Her name is Brittney Johnson, half black, half German. Her dad is black, and her mom is German and black. She has long silky hair, is skinny as a twig, with skin as brown as a Hershey. Her eyes are baggy from lack of sleep. She always wears the same run down clothes.
She lives in a women’s shelter with her mom. It is not the best living condition. The bed poles are rusty as ever, there’s not much heat, and the blankets are not even thick. The beds are so uncomfortable she would have back pain from time to time. Rats run back and forth from the hallway, and the food is nasty as ever. They eat the same thing – half cooked rice, mushy beans, and leftover salad – every night. She thinks, “At least I’m getting some type of meal in my body. That’s my life so far.” Before the last 6 years, before all of this struggle, she and her mom and dad lived in a happy home. Her dad worked as a construction worker and her mom as a doctor’s assistant. They lived in a big house. Her daddy and mama would buy her anything she wanted. They were a happy family. Then everything went from happiness to sadness.
One night when she was 6 years old, she was in her room. Her mama had just put her to bed. After an hour passed, out of nowhere, she woke up to yelling. Her daddy had come home drunk. And her mama was questioning her daddy. Her daddy got mad. She poked her head out her room and heard her mama yelling, “Stop! Stop, Richard!” She could see her mama, blood gushing from her nose. That’s when Brittney ran out and yelled, “Stop daddy! You’re hurting mama.” Tears began to run down her face. She could see her mama struggling to get out of her daddy’s sight. Her mama told her to go to her room, but she didn’t listen. She got in it, trying to pull her daddy away from her mama. But he shoved her, and she fell to the ground. Somehow, now, her mama gained some type of strength. Her mama grabbed the glass that was beside her and bashed it on her dadddy’s head. She got free and grabbed Brittney. They ran to the girl’s room and grabbed their things. She didn’t forget the bunny her daddy got her for her 4th birthday. They rushed out the door while her daddy struggled to get up. They were one block from the house when her mama used her phone to call the police. She was so traumatized from the whole situation, seeing her daddy grab her mama and her daddy pushing her that she didn’t even know what to think now. Is her daddy the good guy or the bad guy? Her mama comforted her while tears ran down her reddened cheeks. Her mama rubbed her hair. That always made the pain go away. The cops finally arrived. They asked her mama what happened. After they got the story, they drove them back to the house. While they were in the car, one of the cops went in the house. A couple of minutes later, her daddy was escorted out. It was sad for her to see her daddy like that. That was the last she saw him.
She has been living in some type of shelter now for 6 years. That would make her 12 years old. She had planned to tell her mama how much she wanted to go to school since she was 11, but she never had the guts. Ever since they left their house, they have both been worried that her daddy might find them. She missed him from time to time. But Brittney remembered that day like it was yesterday. That made her wanna hate him. And so she hadn’t pushed. But now…
She saw her mama on the bed. Brittney joined her. She said, “Mama?”
Her mama said, “Yes, baby?”
“I need to ask you something,” she said.
“What?” her mama said.
“I want to go to school this year.” She saw the look in her mama’s eyes, and she said, “I’ve been waiting a long time to tell you this.”
Her mama took a deep breath and looked her daughter in the eye. “Are you sure you wanna start school this year?”
Brittney whispered, “Yes.”
Her mama took another deep breath. “Ok. I will enroll you for next year.”
Brittney jumped on her mama. She said, “Thank you! Thank you, mama.”
Now that she can go to school, her life will seem more normal. She went to bed that night, thankful that she had a courageous mom who loved and cared for her. She is also thankful for the shelter. Because without the shelter, she and her mom would have had nowhere to live. “It may not be much, but I’m so thankful for everything I have,” Brittney thought as she drifted off to sleep in the rusty old bed.