Youth Voices

Left Behind

I wake up in the morning. It’s too quiet for my taste. As I walk through the house I start getting flashbacks.

What comes to me as flashbacks are nothing more than bad memories. As I get up from my bed, I see the faint presence of a little boy being pinned down to the floor by a 300-pound woman. As he is kicking and screaming, another figure appears in the form of a man holding the boy’s legs down. The woman beats the boy half to death.

I am calm and quiet about the thought. It’s a memory that has become too normal to live with.

Once I leave my bedroom I look toward the hallway and see the boy watching everyone else play outside, wondering why he could only play by himself. Then he fades from the window as he turns around to turn on the television.

I look towards the restroom and see a puddle of blood on the hallway floor. I follow the trail of blood to the restroom and I see the boy again. He has blood all over his face, hands and clothes. He’s on his knees with a rag made of an old shirt of his while he is bleeding. I can see the soap and blood mixed in.

I shrug my shoulders at the memory. The images appear and disappear as ghosts of sorts. This is what I live through daily.

I turn and go into the room in between mine and the restroom. There are two bunk beds and a TV as a centerpiece, but the room is a bit dark. I hear something. It sounds like someone choking on water. I quickly turn on the lights and jump back as I’m startled by the same boy running past me. Then I look at the bed where he’s been laying. I figure his was the bottom bunk since there was blood stain on the pillow. It looks like he was choking on his own blood.

I come out into the hallway, approach the restroom and lean on the doorway. The boy is spitting blood into the toilet while the sink is already covered in it.

The flashbacks change depending on the room. Two moments can be different, but the memory is essentially the same.

I walk to the living room. There is a small cup of coffee on the table, still steaming. We’re back in the present, but still we drift into an ocean of bad memories. The smell of the coffee is so soothing. I think: At least not everything makes me uneasy. To think that the smell of coffee could be so relaxing …

I feel a breeze blow by me with the sound of children laughing in the background. I turn and look. The first thing I see is the front door of the house open with muddy footprints going across the living room floor which disappear as I look. The door is closed. I turn and look.

Then the image changes. The boy is 14 years old. I see a man is drunk and is starting to be violent. I see a confrontation between the boy and the woman’s husband. The boy is becoming a young man. He is standing up for himself for the first time in his life but is now coming out one of the rooms in the hallway. He has bags full of clothes and all of his personal belongings.

The boy, only 14 and raised in his room, doesn’t know anything about how to fend for himself. He doesn’t know how to socialize or communicate with people since he was forbidden from doing so. He was left to fend for himself out of the one place he knew: his room.

I quickly go to my room and grab my phone and headphones. Then I turn my music on full blast, hop on the bus and see what such a beautiful day has to offer me. The memories haunt me. No matter what I do I can’t forget. They make days that pass difficult sometimes.

If someone asked me: What keeps you up and going during the day? What is it that motivates you to get up in the morning and go on with your day? I would probably say I don’t know. But one thing is for sure: I am still here and I want to prove myself. I can’t afford to belittle myself until I do.​

Danny, 20, was born and raised in Los Angeles. He originally titled this column “The Life of a Nomadic.”

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