Just Another Day In America

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic
Not too far in the future, a depression hits and America has become a third world country where the many starve and children are forced to work all day just to survive, that's even if they have a home to survive in. This is the story of an everyday teenage girl in the America where everything went wrong.

Submitted: January 01, 2015

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Submitted: January 01, 2015

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They say America used to be a first world country; I think it's just a bunch of nonsense really.

Sarah woke up to find herself face down on the cold concrete ground once again. Really should've learned how to sleep here by now, she thought as she got up on her bare feet and stretched. The sun was about to rise which meant that it had to be five o' clock, though the sun had lied to her before. She stood in the middle of a dark city alleyway made up of half crumbled concrete and was far from the only life in it. An inch from where she had slept were an army of ants carrying a dead water bug the size of her hand and an inch from that a family of filth stained rats. On the other side of the alleyway ran a stream of sewage infested water complete with the usual bugs it would attract, and beside it a dozen piles of decomposing trash, each taller than her.

Sarah's stomach growled so hard that it shot a sharp pain through her torso, but she ignored it and stared at the rising sun, frowning. She growled, "Great.... work..." and looked down at her faded, worn out and ripped dress to make sure it wasn't too ripped for work. After years of being the only clothes she had worn it was now just a mangled mess of cloth and fibers sewn together, but it'd have to do. Sarah looked sixteen; looked is the important word. She didn't even know how old she was; after who knew how long of living in the alleyway the years had all meshed together into just one long never ending existence.  Even her last name was now a mystery. Her body was that of a starving African child's, with all her ribs visible through her dress and her face dry like it had never touched a drop of water before. Beyond that, she had black hair and the look of a girl from the Midwest.

Beside her, a few feet away, slept Kristi, her little sister, wrapped in a ripped American flag. Her sleeping spot was next to a green liquid of unknown origin and a bearded homeless man that was best kept away from. Sarah laughed, "So that's why it was so cold last night... I'm stealing that back one day," and walked to her sister. "Time to wake up," she tapped Kristi," Come on, five is already pushing it anyway."

"Can I just get another minute?" Kristi sounded half asleep.

Sarah tapped her again, "Nope... there's being nice and then there's just stupid! Come on."

Kristi got out of her flag and rubbed her eyes. She had the look of a twelve year old and her outfit consisted of a torn up t-shirt and even more torn jeans. Her body wasn't as frail as her sister's. "Alright... you sure it's five?" she said.

"Yup! Now come on before we're late!"

The two sisters ran out of their alleyway and onto the sidewalk. Their bare feet had already been stabbed over a dozen times. The city in front of them was filled with sparkling skyscrapers as far as they could see that punched into the sky. The skyscrapers made the sky itself look like it was made of diamonds and glittered with the reflection from the rising sun. Two such skyscrapers stood behind the sisters with the space between them making the alleyway that was their home.

There were plenty of smaller apartment buildings too, each at least a hundred stories, though they had the look of decaying cement and brick. On many of the buildings were posters and slogans; one such poster was of a poor man on the left and the same man, now rich, on the right. Below him was written, Believe In The American Dream. Another poster was of a timeline of pictures that started at America's birth and went forward showing the Industrial Revolution, the first man on the moon and the first space colonies among other things, and below it the words, America: Ever Upwards. These saturated the sky, complimented by its diamond view.

On the road in front of the sisters, below the sparkles, were hordes of homeless families trying to sleep but failing due to the honks and movement of the sea of buses. The families were of every race and many skinnier than Sarah. They littered the streets so much that in some corners they were a literal wall you had to walk around.  A few square feet per person was a luxury, an entire alleyway a dream. One boy who couldn't have been more than eight looked like he was dead right on the sidewalk from starvation, though Sarah wasn't sure. It wouldn't have been the first time she'd seen such a thing.

This was Sarah's city, the city of New Boston.

What made the sisters tremble though was the army of kids that ran up and down the sidewalks and right through the busy road. The hundreds of kids congregated in front of every store and business that inhabited the bottoms of the skyscrapers and buildings and swarmed around the store owners with many of them on the ground begging and crying. Some were even fighting each other; one little girl was already unconsciousness on the ground, no doubt another soon to be trampling victim. They all wore clothes similar to Sarah and were equally as skinny. "Goddammit!" Sarah yelled, "We woke up too late!"
Footsteps came from the sidewalk as she breathed heavy in anger. It was Dusty, Sarah's only friend, running towards her. "The hell are we doing?!" he screamed while waving from a distance, "Let's go before all the good work is taken!" He was around the same age as Sarah but had less worn out clothes and some semblance of muscle and fluid in him. He was a blond with blue eyes.

Sarah turned to her sister, "He's got a point... Find your friends; they gotta be somewhere round' here." And with that Kristi ran across the street to a group of a dozen kids while Sarah ran to Dusty. The run, while only less than a block, nearly brought her to her knees and left her catching her breath. "H-Hey, Dusty.... so... wanna start this?"
"More like get this over with..." he said in his usual grumpy tone.

