Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Toby's picture

I threw it on the ground and burst into tears is what I told the other kids in social studies. The more I lied, the more closely they listened. I couldn’t believe Joey wanted to come to my home to see if I really had an alligator in my swimming pool. I didn’t even have a swimming pool, much less a home.

Mom and I have been couch surfing for most of third grade and it is close to the end of fourth grade. Actually mom couch surfs and I stay here until she can take care of me. She said we would have our own place soon.  She got a job at a restaurant in Atlanta making salads. She says it’s a start. She is glad to be alive and we still got each other.

It all started when mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. To get treatment, she had to go to Grady hospital in Atlanta. That's where you go when you can't pay. We lived about a three hour drive from Grady. I stayed at the church children’s home while mama had surgery and got better. Mama said that she liked that there was more than one adult with me at one time. It was safer. A lot of these kids have got some real problems.

Mom worked as a waitress and her tips were really good. The only problem was she didn’t get paid when she didn’t work. At first, some of the customers and the other waitresses took up money for her. Mable who worked in the kitchen making salads took the money one evening. She didn’t come in the next day. Anytime she had money, she was drunk. It was gas money to go to Grady. Mama sold the sofa.

Just before mom’s surgery, Uncle Rayford helped us pack everything up and put it all in a shed behind his house.  We moved in the middle of the night. Mom didn’t pay the rent. If you’re evicted, you don’t get to keep your stuff. Mom has a good flat screen television and boom box. We kept the laptop with us.

My dog Toby was to stay at Uncle Rayford’s. Toby ran off. He was a Chihuahua mix and had a gray t-shirt. This old couple found him and brought him back. Toby ran away again.

In the arts and crafts room at the children’s home, I took a baby’s shirt I found in the rag bag and used puffy paint to paint all colors of stars and hearts in neat little rows. Mom said we would get another dog like Toby. I plan to put the shirt on the new dog and take a picture. That way I got a picture of Toby too.


  1. Aw so sad! I hope she gets her life back on track soon. I'm pulling for them! I love your use of the photo prompt!

  2. What a heartbreaking story - so much pain behind the child's lies.

  3. This is why it's important not to punish the CHILD, but to give consequences for the BEHAVIORS. So sad!

    1. The longer I taught school I tried not to judge. Some of the lives of children are so tragic.

  4. Oh, man. Poor kid! What a life... I just want to give her a hug.

  5. You story is well-written, but these details make me so sad. Fiction born out of reality.

  6. So sad. So much conveyed in a short story. Well done!

  7. I like the voice you used to tell this story. It lends the story a range of emotions instead of being all sad.


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