10th day of January in the year 2140
The following week and a half was grueling. Monty got Frankie to bring Carmen back home, effectively relieving me of babysitting duty. Her little brothers had slept through the whole ordeal, which made for a seamless transition. Chris arrived in a flash and a roar just as Gavin and I revealed my plan to Gabby. She clutched me and sobbed, thanking me over and over. When we finally arrived at Mona’s, I sent the younger teens upstairs while I filled my guardian and the angels in on the situation. I had Gavin and Gabby’s permission to disclose everything–Nathan Moore’s alcoholism in the wake of his wife’s death, his neglect and abuse of his two children, and his disapproval of Gabby’s trans identity. I explained how Gavin developed an aggressive reaction to his father, and how he was known to fight back regardless of the size of his opponent. It was a side he had yet to show to girls and younger kids, and the only people who could talk him down were Gabby and me. It took a little convincing, but in the end Mona not only agreed with my plan, she also offered to move into an apartment complex with us in order to help keep an eye on the kids we take in. I could tell that Monty was unsure about the whole thing, but he said he would take our case to the council.
Four days later, the council approved my plan, and Savannah’s Home for Troubled Youth was born.
The apartment building they granted us was situated in downtown Savannah, at least a ten minute drive from the school. They also granted us a yellow bus for transportation, and adjusted Mona’s shift schedule to reflect her new commute. We enlisted the help of the Moore children, Benji, and Kaine, and after two days we had the two main buildings of the complex clean and move-in ready.
Mona and I decided it was best if we each moved into our own studio unit, but Gabby is pretty attached to Gavin, so we let them have a two bedroom unit in our building. We also created flyers and questionnaires to inform students and get them thinking about their home environments. Questions like, “Are there times when you feel unsafe in your home?” or “Is there someone in your home that you are scared to be alone with?” I lost count of how many flyers and questionnaires I handed out last Thursday, but by Friday I had a ton of students come up and ask me about the halfway house. I never realized how many colonial kids were going through situations similar to what we went through as the children of bandits. I want to give them all a chance to feel safe, to give them all a home to feel welcome and loved. I took down all of their names and ages; Mona handed their information off to the angels, and supposedly the court will spend this weekend making house calls to assess each case. It’s already Sunday and four other kids have been brought to our complex:
Yahir Foster, fourteen, freshman. His mother would beat him and lock him in his room for days without food or water. He does not handle loud noises well, and has trouble consuming appropriate portions of food. He listens and pays attention to those around him, and is very considerate. We gave him a studio apartment on our floor, and Mona checks on him often.
Tyler Moss, sixteen, junior. His parents died when he was young, and his grandfather began molesting him at a young age. He doesn’t do well with older male authoritarians, and he has a bad habit of lashing out against teachers. He’s smarter than he lets on, and could be a promising athlete. He has his own studio apartment on the floor above us.
Joyce Griffiths, fifteen, sophomore. Her mother and stepfather use their faith to brainwash her into not stepping out of line–they are emotionally, verbally, and spiritually abusive. She’s prone to panic attacks, and locks herself in her room when she becomes emotional because she was punished every time she cried. She has a studio apartment on the third floor, which makes her Gabby and Gavin’s neighbor.
Kaine Elliott, sixteen, sophomore. My friend finally opened up to me about his home life; how his father was never around, how he lived with his abusive mother and her dogmatic family, and how he was neglected and sexually abused by his mother for many years. He hates physical contact, especially without prior consent, and he makes jokes when he’s uncomfortable. He has a tendency of stepping in when he sees others being bullied, though. We assigned him a studio unit on the same floor as Tyler in hopes that the two could relate to one another.
One of the compromises of this deal was that we would all be living at the apartments under Mona’s care, since I’m still in school, so Mona gets to request more food and supplies for her seven dependants. Our building also has a cafe attached to the first floor, so we’ve been discussing the possibility of opening the cafe on weekends and offering meals to the colonists as a way to give back. News spread like wildfire about the halfway house, and several colonists have donated old clothes and linens in support. I even got Tawni to help by having her setup smartphones for us to hand out to our new tenants in case of an emergency.
We also knew there was no way this would work unless we could set rules for the kids who stay with us:
- Breakfast and dinner meals are shared together in the cafeteria; lunch during the week is provided by school, and on the weekends lunch can be whenever, wherever
- All tenants must be awake in time for breakfast; school bus departs no later than 7:40
- Students must meet in front of the school for pickup; bus departs for home no later than 16:00
- Pool is off-limits in the winter; all other seasons, it’s only open on the weekends
- Everyone is expected in the communal area after school to complete any homework assignments and studying; all who finish their assignments before dinner will have access to the clubroom
- Curfew is 21:00, and lights out is at 22:00. Any tenants who stay out without first notifying us will be kicked out.
- No one is allowed to enter another tenant’s apartment without permission; anyone caught in another tenant’s apartment after hours, with or without permission, will be kicked out.
- Each tenant is responsible for keeping themselves, their apartment, and the communal amenities clean and orderly. Trash pickup is Sunday morning, so all garbage should be bagged and left downstairs for the community cleaners.
This is all I can think of. I hope the kids we take in don’t feel like we’re taking over their lives–this looks like a lot of rules on paper, but in reality they’ll be free to do anything within the set parameters. I just don’t want to give the council a chance to say that we’re just a bunch of kids living lawlessly at the edge of the colony. We’re more than just a group of unwanted troublemakers.
We matter–I’ll prove it to them.