The two of them ran to the other side of the street where there were more stores and began running up the sidewalk, checking every possible place of employment along the way. "Come on! We ain't starving like yesterday!" Dusty said. They ran past the flood of their kid competitors that stood before them but as the minutes passed they found every store, shop and business already filled with underage employees. Even worse, the more they traveled the more adult day laborers appeared, only adding to their worries.

"We shouldn't have woken up late," Sarah said, running past a bank filled with five six year olds mopping and cleaning the floors.

"What? We're not late; everyone else's just getting up earlier," Dusty said, "Four's the new five!"

After many more minutes of running the two had come to a block with less competition, if barely. Sarah eyed an empty deli with the owner standing outside and ran to it with Dusty. "Hey!" she screamed, "We'll work!"

"Alright," the deli owner focused at the two, "You two ever work in a deli before?"

"Yep!" Dusty screamed, jumping with excitement. Sarah rolled her eyes from the lie. "So, what kind of pay we talking about here?"

"Two fifty an hour."

"Good enough for me!" Dusty screamed with a look of euphoria.

"We'll do it for one fifty!" Two girls ran to the owner. The younger one couldn't have been more than five.

"What?! Hell no!" Dusty yelled, "Just get outta here before I beat the shit outta you, and don't think I wouldn't do it too. We already got this job!"

"No..." the deli owner crossed his arms, "They do... that is unless you want to go even lower."

Dusty growled and formed a fist. Before any punches could be pulled though Sarah put her hand over his, saying, "It's not worth wasting time over. Let's just go."

The two ran off to another store and after that another and then another and another until they had lost count. After miles of going through armies of kids rushing everywhere and fighting one another they ended up in front of a group of a hundred people of all ages in the middle of the street crawling around a group of construction workers.

"Shit always breaks in this city," Dusty said, once again looking excited, "We're definitely getting a job here." He got into a football player's stance and charged his way through the crowd with Sarah right behind him. The wall of people in the way collapsed and crumbled onto the floor from his force. "We'll work for you!" he said, now in front of the crowd and next to the construction workers, "And you can't be like I'm not strong enough; just look at what I did to these tools."

A constriction worker chuckled, "Sorry, dude, but we just filled our quota... literally twenty seconds ago. I mean I can tell you what time to come tomor-."

"Are you kiddin' me?!" Dusty flailed his arms around in anger, "Who the hell just filled it?!" He glared at the group of just hired laborers that stood beside the construction workers and clenched both his fists until they were red. "I'll beat all of you until I find-."

Sarah put her arms around him and held him in place before he could take another step. She shook her head, "Not worth it, Dusty; not even worth it... "

Sarah eventually managed to drag Dusty away before any other bodies were sent flying and the two returned to their quest. For the next hour and some they ran back and forth trying their luck at every store in view and even some shady alleyway black markets. None worked. By the end of all of it though they had finally hunted down one person willing to give them a job. "Good to have ya on board," Sarah and Dusty's employer, a soon to be bald middle aged man, said. The three of them stood in front of a warehouse with two building sized trucks parked beside them. "Yer job's as easy as they come. Yer gunna take the stuff in that truck and put in on the shelf that it belongs. Fourteen hours, no break... Yer pay'll be one twenty five an hour. Any questions?"

"No..." Sarah and Dusty both said. Their voices had as little excitement as it was possible for a voice to have.

They began their jobs and went from truck to shelf, truck to shelf and truck to shelf unloading and carrying items ranging from sheets of paper to stacks of folded metal chairs. The work felt almost refreshing at first to Sarah as it was a change of pace from running on sidewalks and stopping Dusty from wailing on people, but as the number of trips from truck to shelf reached into the hundreds it began to feel like it was all she had ever done, ever. She was lost in a trance like state, just going through the motions as the hours passed, and kept on telling herself that the cramping in her stomach would soon end.

Dusty growled the entire time and looked one wrong tap away from exploding on everybody and everything. The rate of his work though was at a pace that left his employer nodding his head in the first few hours and gasping by the end. He broke a sweat, sure, but from his nonstop sprint-like speed he'd have you believing that he had actually gained energy.

During the middle of the shift, as the sun was beginning to set, Sarah was carrying yet another stack of chairs. As she took another step in the warehouse her back twisted from the weight and she was sent collapsing to the ground. The chairs all fell on her already spasming back. She screamed with each spasm and jerked around trying to find a less painful position. None existed.

Dusty ran to her, "Shit! You can stand up, right?"

Sarah tried getting up but felt a sharp pain rip through her spine, "Nope... guess not..."

"Hey, what's goin' on!" their employer ran in and shook his head at the scene, "Doesn't look to good. Guess ya ain't workin' anymore, correct?"

"Well obviously!" Dusty yelled, "She can't even get up!"

The man shook his head again, "I'd pay ya for the work ya already did, but I never believed in a job half done."

"That's it!" Dusty launched a punch at his boss, but braked himself right before impact as Sarah spoke up again.

