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Prologue

 

 

Harley

 

 

Six Years Old

 

The bottoms of my dirty feet stick to the grimy discolored carpet as I make my way down the dark hallway to Mommy’s room. The familiar smell of mold and Marlboro cigarettes, the scent I call home. Lifting my right arm, I run my fingers along the rough fake wood that makes up the walls of our single wide trailer. I hear moaning coming from the end of the hall, or maybe it’s crying.

Pressing my hand on the flimsy door to Mommy’s room, I push it open gently and peek through the small gap. The door is so worn out its hinges have begun to buckle and it won’t shut all the way. My mouth parts and I breathe heavy as I spy. My mother’s bare back faces me, her hair bouncing up and down as her body bobs up and down. My eyes fall to a man lying underneath her, but all I can make of his face is his sharp beak-like nose and hairy cheeks. The room smells funny, not matching the smell of the rest of the house either.

I blink slowly, taking in the scene. One I’ve seen before, but I still don’t know what they’re doing. Something naughty, I’m sure. I’ve seen bits of similar acts on TV.

It’s not unusual to have strange men in Mommy’s bedroom. She has lots of guys over that are friends. I’m not allowed in her room when they’re over, but she’s had lots of friends over today and I’m thirsty and hungry. I’ve already been through the fridge. Besides the milk jug that looks like it’s about to explode from being old, there’s nothing to eat.

Swallowing, my dry tongue feels like a fish out of water, reminding me why I went against Mommy’s rules and came into her room when she had visitors in the first place.

Pushing the door the rest of the way open, I take a large breath to gain my courage and lift my chin.

“Mommy, can I have a glass of water, please?” I ask, swinging my hips, I make my purple dress flare at the bottom and I clutch the lapels of my leather jacket Daddy got me, as I display my outfit for mommy. I hope she likes it. I may not look right wearing such a grim jacket with a dress, but it’s just my way. Much like my mother, I am different. Mother wears a bra and torn shorts everywhere, and tells everyone ‘if they don’t like it, don’t look.’ I like to match something pretty with black.

My mom is brave, which is why all the guys look at her the way they do. I want to be brave like her.

Mommy’s head snaps in my direction, and she pulls the blankets to her bare chest. The bags under her eyes almost as dark as her wig, she glares at me. Feeling hot all of a sudden, I look to the dresser where she keeps her five wigs to avoid her angry stare. I like the pink and brown wig more than any of them. She should wear that one, it makes her skin glow.

“God, Harley, can’t you do it yourself?” she growls, pushing herself up off the bed. She’s naked, and very skinny compared to other moms I’ve seen. She reminds me of one of those skeletons you see people hang on their front door around Halloween. It’s scary.

“I can’t reach the glasses,” I remind her. Last time I pushed the chair up to the counter she got very mad that I was going through the cabinets. I think she has something in a coffee can in the far right cabinet. It’s the only thing in there, and I can’t get the lid off. It’s heavy and smells terrible. When you look through the plastic lid, all I see is white powder though. So why would she try and hide it?

Grabbing the pack of cigarettes off her nightstand, she plucks on with her thin lips and lights it. Smoke dances around her before she quickly blows smoke into the air.

“I’ll be back,” she mutters to the guy beside her. He’s got his arm over his face, and blankets wrapped around his body. Standing completely naked, Mom stomps past me. Rolling my lips onto one another, I swirl my dress and follow her into the kitchen, the floor of our trailer creaking beneath our dirty feet as we head toward the kitchen.

“Did you see the outfit I changed into? I was bored, so I decided to change,” I tell her, but she doesn’t say anything. I stop in my tracks near Mom’s small leather purse, the yellow and blue wrapper catching my attention. It’s Double Bubble gum! Mom always has a piece in her purse the day after she comes home late from the bar. One time I got caught taking it, Mom told me a nice old guy at the bar always gives it to her. As nice as he is, he’s creepy she says. It’s the only candy I get around here, so I don’t care how creepy the guy is. Flicking my gaze to make sure she’s not looking, I reach into her purse and grab it. Quickly unwrapping it, I pop it in my mouth. Mouthwatering sugar coats my mouth. If the color pink had a taste, this would be it. Closing my eyes, I take a deep breath as my teeth chomp into the gum over and over. Kicking the wrapper under the couch, I follow Mom into the kitchen.

Mom sniffles, running her hand under her nose as she grabs a dirty glass from the sink. Filling it with water, you can see specks of dirt and food swirling around. My nose curls; it’s not clean. Mother looks at me with a cigarette hanging from her lips, her left eye squinted from the smoke.

“That kind of looks dirty, Mommy.” Her eye opens all the way, and she scowls at me as if I’m the scum on our kitchen floor. I wring my fingers nervously. Is she mad at me?

“What’s wrong?” I ask with a frown. She always looks at me like she’s angry at me. I was really nice when I told her the glass was dirty. I don’t want to get sick, again.

With pursed lips, she suddenly tosses the cold, dirty water on my face. I tense with shock as coldness soaks my dress and chills me to the bone. My heart sinks into my stomach reminding me of the day I ate too many cookies and drank a whole glass of milk at Daddy’s.

She flicks her cigarette into the sink and it sizzles until the rising smoke stops.

My eyes sting, and my bottom lip trembles. I won’t cry. I won’t cry.

“Ask me for another glass of water!” she seethes through yellow teeth.

Warm tears roll down my face like a waterfall. My feelings hurt, and sadness locking around my chest to where breathing is a chore. “Do you want a glass of water, Harley?” The way she says my name compares to someone describing a cockroach. She hates me.

I blow the water off my lips and continue to cry where I stand. My pretty outfit is ruined.

“You look ridiculous in that jacket. Take it off!” she demands, pulling at the pretty leather recklessly. I pull away from her fearing she might tear it. If she rips it, I would be so sad. It’s my favorite piece of clothing. Daddy got it for me for my birthday.

 
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