I balance the box of food on my knee as I knock on the door. I never know what to expect when the door opens, but today my heart wrenches as I view a young woman who has clearly been up all night tweaking. My eyes glance over at the small child seated on the bed and a smile crosses over my whole being. I reach into the box setting it on the floor and hide the doll behind my back, making my way towards her lit up eyes.
“I have something for you Preciosa. Now close your eyes and hold out your hands.”
She giggles as I place the doll in her hand. I silently wish that I could scoop her up and take her home with me; home to my clean, modern apartment, in my upper echelon, historical district neighborhood. What did the social worker call it? Functioning drug addict, yes, that was it. Preciosa’s Mother was not unfit because she is a functioning drug addict. Seriously? It was just a way of saying that they have nowhere to place Preciosa. It was just another way to say, that she was just another kid who has fallen through the cracks.
“Has she eaten today?” I ask, as I turn towards her Mother who is busy scratching her arms and eyeing the box on the floor. I try to keep the edge of disdain that I feel towards this situation from my voice. After all, I’m not here to judge.
“Oh yes, she had a toaster treat.”
My mind immediately begins to assess the vitamin contents and even though it isn’t the hot meal that I would prefer, there is a standard of nutrition within ‘toaster treats.’

“Ok, well, I think that we are done here,” I state, as I rise. I don’t make it to my feet before Preciosa jumps up grabbing me. She is telling me how much that she loves her doll and that she is going to name it Mandissa, just like me. “Mandissa’s Midway, after your TV show,” she proudly hugs me. It’s a ‘stage name’ but it’s what everyone knows me by, so it’s my name.
I’m hearing her, but I’m really trying to keep tears from streaming down my face. I make my way towards the door just wanting to escape and her Mother brings me back to reality when she whispers, “We ain’t got rent; maybe you could help?”
I cut my eyes at her causing her to look down. She knows, that I know, that she is lying to me. I don’t even answer her. I just make my way out the door, almost cringing as I watch a cockroach make his way up the baseboard.

Rosa’s demeanor totally changes as she shuts the door and glares at her three year old daughter. “Yeah, you just keep hugging her and being nice, so that we got groceries coming in. I ain’t got time, or money, to be buying you all of the fancy stuff that she brings. She ain’t no better than nobody else! Miss high and mighty ain’t no better than me, or nobody else living up in here.”
The sting of Preciosa’s Mother’s words hurt less, as she grips the doll that has quickly become her new friend…

©2014 Amber Hawkins

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