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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Tough girl in the City

Brooklyn, 1958.

Aunt Verna and Uncle Herb fight all the time, yeah? But Aunt Verna’s the winner. Uncle Herb gets his licks in, though. You’ve got to fight for what you want sometimes. If you’re not tough, there are too many people who’ll stomp all over you. Got to be a tiger, not a lamb in this world, whether you wanna or not.

I don’t know where my parents are. My dad ran off somewhere when I was three. He was a bartender. My mother’s a waitress who comes and goes. She brings me candy sometimes, but my aunt takes it away from me. She doesn’t like it, and I don’t like her much, either.
“Tough girl in the city,” she calls me. Then she raises a hand to me and I duck. “That’s all you’re ever going to be.”

Teacher noticed the bruises and they  brought me here. But I’m not gonna stay long, you’ll see.
I’m going to get out of this crummy children’s home sooner than you think. I’m not waiting around for nobody. I  got people down in Gaithersburg, Maryland, if I can hitch a ride down there. I met ‘em once at Christmas and they said, Harriet, come one down sometime. Who knows, maybe Judy will go with me. Or maybe she won’t.
That girl Manuela, they got here she drives me crazy. For one thing, she’s Mexican and doesn’t speak English real well. That doesn’t stop her from running a mouth, though. And that Ruby girl thinks she can get to me, but she can’t. No one can, and she’ll find that out soon enough.
I’ll tell you one thing. I turned 12 in here and I’m not going to turn 13. I’m going to sneak out one night when everybody’s sleeping. Hitch down to the rail yards and on down the coast. Cut my hair off like a boy and wear a cap. Sleep on the boxcars, looking up at the stars.

I don’t need no one and I’m not afraid to be alone. In fact I like it that way because I don’t want to love nobody. Free as a bird, no ties or strings, come and go as I please. Like the song says, eat, drink and be merry. Just don’t stare at me, I hate when people stare.

I’m a lone wolf, and that’s how it’s gonna be. I don’t miss anyone, and nobody misses me.

Maybe I’d miss Judy.

But that’s all.

Harriet S.