03 For the Love of Tanya

– “Where is that girl?”

Mrs. Rose was fuming as it was bedtime, and Tanya was no where in sight. Roberta seemed in a fowl mood as well. She had been kicking Aisha and Curly under the table for hours, but couldn’t reach Kate who was slumped right in front of the telly. Sharon was reading in her room, and Dawn had gone to have a bath before bedtime.

Tanya often disappeared after school, only to return in the early hours of the morning. Kate had asked her why she was so mean to Aisha, and she simply answered “I don’t like niggers!” Kate said she’d better not use that word so that Mrs. Rose could hear her, cause she would pull her ears – or put pepper on her tongue!

Elaine Rose was really a loving soul, and she would gladly give her life for the girls on the streets, but she had no patience for cruelty or racism, or anything she thought was evil. The only man who actually had come close to spend his whole life with her, was a black man. George had been kindness itself! He never said an angry word or caused anybody harm. It was actually his influence that had caused Elaine to start her children’s home. But George had been working at a boys home, and Elaine had never thought that she could work with wild, young boys. She preferded to work with girls, and she considered herself a little girl as well, although she had been an adult for many years. In her heart she felt for the girls, and in her head she knew how to work with them. It did on ocation upset her, though, when they didn’t follow her rules. No one was to be outdoors after nightfall, and Tanya was way overdue. When Tanya cut Aisha’s hair off, she almost regretted taking her in. All she needs is a lot of loving! she told herself over and over. Now, however, she was running along the streets at night, getting up to God knows what. This was the third time this week! Mrs. Rose gave a big sigh.

– “Okay!” she barked. – “It’s time for bed. Kate and Aisha! You’re first! Go brush your teeth and go to bed!”

Kate whined.

– “Oh, Mrs. Rose! Can’t I watch the end of this program? Please?”

Mrs. Rose stood up and cleared off the paper and empty bowls on the table.

– “Those programs are just a waste of space,” she murmured.

– “You’ve got a busy day tomorrow! Please don’t test me on this! I’m not in the mood!”

Kate and Aisha dragged their feet, but started going slowly up the stairs. Mrs. Rose shouted after them.

– “Tell Dawn to get out of the bathroom! She and Curly are next!”

The two girls sneaked up the stairs. They could hear Dawn singing in the bath. Silently, like a pair of small mice, they moved close to the bathroom door, counted on their fingers to three, then jerked the door open with a loud shout. Dawn screamed as she stood up in the bathtub, her eyes as wide open as her mouth.

– “Get out!” she shouted at the top of her lungs, and Kate and Aisha left sniggering to themselves.

– “Oh yeah!” Kate said over her shoulder. – “Time for you to finish your  bath!”

Dawn put her hands on her hips, giving an angry expression.

– Says who?”

– “Says Mrs. Rose!” answered Aisha.

Dawn stamped her feet in the bathtub so water squirted out on the floor.

– “Mrs. Rose?” she called downstairs.

– “Can I please stay a bit longer? I’m not properly wrinkled yet!”

Mrs. Rose answered from downstairs.

– “Then you need to start your bath earlier in the future! Hurry! I want that bathroom free!”

Dawn pulled the plug with a heavy sigh and got out of the bath, wrapped herself in a big towel, and went to her room. Kate and Aisha got cleaned up for bed, brushed their teeth and hair, then got their night clothes on. Soon, Dawn and Curly was ready as well. Roberta was allowed to stay up a little bit later, but she didn’t enjoy it that much when there was only Mrs. Rose there. She went upstairs to get ready for bed whilst Sharon was still reading. Sharon was blond and blue eyed like Kate, but her hair was much shorter, and her eyes were smaller. She liked to read, and was not a bully like Roberta. They whispered back and forth for over an hour before they went to sleep. The subject was Tanya. They were wondering where she was and what she was doing.

– “Maybe we should go with her next time she goes off?” Roberta had suggested.

Sharon didn’t answer her, but thought about it as she turned to face the wall and go to sleep.

