I remember the glass shattering. Her fist breaching the window, instead of my face—there was red. Then blue. Or maybe it was blue, then red. A reddish blue, bluish red—purple, a dark purple confusion. Ten-year-old confusion. The oxygen hit my lungs well after it hit her skin, I was sure of this. Decades, or perhaps minutes later—blue uniforms filled the space of a dancing, red sky.
The day I was placed in foster care was a blur of colors. My pajamas were green with red candy canes, but it was not Christmas. It was March 24th, 83rd day of the year, 84th in a leap year. The shards of glass on the cement, covered in red, glistened in the light of the moon. The trailer was white, like my skin: white trash the kids at school called it. The lawn chair was orange and sitting in it was a chipped silver flip phone. After I ran outside, the rage bottled up in the trailer continued to swear in words of endless colors, dark colors. I could hear her yelling, breaking anything that got in her way—I knew better than to be in her way. Where’s my goddamn phone she repeated a thousand times over. I had a choice to make.
So I called 911. It wasn’t the first time, but this time was different. Maybe that’s why this time, she was put into the back of one cop car, as I was put into the front of another. My mother was wearing a yellow shirt with brown whiskey stains, telling the men in blue where they really belonged, and yelling, You can’t take my baby. I think she was talking about the whiskey.
The red sky became black when the lights stopped dancing. The officer driving gave me a tissue with purple flowers on it, that’s when I realized I was crying. I didn’t know where I was going or when I’d be back; nobody would tell me anything. It was probably my age. People always underestimated me because of my age.
We entered a building and an old lady with gray hair took a picture of me that felt like a mugshot. She handed me a change of clothes and a bottle of soap, and said, Follow me. I followed her down the hall and into the bathroom, You’ll feel better after you shower. I knew that wasn’t true, but I did it anyway.
There was a little girl who fell asleep on me under the fluorescent lights, She drooled. A lot. I wanted to sleep more than anything in that moment. Inching my way out from under the little girl I walked over to the old gray lady and asked if there was a place for me to sleep. She said I could use one of the empty bunks through the pink door, But don’t get too comfortable, you’ve been placed.
The blur of colors became a cloud of darkness as I realized what placed, really meant.
STORY IMAGE CREDIT: Flickr Creative Commons/noahjguest