No Place To Go

Author:Alie Vogelaar
Retail Price:$10.95
Grade Level:3-5

From the Back Cover:
Through a terrible experience, Lydia no longer has a home to go to. Where is her mother? Why doesn’t she come to get her? Happily she still has a friend, Eddie. Can he help her? Will they find her mother?

(Ages 10-16)

1. A Note

Bundled up in her nice, warm jacket, Lydia walked through the gate. Her backpack hung over her shoulders, leaving her hands free so she could bury them deep in her pockets. A frown appeared on her forehead. Too bad she had to do some homework. Would she be able to get it finished tonight? Or would her father be angry, because he had been drinking again? Lately he often sounded so angry, and then he would send her directly to bed. Every night after work he would go to the bar. Maybe, if she started her homework right away, she could be finished before he came home. Maybe then her mother could quickly prepare some supper for her before she had to go to bed.

When at last her father would stomp up the stairs at night, he didn’t want anyone around. Then he would often scold Mother, and having Lydia around was only a bother. His opinion was that it was best if she was either in school or in bed. Lydia sighed.

An ice-cold wind was blowing across the East River and winding its way through the streets of New York. But Lydia couldn’t even feel it. The fur trim on the hood of her jacket protected her from the biting wind. She thought about Eddie, who had once lived in the same neighborhood. It sure was nice that he had given her this jacket! Her large, blue eyes shone. Eddie had been a good friend indeed—much different from most of the boys, who were always rough and tough and so boisterous! Eddie was different. Sometimes he would stare at you, but it felt as if he hardly saw you and was thinking about something totally different. His mother was different, too. On Sundays she always wore a nice dress, and she never went shopping. Eddie had told her that. Several times, when Lydia wanted to go to the store, she had asked Eddie to go along. She didn’t like shopping alone among all the strange people. Eddie would go with her sometimes, but he would never go with her on Sunday, so she never went anymore either. Eddie really never told her why his mother didn’t want to shop on Sunday. Maybe he didn’t know himself.

It was too bad that Eddie had moved away. Now if she had to go to the store, she had to go all alone. She knew it was because of Chris and Andrew that he had moved. They had made him help them sell drugs without his even realizing what he was doing. It had made them very angry when Eddie had told the police! They sure were mean! Lydia could sense that. They had even dared to shoot a bullet through Eddie’s window! Lydia shivered even though she wasn’t the least bit cold. Imagine if Eddie or his mother had happened to be on the other side of the window!

Oh yes, she had felt that those two were looking for an opportunity to get even with Eddie. She had warned him too, one time. It was a good thing that Eddie had left the city right away after that.

She wondered how he was doing. Where did he live now? Was it pretty there? She had found a slip of paper with an address and telephone number in the pocket of her jacket. That must have been from Eddie. She had carefully put it in one of her socks. This way she would always have it with her even when she wasn’t wearing the jacket. She had to guard that little piece of paper. If she ever had some spare change, maybe she would call him. He would be surprised that she had kept and remembered his number.

Lydia smiled to herself. That would be neat!

She knew that Eddie was still her friend. Of course, he would have other friends now, too. And she was sure those friends would not be as mean as the mean boys in this big city.

She entered the small street between the huge apartments. The high buildings blocked most of the sunshine here, so it seemed much darker. She glanced toward the window of the apartment where Eddie used to live. It had always looked so inviting back then, because Eddie’s mother had put a flowerpot or two in the window every day. Now it was empty. His window now looked exactly the same as all the other windows.

She had seen Eddie only once since he had moved. That was when he had come to pick up their furniture. This was when he had given her his jacket, too. The jacket was so warm. Many of the children at school had asked her where she had gotten such a nice jacket, but she had never told them.

She was almost home. Just a few doors down the street was the entrance to her apartment.

A whole group of children was waiting to take the elevator. There was a lot of hollering and pushing on all sides to be the first to enter.

Slowly, Lydia climbed the stairs to the eighth floor. She didn’t want to stand in line and wait for a turn. Those boys could be so rude. Sometimes they made it seem as if they were falling, and then they would push against you or give you a hard shove. No, she didn’t want any part of this. Here was her door. If only... Hey, the door was open! She had already taken the key out of her pocket, but she didn’t need it now. Surprised, she stood there with her hand on the doorknob.

“Hello,” she called as she stepped in, but it seemed as if her voice echoed back at her. No one answered. So—no one was home. Mom was probably gone on some errand and had forgotten to lock the door.

Lydia let her backpack slide off her shoulders and then pulled up her nose. Not again! she thought...

With a disgusted look, she glanced toward the couch to where her father had stumbled in a drunken stupor the night before. She knew that, once again, he had thrown up after the drinking had made him sick.

Ugh! The strangest thing was that no one had cleaned up after him. If he came home soon and saw that Mom hadn’t cleaned, he would yell and beat her up again.

