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Alone in the Universe
Emma, Age 12, Vernon, BC

“BAM!”  Anne woke up with a start when she heard the beer bottle smash into the wall and shatter into a million tiny pieces.  It was the forth time that week she had been woken up by her father getting angry .  She heard her parents yelling and her mother cry, then stomping up the stairs.  Cole started to cry.  By now, Anne was used to these noises.  Smash, yell, cry, stomp, cry.  Anne heard her dad yell at her mom and two year  old brother to shut up and he left the house slamming the door behind him.

When Anne woke up the next morning, she realized it was Monday and wished she hadn’t gotten up.  For the next five days, she would have to face her worst fear: Going to school.

Anne Robbstine hated going to “ R. Bay Elementary School” .  she didn’t like anything there, from the teachers to the children.  She had no friends and everyone teased her because she was poor and didn’t have “cool” clothes.

“Hurry up Anne, you’re going to be late for school!” her mother yelled.

Stacy, at the age of 36, was in charge of making sure she and Cole got up on time so she wouldn’t be late for work.  Cole, Anne’s two year old brother went to daycare from 9:30am - 12:30am while she was in school and her mom was at the lab.  Stacy was a pharmacist and only worked in the morning unless someone else working there called in sick.

Then, Anne remembered that it was June so there were only a few more school days left.

“I’ll be right down, I’m just getting dressed,” Anne replied.

When Anne went down for breakfast, her mother and Cole had already started to eat, but her father wasn’t there.  Kirk, a 42 year old, was Anne’s alcoholic father.

“Where is dad?” questioned Anne.

“He went to work on time for once,” Anne's mother told her.

“Oh,” said Anne.

“Well, you should go now, so I will see you when you get home from school.  How many days of school have you got left?  I have to work until July 14 so the days you are home you could babysit Cole,” said Stacy.

“I have four days left. Bye mom, bye Cole.”  Then Anne left for school.

At school, Anne went straight to her class, to avoid meeting any other students, but obviously she was not very lucky because she ran into the worst possible person ever, Mildred Plotker! Mildred teased Anne pretty much every possible time she could.  She also had a gang of followers , but fortunately, she was on her own.

“Well, well, well. If it isn’t Little Miss Welfare,” sneered Mildred. “What are you doing here so early? Looking in the lost and found for extra clothes . Ha ha ha.”

“For your information I always come here early,” thought Anne but she was too afraid to say anything, because Mildred always had something to say right back to her.

“I uh, I was just uh...” Anne tried to tell her.

“Tongue tied little rat, you can’t even speak correctly.  Is that what living in a filthy dump, with people like that does to you?" Mildred asked. By now, Anne’s cheeks were flushed but she tried to remain calm, and started to walk away, but she felt Mildred’s hand on her shoulder which spun her around rather rudely.

“Ow!” Anne cried out in pain. “That hurt, Mildred. That is the last straw!” Anne warned, which made Mildred back off, before confronting a teacher who was walking by.

“That girl named Anne threatened me,” she said in a scared , sweet, little, girl voice that she always used when talking to a teacher.  She also used it to get her way.  Anne could not believe it when the teacher told her to come with him to the principal's office.

Anne was scared of the principal.  She had dark brown hair and wore too much perfume.

“So Anne, I hear from Mildred that you have been threatening her.  Is this true?” asked Mr. Prompy on the way to the office.

“Part of it is, but she provoked me!” Anne exclaimed.

“Well, I guess you can tell Ms. Dreary your story and Mildred will tell the principal her story.”

“Why isn’t Mildred coming?” Anne asked but she didn’t get an answer because then, they walked into the principal's office.

“Have a seat, Anne,” said Ms. Dreary.

“Thank you, ma'am,” Anne replied.

“Now, what seems to be the problem?” asked Ms. Dreary.

“Well, Mildred is always bullying me and calling me names just because... just because I am poor.  Then I threatened to hit her and she told on me, but I never tell on her because I know she’ll hurt me!” Anne replied on the verge of tears.“

"O.K. Now what is wrong with this picture?” Ms. Dreary questioned.

