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The Lonely Survivor

The wind whistled loudly like an approaching train, ringing in her ears, and she could hardly tell whether or not her feet still existed beneath her. She longed for a steaming cup of sweet hot chocolate, remembering the feeling of the hot cup on her palms and the spread of warmth through her body as she let the cup drain into her mouth. Now, in the frigid weather, she was hardly able to unclench her child-like fists. Crouched in the darkness behind an old Italian restaurant, in her dirt-caked rags, she could easily be mistaken for a useless bag of garbage.
Brenna chose this life at the age of thirteen, when she ran away from home, never to return. Her mother had been a cashier at the 711 down the street from their shoe box apartment, working the night shift more days than not. Every day, Brenna would excitedly run up the five flights of stairs to their home in the hopes that, just once, her mother would stay and eat dinner with her before she left for work. This happened very rarely. Those countless nights made her feel like a prisoner in solitary confinement, but taught her how to take care of herself.
They couldn't afford a phone, so they were forced to use the pay phone a couple blocks away from the apartment building. One night, Brenna's mom went out to make an "important" phone call. As curious as any thirteen year old, Brenna decided to do a little spying on her mother. She crept silently through the shadows until she reached a large, metal trash can near enough to the phone that she could easily overhear her mother. "I need help!" her mother desperately pleaded, "I can't pay for food for the both of us anymore! Someone needs to take her from me!" Brenna felt a one-hundred pound steel weight crash down upon her delicate heart as she looked in disbelief at the woman whom she had loved unquestioningly for her thirteen years of life, unable to form thoughts or words. Brenna never did find out the identity of the person on the other end of the call. She raced home, packed a bag with her few clothing items and the heart necklace her mother had given her for her birthday, and silently closed the door of the apartment behind her as she departed, leaving behind all she knew and heading into the bewildering unknown.
Brenna had been on her own for nearly five years. She had no intention of ever trying to locate her mother, who was probably long gone by now. Brenna liked the feeling of exhilaration and empowerment that a life of danger and seclusion brought her. However, it is nights like tonight, when the painful cold makes her whole body shudder violently and her breath catch with each sharp inhale, that make her miss the ripped, stained couch of the apartment she once called home and the sound of footsteps of the woman she once called mom.





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