Until last night.

I was in bed shuffling cards. I know that sounds weird, but it’s just something I do. I don’t even know how to play cards. But when my parents get into fights, shuffling cards just calms me down sometimes and gives me something to focus on.


Anyway, it was dark outside, so I noticed the light right away. It wasn’t bright, but it was coming from that old house. It looked more like candlelight than anything, so I went to the back porch and found Dad’s binoculars. I tried to see what was going on over there, but I couldn’t see anything. It was way too dark. Then after a little while, the light went out.

This morning, when I was getting ready for school, I saw something moving behind that house. I crouched down at my bedroom window and saw someone sneaking out the back door. It was a guy and he had a backpack. He looked around like he was making sure no one saw him, and then he walked between our house and the neighbor’s house and went and stood at the bus stop.

I’d never seen him before. It was the first time he rode my bus. He sat in the back and I sat in the middle, so I didn’t talk to him. But when he got off the bus at school, I saw him walk into the school, so he must go there.

I have no idea why he was sleeping in that house. There’s probably no electricity or running water. I thought maybe he did it as a dare, but today he got off the bus at the same stop as me. He walked down the street like he was going somewhere else, but I ran straight to my room and watched out the window. Sure enough, a few minutes later, I saw him sneaking back inside that empty house.

I don’t know if I should say something to my mother. I hate to be nosy, because it’s none of my business. But if that guy doesn’t have anywhere to go, I feel like my mother would know how to help him since she works at a school.

I don’t know. I might wait a couple days before I say something and see if he goes back home. He might just need a break from his parents. Same as I wish I could have sometimes.

That’s all. I’ll let you know what happens tomorrow.


Dear Ellen,

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I fast-forward through all your dancing when I watch your show. I used to watch the beginning when you danced through the audience, but I get a little bored with it now and would rather just hear you talk. I hope that doesn’t make you mad.

Okay, so I found out who the guy is, and yes, he’s still going over there. It’s been two days now and I still haven’t told anyone.

His name is Atlas Corrigan and he’s a senior, but that’s all I know. I asked Katie who he was when she sat next to me on the bus. She rolled her eyes and told me his name. But then she said, “I don’t know anything else about him, but he smells.” She scrunched up her nose like it grossed her out. I wanted to yell at her and tell her he can’t help it, that he doesn’t have any running water. But instead, I just looked back at him. I might have stared a little too much, because he caught me looking at him.

When I got home I went to the backyard to do some gardening. My radishes were ready to be pulled, so I was out there pulling them. The radishes are the only thing left in my garden. It’s starting to get cold so there’s not much else I can plant right now. I probably could have waited a few more days to pull them, but I was also outside because I was being nosy.

I noticed as I was pulling them that some were missing. It looked like they had just been dug up. I know I didn’t pull them and my parents never mess with my garden.

That’s when I thought about Atlas, and how it was more than likely him. I hadn’t thought about how—if he doesn’t have access to a shower—he probably doesn’t have food, either.

I went inside my house and made a couple of sandwiches. I grabbed two sodas out of the fridge and a bag of chips. I put them in a lunch bag and I ran it over to the abandoned house and set it on the back porch by the door. I wasn’t sure if he saw me, so I knocked real hard and then ran back to my house and went straight to my room. By the time I got to the window to see if he was going to come outside, the bag was already gone.

That’s when I knew he’d been watching me. I’m kind of nervous now that he knows I know he’s staying there. I don’t know what I’ll say to him if he tries to talk to me tomorrow.


Dear Ellen,

I saw your interview with the presidential candidate Barack Obama today. Does that make you nervous? Interviewing people who could potentially run the country? I don’t know a lot about politics, but I don’t think I could be funny under that kind of pressure.

Man. So much has happened to both of us. You just interviewed someone who might be our next president and I’m feeding a homeless boy.

This morning when I got to the bus stop, Atlas was already there. It was just the two of us at first, and I’m not gonna lie, it was awkward. I could see the bus coming around the corner and I was wishing it would drive a little faster. Right when it pulled up, he took a step closer to me and, without looking up, he said, “Thank you.”

The doors opened on the bus and he let me walk on first. I didn’t say You’re welcome because I was kind of shocked by my reaction. His voice gave me chills, Ellen.

Has a boy’s voice ever done that to you?

Oh, wait. Sorry. Has a girl’s voice ever done that to you?

He didn’t sit by me or anything on the way there, but on the way back from school, he was the last one getting on. There weren’t any empty seats, but I could tell by the way he scanned all the people on the bus that he wasn’t looking for an empty seat. He was looking for me.

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