I want to talk to you!” she demanded. After a bit of commotion, and no small amount of very angry mumbling, the door opened. Not waiting to see if anyone else was there, Lilly simply barged in. She was disgusted with what she saw. There were needles all over the place, along with other drug junk she couldn’t identify, and lots of discarded food wrappers.

“Whit dae ye want, ye wee jobby?” her mother said, the sound of anger, no disdain, in her voice.

“You know I don’t understand your Scottish shit!” she exclaimed. Her mother actually seemed to come more awake with Lilly’s unusual retort.

“Dornt ye daur gab tae me ’at way!” her mother said.

“Who are you to tell me what to do? You’re just a drugged out slut, and you’ve stopped being my mother!” Lilly yelled. She hated herself for saying that, and hadn’t meant to, but it was true. Rather than reply, her mother slapped her, very hard.

She was getting used to being slapped, and just shrugged it off, as she picked herself back up. It wasn’t that important, considering how mad, and hurt, she was.

“Whit did ye say?” her mother asked, increased anger in her voice. She also seemed a bit startled at Lilly’s language.

“I said what I needed to to get your damned attention. Nothing else seems to work anymore, other than the damn drugs and your asshole boyfriends,” Lilly replied. Her mother looked at her a moment, as if she was about to yell, and maybe hit her again, then sighed instead.

“Whit did ye want tae talk abit?” she said, sounding a bit more sobered.

“You need to start being my mom again. I’m the kid, but I’m having to steal just to have some food that isn’t junk. I’m wearing shitty old clothes that’re too small and have holes, and you totally missed Christmas,” she said, her voice cracking at the end, moisture in her eyes. “Christmas used to be our favorite time together, but you’re just a damn druggie now...I miss you, Momma,” Lilly said, unable to continue any further. She ran back out of the room, barging past her mother. Locking her door after slamming it shut, she curled up in the corner between her bed and the wall, crying. It had become a common occurrence for her.

A long time passed before Lilly heard a faint knock on her door. Scared of what was coming, she got up and opened it. Her mother came in and sat on her bed, sighing as she did.

“Mah bonnie wee flower. I’ve nae bin daein’ reit by ye. Please forgife me,” she said, pausing to compose herself again. Lilly remained silent, hoping this was real. She’d read how druggies would lie to cover themselves, and would say and promise anything.

“Ah cannae make up th’ pest, but I’ll try an’ clean myself up an’ dae better. Ah think I’ll need yer help, thocht, if yoo’re willin’ tae give me anither chance,” she said, looking at Lilly, waiting and hoping.

Lilly didn’t say anything. The words were too difficult to form. Instead, she threw herself at her mother and wrapped her arms around her.

“Nae mair men an’ nae mair drugs. I promise. We start a new life the-day,” her mother said, holding Lilly back enough to look into her daughter’s eyes.

“I love you Momma,” Lilly said, tightening her arms around her mom.

“Ah loove ye tay, dochter,” she replied. “By th’ way, ye need tae nae hae a potty mouth. Ah want ye tae be better than me. Promise me ye willnae talk loch ’at again,” she said.

“I promise, Momma,” she said, snuggling back into her mother. With what she’d been through already, she’d have promised just about anything to get her mother back.

After a while longer, simply holding onto each other, her mother finally held her out a little and with a serious look said, “It wulnae be afair next week, but we’ll gie ye some guid clase. We can gie some food noo, thocht,” she said.

The two of them cleaned up, and got dressed, and for the first time, her mother really noticed how her daughter was dressing. Although it could have been worse, Lilly didn’t look like a good, reputable girl, and she was only ten years old.

“We definitely need tae gie ye new clase,” she remarked, as she surveyed her little girl.

Their shopping trip, although wonderful for Lilly, wasn’t as long or as plentiful as she would’ve hoped. Her mother simply didn’t have enough money to buy much, but with Lilly’s guidance, they bought things that could be made to last. Lilly had become good at that. That night, Lilly documented the day in her journal.

Day after Christmas. I made momma listen to me. She promised to clean herself up, and made me promise to stop cussing. I guess, she’s right. I need to be better than that if I want to have a better life. I don’t want to ever live like my momma when I grow up. Why do I think such bad things about momma? I don’t think it’s like this for Sarah.

The next week was like a dream for Lilly. Her mother struggled through withdrawal, and Lilly did everything needed to help her through it, including staying in her room with her. That had been a great decision on her part, as she managed to stop her mother from using a stash of drugs she had hidden, more than once. Her mother fought with her over that, both physically and verbally, but eventually Lilly won. That alone was a testament to how bad the withdrawal was for her mother.