"N-No... I got this. I can get up... Just gimme a few minutes." Shit... I can't go hungry again today. I won't even be able to move tomorrow. Sarah began using her arms to lift herself up and through a jaw braking, minute long frankenpush up got herself back up. The littlest shake made her spine beat, but it would have to be endured. She forced a smile, "See..."

The two worked the remaining hours and received their pay once done. No smiles were shared. Now night, Sarah and Dusty held on to what little money they had earned and made their way to a public park that had their usual go to place for food, a run down food stand that looked like it was about to collapse at any second, from termites was the bet. It stood on a stretch of grass and was surrounded by circular rings of the homeless. Sarah and Dusty made their way through the nose bleeding smell of the walls of homeless people and told their orders to the stand's owner, a fat middle aged man. Sloppy joes, it may not have been the feast of kings but it was something, and cheap. The two put back their change like they were holding onto God's hand itself and sat down next to a family of four that had made the patch of grass they sat on their home.

Sarah stared at her food on the verge of tears; one final pulse of pain shot through her stomach and she took her first bite. No amount of love or sex could've matched the feel of the fake meat as it was soaked up by her taste buds; she made sure to make each bite as long as it could be.

Dusty ate his joe with the same grumpy face he always had and looked almost bored. He finished his in seconds while Sarah's only had a few nibbles in it.

"Hey guys!" Kristi walked towards them and sat down beside her sister. Her eyes were cracking red.

"Where's your joe?" Sarah said.

"Oh, me and my friends already ate," Kristi looked down at her stomach with a frown, "I'm still pretty hungry though. I'm probably gonna get another."

Sarah gazed at her one and only meal in sadness, then saying, "Just take mine... We shouldn't waste our money like that." She handed her sloppy joe to her sister.

Kristi grabbed it without hesitation, "Thanks!" and began ripping through it. "So..." she chewed, "Where'd you guys work today?"
"Some piece of shit warehouse," Dusty said, crossing his arms, "Sarah almost broke her back carrying some of the stuff."

Kristi continued eating, "You're okay now though... right?"

Sarah twisted her back an inch only to be greeted with the feel of a hundred stabs of an ax to her spine, "Yep... I was only messed up for like a minute... no biggie. Where did you and your friends work?"

"We h-helped these guys we met behind a building. I-It was actually kinda easy but we had to..." Kristi began coughing and fell to the floor unable to stop. Sarah put her arms around her sister, but Kristi picked herself up. " Sorry, just sick. I don't know what I got but it's been bugging me for a while now."

Sarah caressed her sister, "Hope not, otherwise we probably won't be able to eat for days from the hospital bills... It's probably just a cold or something. These things happen all the time, am I right?"

Dusty chuckled, the saying in a sarcastic tone, "Yup, you right."

Sarah shot him a glare, "What's with your attitude... I mean you're always kinda mad but today you just seem like you want to break your own record."

"What, I can't be pissed? This is a free country goddammit!" Dusty said. Sarah rolled her eyes and turned back to her sister. "If ya do wanna know though and you're not just all moody.... I'm just pissed."

"At what? The fact that we actually ate something today?"

"Well... yeah..." Dusty said. The two girls stared at him, blank. "I mean... yeah, we ate something today, but we might not get to eat anything tomorrow so I'm like, why even care? We're just gonna be doing the same shit everyday anyway, no real point in enjoying it."

"Then what do you want to me to be like... like I'm having my period like how you were today?" Sarah said.

"Nah, I expect you to be pissed. Me, until I see the people who made us like this hanging, I ain't gonna stop being pissed, and expect you to do the same... you too Kristi."

Sarah began half glaring at him, "Alright then, fair enough... So tell me, who do you want hanged?"

Dusty laid on his back with his head resting on his arms. He looked up at the sky, "Everyone... everyone at Washington... everyone at the mayor's office.... the governor's office... the UN... the CEOs... I don't care, everyone."

Sarah smirked, "Give it up Dusty; I've already heard this a million times."

"And I've heard you say I'm wrong a million times... doesn't make you right."

"The depression wasn't anybody's fault," Sarah said. Her half glare had evolved to a full one. "These things just happen... No point in blaming someone if there's no one to blame."

"If telling yourself that makes you feel better...."

The three of them finished their dinner in silence with Sarah glaring at Dusty the entire time. They walked to the sidewalk in front of the sisters' alleyway once done. "Alright then, see ya two tomorrow," Dusty said before walking away.

"See ya..." Sarah waved goodbye, "Tomorrow..."

The two sisters entered their home where all their neighbors and family, the bugs, the rats, the unknown liquid, the crazy homless man, were waiting to welcome them back. They laid on the ground in silence with Kristi once again wrapping herself in the ripped flag. Sarah stared at the flag and reminded herself of the stories of the America before the depression, the America the posters on the buildings always told her about. A rat crawled into her dress.

"Good night, sis," Kristi said.

Sarah didn't respond. She looked up at the diamond skyscrapers that lit up from the moonlight, ready to repeat the day all over again.

 

 

 

 


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