I’m standing in a line. About a mile long I’d say. As it begins to creep forward, I smell a faint fragrance. I stand on my tiptoes trying to see over the tall shoulder in front of me. I step to the side, but don’t see any more than before.
“Girl, you better not be thinking of cutting in front of me,” say Butch, the big burly guy ahead of me. Butch stands about six feet and probably weighs around 250 pounds. I’m just a little 80-pound street kid. Butch doesn’t look like he needs to eat. I know for a fact I need the food more than he does. I sigh and step back in line.
I start to get restless. I shift from one foot to the other and back again.
“Can’t you stand still, girl? You got fleas or something?” says Marge, the middle aged woman behind me. Marge doesn’t look like she needs to eat, either. She looks like a beached whale.
The line creep forward some more. Now I can see what I smell is: pot roast, boiled potatoes and a small square of chocolate cake. Lot of good it does me being allergic to chocolate. They probably assume everybody likes chocolate.
“Come on, girl. Don’t you be holding up the line.” Marge comes shoving her way through. I look down as Marge knocks me out of place.
“Girl, you going eat that cake?” Butch says. Gobbled down his dinner already. I throw him my piece of cake. Shoves it in his mouth whole. “What about them potatoes?” I take my fork and stab a potato. Just a way of letting Butch know he isn’t getting all my supper.
My name is Fuchsia. Well, that’s my street name. My real name is Ally Carver. But when you live on the streets you’re not about to use your real name. It might give away what my real name is. People could find me and I really don’t want to be found.
I have never had my own life; been my own person. I have always been known as Bob and Marie’s younger daughter or Kyla’s younger sister. I don’t think I have ever heard anyone call me Ally or even Allison. Everyone always asked me, “Why can’t you be more like your sister?” I have lived in Kyla’s shadow my whole life. Might as well be invisible. Figured the only way to have my own life was to be on my own.
I’m not alone. I have my clan. They all have street names too. They found me sleeping on the bench as the bus stop.
“Who is she?”
“Do I look like an encyclopedia?”
“You think she’s like us?”
“Why else would she be in our neighborhood?”
“Wait just a dang minute here. How do we know…”
Oh, come on. She can’t be more than thirteen years old.”
“Besides, you know how careful we are.”
They finally decide to take me with them back to the old abandon house they live in. Find out a little more about me. They said I could stay there until I got on my feet.
That was a couple days ago. I guess they figure I’m not a threat to them.
“How old are you?”
“Fourteen. I’ll be fifteen pretty soon,” I answer.
“What about your family?”
“Don’t have a family. Even when I did, didn’t feel like much of one.”
“Let me guess they don’t understand or appreciate you.”
“How did you know?”
“It’s like that for most of us.”
“Well, I guess we better find her a street name. Don’t want to risk it to long. Well, I’m called Panther because I’m black like the night.”
“I’m Candy, because I’m a sweet young thing. And that’s Zeus. He’s kind of like our leader.”
Zeus had been sitting by himself since we got there. Hardly said two words to me.
“What do people call you?” asked Panther.
“Ally, huh? Well, then how about your street name being Ally Cat?”
“Um, no. That’s what my dad calls…used to call me.”
“Do you have favorite color or a favorite food?” Candy asked.
“My favorite food is pizza and my favorite color is fuchsia.”
Candy looked at Panther. “Fuchsia? Yeah, I think that would work. Okay?” She looked at me.
I nodded. “Okay.”
“Zeus, this is Fuchsia,” Candy said. It sounded like she was trying to push Zeus into saying something. He just gave me an eye blink of recognition. “Don’t mind him. He’s just in one of his moods.”
Um, I’ve have question,” I replied.
“How are we supposed to get money and stuff like that?”
“You get a job. Or you steal it.”
“But what can I do at fourteen?”
“I’ll talk to my boss. He might be able to use someone like you,” Candy said.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Zeus finally spoke He grabbed Candy by the arm and drug her over to him.
“I’m just trying to help the kid out,” Candy said under her breath.
“Do you hear yourself? She’s won’t understand what she’s getting into.”
“I’m not talking about her doing that. I might be able to talk Julio into letting her scrub the floors or do laundry…something like that.” Zeus let go of her arm.
Next day, Candy came to me.
“My boss would like to talk to you about maybe doing some work for him.” When Candy saw the look Zeus was giving her, she said, “Don’t worry. I’ll take her in the back door.”
The place we came to was dim, but it was light enough for me to see a lot of girls, probably not much older than me, walking around in nothing, but their underwear. If they had some other clothes on they didn’t cover much. And they were definitely wearing too much make up.
“Wait here,” Candy told me. “I’ll be back in a minute.”
I saw Candy go over to a man, who was kissing and nuzzling one of the girls’ necks. He was wearing a white suit, with a leopard skin stole, a matching hat and purple tinted sunglasses. Candy was talking to him and he was looking at me, but I couldn’t hear what they were saying. Finally, he came over.
Do you know what kind of work I am in?” he asked.
“Entertaining,” I replied.
“What do you know about entertaining?”
“I know enough.”
Julio looked at me over the rims of his sunglasses. “You’re little young yet, but I suppose you could do the laundry for the time being. Though there may come a time, I might need you as an alternate.”
“I told you I’d be willing to work a double shift if you would give her a job,” Candy cut in.
“Look, we are getting new customers all the time and I can’t have my girls getting worn out. After a while I might let her go out on the job with a couple of the girls. They can break her in a little. But I won’t give her a contract until she’s sixteen.”
One day, Candy met me in the laundry room and said Julio wanted me to go with her on a job. We stood on the street corner for around ten minutes. Then a car pulled up. We ended up at a ratty motel. The guy didn’t waste any time. He ripped off Candy’s clothes, pushed her down on the bed and climbed on top of her. I covered my mouth with my hand. I thought I was going to throw up. I turned around and closed my eyes for the rest of the time.
Candy might be able to make money for herself doing what she did, but I couldn’t even buy a piece of dirt on what Julio was paying me. One day I was so hungry, I knew there was only one thing to do. I remembered what Candy had said, “The trick is not to let yourself feel anything.”
I stood on the street corner like I had seen Candy do and sure enough a car pulled up a few minutes later. I went over and leaned on the car window and tried to talk sexy to the guy.
That’s when I heard, “Ally!”
I looked and there was Kyla.