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I never knew my dad. He was gone before I was even born. He didn't care enough about me, John and Kate, I guess. Julie says that he left the day that she caught him with a women from his office. I don't really know Julie either. I guess she doesn't really know me. Three quarters of the time she's drunk.

'Just eat it, okay?' I closed the front door and looked at the scene in front of me. Kate was bawling and John looked frustrated. There was an apple with a bruise on one side on the floor. 'What's going on?' I asked. 'Kate doesn't want to eat the apple because it had a bruise on one side.' Kate sniffled. I walked over to her and hugged her. 'It's okay, Kate. You don't have to eat the apple if you don't want to. Do you want to have cereal without milk instead?' She nodded and ran to the pantry. I turned towards John. 'John, you can't treat her like that!' 'You baby her too much. She's turning into a spoiled brat.' 'What else can I do? Mom's drunk most of the time and we have no dad.' 'Shut up, Ash.' He dragged his backpack downstairs.

I went to the kitchen and looked in the fridge. We had half a loaf of bread, some peanut butter, two bananas and a jar of ketchup. I sighed. I would have to go shopping soon. I took out the bread, peanut butter and bananas. I quickly made three banana sandwiches and gave one to Kate. She was still eating her cereal. I called John to take his sandwich and went upstairs with mine.

I heard snoring from Julie's room and I opened her door. Her room stunk like beer. I slammed the door and walked away from the stench. What was her problem? Why did she have drink every single day? She always promised that she would stop. She always promised that she would take care of the kids better. She never did. She was a liar. I was the one who took care of them. I fed them, I saw them off to school, I picked them up for appointments, I played with them, and I helped them when they needed it. When they had problems, it was me that they ran to, not Julie. We barely had enough money. Julie spent all of it on drinks. I had to hide money from her. I was tired of it. I was sixteen. I was supposed to be enjoying life. I was supposed to be studying and having fun. I was supposed to go to the mall during the weekends or the movies. I was supposed to have a boyfriend. I was supposed to have a car. My life was a complete disaster.

'Ashley, mommy's up.' 'Oh, Julie's up? Okay, Kate, I'll be right out.' 'Um'she's been drinking again.' 'I know.' 'Ashley? How come you call mommy Julie?' 'I'just do.' I stood up and went to Julie's room. 'Hey, Ash. You have an aspirin? My head is pounding.' 'No wonder. You're drinking every single day. What kind of mom are you? This isn't a theater, Julie. You don't have to act here.' I changed my voice to a wailing voice like Julie had. 'I promise to not drink again'give me one more chance. It's not my fault'Robert left'you hate me'' I changed my voice again. 'Of course I hate you! You're ruining my life! You get fired every month because you don't show up on time! John and Kate are scared out of their minds!' 'Ashley, just give me one more chance. I'll change, I swear.' 'Say that to someone who cares!' I shouted and slammed the door. I threw on my jacket and left for my favorite place: Angel Park.
A few months later, things started to get a little better. Julie didn't go out as much and she started to work more. I knew what to expect though. It was always like this. She would calm down a little then one day, she would start stinking like the sewers again. It hurt me to see Kate's face. She had such a hopeful spirit. She always brightened up when Julie stopped drinking. Then she would break down crying when the pattern continued. She was the one who got hurt the most. John was struggling as well. Kids at his school thought that he was a loser ever since he had brought one of his friends home from school. Julie had been slouched on the sofa, with five or six bottles of beer in front of her. John's friend told everyone, and John was soon bullied. At least once a week, he came in with bruises or a black eye.

'Ashley, you need to work harder in school. How in the world did you get 12% on chemistry yesterday?' 'I don't know. I just didn't study, Mrs. Smith.' 'Well, you have to study. I bet you anything that you're lazing about.' 'I am not lazing about! You try having a mother that's drunk her whole life!' 'I'm sorry, Ashley.' 'Apology's not enough! I'm slaving about while you go home to your nice family and yet you say that I'M lazing about?' 'Ashley-' I kicked my chair back and ran out the class all the way home.

