Believe Like a Child

Believe Like a Child by Paige Dearth

Book: Believe Like a Child by Paige Dearth Read Free Book Online
Authors: Paige Dearth
Tags: Fiction, Suspense, Thrillers
She hasn’t seen a toothbrush since she finished teething and the bitch needs a hot bath, new clothes and an attitude adjustment.” It reminded Alessa how much she missed her friend.
    Lea left her standing in the dingy apartment. It was barely an apartment at all and certainly not a place you would call home. As Alessa stood in the center of the kitchen, she felt a chill pass through her. This was where she would live now. The inside of her apartment was almost scarier than what she had seen out on the street. She was certain, however, that this could be no worse than the house of horrors she had fled.
    Alessa would have to leave the Travelodge in the morning. She needed a place to go to and it looked like this was it. It was the only apartment she could afford. She figured if it didn’t work out, she could look for a new place later. Besides, even this shit-hole was costing her 900 dollars just to move in. She knew now that anything nicer would not be affordable. She had less than 1,100 dollars to live on, until she found a job. She would move in the next day and start looking for a job on Monday morning.
    She went down to Lea’s apartment and knocked on her door. The old lady opened the door and asked, “You decide?”
    “Yes, I’ll take it. I need to move in tomorrow, though.”
    “Fine with me, honey,” Lea replied. “I need 900 hundred in cash now. I don’t want any pets. And no boyfriends here. You pay each month, as you go. If you don’t pay one month, you’ll find your stuff on the sidewalk. I don’t take any shit and I don’t put up with a lot of noise. Another thing: the streets are crawling with hoodlums. Don’t bring any of them in here. You got it?”
    “I got it,” Alessa answered politely.
    When she stepped off the broken-down porch and into the sunlight, a feeling of relief surged through her. She noticed that the taxi driver hadn’t waited. Panic began to rise in her as she started looking up and down the eight- hundred block of Daulphin Street.
    Lea opened her window and rasped, “The bus stop is at the end of the block on Fifth. A bus should be there in five minutes. So you better get moving. It’ll take you back into the city. Mind your business and they will leave you alone.”
    Alessa thought: who will leave me alone?
    As she started down the street, she saw exactly whom Lea had been referring to. There were eight teenagers standing at the stop. They were laughing and pushing each other. As she got closer, she noticed they were all teenage boys. There was one middle-aged woman sitting on the bench off to the side. They all lapsed into silence as she approached and her heart started racing at the memory of Lea’s last words of advice. When she got to the bus stop, Alessa stood facing the street and tried not to make eye contact with the boys.
    From behind her, she could hear them, though.
    One of the boys yelled, “Look what we got here: pork, the other white meat.”
    The crowd started laughing. Alessa was vulnerable and she knew it. She looked over at the woman sitting on the bench. Then she walked slowly toward her and sat down beside her, assuming that her proximity to the woman would spare her further attention from the boys.
    The moment she sat down, the woman looked at her and said, “If you looking for protection from me, honey, you’ve come to the wrong place. I don’t get involved. I leave them alone and they leave me alone.”
    Alessa didn’t acknowledge the woman. She sat there quietly and slipped into the special space in her head, the silent place she had discovered when she was seven years old. It was how she coped. She had been using that place all through her life and she was happy that it now belonged to her. After all, it was there that she had learned to separate mind and soul from body. It was there that she had become resilient and emerged a survivor. A few minutes later, the Septa bus pulled to a stop and Alessa got on, but only after the boys had done

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