Home, Not So Sweet, Home

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12:00AM and still, no one was home. Carrie laid awake in bed. Finally, the door squeaked open and she could hear her mother stomping on the floor and slurring her words. ‘She’s drunk, again’ Carrie thought. Of course Carrie didn’t expect her father home. He leaves for days and comes home just to tell Carrie everything she’s doing wrong.

Her mother came up the stairs, Carrie could see her through her cracked door and she saw that she was walking very unsteadily. Carrie ran up to her, afraid she would fall.

“Get off!” her mother screamed.

“I’m just trying to help you,” Carrie said and she let go.

“Stop! You’re the worst dau--” Carrie’s mother stopped and vomited on the stairs, “Clean this up!”

Carrie obeyed and got the mop. Her mother’s mood was always different when she came home drunk. Sometimes she was cheerful, other times she just came home and started say random words attempting to create a sentence, and, very rarely, she hit Carrie. After cleaning up her mother’s mess, she sat on the couch to relax, which she rarely got to do. All she wanted to do was sleep but she was afraid that her mother would come down and brutally wake her up.

Carrie wished for a better life. She wished she could be like most kids out there who look up to their parents and actually look forward to coming home. Carrie shook the thought off her mind, just because she didn’t want to get her hopes up.

She began to doze off a bit but then her front door flew open and she saw the face of a man whom she despised; her father.

“Carrie! Why are you just sitting there?! This place is a pigsty! Clean up!” he yelled furiously. The place was a little unorganized but it wasn’t a “pigsty”. Carrie has been too busy to clean up everything and since her mother and father don’t help out at all, it’s all up to her.

Then Carrie said something that surprised her, “No.”

“Excuse me?” her father said giving her an expression that would burst into flames any second.

“I just didn’t have time to clean every little thing. I just want to relax, please.” She was surprised by her sudden self confidence, but as soon as she saw her father’s hand meet with her cheek wrathfully, she regretted it.

“Clean up now or else it’ll hurt more next time!” he yelled, his face red with fury.

A tear streamed down Carrie’s cheek. She wiped it but then felt the searing pain once more of her father’s cruel ways. Carrie waited for him to go upstairs and went into her mother’s purse. She searched for her wallet, but she was disappointed when she only found 22 dollars in it. Then she turned around to find her father’s wallet sitting on the coffee table. She opened it and to her surprise, found 200 dollars and a few credit cards. She quietly tip-toed up the steps so her parents wouldn’t hear her and packed her things. She took a moment to admire her room for the last time because when she left tonight, there’s no way she’d be coming back.
. . .


Since Carrie lived in the small town of Benton, Pennsylvania, the next bus stop was only a few blocks away. She waited for the bus to pull up, which she thought would only take a few minutes but really took about a half an hour. When it finally arrived, she started to feel the butterflies in her stomach. She stood there for a while just to contemplate this plan over again.

“Coming in or not?” asked the bus driver.

Carrie took a deep breath and got on the bus. There was only one other person on the bus. He looked like he was in his mid-twenties and didn’t shower very often. He was reading a worn out newspaper dated a year ago. Carrie didn’t get a good vibe from this guy so she sat all the way in the back. She didn’t know where she was going but she figured a bus from Benton couldn’t go that far. Although the man on the bus did creep her out, she decided to ask him.

“Excuse me, sir?” she said. The man seemed a little startled.

“Oh! Um…yes?”

“Where is this bus going?” she asked.

“New York City, I believe,” he replied.

“What? I didn’t know we were going that far!” Carrie said, surprised. She had never been out of the state so really anywhere beyond Pennsylvania was far for her. The man just giggled at her surprise. As she turned to return to her seat, his voice stopped her.

“Running away?” he asked., his eyes still on his newspaper.

“Well if you want to call it that…”

“Trust me I’ve been there. Actually, I was just about your age when I ran away,” he said.

He had barely looked at Carrie and yet he already could tell how old she was. She was a little curious to hear his story so she sat in the row across from him. She knew better than to talk to a stranger but this guy seemed to know her story.

“Yup, I was about fourteen. I got into a huge fight with my parents and then I just stormed out of the house. What made me really not want to come back was the fact that they didn’t even try to stop me,” he told her.

“So you never went back?” Carrie asked.

“Well I do go back to my home town every once in a while, but no one ever recognizes me anymore,” he said.

“Wow, and your parents never tried look for you?”

“Never. I detested them for that,” he said and then got lost in a trance as if he were having a flashback of that moment.

