“Mama! Mama!” I called into the silent house. There was no answer. I had just gotten home from school and I was tired. It wasn’t unusual for the house to be silent when I came home from school. In fact, I was used to it. Mama hadn’t been home in a while. It had been a whole week since I seen her. This never stopped me from calling out to her every time I walked into the lonely apartment though. Mama had changed so much from the time that I was little that she had become a stranger even in my eyes. When I was younger I used to talk to my mama about everything. She was my everything and I was hers. We had a bond. Crack had changed all that now though. Now, when I looked at her I couldn’t tell her anything not even how much I was disappointed with her. At five years old, my daddy was killed by a trader. I was young at the time and I hadn’t even realized that when he died mama was already a crack fien. He supplied her with the product that changed her for the rest of her life. I hadn’t realized because my daddy, god rest his soul, was my protector. Well at least in my eyes and half of Lynn Homes eyes as well. He looked out for us. He made sure that no one went starving. He was a drug kinpin but it was clear in everyone’s eyes that his family came first. I was the light of his eyes and he always kept me iced out and fresh. Well, that was twelve years ago and my life and my mama’s had never been the same. Her life more than mine had changed. My mother had been so pretty when she had me. She was sixteen. She looked much older body wise though. My mama said she had so many curves that girls around the way envied her and tried to mess her up. Mama was wise though, she knew when she saw my daddy she saw money and in my house that is all that she taught me to look for in a man. Money. Her train didn’t last long though because when he was killed when I was five she was left to raise me on her own. I had had so many men come in and out of my life that I hadn’t remembered not one man’s face or name. I think my mama really loved my daddy though. Although she hadn’t actually started out with love in her heart it grew strong anyway. That’s why her life was stained with sin. “Mama! Where you at?” I called out to her again. I walked to the back where mama’s room was. Her door was slightly ajar and the television was off. Normally, I would have taken this as a sign that she was gone but today I pushed the door open to make sure. When I did I saw mama on the floor shaking with a needle in her arms. Her eyes were rolling back in her head and foam was coming out her mouth. “Mama, oh my god! What have you done?” I cried as I ran over her. I kneeled beside her. Her body continued to shake as I held her cradled within my arms. She couldn’t speak. Her hair was on top of her head and her light skin had turned a dark brown from that nights of no washing at all. There was no telling where she had come from and who had given her the crack in the first place. I was scared ****less. Nothing like this had happened before. “Oh my god, I got to get help! Hold on mama, don’t leave me. Stay here! I need you!” I said with tears running down my face. I ran into the kitchen to call the police. It was the only phone that we had in the house at the time and I surprised that it was even on. We were at least two months behind on paying it. Mama never was good on paying bills. “911, how may I help you?” The operator said. “It’s my mama. She can’t talk. She’s shaking and her eyes are rolling back into her head. I need help!” I yelled at the white operator on the other side of the phone. “Calm down ma’am. It’s going to be alright. Has this ever happened before?” “No, this has never happened before.” “Okay well look around her. Is there any sign that she may have taken anything?” ****, what’s up with all these ******* questions? I thought to myself. “Yes ma’am, she has a needle in her arms.” “Okay, well I’m going to give you some steps to help her until the paramedics come, okay?” She lady said slowly as if I only had an elementary school education. “Okay.” “Alright, well are you in the room with her?” “No.” I said. “Well, can the phone reach to the room where she is?” “No.” “Okay well, you’re going to have put the phone down for a second and make sure your mother is on the floor flat on her back. Can you do that for me sweetie?” “Yes, I’ll be right back.” When I got to the back room mama wasn’t shaking anymore. She was just laying there with her eyes closed. I ran over to her. I slapped her in the face. “Mama! Mama wake up!” I yelled. She wouldn’t. I ran back to the phone. “She won’t wake up! What’s wrong with her? She’s not responding!” I yelled into the phone. “Well, you might have to---“ I heard the ambulance in a distance. It came to a stop right in front of my house. I hung the phone up in the lady’s face. I saw no more use for her. There were now people here that knew what they were doing. I ran to the door and opened it for them. They ran into the house as fast of they could. “Where’s the patient?” A black young EMT said. “She’s in the very last room in the back.” I said. The team of EMTs didn’t wait for anything else. They