I was born as a girl in Denver, Colorado on August 15, 1994 by two alcoholic, abusive parents. My father was an ex-plumber and my mother was a hair-dresser. Both of them dropped out of high-school. From day one, they didn’t want me. The first thing they hated was my gender. They wanted a boy, and when I was a girl, they were not happy. Then they hated everything else. They hated everything being a parent brought. From diapers to crying, I was not what they though being a parent would bring. Over the years there hatred got worse and worse. By age 6 my father was beating me regularly, and I could do nothing. I was terrified to tell anybody, and never did. Sometimes he would go on drunken rampages, and hurt me bad. When I was nine years old these rampages happened almost once a week. One day, I couldn’t take it anymore. After a very bad day with him, I grabbed my back-pack for school, emptied it, and put all of my clothes, shoes, food, and anything else I could fit inside it. I snuck out of my window and at age nine, ran away from home.
The first night was almost fun. I was excited, away from my parents, my own boss. I wandered around the city for a while, until falling asleep on a step I found. When I woke up the next morning, I didn’t know what to do. I was surprised I’d made it this far. I walked around until I got hungry, and then ate. I went to watch other homeless people. After seeing what they did, I gave it a try. I sat on a bench, with a hat next to me. Nobody was able to tell I was asking for money, but I sat there for hours. I didn’t get any money that day.
The next day I only had enough food for breakfast, so I tried harder to get money. I watched the other homeless people, and tried to imitate them exactly. I wrote a sign, lied down on the ground, and sat there. That day I got more money than before, but still not too enough to buy a breakfast and lunch.
Near the end of the day, I was approached by a kid, around 14 years old, with very beat up cloths on. He explained that he too was homeless, and after that, told me to follow him. Out of pure curiosity and boredom, I followed him. He led me to a group of about 6 more kids, from ages 8- 14 years old. He explained that they were all homeless too, and they all lived together. He introduced me to them all. Josh was the 8 year old; they found him several days earlier. He was cute, but obviously couldn’t handle being homeless. A few days later he went back to his parents. Zarren was just a year older than me, but had been here for a year already. He was very skinny and very generous too. Shane was 10 too, and had been homeless for around 8 months. He was strong, but really short, even for a 10 year old. Marie was the only other girl in the group; she was 13, and very tall. She had been homeless for 2 years, and may have been having the worst time of us all. I later learned that when she was most desperate for money, she was forced to resort to prostitution. Though it paid well, she hated it. Chad was also 13, and a very big guy, who could defend anybody if he had too. He was one of the leaders of the group, because of his size, and he was nice to everybody. Lastly was David, a tall, 15 year old Asian kid. He was the leader. He had been here for four years, and new how to run everything better than everybody else. He explained to me the rules of the group. 3/4ths of the day’s earnings are given to “the bag” where we kept all of our money for food. The rest is ours. If any fighting happens than either one or both of the people are kicked out. Simple enough I thought. That night we all just slept on a blanket next to a building.
The next morning Marie was assigned to be my mentor. She showed me the ropes of begging. You need to look desperate, which you were. A sign was not needed, just walking up to people and begging for anything. When begging for people in cars, a sign was needed. Usually my sign read something along the lines of “I am 9 years old, with no food and not shelter. Please let me have any spare change or food.” Sometimes people would drive up to me crying, and offer to give me shelter, or anything they can, but I was afraid to go back to anywhere. I always denied. Marie and I began to become great friends, despite our age difference. She sometimes we would sit with a sign next to us and just talk for an entire day. She too was abused by her parents, and ran away from home. Eventually we started talking about more personal stuff, and she told me about her prostitution. She hated it more than anything, but at times it was her only way to make enough money. She and I became best friends. Soon enough we decided the best place to beg at was in front of the largest tower in Colorado, the Quest/Century Link building on 1801 California Street. We were assigned as permanent partners until one of us left. The reasons we now needed partners was several months before a kid died out here, so we weren’t taking any more chances.
About three months in was my first winter. I was completely taken by surprise. I didn’t know what to do. We all went shopping together and bought some cheap jackets, but even those couldn’t keep out the cold. I would be so cold I could barely move. Though this is the time where people would give the most money, I couldn’t stand it. I would stay as long as I could indoors. I was still with Marie, and she was having an even worse time. She couldn’t handle to much cold, and I would often have to give up my blankets for her. The worst days where when somebody didn’t have shoes, or some piece of clothing. We would have to take turns without it. Once I had to wear only guy’s cloths for over a month because somebody took all of my cloths, but a few things. A lot of kids had the cold be there weakness, and many ended up getting sick and having to go back into society.
Sometimes people would be very nice, taking us all to dinner, or giving us a lot of money. Once a group of business men took Marie and I to a steak dinner. Man, did we eat well that night. Sadly, Marie was still was forced to prostitute herself. I would meet her late at night after she got back and we would walk back to the group together, her crying and me comforting her. I was offered often too go with her by the men, but I always declined.
