The current prompt at The Tenth Daughter of Memory is Hounded.
Outrunning the Hounds of Hopelessness
Hounded by hopelessness, her mother left her, mewling in a basket on the church steps like an inconvenient kitten. She heard many versions of the story, but really? She doubted any of them was the true story. All she really knew was that this was apparently how life in Hell began. Mired in the System, she was shuffled from foster family to foster family, hauled in front of judges, psychologists and social workers, and left to molder in “homes” for the unwanted. No matter how hard she tried to stay invisible, at more than one step along the way, she found herself a convenient target of lust or rage.
Hounded by desperation, she finally ran away when she was fourteen. Nothing could be as bad as the life she was escaping. She quickly discovered there was a subculture out there, a society of kids just like her. Oh, sure, they had taken different routes to this place where they now lived, but they all arrived on the rails of desperation. Like primordial savages, they hunkered down around the fire together, hoping for safety in numbers.
Hounded by hunger, she learned how to hunt. Trash bins and garbage cans were frequent stops, but the dumpsters behind restaurants offered the best pickings. Incredible as it was to her, there were people who discarded nearly entire meals, apparently so stuffed on the fruits of their affluence, they could eat no more. When her usual hunting grounds went barren, she panhandled, joining the battalion of beggars fighting for survival on the streets. Most people could not meet her eyes, as if fearful of being devoured by the haunted animal lurking there. Many quickly walked past her, hurrying to safety. Others, perhaps out of some sort of communal guilt borne by society, tossed some cash her way. Usually, she ate.
Hounded by loneliness, she was easy prey for the first man who was kind to her. He became the “daddy” she’d never had. He took her in, bought her some clothes, and sheltered her in an apartment with other young girls. And every night, he pushed her out, out onto to the streets to hunt for different prey than she’d ever hunted before. Whatever spoils she and the other girls brought home, he took as payment for his kindness and asylum. She discovered the hard way that any rebellion was met with his fists, punishment reluctantly meted out “for her own good.”
Hounded by disgust, she looked for some way to escape. She found that muting her senses with alcohol made the endless parade of creeps bearable. When cheap vodka no longer had the power to transport her someplace else, Daddy offered a better mode of transportation. If she was a good girl, he rewarded her with some meth. And on she went, climbing higher and higher on the roller coaster of addiction. Meth led to crack which led to heroin. Eventually she barely knew where she was, let alone whom she was with or what he was doing to her. Then she reached the top, and the ride down was far worse than she’d ever imagined.
Hounded by hopelessness, she walked out onto the bridge. Wondering why her mother hadn’t loved her enough, she jumped.
Picture by Tavik František Šimon, 1927