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Homeless Heart - Chapter 1
Chapter One

“That’s my damn tarp,” Kelly said coldly. “Hand it over.”

“Listen, Kelly…” Sam’s tone softened on a sigh. He released the large, blue piece of vital plastic, letting it fall to the ground. He kicked it toward her. Kelly lunged for the tarp, folding it in her arms. Sam spoke slowly, as if needing to regain his composure. “It’s bad enough I let you hole up here, but you’ve got to have this little campsite of yours cleaned up and out of sight by five a.m. Understood?” His dark eyes bored into hers. Sam ran a hand over his bald head, his lips twisting with annoyance.

“Yeah, I got it,” Kelly huffed. She picked up the backpack that was stuffed with the few precious possessions she owned and stormed off into the woods that bordered Union Gas and Propane. She needed to cool off. If she pushed her luck with Sam, she’d be screwed.

Kelly tied the rope into the corner holes of the tarp. She’d already screwed the hook-and-eyes into the trunks of the surrounding trees. She threaded the ends of the rope through the hooks imbedded in the bark and tugged until the rope was taut, knotting the ends.

This had become her prime location, her home, however pathetic it was. It was secluded, protecting her from the sun and heat of asummer that was soon to be ending. The tall evergreens would hopefully conceal her from the elements of the pending winter.

She’d only been on the streets a few months. Winter was a worrythat grew more potent with each passing day. Though Steve said she’d do fine, the concerns weighed heavily. It was alreadySeptember. If time continued to fly by, she’d be shivering in the snow very soon.

The sun was spreading across the sky, casting intricate patterns of white heat in its wake as it filtered through the evergreens above and settled on the damp ground.

She’d gotten very little sleep last night. Her thoughts had kept her up. They came every night with the darkness, haunting her, shaking her awake until she fully surrendered and aborted the idea of trying tosnooze.

The bottom of her life had fallen out quickly, like a tornado moving at a hundred miles an hour ravaging everything in its pathwithin ten seconds.

Her mother’s mind became corroded by dementia. Life for her father at home had become a serious liability. After her mother had attacked him with a steak knife, Kelly gave up her apartment, resigned from her job as a receptionist, and moved in.

Taking care of her mother was a battle that quickly wore her and her father out. Her poor father’s health began to slip. The stress of caring for his wife, along with the mental turmoil of trying to comprehend why her mother had become such a lunatic, took its toll at a rapid pace. Her mother, thank God, passed away in her sleep.Kelly still struggled with the possibility that her father may haveaccidently overmedicated her. The Haldol the doctors had prescribed became the only solution Kelly and her father had had.

Kelly believed that her father died of a depressed and broken heart. Her parents deaths were only five months apart. Unbeknownst to her, the amount of medical debt her parents had accrued whilegoing to various gerontologists, as well as countless visits to the emergency room and psychiatric evaluations, left her parents estate in a vulnerable position.

Her parents’ assets had been attacked and liquidated by the strong hands of medical facilities and collection agencies. She’d been tossed in the street because she didn’t exist as the next of kin on any documents.

There’d been no time to do those types of things. She and her father had become so overwhelmed with her mother’s day-to-day care that those vital arrangements that should’ve been made were pushed aside by days that were often isolated, dark, and exhausting.

Kelly unrolled her bedroll. Her stomach growled. She was hungry but she wanted to sleep. Maybe Steve would come by with rations. If it wasn’t for him, she’d probably be dead. She stared up into the canopy of trees. Her throat grew tight. It wasn’t all her mother’s fault, though it was easy to place the blame on her. She and her father hadn’t thought things through. They’d been overcome by it all.

Kelly’s love for horses and the blackjack table was also a strong ingredient to her demise. She’d barely made it paycheck to paycheck, not having much money when she moved in with her parents. When their home had been seized, she was already busted.

She had no job, no money, and no home. The idea of crawling back to the few friend’s she’d had sucked every, last bit of pride out of her. Kelly chose to just disappear. A wavering sigh escaped from between her lips. I’m so tired. Maybe it all won’t look so devastating after I rest for a bit.

A wide bar of the sun’s heat hit her face, warming her, soothing her. Kelly closed her eyes and drifted off as the branches rustled overhead, pushing the fresh, cool scent of pine into her nose.

Copyright 2008 2013 - Justine C Szot
Email Justine at justine@jc-hotreads.com
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