By the time I was 10 and a half I had the whole system down. People on their way to work would stop, have a conversation with me and Marie, give us a few dollars and go off to work. A lot of people walked by us every day without giving a dime. Our favorite guy was named Chris, a worker at a nearby restaurant. Whenever he came by he would talk to us for a long time. Before he left he would always give us something to do for a while. A book, board game, anything, and he said give it back when you are tired of it. I still have one book from him that I read often. It is the first Harry Potter book, and I love it.
By the time I was 11, the only people who were still there from the beginning were Zarren and Marie. Everybody else either got sick, hurt, or just wanted to leave. Several other kids joined, bringing the group up to a number of 8. On Maries 14th birthday, after a night of prostitution, she decided enough was enough, and left the group. Her and I walked to a nearby help center (That’s what we called the places that put you in foster care) and after many goodbyes, she left.
For the first time, I was alone on the streets. It was a very lonely ordeal. Almost every day for two years I spent it with her, and now all I had was books, and strangers. I became more desperate for money, because now I had nobody to share with. I started stealing money from people if I had too. I was fast and tall, so I could outrun them. I became a master at pick pocketing, and then taking some money and then telling them they dropped their wallet. After nearly six months of doing this, was when I got the most desperate. I was sick, starving, and couldn’t sleep because of a bad back I had form sleeping on cement and blankets each night. One night, before I packed up my stuff and headed back to the group, a man walked up to me and asked if I could sleep with him. Desperate, I agreed. After one of the worst nights of my life, he gave me 300$, and at age 11.5 I had prostituted myself. I hated myself afterward, but was able to eat decently for a while. I ended up doing this around once a month, when I needed the money most.
The next year went along uneventful, with the only changes being kids leaving. I became the second oldest person in the group, and one of the leaders. I decided what who went with who, what to do with the money, and where we would sleep. If a kid ever needed some help, I would help him until he was better but always went back by myself. One kid brought a flute with him, his name was T.J. and he was great at the flute. He would often spend his extra money on new sheet music. He became our main breadwinner, bringing in the most money of us all.
On my 13th birthday, another eleven year old girl named Emma joined the group. Because she was a girl, she was assigned to be my partner. I showed her the streets the same way Marie showed me, and finally I had somebody to talk to again. She was nice, and smart. She knew how to convince people to give her money quickly, and gave me a lot of ideas. When it’s not cold out, don’t wear shoes, or cut some holes in your shirts and make them very dirty. It worked perfect, and we were bringing in even more money. She knew about my prostitution, and helped me get through it too. Over the next year, we became great friends and shared everything together. Sadly, she had to cost a bit more money because of a bedwetting problem she had. She need to diapers at night, which we were all cool about. Sadly, diapers are expensive, and she was often low on cash, which caused me to have to share with her. Many times she would start to get down because of her bed-wetting. I would do what I can to cheer her up, telling her that I used to have a bedwetting problem too, because of a lot of stress.
After about 5 months, both of us were broke and hungry, when a guy asked if both of us if we could sleep with him. I agreed, but told her she could not go. She insisted, saying she needed to help me out too. When we got back, she was both sickened of what just happened, but happy she could finally help out. We got a lot of money that night.
About a month after my 14th birthday a big snow storm hit. I had to go get money, but I would be freezing. After a few hours, I was nearly completely covered in snow. I had nothing I could do but was getting extremely cold. Chris came by that day and looked at me. He said I looked terrible, and took my pulse. He told me I may have hypothermia. He told me all of the symptoms and if I had any, get help. I shrugged it off, but when I tried to move, I nearly passed out. Emma helped me back to the group, where I did pass out.
The next thing I know I am sitting in a hospital bed with Emma on my side. They took me in after I didn’t wake up. After almost five years, I was off the streets. I started screaming. Something made me think my parents were going to bring me back, even though there was no way it would happen. I wanted out immediately. A few doctors and nurses rushed to me and calmed me down and explained what happened. I had severe hypothermia, and that I was at the Children’s Hospital. Emma had gone back with me. I was freaking out, and had no clue what to do. After I recovered I was sent to a foster home with Emma. We stayed together at all times. Neither of us had been around so many other people for years, we didn’t know how to act. We got tons of questions, which we answered most of the time.
After about a month, two parents adopted Emma and me. They were very nice, and I recognized the husband from the streets, and he recognized me. We got to know each other, but I had trouble with authority, and would often do the wrong thing.
A few weeks later I started school again. I was put in rudimentary classes, along with Emma. It was extremely overwhelming. All day I was asked about my past, and had to write about my past and read it to all my classes so they knew. I was good at most things. I was great at English but not math. I created some great friends, and am still hanging out with most of them. I had a GPA of around 3.0.
I am now 17 years old, going into my junior year of high school. Emma is my sister and my parents are expecting a baby. I am living a happy life, but must attend monthly consoling sessions. Thank you for reading.
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