The next weekend, they didn’t go shopping for clothes, but it was Lilly that said no. Her mother was in no condition to leave the house. The first week that school started back, Lilly stayed home. Although the worst of the withdrawal seemed to be over, she knew her mother was still too weak. Her grades were plenty good enough to take the absences, though, as she was mostly a straight ‘A’ student.

Momma’s withdrawal is horrible, and I caught her trying to shoot up again. She’s got drugs hidden everywhere. I don’t know what to do. Jake told me she could take whatever time off from work she needed, and to let him know if we needed anything. I asked if we could have a little food and he brought a lot. He’s nice. I wish momma liked him instead of the men she hangs out with.

Finally, after almost a week and a half, the withdrawal seemed to come to an end, and life seemed to finally be good for a change. Lilly returned to school, full of new life, and with a full stomach.

Momma went back to work today. It took almost two weeks, and she still looks bad, but I think she’s better. I think I can catch up on all my missed school work. I hope so, for both of those things. I don’t know if I can do this again. She hurt me trying to get her drugs from me, but I’ll never let her know. She feels guilty enough. I know people on drugs will lie and do things to get the drugs. Or they will start using them again when things get bad. I hope she doesn’t get back on them.

Lilly argued with her mother about clothes choices, when they finally went shopping. Of course, Lilly won, as she had become accustomed to the style of clothes she wore, and she was also worried about her mother slipping back into the drugs again. She was paranoid, and wanted to be prepared. She also started squirreling money away, a result of that same concern, not that she got much.

Almost the end of her fifth grade school year, her mother walked into their small trailer, definitely looking a little out of sorts. There was a man with her that looked vaguely familiar to Lilly.

“Dae ye min’ Randy?” her mother asked. That simple question was like a giant boot slamming into her gut. Randy was the one Lilly believed first got her mother into drugs.

“Momma, you promised!” she said.

“It was only one hit,” her mother replied, almost whining, like a child would.

“Your a bitch! I hate you,” she screamed, then ran out of the house, tears pouring from her eyes. This was the thing she’d dreaded, and hoped wouldn’t happen, but it had. Just as she thought life was going to turn out alright, it all fell apart around her.

She sat outside, on the patio chair beside the house, waiting for Randy to leave. She didn’t care how late she had to stay outside. She definitely didn’t want to hear what went on in there.

With her knees curled up to her chin, she allowed her mind to wander. It felt kind of like she’d left her own body. In that state, she thought she felt a lot of ‘things’ out there, like minds, but very simple. Vaguely remembering that strange event in first grade, she knew they were the ‘others’, and she remembered how much they scared her.

Randy stumbled out of their trailer much sooner than she would’ve expected, from past experience. His presence jarred her back to reality. His expression was blank, drug addled, as he said, “I think the bitch died.”

Lilly jumped up, disbelief marring her expression. Running into the trailer, she ran the length of the house to her mother’s room. Panic was barely being held back as she looked in. Lying on the bed was her mother, still, like a porcelain doll, her hair dishevelled around her head. It took Lilly a moment to realize that she wasn’t breathing. She ran back outside, straight to Randy.

“Help my Momma!” she screamed at the huge man sitting in the chair she’d vacated only a moment before.

“Go away, brat,” he replied, rather sleepy sounding.

“Help her!” she yelled.

“Leave me alone, you little bitch!” he said, his voice rising a little.

Having walked over to him, she started hitting him, trying to get him to do something. Rather than get up, he simply shoved her away. Getting back to her feet, she went back to him and started hitting him again, desperate to get him to do something, anything. This time, he lashed out at her, his hand connecting with the force of a hammer to her jaw. As she landed on the ground, there was a moment where she had to remember where she was, stunned and disoriented. When she finally got her senses back, she saw him drunkenly moving away.

At that point, her consciousness did something strange. It was unlike the thing that happened in first grade. Her mind seemed to leave her body, expanding outward in a flash, and she had no control of it. It was weird, and very disorienting. Her anger, and panic, was fueling whatever was happening.

As her mind felt the ‘others’, this time she knew they were small animals and she was able to touch each and every one of them. Unable to stop it, even if she had wanted to, her anger at Randy flowed out from her, and into the small minds she felt. It was a tidal wave of emotion, rushing out from an earthquake in her head, and engulfing the ‘others’. She then collapsed into a heap, her tears and sobs drowning out everything else, her consciousness collapsing back in on her, the supernova of her grief becoming a blackhole.

“Are you alright?” she heard a man’s voice ask her.

“My momma’s dead,” she said so quietly, he almost didn’t hear.

“Call 9-1-1!” the man called out.

“Stan, there’s a man over here. He looks really bad,” another voice said.

