Hannah’s Place (1) or Welcome to a Home for Wayward Teens


Old House

“What’s your crime?” Roan asks.  She’s my new roommate at Hannah’s place and she’s all nosy. She shoves a skinny finger into her mouth, her tiny teeth gripping the tops of her crimson painted fingernails. She violently tears the paper thin nail, spitting a red and ragged half-moon on the floor.

 “Being born,” I say and kick the chalky wall with the toe of my boot. I scrape the wall, leaving scuffed streaks like tire tracks running towards the window.  On the other side, that is where I want to be. But the windows have bars, thick pillars of cold, gray metal you can barely slide your hand through.

            “Blah, blah.  Come on Gypsy-poo. Look at you in that long skirt and black shirt, all mysterious like you’re a fucking fortune teller.  We’ve all got that story.  I mean, who’d you screw or rip off?  Smash some bitch with a baseball bat after gym?  Let me guess.  You screwed the theater director.  Yes you did! Look at you wearing all that black with your pouty little lips. How was he?” She winks like a dirty old man.

“Yeah, right.  My theater director was a fat dude with soup stains on his shirt.  No thanks,” I say seeing Mr. Dillard in the back of my mind like a movie.  An overweight, balding ninth-grade drama teacher with a bad mustache.

“Too bad.  Thought those artsy faggy types wore berets and smoked cloves.  You’ve broken my dreams of Hollywood,” she pushes out all her breath with a dramatic sigh, her chest falling to her knees, a battered marionette without strings. “So why ya here then?”

“Not for gang fights or night walking. I can’t hot-wire shit. I just picked a lousy traveling partner, sorry it doesn’t excite you.” I roll my eyes so hard they hurt.

“BORING, Gypsy-poo.  Thought you crystal ball types came along with magic potions and wagons full of dirty boys with dirty mouths and dirty, you know.” She winks, trying to be smooth and seductive, but her little-girl face can’t capture the experienced look of a woman.

Roan has a scar above her left eyebrow, a pale pink slice with little holes lining the sides. They remind me of silver eyelets from a pair of Keds. It is the only hardened feature on her smooth round face, creamy skin sprinkled with bronze freckles. She looks like a fairy blew bronze glitter on her face while she slept.  Her hair is orange, a frizzy tangled mess like an overgrown cottage garden in some old lady’s backyard.  A yard that was once manicured, but forgotten years ago, given way to weeds that choke the hollyhocks and gladiolus until they are thin and weak.

Roan slips around like a gymnast, seamless movements as if she’s floating through air. She stares right at me, eyes wide and inquisitive, a baby owl lost in its fur. “Watch out for Casey the Counselor, what a fucking name. She is a total bitch, period. Oh yeah, she’ll try to love on you with “I know how it feels” talk and free cigarettes and candy bars, but watch out.  She’ll sink her claws into you so fast you won’t even know what came at you.  Cat Scratch Fever.  Meow.” She wrinkles up her nose and swipes the air with her hand, nail beds all ragged and bloody from her teeth.  She jumps to the top of the dresser, squatting and nervously moving her head – part animal, part nut job.

 “I don’t give a crap about Casey.  I’m gone in three days,” I say, sounding more brat than confidant young woman.

“Oh, that’s long enough, trust me.  Those savages,” she whispers, “are so hungry.  They’ll rip right into that meaty witchy thigh in seconds.” She jumps up next to me, pressing her tiny mouth into my ear. “Mmmm…you smell so good, my dear. A new piece of meat at Hannah’s House for the Screwed, Rude, and Twisted girls of Chicago.” Her words are warm and wet, her mouth pressing closer and closer to my ear. “Ah, Witchy-Poo,” she coos softly.

 My neck feels exposed, the air suddenly dry and dull, the wet warmth of her words snatched away as she jumps onto the floor.  Her withdraw is so sudden, so violent, as if she saw right through me.  She must have seen through all the layers of my clothes and skin, underneath slabs of rage and deceit, where my thoughts and memories are permanently recorded.  Shiny threads of memories that come to life after the sun slips underneath the stars, when my eyes feel all purple and heavy but refuse to fall.

“You’re fucked,” I say, but I want her to come back up next to me. My neck feels too naked and cold, needs the warmth of her words again.  Roan stares at me with curiosity, as if I am an abstract squiggle of paint on a canvas she can’t quite figure out.  A black splotch that is supposed to hold meaning, supposed to be deep and thought provoking. But in the end, it’s only a blob of paint some art student slapped on after too much jug wine.

“And so are you,” Roan purrs.  She locks her eyes with mine and starts to bite her arm like a cob of corn, munching and drooling all the way from her wrist to her bicep.  “We are all so hungry here, my dear….” She continues to lick and pet her arm with her other hand.

            “Is this a nut house?” I scream at the ceiling. The words spill out attached to images of steel, stiff bars and pad locks and alarm systems that beep if you breathe to close to them.  Syringes and coats and plastic silverware and paper plates.  Nurses who push pale pills in tiny cups and doctors with gray mustaches with last names too difficult to pronounce.  And the room.  That room that Casey the Counselor said I should never go in. Never open.  Not even slip my fingers around the door handle for a quick minute.  Is that where they put the crazies?

“I’ve been in and out of this place at least three times now,” Roan says all bored and flat. “I know the deal like the phone numbers of my drug dealers. Just play along, make your bed in the morning, go to group, and do whatever chore they assign you.  Smile and say how much you like it, how you feel so better and rested.”

“But I’m here for three days.  No one seems to get that!” Is it a joke?  Have I been tricked into some nut place for wayward girls with bad habits and shitty homes?  The cop lied!  Some friend he was.  Yeah, I was like his daughter… just another bunch of grown up lies to box me in.

“I’ll see ya later.  Gotta give my man a call.  Maybe I can sneak out and give him a kiss before lights out,” Roan sings.  She swipes a pink notebook from the top of her dresser.  It’s covered in pencil hearts with uneven arrows piercing the sides.  In the center, the name MITCH is carved the deepest.  Despite her seductive eye winks and naughty sex talk, Roan is really a freckle faced school girl, silly heart dreams pressed into her pink lined notebook.


3 Responses to “Hannah’s Place (1) or Welcome to a Home for Wayward Teens”

  1. Wonderful! I can’t wait for the next part. You have this way about your writing, where the characters do not need miles of backstory. You feel as though you already know them through their actions and dialogue. I enjoy reading your work very much and appreciate that you share it with your followers. Thank you.

    • No, thank-you for reading and the feedback! I usually don’t post such long pieces, but I wanted to get the situation going first and the characters in place. Glad it worked!

  2. Great read thanks!

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