I Walk Alone

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When I was little my mother always told me; “Its never bad if it gets you what you want.” She was drugged out most of the time so I don’t think she knew what she was saying. We were always running, my mom loved big cities so we moved a lot. Born in San Francisco. Atlanta at five. Chicago at ten. Detroit at twelve and now, New York City. I’ve never really had a home. Always lived with moms boyfriends. Until last year, when she died of a drug overdose.
My names Leslie Gwen Peters. Mom named me Leslie because it means Holly Gardens. Mom always wanted a garden. I’m seventeen and I go to Bronx Community High School.
With what I’ve told you, you probably think I’m one of those loner girls, but I’m not. Im one of the popular girls. Tons of friends, good looking boyfriend, good grades and nice clothes. But behind all of those good things there was a secret. My friends didn’t know I stay at community centers, neither does Kade, my boyfriend. My good grades come from my homework I do on a bench in the park, and all my clothes come from anywhere I can get them. Dumpsters, clothes lines, open windows, a corpse….on time in the winter, it was really cold and I had no choice. Or my clothes come from garage sales. Now you’re probably thinking; “Hey, you need money for garage sales.” Well, to get money I work down on Metropolitan Avenue in front of Gamestop. The nerdy guys in there will pay $70.00 for just five minutes. I hated doing it but it got me money, and I needed money. I also thought of what my mother had told me, that made it a little easier.
When I wasn’t doing that; I’d go to Kades’, we would lay in his room, watching movies, doing homework, or just talking. We talked about everything, dreams, wants, fears, I told him everything, everything besides the fact that I was basically homeless. He thought I lived with my dad in a big Manhattan condo. The only thing I wasn’t lying about was my mother being dead, and my name. I wish I could tell him the truth about my life but that would mean losing him. When we lay on his bed he loves to play with my hair, its black with long curls.
“I love you.” he looked at me and said.
“What?..” how could he love me? Why would he? We have only been together five months. I didn’t want him to love me, it would only make telling him the truth harder. So I did all I could.
“I love you too.” I said and smiled.
After I had said it, I wondered if I really meant it.
After awhile we did homework. He looked at my paper and then back at his over and over.
“How do you understand this?” he asked me.
“Its common sense.”
“Oh so its common sense for a four year old to understand it?”
“Aw you’re way older then four.” I said and laughed.
Later that night around nine o’ clock I started walking to the Community Center.
I hated walking in New York at night, it freaked me out.
When I finally got to the Community Center I found a bed by my friend Flo, Flo was somewhat crazy. She had very curly red hair, she was 56 years old and she always wore a big pink tutu, she used to be a dancer when she was young, it took over her life and she lost everything. Flo also carried around a stuffed parrot named Steve, who hadn’t always been stuffed. He was the last thing in Flo’s life to die and she couldn’t let him go so she had him stuffed. Flo thinks that since he’s stuffed that in a way he is still alive.
“How’s Steve today?” I asked Flo when I sat on the bed next to her.
“Oh very well dear, he’s very talkative today.”
“Ha, okay Flo.”
Ever since mom died, Flo has been like a mom to me. She signed all of my school papers, she called me in when I was sick, and every birthday and Christmas she would always find something to give to me.
That night I had a dream, a good dream. In it I had tons of money, a big house with Kade, I had never been homeless and my mother was still alive and. My father who I’d never seen or met was in it. I loved and hated dreams like that, loved them because for a little while I got to see what it would be like, hated them because I knew it would never happen.
The next morning I walked to the apartment complex I told Kade I lived in and waited for him to pick me up. I always stood inside the door so it looked like I really did live there. When I rode in Kades’ car I felt so awkward. He had a cherry red 2010 Camaro. I felt like I didn’t belong in a car that nice. I’d never even lived in anywhere that nice.
“I want you to come have dinner with me and my family tomorrow night.” He said out of nowhere.
Instantly I was hit with fear.
“You. Want me. To meet your family?” I said trying not to sound like I was worried.
“Yup, tomorrow night, six o’clock.”.
I didn’t know what to say, so I just nodded in agreement.
What was I going to wear I thought. How was I going to get my hair to look nice. So many things could possibly go wrong.
The next day, I worked on my hair for an hour, borrowed a dress from someone’s house and borrowed some make up from the store. After I was ready I went to the apartment to wait for Kade. We talked the whole way. He told me I looked beautiful about eight times. He also said I didn’t have to get so dressed up.
I had been to Kades’ house a bunch of times. But this time was different, this time there was pressure.
When we walked in Kades’ house he called for his parents. My heart was beating so fast and hard I wondered if they could hear it.
“In the kitchen.” A deep male voice called back. Where had I heard that voice before? Kade and I walked into the kitchen, I slower than him. When we got into the kitchen, in front of the stove stood the Mayor of New York City, I was suddenly more nervous.
After we sat down to eat I learned that Kades’ mom was a fashion editor for Vogue magazine. I felt so underdressed.
I think Kade knew I was nervous, he held my hand from under the table. Kades’ mom; Kim was looking me up and down.
“So. Leslie. Where did you get that dress? Its ravishing.”
I had no idea what to say, I couldn’t tell her I got it from someone’s open window I climbed through. So I told her; “It was my mothers dress.”
“And where is your mother?”
“She died…” I said quietly looking down at my plate.
“Of what?”
I didn’t know why she was asking me all of these questions, I figured just of curiosity. “Lung cancer.” I told her.
“Oh. How awful.”
After dinner Kade and I left to drive around before he dropped me off. “Your mom hates me.” I told him while looking out the window.”
“She…she just doesn’t know you yet.”
We were quiet the rest of the way to the apartment.
After Kades car got far enough down the road where he couldn’t see me I started walking to the Community Center. I walked almost a dozen blocks and got to the part of New York that’s better to stay out of, but I ad to walk through it to get to the Community Center. It was darker than usual. I walked faster than normal. I felt eyes on me.
Out of nowhere something, a rock I think, hit me in the back and I was knocked down. I got back up as fast as I could but without warning an arm wrapped around my neck.





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