Little White Lights 2

November 17, 2009
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Some of them looked at me like I was crazy. I certainly looked like I was. I was splattered with mud and soaking wet. All the people at the bar shook their head. When I reached the end I plunked myself down on a stool. Just then a woman passed me. She wasn’t beautiful but there was a commanding air around her. When she saw me her black eyes narrowed and she said, “No minors allowed.”

I looked up at her. She had beady black eyes and huge black hair. On her chin was a mole covered in little hairs. She didn’t scare me though. “Please I’m looking for my mother. Elizabeth Cooper?”

The lady adjusted her tray that was laden with mugs of overflowing beer and said, “ Yeah I know Liz. I didn’t know she had a kid though.”

A shot of hope ran through me. “Did you see her tonight? Do you know where she went?”

The lady said, “If she’s not here, she’s probably at the Smoking Dragon on Mulberry Street. There’s an alley behind it where a drug dealer sets up shop. But I wouldn’t go there, kid, if I were you. There’s some nasty characters down there. Your mother can take care of herself so if I was you, I would go home and get out of those wet clothes before I caught pneumonia. Now get out of here before someone sees you and I get fired.”

I ran out of there as fast as I could. Mulberry Street was on the other side of town and I had to get there fast. I ran faster than I ever did in P.E but I didn’t feel out of breath or tired. All I could think was that I had to go faster. What usually would have taken me an hour took me thirty minutes. When I arrived at the Smoking Dragon I paused before entering the alley. It was a pretty seedy place. But I had to go because I had to find my mother. The alley was dark and gloomy. There were dumpsters and rats and puddles of dark liquids. I was careful not to step in them. In the dim light I saw a group of people huddled around something. I approached them and saw that they were watching a man in a long trench coat pull out bags of pills and powders. The crowd was mesmerized. Quietly I asked, “have you seen my mother, Elizabeth Cooper?”

Some people ignored me. Others swore at me to leave them alone. Finally after no help from the rest of the crowd I turned to the dealer. He didn’t look much better than the others did. His clothes were threadbare and splattered with mud. His hair was dirty and straggly. When I came up to him he looked at me and gave me a big toothy grin.

“How can I help you, young lady? He asked. I think he though I wanted to buy drugs and he thought I would pay a lot. That’s why he was sucking up to me. I shivered and asked him, “have you seen my mother, Elizabeth Cooper?”

The dealer’s smile turned to a scowl. “yeah I saw Liz today. Who wants to know?”

“I’m Natalie Cooper, I’m her daughter. Please can you tell me anything about where she might be?”

The dealer closed his trench coat and said. “I saw Liz today around ten. She bought some heroine and left with a guy that everyone calls Big Papa. That’s the last I saw her. If she’s anywhere I bet she’s at the Blue Lagoon Bar across town.”

My heart sank and instantly my body began to hurt. The dealer saw my eyes fill with tears and he anxiously said, “Don’t worry I’m sure Liz is fine. She probably went away for a little vacation. I’m sure she’ll turn up soon enough.”

I shook my head. “No she wont. She’s dead.”

I walked away from the dealer and back onto the street. I felt dead inside. It didn’t matter that I was miles away from home in a thunderstorm without any shoes. I didn’t care if I got sick or kidnapped or if anything happened to me. I was alone in the world. I had no parents and no future to look forward to. No one was going to take care of me. I was fifteen years old and I had nothing. I walked up one street and then another. It was midnight and the streets were empty. Also it had started raining again. This time I didn’t feel the cold. I was already cold inside. Errantly I wondered where I was going. What place did I have to look forward to going to? An empty house filled with melancholy memories? Foster care houses filled with a dozen children? I didn’t have a dad because the only two people who knew who he was were my grandmother and mother and both of them were dead. All I could do was keep on walking. I didn’t know where I was going and I didn’t care. I pulled my soaking sweater tighter around me even though it couldn’t warm me up and walked for who knows how long. I ended up at a park I used to go to when I was a little girl. I hadn’t realized that the only reason my mother took me here was so she could get drugs. I sat down on one of the swings and wrapped my hand around the metal. The metal and my hand were the same temperature. I rocked myself back and forth weakly for a few seconds. Suddenly my eyes filled with tears and I was sobbing. I pushed myself higher and higher on the swing and jumped off at the very top. For a second it felt like I was flying and then I landed on the sand and I felt a familiar pain in my ankle from when I sprained it when I was eleven. Tears still streaming down my face, I ran onto the jungle gym and slid down the wet metal slide. Then I slid down a pole. I climbed and jumped and slid and cried until I felt all the strength leave my body. It was exhausting just to get myself onto a bench. My tears kept flowing and I buried my head in me hands. It took all my strength to cry. My head felt heavy and my limbs felt like lead. I didn’t want to move. I laid down on the bench and looked up at the clouds. Rain drops fell on my face and mingled with my tears. I closed my eyes and a dozen memories appeared behind my eyelids. My mom taking me to my first day of school, my mom and me getting ice-cream, mom teaching me to ride my bike. Even when my dad was part of my life, my mom took care of me. She was my closest friend and the only person that had been my family. And now she was gone.

I opened my eyes and got up. Slowly I continued walking. Once again I didn’t have any idea where I was going but I hoped it was in the direction of home. If there was one place my mom would be it would be home. That’s where our whole family was.

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