Her face would not look out of place on the cover of a magazine with a heroin chic caption: bony shoulders capped by bloodshot eyes encased by deep, dark circles, severely pronounced cheekbones. Sores cover her bony arms and fuzzy blonde hair carpets her matchstick legs.
As she shuffles along Biscayne Boulevard near 63rd Street on a recent Sunday night shortly before midnight, she chatters incessantly, toying constantly with the oversize Florida Marlins jersey cloaking her torso.
"You know what?" she chirps. "I made a promise that no man will ever get the better of me again. I mean, I'm not some stupid little kid anymore, I can take care of myself. I might be skinny but I am tough, and he's gonna have to be real smart if he wants to get me. I choose who I go with.
"And I got friends, we take care of each other, ain't nothing gonna happen when you got people looking out for you. They ain't gonna let nothing happen to me."
As she sauntered down the street, a pale green Toyota sputtered past. As the taillights disappeared into the night, Tara was completely alone.