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Chapter 1: Antonia Taylor

“Bitch, get your ass up out the bed and get ready for school!” is how I was greeted as my eyes popped open to my aunt’s deep voice and a pot of ice cold thrown against my body. This was what I had grown accustomed to. Every morning, it was the same routine. I was either slapped out of my sleep, yelled at, or had water thrown at me.

I sat up in the bed and looked around the room that I shared with my three smaller cousins, who were still peacefully sleeping in their beds. I took one look at my aunt as she hovered over me and I did the same thing that I would do every morning. I prayed for her. I was living in a fucked up situation, but I knew for a fact that my present would not be my future, so the shit that I dealt with while living here, I took it. Yes, sometimes I wanted to just give up on life all together but I felt like that was for losers and I didn’t want to take that route.

“And hurry the fuck up! Whatever the fuck you have to do, do it quietly so that you won’t wake up my damn kids!” my aunt barked at me, as I made my way into the bathroom, located in the hallway.

I couldn’t for the life of me understand how someone could wake up miserable like this the first thing in the damn morning. I tried not to let the remarks of my aunt get under my skin, but the shit was way too hard, and it was becoming unbearable to deal with.

Walking inside the bathroom, I turned the light on and closed the door behind me, making sure to lock it. I took a minute to just stare at myself in the mirror and tried to think of something positive about myself to say that would make the day go by better, but it was just so damn hard. When you’re living in a house with people who absolutely hate you, continuously talk down on you, and make you feel like shit any chance they get, you start to believe those things. You began to think that maybe the things that they are saying about you are true.

Maybe I am ugly. Maybe I will never make it out of Miami and get to make something of myself. A lone tear dropped from my eye and I quickly wiped it away. I forced myself to smile at the image looking back at me, which is Antonia Taylor. Boy, how I wish I was able to talk about the good things that has happen to me over the years, but if I did say anything good, Lord knows that it would be a damn lie. I was seventeen years old and a senior in high school. I attended Miami Northwestern Senior High school and lived with my aunt and her four kids.

I noticed the bags under my eyes, which were caused by me having to work late nights and then catch a bus to come home and do homework. Which would leave me to get in my bed every night around one in the morning, and have to be up every morning at six, so I could make it to school by 7:20.

My aunt told me that the only way I would be able to continue staying in her house is if I went and got me a job. Which is why I currently work at Chick-Fil-A in Aventura Mall. Sad part about it is my aunt takes my paycheck from me every two weeks and calls it my portion of the rent. Which wasn’t fair at all because her oldest daughter, my oldest cousin Porsha, lived there rent free. She was 24 years old, with no high school diploma, and all she did was sit around the house and fuck with me every chance that she got.

I was in the living situation that I was in because eleven years ago my mother died due to a cocaine overdose. When I was living with my mom, the situation wasn’t any better. Only thing was, she didn’t beat me and constantly call me out of my name, but what she did was way worse. She would bring different men in the house when I was only six, and there were times when I went days without eating because she would be gone for days straight. So, my life had pretty much been fucked up since day one. My aunt had to be the one to step up to the plate and take me in because she was the only family I had left in this world.

I quickly took my shower because if I was in there too long, my aunt would bust in and drag my ass out. Lord knows my body couldn’t suffer another shower beating. The last time, it was so bad that my aunt made me stay home from school so the teachers wouldn’t ask me how I got the numerous welts on my face. After I finished showering, I went back over to the sink to brush my teeth. When I finished, I walked out of the bathroom.

As I turned the corner to go into my room, I was met with the strike of a belt against my back, which caused me to fall to the floor. I quickly backed myself against the wall and looked at my aunt with hurt filled eyes. She had a menacing look on her face as she approached me with the belt still in her hand.

“Didn’t I fuckin’ tell you to clean up that damn kitchen last night?” she asked me, now standing directly in front of me and hovering over my body.

My aunt was a big, scary woman, maybe about 225 pounds even. She kept a satin cap on her head at all times and had piercing black eyes that would make a grown man cower at the thought of her. She wasn’t an ugly woman, but the things she did to me on a daily, made absolutely nothing attractive about her.

“I forgot. I didn’t get home from work until almost midnight, and I still had homework that I needed to do.”

I cried because the stinging in my back was still there, and it felt as if someone had thrown a bunch of rocks at me. She had hit me with the metal part of the belt, and that shit hurt like hell.

“Have my fuckin’ kitchen cleaned when you get home tonight, or the next time it’s going to be more than my damn belt connecting with your back,” she said and walked off.

When I saw her disappear, I headed back into the bedroom that I shared with my three cousins. My aunt and Porsha would be home all damn day, yet they would wait all day until I got home so that I could clean the kitchen. Wow, talk about trifling!

“Tonia, what happened to your back? You’re bleeding,” my little cousin, PJ, said when I turned around to look in my dresser for a pair of clean underwear.

I was still in my bath towel, leaving the bruise exposed. I turned around and looked at my little six-year-old cousin, feeling so bad for the things that he was exposed to. My aunt treated him, nor her other kids like she treated me but he still saw the things that took place around here, and that was nothing for him to be seeing at such a young age. Just like myself, I wasn’t supposed to come home from school when I was six to see my mom on the floor, on her knees, giving some random man head, but I still did.

“Nothing, I slipped and fell. Lay back down,” I told him.

Once I found a pair of underwear, I slipped them on and my bra. I went over to my dirty hamper and pulled out the same khaki pants and navy blue shirt that I had worn yesterday to school. When I finished putting on my uniform, I threw on my black converse, made sure that I had my work uniform in my book bag for work tonight and I was about to walk out the door, until I remembered that I still had my damn scarf on my head. I quickly ran to the bathroom, took off my scarf and immediately, my long, silky hair fell down my back. I grabbed a brush from out of the drawer and brushed my hair into a quick pony tail.

 
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