Okay, it’s been a while since I posted a bit of Tash’s story, so if you missed Part Eight, click here.
I lay on my mattress that night, thinking about my conversation with Ginger. I hadn’t told her everything, but I’d said enough. I swore her to secrecy and I knew I could trust her. She was the only one. But I couldn’t bring myself to tell her everything because I wanted to protect her from people who might start asking questions about me. People like Mrs. Sinclair and maybe even the welfare department. No way did I want to get Ginger involved. And no way was I going into foster care. I’d been there before and anything was better than that.
I rolled over, eyes still wide open. I took a deep breath and coughed. The stench of the place was overwhelming sometimes and I knew I’d have to do a lot more cleaning if I was going to stay here any longer.
It won’t always be like this. Someday I’ll have a good job and nice place to live. Someday I’ll have a real life.
I thought about my mother then, wondering where she was and if she was happy now that she didn’t have me to worry about. Had she even given me a second thought? Probably not. Barbie wasn’t like that. I knew she loved me in a weird sort of way, but it wasn’t like other mothers loved their daughters. Not like Ginger’s mom loved her.
I used to imagine what it would be like if Barbie and I lived in a cute little house with a yard and a kitchen that always smelled like chocolate chip cookies or banana bread. I tried to picture Barbie dressed in normal clothes and not the ones that were always too tight, too low and too young for her. And what if she cleaned up and wore pretty perfume instead of smelling like sweat and liquor and cigarettes all the time? I couldn’t conjure up the image.
Barbie told me something about her family once when she was still partly drunk and didn’t really know it was me she was talking to. I knew it had to be that because whenever I asked her if we had any relatives she told me to shut up and stop being so snoopy about things that didn’t concerned me. But that night I found out I had an aunt somewhere; my mother’s older sister, Bridget. Barbie went on and on about how they used to be closer than two peas in a pod and people always thought they were twins. I could tell by the way she talked that Bridget was someone she loved once upon a time. I wanted to ask her where Bridget was now, but I didn’t dare.
It gave me comfort to know that I wasn’t completely alone in the world, even though my aunt Bridget probably didn’t even know I existed. I’d think of a way to find her someday. Maybe she even lived in a little house like the one I imagined. And maybe she’d have room in her heart for me.
It was a long time before I fell asleep.