~Dedicated to The Denver Rescue Mission of Colorado ~
Amanda's hands tremored from the bitter frost on skin in the midst of a cold winter night. There was no room at St.Francis Shelter and her blanket was drenched from the snow on the concrete sidewalk. Matchstick men stood around the corner from where she was sleeping, and fear emerged out of the sheer feeling of danger from drug dealings or imminent assaults.
"Just let me be, please," said Amanda, to herself.
"You working tonight?" asked a man who passed by with his trousers sagging from his buttocks with his large cotton sweater stenched of semen and dirt.
"Nah, got hungry. I need some rest. Maybe one of the girls from under the I-70 is," said Amanda. Being seventeen and homeless meant a lot of side work with her body and dignity to make a quick buck. But not tonight, it was Christmas Eve.
"I just can't," she mumbled under her breath, fixing her blanket to cover her body. "I'd give anything for a change."
The man walked around the corner and yelled to the some of the drug dealers, "She ain't workin' tonight." A few moments later Amanda heard a loud yell, "Lazy whore!"
Her body shook but she curled her body tight and ignored the cold because once the shivers starts, there was no going back from holding the pain for the bone chilling weather. She clenched her teeth and mouth and held her wrists with each hand intertwined with her knees inside her arms.
"Won't kill my joy if I die tonight," she thought.
A police car passed by and the sirens jerked her body, with the red and blue lights blaring like annoying disco lights in a dark room.
"So…the ordinance is on," said the police officer, with his flashlights on her face, shining down inside the blanket like a scorching sun. "Let's go, we got to take you in."
"Oh man, Oh man…damn it! I ain't doing nothing," yelled Amanda, as tears flowed down her cheeks.
"Well, we gave you a ticket before, so you know the drill. Let's go, warm drink there and you're lucky, we're giving some pie for Christmas," said the police officer.
"God damn it, am I getting a ticket now?" she asked. Amanda twitched from the cold, as she pulled away from the police officer and putting her blanket inside the grocery cart.
"Leave that damn cart. Let's go," the officer yelled.
He pulled the back of her sweater and moved her to the back seat of the police car. Amanda slid down the car seat, but it was so warm with the car heater on that she didn't truly mind.
The officer sat down in the driver seat, turned on his light, and started the engine. The Denver Police Department wasn't too far from the Ballpark area in downtown Denver, and as they passed by Snooze eatery, Amanda was half glad that she didn't have to do another job near the bus stop with some man she doesn't know.
"You like hot chocolate?" asked the officer.
"Yeah, my mom used to make me some when I was little, around this time," said Amanda, trying to answer every question just in case she can get on his good side. Sixteen and homeless meant jumbled memories of home, no matter how brutal it was. At least the officer asked about "hot chocolate" and not about school.
"You got folks back home?" he asked.
Damn it, Amanda thought.
"They died. Car accident. My uncle wasn't a good man. My aunt was a bitch, so I just left them,'" said Amanda, grimacing from the past. She was so perturbed that the officer even asked personal questions when he should damn well know that homeless kids didn't want to be questioned.
"Let's get off here," said the officer, stopping on the corner of Park and Lawrence. "Get out, and walk inside, my friend John is there. Tell him I sent you."
"What?" Amanda said, biting her lips because this was another one of those times where spontaneity meets misfortune, and only fate can dictate her destiny. "What do you want me to do in there?"
"Get the hell out and talk to John. Are you stupid deaf?" he yelled at her. "Get out, I gotta get another one."
Amanda ran out of the car and walked into the brightly lit entrance-way into a building she never entered before.
Another officer met her inside, and said, "I'm John. Here fill out this form."
John handed her a paper form on a clipboard and she frantically filled it out.
Name, home address, telephone number, date of birth, reason for applying, not everything was filled out and three out of five wasn't too bad. Amanda Smith, homeless, not available, January 31, 1996, got ticketed at Ballpark bus stop.
"Go in that room and wait for me," said Officer John. He took the form from the clipboard and pushed her to a room filled with so much raucous that she was afraid to walk in.
Amanda opened the double doors and in front of her were tables and tables of dinner plates set up with napkins, spoons, forks, the works, like a real dinner table.
Near the back of the room were some folks dressed with red aprons serving plates of dinner with ham, mashed potatoes, corn, and sweet rolls on the side.
Amanda walked to the servers, and asked, "Can I have some?" She couldn't help but to feel so hungry all of the sudden.
"Hey, Amanda, yeah. Sit down, take your sweater off, we'll get you a blanket and eat up," said one of the ladies.
"How'd you know my name?" asked Amanda.
"It's there on your name tag, silly," said the lady in a white sweater and black pants with her red apron. She had the most loving smile as if she was a family member that Amanda never met, but had grown to love.
Amanda looked down to check if there really was a name-tag on her body, and to her surprise, she was dressed in a red velvet dress with a white sticker of a name tag on her left chest.
She looked down her feet and she was wearing black slip-on shoes and black plaid patterned tights. She looked at her skin, and she was clean, but she hadn't showered for months. Her eyes widened and a buzz simmered inside her brain as it tingled inside her cranium.
"Holy macaroni," said Amanda. She smelled her underarms and much to her surprise, she smelled like a girl after a fresh shower.
"You gotta sit down, the house is filling up," said a skinny bearded man with a knitted green sweater. "Look, who's behind you! Hey, Malcolm!"
Amanda turned around and saw a jolly man with a huge beer belly and a smile, wearing a Christmas sweater with a picture of Rudolph holding a candy cane.
Malcolm walked towards her and said, "Amanda, you got the job! You'll start in the kitchen as dishwasher and you can work your way up to server at the soup kitchen."
"I have a job?" Amanda said, baffled. Her mind boggled as if a lost toddler in a shopping mall on Black Friday.
"Yeah, I thought it could be your present. Merry Christmas!" Malcolm said. He hugged her, and lifted her off the ground.
"I was homeless a minute ago," said Amanda. She was touched by some divine presence that she never knew existed. "I don't understand."
"Oh, don't worry about that. Just eat up and we'll take care of you. The room upstairs is yours till you settle down," said the lady who first spoke to her.
"I have a place to stay?" Amanda cried.
"Stop thinking about the past. Just eat," said Malcolm.
Amanda ate and ate and got seconds. After dinner, she walked upstairs behind the building and saw her room that looked strangely like a college dormitory.
"It's all yours kid," said Malcolm. "You can work here until you get back to school."
"Who did all this?" asked Amanda, with warm tears in sobs.
"You did. You don't remember?" Malcolm was confused. "You came in on Christmas Eve a day ago and asked us to help out. So here we are kid."
Amanda thought that she was about to be jailed just a few hours ago, but now it's Christmas? Did time just flew by without consent out of respect for her? Who was that officer? Where did he go?
"Merry Christmas, Amanda," Malcolm hugged her, and walked back downstairs. "Get back down and meet some new friends." He smiled at her and was about to walk down the stairs when he suddenly said, "Oh, this is for you."
He took out a small little stone with the word "BELIEVE" etched on the smooth surface. "It's from management," he said.
The End. Just write.