Chapter One: We Don't Need Money Baby

This time last year was just the beginning of things going wrong. Tori had been downtrodden most of her life but with her mother's lung cancer becoming more aggressive by the day, Tori knew that recovery for her was unlikely. Hopes gave way to sadness, anger, and eventually numbness when these types of things confronted her each day. When Tori was younger she remembered living in a modest house with a tiny yard. By middle school, she and her mother had moved to a small apartment. Now that she was starting highschool Tori and her mother were calling an abandoned trailer their home. It was for a good cause though, paying for treatment and the subsequent bills were difficult even when a family is on welfare and medicare. For a person like Tori, emotional attachment to anything was dangerous. One too many let downs and a person could become a victim of their misery, never to be able to stop it from seeping into their every thought, causing a vicious cycle of a slow demise. This cycle was noticeable to Tori in the people who lived in the trailer park and who became the trailer park.t An outsider would not have the ability to distinguish the two, but it was pronounced to those who were familiar with the environment. Tori thus far considered herself a trailer park residence and not a perpetual inhabitant.


For the most part, Tori liked coming home from school to her shanty of a dwelling, even though it was not something she admitted freely. Unlike her former apartment complex, the trailer park offered a multitude of sympathetic neighbors who would look after one another. With each neighbor having their own cross to bear, Tori felt at ease with them. On this day as she exited the school bus, Tori could see her mom watching her arrive from the kitchen window. Tori waved to her as she approached their front door. Tori knew that her mom hadn't eaten yesterday since her medications had the unfortunate side effect of suppressing her appetite. Instead, her mother watched Tori eat oatmeal and took a nap on her old reclaimed from a sidewalk curve recliner while Tori read her history textbook for a homework assignment. When her mother woke up it was sunset, Tori was laying out her clothes by her bed for school the next day. An old fat back tv was on playing an episode of Friends on mute. Tori's mother turned up the volume from her seat. Tori sat on the floor next to her as they watched together. "You know when I was these girls age, I lived in New York too." Tori listened as her mother continued. "My roommate would always tell me we'd get a job and make it big." Tori was familiar with her mother's tales from her youth. According to her mother, she was a model in the city, until her she got pregnant and decided to reform her life for Tori's sake. Tori wasn't sure how much was true and how much was rose-tinted nostalgia. If her mother had been as big in the party scene as she claimed, where were the pictures of her, and where was the money or connections that that came with?


Tori would ask her mom if they could go see any of her old friends when she was little. Her mother would always tell her "we don't need people like that baby." Tori would press her asking why "we don't need money baby, it's more poison than any drug." For a child who had been utterly poor her whole life, it seemed odd that anyone would have that outlook on something so necessary. To her mother the very idea of money was misery. Other mothers wanted to go window shopping or talk about having nice things in the trailer park. Tori's mother would bring up all of the flaws those images conjured. If Tori pointed out a nice perfume sample in a magazine, her mother would say, that it was cheap chemicals sprayed on a paper. If Tori talked about how pretty someone's makeup was, her mother would comment that it caused acne. All the wishes in the world that Tori had were the aversions her mother had to the finer things in life. Not that it mattered all that much anymore. Tori's mother was at the end of her days and Tori knew it. The woman could no longer even stand under her own power anymore. Tori felt such loss of her for so long, it was like she was already gone.


This day though was scared, it was the last day before Tori's mother was to enter a hospice care facility. In the morning a van would be by to pick her up. The treatments had ceased over a week ago, there was nothing more to do but to wait. Tori's mother had insisted that Tori have a normal day like any other. She said that it was important that no matter what happened to her, that Tori continue on with life as usual. Tori's mother turned down all festivities, saying that she just wanted to spend the last of her days with her daughter in peace. The arrangements were in order. A social worker had been by to walk her through the process of emancipation. Hence the dumpy trailer, it was a free gift from the cancer society. A donation that Tori could use until she finished school. It was a horrible position to be in, but that was how her mother had planned it. Her cancer diagnosis was one of many horrors to have to face in a long line of them, Tori's life story. Every last-ditch effort was to no avail. This was their life and they accepted it, no matter how bleak the outlook. At least her mother had held on long enough for Tori to be eligible for emancipation by the courts. Had this been a few years prior Tori would be subjected to the foster care system. When her mother first told Tori of her condition's fatal prognosis, Tori had asked around her social circle about the foster care system. The answers she received were not positive, being ignored was the best outcome, many of the children were used by their guardians as meal tickets and reminded as such with every breath and gesture. To Tori, her situation could have been worse.


Tori never knew her grandmother or other relatives. Her mother had been disowned some time before she was born. Tori was told that her grandmother was a lawyer's wife and that Tori had an aunt who was a spoiled, petty woman. Apparently, Tori's mother had gotten too far into the party life in the city and called her mother, Tori's grandmother for help. Only when the woman found out that her daughter a drug addict, she was repulsed and as a result her whole family distanced themselves for fear of a bad image becoming associated with them. Tori didn't even know their names. Tori had asked her mother once if their money would help her get better medical care. Tori's mother took a deep breath and said, she had already asked and they told her "she was getting what she deserved." Tori's mother even produced a few voicemails that said as much. The grandmother's voice was that of a woman with no care for a single other person in the world save her own self. Tori's mother also showed Tori the letters from her family, all essentially with the same message, that they wanted no part in her mother's treatment because to them her mother's death was a relief. Tori cried saying that she would call and ask for help, that no one could be so merciless. Tori's mother only replied in pure defeat, "we don't need money baby." The hope of her being saved was nonexistent as they hugged each other that last night before the van for the hospice arrived.