The tv-room had a 24 inch telly bolted onto the wall where everybody could to see it. Two large tables were put beside each other with a couch at the far end of each table. On the sides, there were a couple of  two-seaters. In front of these again were two recliners, right in front of the telly, one brown and one black. In the brown recliner lay Mrs. Rose, snoring lightly. She had started watching Colombo whilst waiting up for Tanya and fallen asleep. She tossed and turned in the chair, trying to get comfortable. A loud knocking from downstairs made her jump out of the chair. She rubbed her eyes, and almost ran to the front door. There was a small peeping hole in the door, and she glanced out to see two police officers at the door. One was a woman, the other one was one of the men who had brought Tanya the first time she had come, two months ago. Mrs. Rose unlocked and unbolted so she could open the heavy steel door. The police woman nodded  to Mrs. Rose.

– “”Hello again!” she said.

– “Found your escapee at a party that had gotten out of control.”

Tanya leaned forward between the two police officers with a wide grin.

– “Well hello, Mrs. Rose!” she exclaimed, drunk as a skunk.

– “What are you doing up at this late hour?” she laughed. Mrs. Rose didn’t answer her at first. She received Tanya from the police officers, and thanked them for bringing Tanya home. Once inside, she bolted and locked the door. Tanya started singing, but Mrs. Rose stopped her.

– “Come here, you party animal!” she told Tanya. Tanya followed, stumbling into the stairs, making a loud noise.

– “Careful!” Mrs. Rose whispered. Tanya nodded, giggled a bit, then pulled herself slowly up the stairs. Mrs. Rose pulled her into the kitchen, then started opening cupboards and closets as well as the fridge. Tanya’s head was spinning as she tried to figure out what Mrs. Rose were doing. It was like if Mrs. Rose read her thoughts.

– “Dear Tanya!” she started.

– “Every time you go out drinking, I will give you this horse cure when you come home.”

Tanya struggled to keep her eyes open.

– “What’s in it?” she mumbled. Mrs. Rose fixed her eyes on her.

– “Believe me, you don’t want to know!”

Tanya threw her head back, smiled, tried to get off her chair, but her feet got all jumbled up, and she fell on the floor.

– “Oh no, you don’t!” Mrs. Rose said, helping her back onto the chair. She continued putting things into the blender, finishing off with a few raw eggs. She started the blender, and a thick, yellowish liquid formed inside. The contents were poured into a big glass, and the glass placed in front of Tanya.

– “Drink this!” commanded Mrs. Rose.

– “This will put the fear of God in you! It might even make you sober!”

Tanya looked down her nose at the drink.

– “I ain’t drinking that!” she said.

– “Oh yes you are!” said Mrs. Rose. – “And you’ll get more every time you come home drunk!”

Tanya lifted the yellow mixture and looked at it.

– “I might be drunk,” she said, – “but I’m not stupid! This looks toxic!”

Mrs. Rose pulled up her shoulders. Tanya shook her head slightly and took a small sip. She jumped up and spat the liquid out.

– “YUCK!” she shouted. – “This is vile!”

Mrs.Rose tried to hide a small smile as she turned to pick up a cloth to wipe the table.

– “Oh, be quiet!” she said. – “You will drink it all!”

– “Never!” shouted Tanya. “It’s toxic!”

Mrs. Rose picked up the glass and gave it to Tanya.

– “It might be easier if you drink it down in one, big gulp.”

– “You’re joking, right?”

– “No joking! If you don’t do it soon, we’ll both sit here till morning. As soon as you have drunk this, we can both go to bed!”

Tanya took the glass off Mrs. Rose and looked at it again.

– “You’ll than me for this in the morning,” Mrs. Rose said.

– “No way!” Tanya almost shouted. “I hate you!”

Mrs. Rose was still smiling.

– “And I love you!” she exclaimed. – “Now send it down the hatch!”

Tanya lifted her eyes up to meet Mrs. Rose’s eyes.

– “What did you say?” Mrs. Rose looked deep into Tanya’s eyes now.

– “You heard me!” she said. – “Now get to it!”

Tanya gave a big sigh, lifted up her glass to a toast, and mumbled: “She loves me, she says. She don’t love me, I says. Why else would she try to poison me? No one loves me!”