I stopped short at the front door. On the living room table were seven bottles of beer and a bottle of whiskey right next to it. On the floor was Julie. She was snoring with slobber coming down the side of her mouth. I threw my bag at the floor, narrowly missing her and ran out again. I heard Kate wailing behind me. I ran with all the strength I had. I wanted to run away, I wanted to run away from everything. I couldn't handle this anymore. Julie was a drunk. She would always be. The only thing that I could do was run. My eyes became blurred as tears started to overflow. I didn't know where I was running, and I didn't care. I just needed to go away. I finally stopped at Angel Park. I slumped down on a bench and cried myself to sleep.

I woke up to a bright and dewy morning. Last night events' came flooding back to me. Should I go back? I wondered. The kids needed me, yet I couldn't go back to Julie. My stomach growled. I looked in my pockets and found twelve dollars. I needed to get out of town and start over. How would I get there, though? I looked around me and saw a FedEx truck. It gave me an idea.

I waited until the driver walked to a garbage can to throw away his coffee cup then crept up into the back of the truck. I had bought a sandwich with my twelve dollars. I crouched in the back of the truck and sat on top a cardboard box. The driver closed the doors and the truck started. I finished my sandwich and fell asleep.

I stepped out of the truck and looked around me. I saw a building that said New York Information Center. There were yellow cabs everywhere. The streets were crowded with people and cars alike. The buildings were so tall. I felt so small compared to them. I crossed the street with a whole group of people. I didn't know where to go. I decided to walk around a bit. Everything was too busy, too loud compared to the small town that I used to live in. It got darker and I sidestepped into an alleyway. I crouched down and slept.

I woke up the next morning and started to look for a job. I went to a bookstore and asked if they had an open spot. They said that there were none. I thanked them and left. I crossed a street without looking at the sign. I turned my head and gasped. I saw a pair of headlights staring right at me. I stood frozen then everything went black.

Where was I? I was in a bed somewhere. The walls all around me were blue. There were doctors and nurses all around me. I groaned. There was a pounding in my head. 'Excuse me?' A concerned doctor was leaning over me. 'Where am I?' 'You are in the New York General Hospital. You were hit by a taxi. We have a few questions to ask you.' 'What happened to me?' 'You have a few broken bones in your left leg. You suffered a concussion and six rib bones are fractured. You also have a lot of bruises. What's your name?' I was still confused and answered, 'Ashley Wilson.' 'What's your address?' '12 Persian Dr., Norbert Town.' 'So you don't live here?' 'No.' 'Do you have a parent or guardian?' 'No'yes. Julie Robertson.' 'Thank you. I'll let you sleep now.' I mumbled thank you and was about to drift off to sleep when I asked suddenly, 'How long have I been here?' 'A week and a half.' I closed my eyes and slept.

I woke up and found a person sitting next to me. 'Ashley?' 'Mom?' I focused my eyes and say that it was Julie. She had tears in her eyes. What are you doing here?' I was still a little confused. 'I heard about the accident and came over right away.' Anger pulsed through me. 'Shouldn't you be drunk right now?' I sneered. Julie sobbed. That took me by surprise and I quieted. 'Ashley, I am sorry. I know that I kept on saying that I would stop and that I never did. It's my fault that you ran away. When I woke up from my stupor, Kate told me that you had run away. John thought that you were probably at your usual place at Angel Park. I ran over there but you weren't there. When you ran away and I was searching for you, I realized something. I realized that I was hurting you, John and Kate by my drinking.' 'You didn't realize that until now?' 'I did, yet I suppose that I blocked it out. I had too much pain. I've stopped drinking now, Ashley. Please believe me.' 'Why should I? It's been almost seventeen years that you've been drinking now. I hardly knew you all these years. What if this is just another stupid lie? Huh? What if you're doing this just to get me calmed down? I can't believe you anymore. You're making me so'so'.mad!' A nurse came in through the door and said to Julie, 'You'll have to leave. You're making her upset. She needs to rest.'

When I got out of the hospital I ignored Julie. I watched carefully, though. She seemed to be getting much better. I was still wary though. The kids seemed much happier. She found a steady job and my school grades went up. Gradually, I began to believe her. Almost a year had passed when I started to call Julie Mom again. She found a trustworthy husband named James. He's a lot of fun and is understanding. I'm much happier now. I'm living the life I wanted to live. I still don't know if I was meant to run away or if I knew that it was going to help my mom. Either way, we're a family now.





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