Lydia looked anxiously around her. Why hadn’t Mom cleaned up the mess? Why was it so quiet in the apartment? Mom hadn’t even turned the radio on as she always did...

Lydia hurried to the kitchen, wondering if her mother had prepared something for her. She was kind of thirsty, and a piece of cake sounded good, too. Mom knew she was always home before her father and would usually leave her something to eat. Finding nothing, she decided to fix something herself. Lydia glanced at the cluttered counter. What a mess! It looked as if Mom hadn’t done anything all day.

Suddenly she noticed a note lying on the blue tablecloth. Her heart began to pound!

It was a note from Mom! Uh, oh! There must be something wrong! She began to read.

“Dear Lydia, I can’t stay here any longer; your father was drunk again and had a knife. I ran away as fast as I could, but I don’t know where I’m going. I will pick you up tomorrow after school. Be careful.”

Lydia stood there looking at the crooked letters with large, frightened eyes. Her hands began to shake. Mom gone . . . and Father had had a knife. It had never been this bad. Before, when he had hit Mother, Lydia would quickly go to her bedroom and put her hands over her ears so she couldn’t hear them yelling at one another. But now... how terrible... Mom was gone.

After school tomorrow, she would pick her up. But what should she do now? Stay here? She didn’t really dare to do that! If her father would come home soon...

She quickly sat down. It seemed as if her legs couldn’t carry her anymore. They felt so weak and funny.

Mom wrote that she would pick her up after school tomorrow. Should she stay here then? What if her father would come home? Would he know? Of course, he himself had had a … How terrible! Lydia’s dark blue eyes turned even darker as she began to feel more angry. Why did her father always have to drink so much? He could be nice when he did not drink. If she only knew where her mother was, she would go to her immediately. No, she wouldn’t stay here any longer.

Suddenly she heard the door open, and, with a bang, it shut again. Lydia jumped up, her heart pounding. There was her father already! Why was he home so early?

He saw her and stared. Lydia sighed. He looked so normal, it seemed that he had not been drinking this afternoon.

“So,” he grumbled, looking around the room. “I think you better clean that mess up,” he said grumpily as he glanced toward the couch.

Lydia quickly got the pail and a few old rags, which her mom always used. She had seen her mother do this often. But now it was different—now she felt it was up to her. Ugh, it smelled so bad that she almost threw up herself!

She quickly looked the other way and tried not to think about it.

She still had to do her homework... but first she had to wipe this up.

And then they had to eat... Now quickly squeeze out the rag...

Her jacket... had she put her jacket under her bed? she wondered.

Now another dry rag.

She always put her jacket under her bed when she came home. Her mom had told her to do that. She wondered why.

The carpet was still wet, but at least the mess was gone. She quickly threw away the water.

“Where did you get this thing?”

There stood her father, holding up her jacket.

“Oh, I got it from Eddie.” Lydia looked at him with fear in her eyes.

Her father looked at the jacket and felt the material.

“Hm.” That was all he said.

Lydia saw him glance at the couch. Should she show him Mom’s letter? No, she didn’t dare do that. He shouldn’t know that Mom was picking her up after school tomorrow. She decided that she wouldn’t say anything.

“We should eat something,” he said to her suddenly.

Lydia glanced at him with a surprised look on her face. His voice still sounded gruff, but a bit more friendly. If he didn’t go to the bar first, he could actually be nice. If he would come home early every day and not go to the bar anymore, maybe Mom would come back home again.

Her father didn’t ask if she knew where Mom was.

“I’ll make something for us,” she said.

Father nodded and walked to the other room.

Lydia looked in the refrigerator. There was some leftover soup as well as a frozen pizza. That wasn’t hard to fix. She knew how long to bake a pizza, and warming up soup wasn’t difficult at all.

She set out two plates on the kitchen table. She noticed her hands were still trembling and her heart was pounding. Every once in a while she stood still to listen to what her father was doing in the other room. But it was quiet in there. Quietly she peeked around the corner and saw him sitting by the window with his head in his hands. He didn’t look at all happy. She quietly tiptoed back to the kitchen. She had to wait for the timer to ring. Then the pizza would be done and they could eat.

Where was Mom now? Tomorrow... Then she would probably have a place to stay and then she would pick her up... Then father would be all by himself. Lydia sat up straight. She hadn’t thought about that. He looked so alone sitting there by the window, so dejected, as if he didn’t know what to do anymore.

The timer rang.

Lydia carefully removed the pizza from the oven and set it on the table next to the soup.

She looked around the corner. Her father was still sitting there just as before.

“Our food is ready,” she said softly.

“What? Oh yes . . I’m coming.”

With a deep sigh he stood up and came to the kitchen.

He sank to his chair heavily, and immediately began to slurp up his soup.

“Mmm . . . that tastes good.”

Lydia looked at him with hopeful eyes. Father could be so pleasant when he wasn’t drinking. She would tell that to Mom tomorrow. Who knew?