She poured the liquid down her throat, holding her nose, swallowing as her life depended on it. Then, she slammed the empty glass down at the table with a great, big gasp for air. Then a crooked smile came upon her lips.

– “That was disgusting!” she said. – “If alcohol tasted like that, I’d quit drinking straight away!”

Mrs, Rose ruffled her hair.

– “Maybe there’s hope for you yet!” she smiled.

The two sneaked quietly up to the top floor so Tanya could go to bed. They didn’t notice little Kate standing in the shadow of her room peaking at them as they climbed the steps.

– “Tanya?”

Kate stood at the threshold of Tanya’s room, peering into the darkness. The curtains were closed, and there was a foul smell in the air. Kate wanted to open the window straight away, but fear for Tanya made her stand still and wait for Tanya to awake. Tanya turned around in bed with a moan. She was not wearing her night clothes as Mrs. Rose had plumped her into bed in the night, just pulling her trousers and jumper off. Tanya squinted against the light, her eyes bloodshot and red.

– “What do you want?” she groaned, turning back in towards the wall.

Kate slipped quietly into the room.

– “What is it like to be drunk?”

Tanya turned back to face Kate, her eyes wide open now.

– “Why?” she started, lifting her head and resting it in her hand.

Kate stood at the end of the bed. looking down at the floor.

– “Well,” she said quietly. – “I believe that my mum was also drunk a lot. I was wondering why she did.”

Tanya laid down on her back, frowning as she was thinking of what to say.

– “It makes me feel good, “she started.

– “Sometimes, it makes the world spin round. It makes me laugh. I never seem to be happy or laugh when I’m sober.”

Kate tilted her head.

– “Why?” she said again.

– “Dunno! It makes me forget my miserable life, my troubles, my heartaches and pains.”

Tanya sat up in bed.

– “Maybe I should take you with me next time!” she smiled.

Kate’s face lit up.

– “Oh, would you?”

Tanya laughed and laid back down again.

– “No, of course not! You’re way too little! Do you think someone would let you into a bar?”

– “But you’re only 17…” said Kate.

Tanya turned against the wall.

– “Yes!” she admitted, – “But I look older than that! There’s always someone that lets me in.”

Kate stood still for a while.

– “So, are you only happy when you’re drunk?”

– “That’s about it, kid! Now leave me alone!”

Kate turned and left the room. She wondered what it would feel like to be drunk. Was it true that it made you feel happy? Would she forget HER miserable life as well? Mrs. Rose called from downstairs.

– “Kate! Aisha! Time for your lessons! Be quick about it!”

The next 5 days, Tanya was late, out drinking. Mrs. Rose pushed her home brew on Tanya, but she seemed to get used to it. Mrs. Rose had thought that the horrible drink would make her stop, but no luck there! The nights were later and later, and Mrs. Rose got less and less sleep, which in turn made her crankier and crankier. It was then decided to keep Tanya home from school. She had still not gone to college because she had missed so much schooling that she had to take several classes over again. Mrs Angela Ward even came to visit, trying to find the best cause of action to deal with the problem child Tanya.
Confined to her bedroom, Tanya was NOT a happy camper. She swore like a sailor, banged on the walls, then went to sleep. Not long after Mrs. Ward took her round glasses, pointy nose, short black hair, blue dress and left, someone else came calling. This was a redhaired giant of a woman in a suit who almost knocked down the heavy steel door.

– “Yes?” Mrs. Rose asked annoyed as she had to make another break in Kate’s and Aisha’s lesson that morning. She was also tired after being awake half the night. The tall woman identified herself as Mrs. Jones from New York Child Services downtown. She asked to speak privately with Mrs. Rose, so they went into Mrs. Rose’s office. Kate and Aisha went into the tv-room to watch cartoons. When the two women came out almost an hour later, Mrs. Rose looked even more tired and pale than she had done previously that day.

– “Aisha?” she called. – “May we talk to you?”

They went back into the Office With Aisha, leaving Kate by herself. A little while later, Aisha came back out again wearing a big smile.

– “Kate!” she shouted excitedly.

– “Guess what? Someone wants to adopt me!”