“Um, bullying and threatening,” Anne told her.

“Correct.  Now why don’t we get Mildred in here.  I think that there has been a bit of jealousy going on.  I won’t have any big punishments but you will both serve a detention and I will be phoning your parents tonight.  Please find Mildred and tell her what I told you.”

“Oh no,” thought Anne. “She is going to phone my parents.  I am going to be in big trouble when I get home.”

“I am to hear nothing more of this, correct?” said Ms. Dreary.

“Correct,” Anne said.  “I just have one question.  Why was Mildred not here but I was?”

“Um, well you see,” began Ms. Dreary but Anne already knew the answer: Mildred’s father was the mayor of their town, Winchestreton, a small town in Nova Scotia.  Also, Mildred was rich.

“Never mind, I’ll just go back to class now , and I won’t forget to tell Mildred,” even though she knew that Mildred would just push her around, so she wouldn’t say anything to her.  Also, Anne somehow thought that Mildred wouldn’t be getting a  phone call home but she would, and that is what she dreaded.

“Briing, Briing.  Briing, Briinmg,” the telephone was ringing in the Robbstine household.

“Hello,” Kirk answered the phone. “Mhmm, um, yup, ka, thank you bye.”

The last bell had just rung and it was time to go home.  Anne didn’t have too much homework but enough to make up an excuse to go to up to her room.  Her dad, on the other hand had a different idea on what she should do.

“Put your lunch in the kitchen and get your butt in here,” he said gruffly.

“Uh, oh.  I’m in trouble now,” Anne said to herself under her breath.

“What was that?” Kirk questioned.

“I said I’ll be right there dad.  That’s all,” Anne replied.

“Guess what,” her dad said when she got into the living room.  Although it wasn’t much like a living room , it was like a trash room.  Her dad was sprawled out on the couch, but you could hardly even call it that. Springs were popping out the sides and her dad’s weight was not helping it at all.  On the food stained carpet, her dad had thoughtlessly thrown many beer cans around.

“What? How was your day at work?” she said trying to get him in a good mood.

“Yeah. You have no idea huh. Well, I find that like, really hard to believe cause, like, the principal called and said she had already had a chat with you,” Kirk said to Anne.

“But, but there was this girl named Mildred.” Anne tried to tell her dad the story but Kirk interrupted.

"Yeah eh.  You’re trying to blame it on someone else again like you always do.” By now, Anne was in tears.

“Well, now you can get your punishment,” he talked with a big slur and Anne could tell he was drunk.

“Please dad, no!” she exclaimed with fear in her voice. “ Ouch dad.  Stop it you're hurting me,” Anne said through her tears.  He had started chucking empty beer bottles and cans at her.  The glass one exploded at her feet.  Then he threw the remote for the TV at her.  She was screaming in fear and pain but she couldn’t leave because he would just follow her.  Then, her mom walked in.

“Anne, pack the things you like and pack some of Cole’s clothes and toys. We’re leaving,” Anne’s mother told her angrily.

“But honey, why, you have n where to go,” Anne’s father calmly told her.

“Don’t honey me you slug.  I can’t believe I ever married you.  All you do is sit around and beat our children.  And for your information, I do have somewhere to go.  I bought an apartment a while ago because I knew this day would come,” Stacey said enraged.

“We’re ready mom,” Anne told her .  Anne’s eyes were red from crying and it was easy to believe they were ready.  They never had very much money so they had barely any toys , but Anne had a few books and special souvenirs form when they went on their one vacation to Victoria.  They had lived in Vancouver and taken the ferry there.

Anne and her family must have looked a sight walking to the bus stop. They passed many homeless people and Anne thought to herself that she never wanted to end up like them.  Then, she and her mom and brother got on a bus to go to their new house.

“Mom, will I like my new house?” Cole asked his mother.

