A Lifetime in the Dark

November 11, 2010
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Every time it is the same. The same routine and the same wish is crushed every morning. Every morning, Brittany wishes that her life would be normal. Every morning, she wakes up to find it’s just another day in the hostel. She drags herself up and goes to the bucket in the corner. Picking it up, she heads outside to the tap. Stepping carefully back up the rusty staircase, she heads to her room and searches for the cloth. Finally locating it and sighing that a rat had bitten a chunk of the corner off, she dips it in the bucket and washes her face. She picks up her cheerio’s uniform and puts it on. Her uniform is the only clothes she owns and the only ones she ever wears, apart from for glee club performances. Looking around the room, she checks that she has everything in her bag and closes the door. Heading downstairs again, she enters a small kitchen and sees her ‘family’ sat at the table. Hollie, a small 8 year old with blonde hair like Brittany’s, smiles at her and motions for Brit to sit down.
“Hi sis, Brian managed to scrape money for small pancakes today. They’re only a day out of date as well, how exciting is that!” Hollie smiles, giving Brittany the leftover plate.
“Super” Brittany smiles gently and starts tearing apart the pancake to eat it. Today is a decent day; she actually has a fulfilling breakfast.
“Make the most of it, It’s only a temporary job remember. Not many places are hiring at the moment” Brian sighs. He is the oldest at 18 and moves from job to job, trying to get some money in for the 6 people in the ‘family’. The hostel that they live in had never been an official one. An old lady from a homeless charity had run it and at first, it had been a lot better than living on the street. It was already quite an old building but the 6 inhabitants (including Brittany, Hollie and Brian plus 13 year olds Phoebe and Josie and 17 year old Max) had bonded and become a ‘family’. However, it all changed a year ago when the old lady died and the charity had only the chairman left. He is a posh, rich man who refused to go to the hostel or help at all. During the summer months, the police were tipped off about the abandoned hostel and spent every morning for the whole month there. The 6 kids managed to hide in the sewers at the back of the house during the day and snuck out once the police had gone. The chairman would come every day to sort things out with the police. He eventually manages to convince them that the building was going to be refurbished and that the kids were elsewhere. He always left some bread and milk for the kids in the fridge once they had done for the day and struck a deal with the group that he would pay the bills and rent for the place as long as they kept the fact they lived there with no supervision a secret. The group had devised a plan in order to stay on top of everything, with the boys going out to work in whatever places they could find during the day whilst the girls were at school. After they all met back up for dinner, the 3 oldest girls would go out and do a couple of hours work at a local restaurant whilst the boys looked after Hollie and then they would all meet up again to get on with their school work before bed. Even though this routine had become the norm for Brittany, she still woke up every day praying life would be better.
Brittany’s parents died in a car crash when she was 6. Brittany stayed with her aunt until she was 12. When the aunt died, Brittany had to resort to living on the street. Her aunt had been very poor and therefore Brittany was already used to having to work, which meant that her mind was always focused on the major things she needed to do and she never had time to go over important things like her last name, which she eventually forgot. She never went to school because of work and caring for her aunt before she died. Brittany’s neighbour would come up to the flat she shared with her aunt and teach Brittany very basic things for an hour or so a day. This kept he authorities off their case, which was a help to Brittany but meant that before High School, she was only educated up to around 4th grade level. On the streets, things were gruesome. She saw things that no normal young teen would have to deal with. For her first year, she relied on a young boy she met called Adam. He would help himself and Brittany to get through the days (making blankets out of scrap material, foraging bins for food etc). After nearly two years on the streets, she met Max. He was already at the hostel and took her along. Even know, there is one memory that stands clear in her mind. The day Adam got stabbed. She can still picture it now – the fight after Adam had gone through a bin another homeless youth had claimed as ‘theirs’ because Brittany was sick and hungry, a knife being pushed into Adam’s chest, the feeling of helplessness because there wasn’t a phone near and Brittany was too poor to have a mobile and the way he died in Brittany’s frail arms.
Thankfully for Brittany, life had been okay when she first moved into the hostel. They were fed, had baths and a proper bed. The charity also managed to get the kids into a local school, which was the start of Brittany’s formal schooling. The hostel lady had also helped Brittany save up enough money to pay for a tryout in the cheerios. During the years since her parents died, dancing had been Brittany’s only release. With her amazing skills, she was selected for the squad and she knew that this would be the only thing that would make sure she would survive high school. The uniform meant that she would look the same as the other cheerios, meaning nobody could single her out as being poor because she had only a small selection of clothes. It also meant that nobody questioned her about her home life much, which helped to keep it a secret. Brittany made out with as many boys and girls as she could in order to hopefully get to their house and get some decent food and bathroom facilities for a short time.
When Brittany is at school that day and sees the fight going on between Quinn and Santana, she can’t help herself thinking back to that very memory of Adam having a fight. Although the cheerleaders fight is not on the same intensity scale, she still thinks back to what she did then. Her experience on the street had made her less prone to being affected by violence, which made her voice only sound monotonous, but she still said the same 3 words she said that day.
“Stop the violence”





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