Carrie fell asleep in the seat but then was woken up by a sudden halt.

“New York City,” called out the bus driver as he opened the doors.

“Well this is our stop I guess,” said the man, “I’m Gordon by the way.”

“Oh, it was nice meting you, Gordon.” She was definitely not giving her name to some sketchy guy she met on a bus.

Carrie stepped off and was immediately overwhelmed, and she was only at the bus station. There were few people since it was 2:30 in the morning but there were so many doors and steps. She had no clue where to go.

“Need some help?” Gordon asked.

“Um, I think so. Do you have a map?”

“No, but I know this city like the back of my hand,” he said rather proud of himself, “Just follow me.”

Carrie knew this wasn’t safe, but she had no other choice. They went through the main entrance of the station and now she came to a complete stop. Lights were lit in every building. Flashing signs occupied every street and every car passing by blasted music. Gordon was a little amused by her shock.

“Wait ‘til you see it during rush hour,” he laughed.

Carrie continued to follow him and the soles of her shoes were already worn down. Gordon finally stopped in front of a car.

“Here we are, home sweet home,” he said.

“You live in your car?” Carrie asked, although, judging by how he look, she wasn’t surprised.

“Yeah. It’s not that bad, actually. Oh, here’s a map! And a blanket. You’ll probably need to sleep in the bus station tonight,” Gordon said.

Carrie laughed but then she realized that he wasn’t joking.

“The bus station? Won’t something happen to me? What if someone steps on me? What if--”

Gordon cut her off, “You’ll be fine. New Yorkers are used to homeless people. They’re always around.”

She shuddered at the thought of her being homeless. Never once did she imagine herself as someone living on the streets (well, bus station in this case), but at least it was better than living at her house.

“I’ll be over there first thing in the morning. Here, I’ll give you a ride there so you don’t have to walk anymore,” he said.

“Okay, are we going to a different station?” she asked.

“Yeah, this one’s closer.”

He drove ahead and a few minutes later they were at the station. Gordon went around to open her door.

“Honestly, I would let you stay in my car but this is probably safer, as hard as it is to believe. I’ll be parked right outside,” he said reassuringly.

Carrie nodded her head and tried not to panic. She laid out her blankets and fell into a dreamless sleep.

. . .


Carrie woke up from the sound of all the chaos in the station. Everyone rapidly scattered in fear of being late to work. She saw Gordon up ahead.

“There you are. I was just coming to get you,” he said.

“What time is it?” asked Carrie.

“Around 9,” said Gordon, “Wanna get something to eat? I know a really cheap diner a few blocks down.”

“Sure, and since you’ve helped me so much, I’ll pay,” Carrie smiled and took out the wad of cash in her wallet.

“Okay, if you insist,” he said, sounding thankful that he didn’t have to spend the little money he had.

They drove to the diner in Gordon’s grimy car. It reminded her of her old house that to her father was a “pigsty”. Looking at it reminded Carrie of the pain on her cheek. Remembering made her feel the agony once more.

“We’re here,” said Gordon as he pulled up to a diner with a very retro feel. A giant flashing neon sign-- what a surprise, another-- hung from the wall. As she walked in there were red and blue lights everywhere. Her and Gordon slipped into a red vinyl booth.

“So do you like New York life so far?” he asked.

“It’s… different,” replied Carrie while looking around the crowded diner.

The waitress came by to take their orders, but before she could even start, the N.Y.P.D stormed in. They all pointed to Gordon and started whispering to one another.

One officer came up to him and asked, “Are you Gordon Alexander?”

“Yes…” Gordon replied puzzled.

“You’re under arrest for the possession of a stolen vehicle,” said the officer, “Get out and put your hands up.”

Just then Gordon threw an object at the officer and stormed out of the diner and into his, well maybe not his, car. Carrie sat there in shock as she watched him speeding down the road and having three cop cars after him. What was she going to do without him? Now, she had no simple way of transportation or guide. Carrie rushed out of the diner and tried to ask New Yorkers for directions but no one answered. She wandered and wandered until she bumped into a couple.

“Oh! I’m really sorry,” she said.

“It’s okay,” the woman said, “Are you lost?’

“Um…yes.”

“Where are you trying to go? Did you lose your parents?” she asked

“I didn’t come with my parents. See, I was with my friend but he just got arrested and--well, it’s a long story,” she said.

“Wait, so where are your parents now?” the man asked.

“At home…I ran away.” she had no idea why she was confiding in complete strangers.

