My toes hung off the edge of the toilet seat, my arms folded tight against my chest. I'm shivering though it's not from cold. The walls are pea soup green and the wallpaper is coming apart from it's seams. The bathroom is bathed in dim yellow light. My Mama is kneeling in front of me, her face stricken with panic, her eyes wide with fear. Her hand shakes violently as she grabs me and puts me over the sink. She brings an empty spoon to my lips and I purse them shut. She screams at me to open my mouth, then her screams turn to desperate pleas.
She jams the spoon into my mouth and down my throat, causing me to gag. She pleads with me to please throw up. I don't know what is going on, but I know I did something bad. Bud is going to be angry with me. Tears stream down my mother's face as she goes in again with the spoon...
Bud was my mom's boyfriend. He was not my daddy and he made that very clear. I was terrified of Bud. He made my stomach flip flop every time he was near me. I felt like I wanted to run and hide. Most of the time he left me alone. He and my mama both left me alone. They liked being with each other but didn't care too much to have me around.
Bud was sick a lot. He had lots of medicine bottles laying around. I was not supposed to touch them. Both he and my Mama liked to sleep, a lot. I really tried not to touch everything, but I'd get bored. Sometimes I would do things I wasn't supposed to because it was the only way they'd talk to me...
My Mama had a beautiful smile. She had soft hair that I loved to run my fingers through. I loved to sit on her lap with my ear pressed to her chest and listen to her voice as she spoke to me. That was the only time I felt comforted. She didn't hold me much, so I really embraced her during these moments. My heart was full of love for her. I wanted so badly for her to love me back. She was always so tense, so angry. When she wasn't angry she was sad. When she wasn't sad she was sleeping hard. So hard that she wouldn't wake up when I called to her.
When I got hungry, I'd climb out of my crib and up on the counter to where the food was. I'd eat whatever I could find and by the time my mom woke up there would be a big mess. I'd get spanked and yelled at. Sometimes they would sleep during the day. I'd get lonely and go outside to talk to the neighbors. I had real nice neighbors. Most of them knew me and would smile when they saw me. Some of my neighbors were moms and they would hug me and hold my hand. I'd want them to take me home with them, but most of the time they would walk me back to my house.
This one time, I was out walking and it was getting dark. I didn't know where I was and this police car drove up. I was frightened but a nice lady got out and came over to talk to me. She was really pretty. She had blonde hair and it was up in a bun. Her uniform was black and she had a neat shiny badge. She crouched down to meet my eyes and asked me my name and where my mommy was. I hadn't thought about where she was. I started to get scared because as I looked around I didn't know where my home was. She scooped me up in her arms and got back into the car. She had me in her lap as she and her partner talked on the walkie talkie. She told me we were going for a ride and laid my head against her chest as she whispered to me. I pressed my ear tight against her and as I listened to her voice, my fear was replaced with a sense of longing. I grasped her tightly and held her with all my might. I wanted this officer to be my Mama. I wished my Mama were there holding me.
One morning, Mama woke me up and she was already dressed. She had picked out an outfit for me and combed my hair. As she combed my hair she told me she loved me. We were going somewhere just for me. She turned me to face her and her eyes were big and wet. I raised my hand to wipe the tear that fell out. I didn't like seeing my Mama cry. She wiped her eyes and told me to get into the car.
On the car ride over she told me that I was never not to go home anymore. That there was a nice family waiting for me and I needed to listen to these people so they could help take me to the new family. She said there would be a Daddy and a Mommy and maybe even a puppy. I really liked puppies and I giggled at the thought that the puppy might be as big as Barkley the dog on Sesame Street. We pulled into a parking lot and there were buildings all around. She pointed to the building next to the car. Mama grabbed my arm and told me that this was what was best. She told me to get out of the car, and I didn't want to. She screamed at me to get out, but her eyes told me to stay. I didn't want her to go away. She reached over and tugged the handle, the door swung open. "Get out!" she yelled. I scrambled off the seat and stumbled onto the pavement. The door shut behind me, and my Mama drove away.
My stomach flip flopped as I looked around. I couldn't move. I saw the tail lights turn away and I waited. Mama's coming back. A man ran out of the building and quickly approached me. I shrank away from him, and he slowed his pace.
"Little girl, please wait." He said. I froze. "Baby girl, it's ok." He knelt down to my level. I searched his face to see if he was mad. He was really dark, and I was kind of scared, but then he flashed this wide smile and his whole face lit up. "My name is Mike, what is your name?"
"Where is your mama, Tammy?"
I looked around, and my stomach ached. She wasn't there. "Gone."
"Where is your home, Tammy?"
My heart started to pound real hard as I recalled what Mama told me, "I am never not to go home anymore..." my eyes filled with tears and I grasped my hands.
The nice man named Mike gently scooped me up and brought me inside the building.