Heather is a senior and a really nice girl. I didn't have her last year, but this year she is in my first period. She fits right in with the other kids and she doesn't seem to feel weird or out of place. I really like her.
Today I saw Heather in another teacher's room at around 4pm. All the other kids had gone home and most of the teachers too. "What are you doing here?" I asked her. She shrugged. "Do you need a ride?" I asked. "I can't really go home yet" she told me. "I can't get in until my mom gets home." "You don't have a key?" I asked. "Why don't you have a key?" "The place I live won't let me in until my mom gets there." she said.
I looked at her stupidly.
"I live in a shelter." she told me. "Oh." I said.
I saw Heather standing at the bus stop as I was driving out of the parking lot. I pulled up next to her. "You want a ride to the train?" I asked her. She nodded. It was only a five minute drive, but I found out a lot about her. She came from Michigan with her mom and her little brother. She left because of domestic abuse. Now all three of them live in a shelter. They are trying to save some money so they can live in what Heather called a 'second stage shelter' "which is really like an apartment." she told me.
I dropped her off at the train and told her I would see her in the morning. I started to think of all the ways I could possibly help her. I had an urge to go to the shelter with her and see what it was like. I wondered if it was safe. I wondered if she ever got stopped for being a young White girl walking through a Black neighborhood. I wondered if she could get into a decent college and get away from all of it. I wondered if she wanted to.
And then I drove home.