“Oh, you poor thing. you’re probably starving! Come with us,” said the woman and, ironically, they brought her to the same diner.

“We didn’t get a chance to introduce ourselves,” the man started, “I’m Brad and this is my wife, Angie.”

“I’m Carrie.”

“So tell us, Carrie, why did you run away?” asked Angie. She seemed to be truly concerned.

“It’s a long story,” Carrie said.

“We’ve got time,” said Brad.



So Carrie told them her story; her father’s brutal slap and neglect, her mother’s alcohol problem and constant orders and Gordon.

“That’s horrible!” It’s a good thing you got away from that but running away wasn’t a good plan, Carrie,” said Angie.

“Do you have anywhere to stay?” asked Brad.

“No… I had to stay at the bus station…,” said Carrie.

“That’s no way of living. I know this might seem a little forward, but why don’t you stay with us?” suggested Brad. Angie nodded in agreement.

“Oh, I wouldn’t want to impose on you and your family,” said Carrie.

“We don’t have any children , so you would not be imposing, really, Carrie, we want to help,” said Angie.

“Well…okay,” said Carrie.

After they were done eating, Angie and Brad took Carrie to their home. It gave her such a warm feeling as soon as she walked in. It was one of those picket-fence-freshly-cut-grass-new-coat-of-paint kind of homes. Their house was about an hour away from the city.

“Make yourself at home,” said Angie.

Carrie could smell the aroma of vanilla and cinnamon. Their house made her feel at home; a real home.

“Here, I’ll take your bags and show you to your room,” said Brad.

“Thanks.”

Her room was so much better than the one she had back in Benton.

“I hope you like it and if there’s anything you need, don’t hesitate to ask,” said Brad.

“Thank you so much. I really appreciate this.”

“No problem.”

. . .


“Carrie, breakfast,” Angie called out.

“Coming,” Carrie called back.

She had been staying with them for about a week now. She loved it. They’d always be home when she was, they never yelled or hurt her, and there would always be a home cooked meal on the table. They sat down for breakfast.

“Carrie, we have something important to tell you,” Brad said. His tone began to worry Carrie.

“Yes?”

“We called your parents and it turns out, they’ve been looking for you,” said Brad.

“Wait, what? How did you get there number? I want nothing to do with those people! They don’t care!” Carrie shouted, growing angry.

“Calm down. They’re still your parents and if they’re looking, they obviously care,” said Angie, “We got their number online.”

“I can’t believe this. How long have they been looking for me?”

“For about three days now,” said Angie.

“Don’t make me go back. I really don’t want to go back!” Carrie panicked.

“Don’t worry, we just called to tell them you were safe with us. Carrie, this is a serious issue. If you don’t want to go back, we have to find a way to settle this. They are your legal guardians and can come back to get you anytime they want,” said Brad.

“Can’t I just…stay here?”

“As much as we’d love that, there’s a lot of paper work and court decisions to make that happen,” said Angie.

“We’ll go to court then! Please!” pleaded Carrie.

“We’ll think it over, but it’s a difficult decision and I’m sure your parents won’t want to give you up. As much as you don’t think they care, they need you,” said Brad.


. . .


After a long talk between Angie, Brad and Carrie’s parents, they finally agreed to take this matter to court.

“Ready Carrie?” asked Brad. Carrie nodded and walked to the car. Angie was already waiting. They drove to the court house and to Carrie’s surprise, her parent’s were already there. She met their eyes. It was distressing to see them again. They all walked in and their trial began.

“Angela and Bradley Walker, you want full custody of Carrie Scott, is that right?” the judge verified.

“Yes, your honor,” they said simultaneously.

“And Cheryl and Thomas Scott, you are the current guardians of Carrie Scott?”

“Yes,” they both said.

The judge continued and asked Carrie why she did not want to live with her parents anymore. Carrie told her the same story she told Angie and Brad. Arguments from both sides went back and forth. Carrie couldn’t speak. She was still afraid to talk back to her parents, even if they were in a safe place where they could not hurt her.

“Okay, that’s enough. A decision has been made,” the judge started. Carrie closed her eyes and crossed her fingers, “I rule in the favor of Angela and Bradley Walker to be the new guardians of Carrie Scott due to abuse and neglect of her previous guardians, Cheryl and Thomas Scott.”

Everyone stood in silence and shock for a moment and finally Carrie burst into tears and hugged her new parents. Of course, her old ones lost their temper and started shouting at anyone they could but were eventually dragged out by security.

Carrie Scott was finally free.





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