Wrecking Us, Saving You

By: Leaona Luxx

“Hell, fuck ‘em. I just don’t want to have to deal with my girl.” A bright light shines from the kitchen, and my mom walks through to my room.

“Girl? There’s a little girl here?” The words come out rough and garbled.

“Shhh. Yeah, she’s asleep,” Mom says as she closes my door.

I lay as still as possible until I hear her bedroom door shut. I take a deep breath to slow the flip flops in my belly. I hate it when she brings weird people home, especially men. I toss and turn, doing my best to not fall back to sleep.

As the sun begins filtering through my window, I know morning isn’t far behind. I creep to the bathroom to brush my teeth, washing my face as best I can. I have just enough water to get everything done.

I search drawers and boxes trying to find a brush, with no luck. I gather my hair as best as I can and wrap a band around it. After I dress, I walk out to the stoop and wait.

When I see other kids walking to the bus stop, I know to follow them. I notice some of them look like I do. Their clothes are wrinkled, shoes mismatched, and hair that sticks up in different places.

I step onto the bus to find much of the same, and there’s no one to sit with. I take a seat a few rows behind the driver and settle in; my belly rolls, and I think I might have butterflies in it.

“Hey, sweetie”—the driver looks at me through her mirror—“what’s your name?”

My eyes flicker to her, I’m not sure I should answer. I smash my lips together as I consider telling her. I bite the corner of lip buying time. My tummy doesn’t feel weird, and it always does when something isn’t right. “It’s-uhh...”

Her face softens as she tilts her head. “I need to write it down in my book, that way we can make sure you get home.”

I take a deep breath. “Sarah, with an h, Sutton.”

“Well, hello, Sarah, with an h, Sutton. Nice to meet you, I’m Amy.” Her mouth stretches wide as she winks at me.

I sit quietly, watching other kids get on the bus and find seats. No one offers to sit with me, but I’m used to it. Back home, no one really liked us. Other mommies would tell their kids to stay away from me.

As the bus comes to a stop, I stare out the window to the large, brick building in front of me. It’s bigger than anything I’ve ever seen before, making my belly feel funny. I pick my nail as the others get off the bus.

“Are you okay?” The words, soft and sweet, draw my attention. I turn to find the driver leaning over me. “You alright, baby?” I nod, my eyes cut back to huge red box out the window. “Want me to walk you in?” she asks.

I bounce my head up and down, turning to look at her with wide eyes. Her face lights up as she smiles at me. She takes my hand, warming it with hers. Pieces of white hair mixed with brown fall around her face.

Miss Amy leads me through the big double doors of the school. There’s an open door on the right, filled with several desks and people rushing around. “Hello, Miss Amy.” A lady with red hair laying in curls, waves. “Who do you have with you?”

“This is Sarah Sutton. She rode in with me from The Horseshoe Mobile Home Park,” she replies.

“Thank you for walking her in, I’ll take her from here,” the lady says as she walks around the end of her desk.

My driver squeezes my hand. “Ashley will take you to your room, and I’ll see you this evening.” There’s a pang in the pit of my stomach.

“Alright, Sarah.” Ashley reaches for my hand. “Let’s get you to your class.” We enter the hallway as kids hurry to rooms on either side. “Your old school sent your information when your mom left a forwarding address. That’s how we knew you would be joining us here at Millbrook.”

We come to a stop in front of an opening to a room, the door has a small pane of glass in it. She knocks on the door numbered One Two One. “Miss Ashley”—a lady with long black hair smiles at us—“who do you have with you?”

“This is Sarah, she’s your new student.”

“Hello, Sarah. Welcome to our kindergarten class. I’m Miss Stafford, it’s nice to meet you.” She waves. “Come on in and we’ll find you a seat.”

I release Miss Ashley’s hand, plodding over to the teacher’s desk. “May I have your attention please?” She clears her throat for the room to grow quiet. “This is Sarah, and she’ll be joining us. Everyone, please make her feel welcome.”

I look around the room, decorated in reds and yellows with Clifford the Big Red Dog all over the walls. I hear snickers from the back of the room and notice two girls whispering.

Most of the room greets me with smiles. As I scan my eyes toward the back, I notice a waving hand attached to a boy with brown hair, smiling. I think I can see all of his teeth his mouth is so wide as he bounces in his seat.

“Sarah, why don’t you take the seat next to Chord.” I glance at her for more instructions, unsure of who Chord is. “He’s the one jumping up and down, when he needs to take his seat, Mister Hamilton.” She points down to signal him to sit.