“I hope so sweety, plus I have a surprise for each of you waiting in the house!” she said sounding pretty excited.  They got off the bus and arrived at a petty nice looking apartment.

“Wow mom, how could you ever afford to live in a place like this?!” Anne exclaimed.

“Well, I kept saving and finally I decided to buy an apartment just in case I didn’t want to live with your dad,” her mom replied. “I hope you like it.” Stacey opened the door.

It was awesome and breathtaking.  Anne and Cole didn’t know what to say. They walked into their rooms and on Cole’s new dresser there was a turtle in his aquarium.  In Anne’s room , lying on her new bed, was a tiny, tabby kitten.  “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe my eyes,” Anne whispered. “She’s beautiful.”

“And the best part is, you get to name her,” Anne’s mother told her.

“Her name, her name is Sassy.” Anne declared. Meanwhile back at Anne’s father's house, Kirk was calling someone to find out how to get a divorce. He was so eager to get one because now that his wife and children were gone he had the whole house to himself, he could invite his friends over.

“Ring, ring. Ring, ring,” the phone was ringing in Anne’s new apartment.

“I got it,” her mom said. “Hello, oh hi it’s you.

“Kids, that was your father. We are going to get our divorce at 2:15,”  Stacey told them later.

“Fine with me,” said Anne, patting Sassy while doing her homework. Since she had started a new school, she was doing a lot better and she had made a few friends. She was now was in grade 8 and Cole was still going to daycare.

“Mom, Carrie and Kelsey want to sleep over on Saturday. Can they?” Anne questioned her Mom.

“Sure, but let me talk to their moms first.  Oh no, wait they will have to spend the night on Friday or come over after dinner on Saturday because we are getting our divorce, remember,’’ her mom told her.

Her mom  was very glad that Anne had found a nice group of friends to hang out with.  She realized it was a good thing she had made them change schools because there weren’t many bullies.

“They said they’ll come on Saturday night.  We can pick them up, right?” Anne asked in a loud voice.

“Yup. Tell them we’ll be there around seven,” her mom yelled back.

“After you get off the phone come and eat dinner.“
               
                                                       ***

"Cole, let me help you with your tie. Anne, do something with the dangling pieces of hair that are in your face,” Stacy told her two children.

“But Mom it’s called fashion,“ Anne protested.

“No buts. Do what I say.” It was the day of the divorce and Stacey was in a panic. She was fretting over every little thing. She muttered under her breath, “I doubt your father even owns a tie and yet here is a five year old wearing one.”

“What was that Mom?” Anne questioned.

“Nothing,” Stacy replied. She didn’t want her children to know what she was saying. She had been muttering the whole time since they had left.

“Okay guys, all ready to go?” They both nodded.

“Let's get in the car and zoom.” Stacey, Cole, and Anne all hopped into the little car her mother had bought. She told them that when she had more spending money she would sell the car and buy a nicer one. Once they were at the Court, Anne and Cole went to sit down by themselves because their mother had to go up front with her lawyer.  Anne saw her dad and he wasn’t wearing very nice clothes. He waved at her and she turned away.

Both parents and lawyers told their sides of the story. Finally, the judge said, “Mr. Robbstine you have been charged with child abuse and drunk driving.  Mrs.Robbstine, you have full custody over the children and your husband gets supervised visits to your children on Wednesday afternoons.” BAM! went her mallet and court was adjourned.

“Guess what, kids, I’ve got great news! We’re going out for dinner with my boyfriend Matt,” Stacey told her kids.

“Cool! Is he nice?” they both asked.

“Yes. He has a good paying job and a really big house.  He also has a cat and a dog. If you guys like him, he has invited us to live with him.” The kids could tell their mom was excited.

“How long have you known him?” asked Anne.

“Um, about three or four months.  I didn’t want to tell you about him in case you were still upset with Kirk,” their mom told them sympathetically.

“We’re okay with you dating him just as long as he is a nice guy,” they said together.

“Okay then kids, pack your bags.”

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