It was early morning, around 5:00, and most of the people of Dunnville City were sleeping. On the outskirts of the city there was a two-room trailer, a junky old thing. It sat in a dirt yard, surrounded by a chain link fence. Part of the fence had barbed wire across the top; old, rusty barbed wire. Empty bottles and cans littered the yard, and a worn looking broom leaned against the trailer. The trailer itself was old, dirty, and vaguely lop-sided. Inside, one woman was asleep after a night of drinking, and a fourteen-year-old girl was awake.

Megan Carter was awake. She was sitting on her bed in the main room of the trailer, which was divided in half by a blanket hanging from the ceiling. On Megan's side there was a bed, a small wooden dresser, and a closet. The walls were papered with pencil drawings of tall buildings, skulls, sleeping animals and crying people. On the other side of the blanket Megan's mother was sleeping. There was a small stove on that side too, and a table with two stools, and a mini-fridge. There was also the front door, which lead out into the yard, and a cracked brown door that lead to the little bathroom.

Megan was bent over her sketchbook, drawing a deer skull. Her green eyes closed for a moment, and her pencil swerved. She shook her head, pushed her red curls out of her face, and erased the stray mark. Her freckled face was pale and tired, and she looked as worn as the trailer. She continued sketching for a minute, then stopped.

What time is it? she wondered. I need to be up by now! She leapt out of bed, unfolding her tall, slender frame. Oh no, oh no, I'm late! I have to hurry! She went to the dresser and pulled out black jeans and a green tank top. After dressing quietly and quickly, she walked softly across the grimy floor to peer around the hanging blanket.

Her mother lay on the floor, tangled in a thin grey comforter. Her graying red hair was dirty and tangled, her eyes had bags under them, and she clutched an empty bottle in her left hand. Megan sighed. She walked gingerly past her mother into the tiny bathroom. The walls were covered with pale green, peeling paper. There was a stall shower with a clogged drain, a toilet, and a sink without any hot water. Megan washed her face, brushed her hair, and refreshed the black polish on her finger and toenails.

Breakfast. she wondered. What can we eat? Mom has to eat something or she won't be able to work. Her mother worked as a cleaning lady at a private school, where the students ignored her to her face, and laughed at her behind her back. In the evenings she went to slum bars and drank, got in fights, sometimes got arrested, but always made her way home. She didn't get back until three. Megan frowned as she took mental stock of the food in the fridge. We have three slices of bread, four eggs, a bag of apples, ten stalks of celery, four bottles of water, and some cheese. I can make a grilled cheese sandwich and a half, and we can eat eggs for dinner.

She left the bathroom and went to the fridge. Here was a surprise; her mom had brought home another brown paper bag last night. She peeked inside and found just what she'd found in the last one; twelve cans of beer. No, no, no. Megan took the bag and hid it under her bed. Mom is not having any beer with her breakfast. I can't let her go to work drunk...again. She prepared the sandwich and a half silently. When that was done she went to wake her mother.

"Mom, get up. Come on, rise and shine!" Her mother opened her eyes halfway and moaned. She lifted a hand, and before Megan could dart backwards, slapped her daughter full across the face.

" alone.." she closed her eyes. Megan knew what to do. She punched her mother hard in the stomach. The woman gasped and curled up in pain.

"Get your ass up Mom!" she barked. "It is time to get up. Now!"

"Please...just five minutes. I' tired." Megan shook her head firmly.

"No way Mom. Up. Now!" Her mother groaned and sat up slowly. The blanket fell off, revealing a faded blue t-shirt, and arms that bore many old and new bruises. She put a hand to her head.

"Close the blinds, we got sun." she muttered. There was no window. Megan stood and walked to the table.

"Food!" she called. Mer mother winced at the loudness in Megan's voice, but she stood weakly and stumbled over to the table. Megan watched her unhappily. It hasn't always been this way. she thought. Once, it was better.

She could remember, just barely, a time when things were better. Once, the trailer had been a nice place to live. She and her mother had had fun together. There was enough money then, and her mother wasn't drinking at all. The trailer had had proper furniture, and the yard had been full of flowers. But her mother had met a man. He said her loved her, he promised to be with her forever, and she truly loved him. But he left her, and she began drinking. Everything had gone downhill then, and Megan's mother had stopped caring.

She ate without tasting anything, as Megan watched carefully, thinking that life was a truly sad thing.

"Megan, you're eating too?" her mother asked fuzzily. Megan nodded.

"Yeah Mom, I'm fine, don't worry." It was a lie, but her mother didn't notice.

Her mother stood and went to the fridge. She looked inside, frowned, and knelt. She looked carefully into the fridge, then shut it and looked at Megan. Her faded green eyes were clearing, and her normal, angry expression was coming back.

"Megan, where's my brown bag?"

"What bag, Mom?"

"You damn well know what bag, Megan. What did you do with it?"

Megan stood up. Her mother jumped up too, glaring. She looked around, then back at Megan. Megan backed slowly toward the blanket partition. She knew what was coming.

"Where is the bag, Megan?!"

She turned ad hurried over to her bed. She pulled the bag out and tucked it under her arm. Her mother stood by the partition.

"Megan! Gimme the bag!"

She shoved past her mom, knocking her to the floor. She grabbed her black denim jacket and slid into her shoes. Her mother was standing up, still by the blanket.

"You can't have it, Mom."

"I need that, damn you! Give it to me, I'm your fucking mother!"

"I know!" Megan shouted. She wrenched the door open and hurried down the steps. Her mother followed.

"Give it to me right now, damn you!" She grabbed a piece of Megan's hair and tugged. Megan kicked her hard on the knee, and she collapsed to the ground. Megan ran, and her mother stood, grabbing a nearby beer can.

The woman in a faded blue t-shirt and jeans hurled the can at her fleeing daughter, than grabbed another from the ground and threw it. "I hate you! Don't you dare show your bastard face here again! I'll beat you black and blue, you bitch!"

She's said that before. Megan assured herself. She doesn't mean it. She'll forget this ever happened by lunchtime. But she couldn't stop the tears from streaming down her face as she dumped the bag in a dumpster. Because it hadn't always been this way, it didn't have to be this way; she could remember a better time. Her mother would do this again, in two weeks or three, and Megan would get away unscathed. She always would. But she could remember a time when things were good, and she cried when she realized hose times were gone forever.