I'm kind of like novocaine. It's not the pain that bothers me, it's the after effect. I revolve around my life, and anything that happens in it is double checked with me afterwards. I should really start from the beginning, though.

My name is Lenette Walcott. I'm currently nine years old, although this story flashes back to even before I can remember. The name of my mother is Rene. Extended family is immediate family, if you catch my drift. There's too much to count. Malakai and Lamar are the names of my brothers -- I made a pact with myself I would just call them pests.

School doesn't bother me, but my home life is much worse. I get on with it for one reason: I have to. I'm not depressed, don't get me wrong, because I smile all the time and am never quiet, but I just don't like the way I live.

I'm going to start all over now. And this time, maybe it'll make more sense.

* * * * *

It was 7 o' clock when I got up. I ran down the stairs to grab the things I'd packed the previous night. As I looked over the couch -- wondering if my mom was asleep or just nursing a hangover -- I could hear the cars pull up out back. Every Saturday there's a house party where my family comes over and gets pretty drunk. I try to leave as early and quickly as possible. If I'm gone, they won't notice. In contrast, being there makes me in the way. If I say I'm leaving, no one will let me go.

That wasn't the point. They were here early and I was barely ready. I slipped on my sandals and practically threw myself out the front door, only to realize I forgot my sweater. It was freezing outside. I ran across the street, took a right and then started to my first stop: Breakfast. The Cumberland's was where all the older girls hung out, so I had to be careful of the times I went there. Seven was too early on a weekend for anyone to be up, I decided. That was confirmed when I stepped up to the counter to pay for my Slim Jim.

"You feelin' good, Jordan?" I asked the checkout man as I dug my money from the bottom of my pocket.

"Shoot, you know me, juss' plain tired, tha's all," Jordan replied.

"K, then. Any ways, I'll take a Snickers, too."


"Hea." I handed him the money, took my Snickers and Slim Jim, and headed to my second stop of the day.

Nicolatta had been my best friend since the first grade. Through thick and thin, she'd been there. She knew what I was going through, although she had no idea.

Her family was the kind in a fairy tale -- the one complete with a father and a brother, the kind where everyone gets along and lives in a big house with a big backyard and a family dog. I wanted a family like that, but I was blessed with an alcoholic for a mother and two annoying brothers.

I stepped up the five steps and onto the huge porch where Nicolatta lived and rang her doorbell. It was a pretty doorbell, just plain white with a gold base, but the sound wasn't a buzz like the one's in the projects.

"I know you're up, Nicolatta, answer the door, girl," I murmured to myself as I rang the bell for a second time.

"Nicolatta!!!" I yelled. The door opened.

Nicolatta appeared, tired and sleepy eyed. "You come at eight. What're you doing here now?" she asked.

"What time is it?" I wondered, more to myself than to her.

"It's only 7:30. Geez, Lenette, I was still asleep."

I looked at her. She was in her pajamas and her hair was tousled. Tired, grumpy, she waved her hand as a signal for me to come in.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.