ran back as soon as possible. I was scared as I followed. I knew mama was passed out when I left. She could have been dead for all I knew. “There’s no pulse.” That was the first thing I heard the black EMT say as he kneeled beside her motionless body when I made it into the room. Hearing him say that made me go into a panic. I couldn’t hardly breath myself. I took gulps of air as I watched with tears coming down my face. I was yelling and telling them to help her. They rushed her onto a gurney and put a plastic device over her face. As they rush her onto the ambulance I ran with them. One EMT held me in his arms to calm me as I followed. I didn’t know what I was going to do if I lost her. She was the only family that I knew. I knew I had a grandmother somewhere in Atlanta but I had never known her. Mama said she kicked her out the house as soon as she found out she was pregnant and hadn’t wanted to see her since. I knew I couldn’t count on her. What was I going to do? “We have a pulse.” I heard a white lady say to the rest of the EMTs onboard. I sighed a sigh of relief. When we made it to the hospital they rushed my mama off to the emergency room. They told me to stay outside in the waiting area. I did. That was the worst three hours of waiting in my life. As I waited I was left there to reminisce on my life with my mama. It hadn’t been all bad. There were good times like all the Christmases with her. She made sure every Christmas that I had plenty of gifts. I didn’t know how she got them because she didn’t have a job or anything but I can say I was always left with a smile on my face. By June however, all the electronics and anything she could get that was still saleable was gone. But I grew to get use to that and to appreciate that she at least cared enough to get me something. A lot of people in my neighborhood didn’t get a thing for Christmas. My mama and I may have never been real close after the age of nine but she always made it her business to teach me about the streets. The life she lived she made sure I would never live. She told me everything about the evils of the world. She always kept it real. She never held anything back. She always started each session with, “Don’t ever do what I do but always remember what I do to get you through.” I really appreciated the stuff she did. She was nowhere near a saint but she always let it be known she wasn’t a dummy to the things she chose to do to get by. Sometimes I would like to think she did some of the things she did just for me. Just as I was falling asleep I saw a short young doctor walk my way. He didn’t look happy. Deep in my heart I knew what he was about to say. Just as it was hard for him to say, it was just as hard for me to hear it. “Hello, are you Miss Smith’s daughter?” He asked. “Yes I am.” I said “Well, I’m Dr. Yale. I’m sorry to inform you but we lost Miss. Smith during resuscitation. She had a seizer during the short distance to the emergency room. I’m sorry ma’am. We did the best we could.” He said. He went to say more but I couldn’t hear. I just went into his arms crying. Tears seemed as if they never would stop fallen. I was hurt. Mama may not have been perfect in most people’s eyes but she was more than perfect in mine. She was my mama. After I finished crying and I had composed myself I lifted my head off Dr. Yale’s chest and looked him in the eyes. “I’m sorry.” I said realizing I had made his doctor’s coat wet. He rubbed my shoulders gently and looked me in the eyes. “It’s okay.” He looked around to a woman with a business suit on. “I have someone that wants to talk to you.” There was no doubt in my mind about who she was. I knew that she was a social worker. She was sent here to put me in a foster home because my mother had just died. There was no way that that was going to happen. I had heard too many stories about people who were put into the system and they were all bad. Not one child that was taken from my neighborhood put into a good foster home or adopted. From now on if I was going to make it, it would be by myself. I didn’t need anyone else to help take care of me. Mama had taught me a lot of things and the best thing that she could have ever taught me was to look out for myself. I looked at her then I looked at the doctor. They both looked at me and there was silence. After looking at them I looked around for my best escape route. There was a guard behind her looking at me. I knew I couldn’t run that way so I jetted in the opposite direction. The doctor tried to grab hold of my coat but I was too fast for him. The guard instantly took pursuit. “Hey catch that girl!!” I heard him yelling from the back of me. I ran as fast as I could. When I saw the steps I knew that was an easy way out. It wasn’t as easy as the elevators but I knew if I took the elevators I would have gotten caught so I ran down the steps. After about five floors the security guard gave up the pursuit and I was left running on my own. That was the start of my journey. Since that day I’ve been running ever since. I had to look out for myself. There was no one else to watch me any longer not that my mama ever did a good job at it anyway.