One Last Dream
This piece is something that sprung from a writer’s prompt over at Clever Fiction. It’s a little rough, but I feel that only helps to establish the character/narrator.
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When I was a girl, I used to dream of a better life. We lived in a run-down trailer. The windows, they’s cracked, and when it rain the water would creep in to run down the walls, to be soaked up by the grungy, ol’ carpet. There’s stains on the ceiling, ugly yellowish-brown patches where the water came in. There’s always a musty smell that made my nose itch, kinda like wet rags left in a pile for too long. Forgotten. Folks say I should be thankful for havin’ a roof o’er my head, but is it wrong to want a better home? A nicer one that warm in the winter and cool in the summer and didn’t leak when it rain and snow?
‘Cause of the way we lived, Mama was sick a lot. We didn’t have money for her to get better ‘cause Daddy “drank it all away.” That’s what Mama was always saying. When Daddy was drinkin’ he used to love on me, ‘specially when mommy was sick. I used to dream about what it would be like if Daddy didn’t drink so much and hurt Mommy all the time. I didn’t like it when Mommy was crying and bleeding. I didn’t like it when Daddy touched me when Mommy was hurting because of things he did. I didn’t like the way people on the street looked at Mommy with all her bruises. They knew what was happenin’, but it wasn’t their place to say or do nothin’. I could see it in their eyes, though, the way they look at her, like it was all her fault, like she deserved it or something.
When I got older, I used to dream ‘bout running away. I had no idea where I was gonna go, but anywhere be better than here. I ‘member a song Mama used to play for me, told me to listen to it real close and live by it. I can still hear the woman singing, “Don’t you ever let a man hit you, Don’t you grow up like me, So I swore I’d never be like her, Or my grandmother, too, Even if it meant I’d be alone.” But I didn’t want to be alone. I wanted a man to love me even though that ol’ drunk was always tellin’ me nobody ever gonna love me. I wanted a man to treat me like a Queen. Silly childhood thoughts, but dreamin’s all I had in a day full o’ nightmares.
When I was 14, I thought my nightmare was over. That be the day he went and gone too far. They lock him up for it, and left me alone. They said I be too young to live on my own. Mama didn’t have no family I could stay with, and that bastard’s family didn’t want me. Says I no good. I guess they’s right. That’s what the other woman be screamin’ at me, the one I go to live with after The Home, after she find her husband humpin’ away in my bed. Call me a slut, a whore, and then they send me back. After that I don’t bother to unpack when they send me somewheres new. I don’t dream no more either. What’s the point?
After a while, even The Home don’t want me, and they couldn’t wait ‘til I turn 18 so they could be rida me. No job, no money, I did the only thing I knew. The only thing Daddy made sure I knew how to do. That’s when I meet him. I thought he be different. He say all the right things to me, buy me clothes, give me a place to live with them other girls, but he turn out to be like all them other men I meet an’ he put me on the street to make him some money. One day I don’t bring in enough, he beat me. I ‘membered that song Mama made me listen to, and I swears he never gonna beat me again. I went right back at him, and when he pull a knife on me, I lost it. I fought like a wildcat, and I managed to get that knife away from him, and I did the other thing that Daddy taught me real well. I did to that man what my Daddy did to Mommy. I cut his throat so deep I almos’ cut his head off. I thought those other girls be happy ‘cause they free now, but no… They call the cops on me. I shoulda ran, but where was I gonna go? I was tired o’ runnin’.
At least there be no more nightmares. I was wrong. The nightmares… They follow me here. Every night, the guards, sometimes one, sometimes more, they come. They says I a whore and they gonna treat me like one, but tonight gonna be different. I has in my hand my freedom. I stole it from the kitchen. The silver shine real pretty in the light. Like a diamond. It make me smile. I ain’t scared. My hand don’t even shake when I press the blade against my wrist. It only hurts a little bit it so sharp. I close my eyes, smile. I feel sleepy, and after all these years, I let myself dream one last dream…