Some time after everything happened, but she had no idea exactly when, she wrote, Randy deserved what he got. I HATE HIM!! I HATE HIM!! I HATE HIM!!

Lilly had no idea what happened after that. Life became a blur. Sometime later, she knew she was in a house she’d never seen before, and she had some of her things with her, although it wasn’t many of them. Somewhere in her mind, she knew she had the small locked box she’d stored her emergency money in, along with some of her personal treasures, but none of that mattered much. Her mother was dead, gone forever. That was what mattered.

She had periodic bouts of crying, unable to stop herself. Her mother was gone, and in spite of the bad times they’d had, Lilly loved her, and already missed her. There was a hollow place inside her, a hole that would probably never be filled.

I’m such a bad person. How can I be so cruel? I’m happy Randy is dead, and it isn’t right. My momma is dead, and he killed her with his stupid drugs! My life is shit!

“We have a sad story tonight. Casey Snow is our reporter on the scene. Casey, can you tell us what’s going on?” the news anchor began. An image of a brown haired, somewhat lean woman appeared, with her hair in a braid that was hanging over her left shoulder. Behind her was a mobile home that wasn’t in the best of condition. There was some small amount of junk scattered around, and the patio chair Lilly had sat in the night before. The camera managed to capture the outlined location where Randy had met his end.

“We’re in the Doraville mobile home park, where sometime after midnight last night, a young girl witnessed her mother die from an apparent drug overdose. As sad as that is, it is unfortunately not uncommon thanks to the opioid epidemic sweeping the nation. What is uncommon is that the mother’s boyfriend, stumbling away from the house, managed to step into a very large snake ball. According to reports, along with pictures taken before anyone could get near his body, there were at least a dozen different varieties of snakes slithering over him, an estimated total of at least 40 snakes, although it is nearly impossible to be certain. Experts have identified all three types of rattlesnake in Georgia, along with copperheads, water moccasins and a few non-venomous snakes, including king snakes. According to the experts, it is very unusual to find a mixed grouping of snakes like this, as several of these varieties consider the others food,” the onsite reporter told them.

“What a horrible way to go,” the female co-anchor said, giving an involuntary shiver, showing her apparent dislike of snakes.

“Glad I wasn’t him,” the news anchor said, in a somewhat miserable attempt to add some humor to the story.

“But that poor little girl. Her mother dies, and then the man who is probably as close to a dad as she has, stumbles into a snake ball,” the co-anchor said.

“Do we know anything about how the girl is doing?” the anchor asked.

“Of course, she’s a child, so any identifiable information is suppressed. However, we do know she is as alright as a child can be in the situation. She has been placed in emergency foster care, as no family has been identified yet, so she should be alright. A representative with the Department of Family and Children’s Services stated that they are working to find any family that could take her in,” the reporter replied, as they showed a picture of the snakes on the man’s body. Scrolling through several pictures, one picture had a nice closeup of Lilly.

“Is that the girl?” the co-anchor asked.

“Yes, that’s the girl. We do know the picture was posted on the internet by witnesses. It’s our understanding that DFCS is working to have them all removed, again to protect the child, and we will also remove it from future links to this report, at the request of DFCS,” the reporter said.

“So it appears that her only family has been taken from her,” the anchor noted, trying to steer away from the photos, which they probably shouldn’t have shown.

“It appears that way, John,” the reporter agreed.

“Meredith, what’s the current status of Priscilla Pimlott?” James Cardigan asked, who was the supervisor for the DFCS office in Doraville.

“Her records are odd. Although I can’t be certain, I think they’ve been falsified,” she replied.

“Show me what you have,” he told her.

“Well, in trying to track down any of the mother’s family, I hit an absolute dead end. However, when I started digging, I found some anomalies, in both the mother’s and the daughter’s records. Family connections turned out to be completely false, contacts don’t exist, and there are other oddities. I’m not certain at this point, but I suspect she might be an illegal, and I think she’s a national of the U.K. But, without engaging the State Department, I’m at a dead end,” she said.

“If Priscilla is a national of the U.K., I’ll bet she’s not aware of it. Further, hearing her very southern accent, I’d further bet that she probably doesn’t even remember living there. So, the question then becomes, what do we do about it?” he said.

“Legally, we should probably report this to immigration,” she replied, but continued with, “However, this little girl has been through enough. I would wonder how much trouble I might get in, if I forgot to report it to them, maybe for a couple of years.”

“I wasn’t aware of anything you forgot about, and as far as I’m concerned, you did your due diligence. Good job, but we should probably reopen the case in a couple of years to see what we can find, just in case some family shows up,” he said, turned around and left.

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