Kate’s mouth opened wide.

– “Are you… leaving… Aisha?” she studdered.

Aisha was all smiles.

– “Yes, I will be moving to Kansas! How about that? I’ve never been to Kansas before.”

Kate was definately not as excited as Aisha. They had become good friends, and Kate did not want to lose her best friend. She knew Aisha wanted to move after Tanya moved in, but Kate didn’t actually think it would happen.

– “Kansas?” she said quietly.

– “Don’t you want to stay here with me?”

Aisha gave Kate a good shake.

– “Don’t be silly, Kate! We all wish to get propper homes! Maybe you’ll get a family too? It’s harder to find someone who wants us when we’re a old as Tanya, or even Roberta, but we are only little ones! I think there’s a great chance for you to find a family too! Wouldn’t you like to be adopted, Kate?”

Kate nodded slowly. I suppose I would like my own family. she thought.  But Aisha coulnd’t leave her…

Mrs. Rose appeared in the doorway to the tv-room.

– “We’ll finish early today, girls!” she puffed.

– “I need a little break! That means pizza for dinner today!”

Kate and Aisha cheered. They loved pizza! They continued watching cartoons on the telly while Mrs. Rose went downstairs to lie down for a bit. No one noticed Tanya sneaking down the stairs, quietly unlocking and unbolting the door, and sneak outside.

Mrs. Rose had started preparing herself for another late night that evening, but Tanya actually came home at 9 PM. The girls had come home from school at the proper time, and that’s when Mrs. Rose had noticed that the door was unlocked and unbolted. They had ordered pizza in, so there was no kitchen duty that day. The youngest two had been sent to bed as well as Curly and Dawn. Only Roberta and Sharon was up, soon to get ready for bed. That’s when Tanya knocked on the front door. Mrs. Rose was tired and weary, so she let Tanya have a proper speech about responsibilities and duties, as well as the danger of alcohol and staying out late at night. Everybody heard her, even Kate and Aisha, because Mrs. Rose had turned her voice up several volumes higher than normal. Tanya never answered a word, just turned silently and climbed slowly to her room. Roberta and Sharon was also sent to bed, and they heard Tanya crying in her room. They decided not to disturb her, but went into their own rooms, getting ready for bed.

Wheel of Fortune was playing on the telly, and that was Mrs. Rose’s favourite game show. She slumped into her recliner and tried to watch it. Had she been too strict with Tanya? she asked herself. Nonsence! The girl had to be told what was expected of her!  She still felt bad about raising her voice to her. She decided she would talk to her after the game show was finished. She had to make Tanya know that she worried about her like a parent would, and they would have yelled at her too, but only because they loved her, and wanted to see her safe. The recliner was soft and comfortable, and she lowered the back for extra comfort and rest.

Clark Gable was smiling as Mrs. Rose woke from her sleep with a sudden jump. She looked at her watch to find that she had been asleep for almost four hours. Yawning, she stretched in her chair, then stood up to turn off the telly. The lights got turned off, and she climbed the stairs to check on the girls. Kate was sound asleeep, as well as Aisha. Curly had kicked off her blanket, so Mrs. Rose tucked her in again. Dawn was snoring on top of her blanket, so Mrs. Rose just left her. She was probably feeling warm. Both Roberta and Sharon were sleeping heavily. Mrs. Rose was thinking about having to have her talk with Tanya in the morning. It had seemed as if she had been listening to her earlier, so it might be worth trying to continue with some words of wisdom.

As she opened Tanya’s door, everything was quiet. Almost too quiet. Mrs. Rose could not even hear Tanya breath. A flash of horror swept through her as she hurried to the bed. No snoring, no heavy breathing, no breathing at all . Mrs. Rose turned on the nightlamp. Tanya was white as a ghost, her mouth slightly open, and her eyes was steering emptily up towards the ceiling. Mrs. Rose gave a little scream. She tried to give Tanya CPR, but when her lips touched Tanya’s, she knew that she was much to late. Tanya would never breath again! Mrs. Rose sunk down onto the floor. Beside her on the floor lay an empty container of painkillers.

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