When Ellen arrives at Starletta's house after having fled from her father, she offers Starletta's mother a dollar bill in exchange for a place to stay. Starletta's mother tells Ellen that she cannot take money from children but that she is welcome to stay anyway. When she asks Ellen what is wrong, Ellen wonders why she even has to ask, as it is obvious that she has run from her father's physical and sexual abuse. However, to avoid a long explanation, Ellen lies that she had been locked out of the house.
When Ellen wakes in the morning, she is surprised because she does not "feel like [she] had slept in a colored house," even though she slept atop the covers with her jacket on. Ellen returns home and waits in the woods until she sees her father and his friends drive away in his truck. After they leave, she goes inside, gathers up her belongings in a box, and calls her mother's sister, her aunt Betsy. Ellen calls Betsy because she has recently lost her husband and thinks that she will want company, especially because she does not have any children of her own. Ellen asks Betsy if she can stay with her, and Betsy obliges, saying it will be nice to have a girl around the house.
Ellen enjoys herself while she is at her aunt's house, as Betsy is always telling Ellen to "make herself at home," which Ellen gladly does. As the end of the weekend nears, Betsy asks Ellen who is coming to pick her up. Ellen is confused, as she had planned to stay with Betsy permanently. Betsy laughs and tells Ellen that her visit had only been meant to last for the weekend and that now she must go home, though she can visit again sometime soon.
After Betsy has driven her home, Ellen vows to lock herself up in her room to stay safe. Sometimes, though, she forgets to lock her bedroom door and her father forces his way in, but often Ellen is strong enough to push him down and wriggle away. Other times, he will stand outside of her door and taunt her. Ellen perfects the act of breathing or moving without a sound to avoid giving her presence away to him.
On Ellen's first day back at school, her teacher notices the bruise on her arm her father has given her and arranges for Ellen to live temporarily with her art teacher, as there is no one else to care for her.
On reflection, Ellen admires how her new mama pays cash for her groceries and never seems to run out of money. She also remarks at how she makes everything from scratch because it is more nutritious.