You’ll never amount to anything. You’ll drag us all down with you foolish ways. It’s your fault your mother’s tired. It’s your fault your brother is weak. It’s your fault your sister’s hungry. It’s all your fault…undeserving wretch. My father’s words rang in my head. I had been running for hours trying to get them to stop. But his monstrous figure kept appearing in my mind followed by his thick, angry words.
My ragged shirt and trousers clung to my skinny, sweaty frame. My brown hair was glued around my face in wet curls. Only the cobblestone street felt cool. I kept my head down as I weaved through the darkening alleys. Shops were closing and the swells of New York locked themselves into their comfortable parlors. My stomach growled as a whiff of left over dinner floated in the breeze. I put my hand in my pocket and rubbed two coins together. He’ll never know… Shrugging I turned toward a bakery but stopped short of the door. You’re short on cash as it is…it’ll only make it worse. I fought with myself but reluctantly turned back and ran up Kingston Street.
The alley I slipped into was lined with waste and laundry draped from window to window. The settling night was interrupted by the occasional sound of skin hitting skin, a child’s cry, or a mother’s warning. Coming to the last cracked, wooden door on the right, I slowly pushed it open. It was dim inside, only lit up by three small candles. Please be asleep, I thought as I closed the door quietly. When I turned around, my heart sank. At the broken table sat my younger brother, Matthew, a shiner just below the eye. His chin shook and he shifted toward my baby sister Maylee. The tiny toddler had her curly head on her thin arms that were held up by the table top. Her eyes drooped with sleep. Mama stood behind them silent and grey. Gulping I forced myself to look in the back corner where the shadows lurked. Pa sat in his broken rocker with a half empty bottle in his left hand and a cigarette was in his right.
“Hullo Pa.” I said with all the courage I had.
“Late…as usually,” the man growled lowly.