I ran through the projects, from crack house to crack house, looking for my mother. The day was wintry and cold. I knocked on Mary’s door. "Is my mother there?" "Your mother ain't here," Mary yelled from behind the closed door. I ran to the next building. Penny lived on the fifth floor of a scary high-rise project building. The elevator was always broken. Crack heads and drunks laid sprawled out on the steps. The hallway stunk like urine and whisky. Human feces filled the corners. I stood at the entrance of the building and inhaled. I ran as fast as I could. I leaped over puddles of urine, side-stepped piles of shit, up and up, five flights of steps. I knocked on the door. "Hello?" Breathing heavily I said, "It's—Talia." Penny partly opened the door. She stuck her head through the opening. "Baby, your mother ain't here." "All right," I said. I jumped down the steps, six steps at a time, again racing around the shit and leaping over the urine. There was one more apartment to check-- Robin's. I knocked on the door. Nothing. Frustrated, I yelled, "It's Talia! Is my mother there?" Robin opened the door. She let me in. The apartment was dark and dirty and stunk like the hallway. The floors were black and wet, the outside's sleet and snow dragged in on filthy shoes. My mother and aunt were in the kitchen smoking crack. I sat on the couch, watching the roaches that crawled the walls. I heard arguing. Suddenly, my mother and aunt slid across the living room floor, spilling over the dog's water bowl. They punched and punched each other. My mother was stronger. "Get off my aunt," I yelled. "Get off my aunt!" Robin broke them apart. My aunt's face was red. She grabbed her coat to leave. My mother snatched the coat. "Isn’t this yours, Lia?" "She can wear it," I said. "She can wear it." My aunt looked at me and said, "It’s all right, Lia." She walked out of the door. It was freezing outside. I cried. I just couldn’t understand how my mother could let her sister go out into the cold without a coat.