I Guess They Didn’t Know We Were Kids

Reality for Josh Brittain


I was 14 years old and living in Iowa City, IA when I joined a group of homeless kids and kids from the group home. As a group, we went downtown or to the college to ask for help from people. A lot of students at that school were not very nice about our plight. I guess they thought we were all worthless, jobless, no-nothings. But maybe they didn’t know that we were 14 years old. I mean we told them we weren’t adults, but it’s as if they had the worst kind of selective hearing.
Some of the college students would walk by yelling, “Get a Job, you bum!”
“but I’m only 14“ I’d say.
“Then go home to your mommy, you brat!” They’d say.
I’d reply, “She’s an addict, she went off the deep end and kicked me out.”
They’d just walk away.
It wasn’t safe for me at home. While she was an addict, some of the men she allowed into our lives were scary, didn’t like kids and at times were extremely cruel…

Sometimes my mom was the same.
When I was 15 years old, I was laying in my room, trying to calm down after my mom and I had an argument. I fell asleep for a little while and woke up when I sensed my door opening.
She was standing at the door, holding a large kitchen knife, a silhouette against the hallway light.
I could barely make her face out, but her eyes were clear, kind of glowing. I closed my eyes thinking I was seeing things. When I opened them, she had walked right up to my bed, towering over me.
“You think you’re a big man now. You think your tough shit.” She said.
“No.” I mustered.
“You think you’re a tough motherfucker. This is Montana.” She said.
Montana was one of my mom’s personality disorders. She had a dis-associative personality disorder or some shit and she was intimidating.

She just stood there, holding the knife up, staring at me. I could almost see her thinking, her eyes, crazy yet crystal clear. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up as I stared at the kitchen knife. All I could hear was the blood pounding in my ears. I laid there, waiting for Montana’s next words.

After what seemed like a thousand heart pounding moments, she slowly backed away, shut the door and shuffled down the hall.

It was so surreal, I felt detached from real life and watching somebody else’s.


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