- Locked due to inactivity on Dec 23, '17 3:54am
Thread Topic: Short story
So I'll post it in a minute. Read along, critique, tell me what I should do differently, or if you just like it.
Foster care. You heard me. I'm a foster care child. The first thing that comes to most people's minds is an image of a child abandoned by her parents and then dumped to live a life where she never belongs. You might suppose there's this girl who always moves and who has a hard time getting along with people. You might also think I'm always angry at the world because the only thing that sticks with me is loneliness, and rejection too. You might also believe that I'm used to being on my own, that I can take care of myself.
And you are right.
But boo-hoo. Cry about it, whatever. It's not like I'm the only foster care child in existence. I'm not crying. It's always been the same for me, ever since I was a baby. This is my normal life.
And right now, my normal life consists of work. All the time. It's like families only open up their home to me so that I can do all the work for them. This last "family" I was placed with was especially terrible. Worse than the others, at least. Terrible just equals boring for me. Extra work, more punishments. It's happened so much now that I'm just...bored. Usually the most excitement in my life happens whenever I'm moved to another place, which isn't that often. But for me, that unusual and exciting event happened yesterday.
(I'll post some more later. Gtg)
"Rosa," the man in charge of the foster care program had told me, "We've recently had a new family join the program. And they've requested that you be moved into their home. So pack your things. I'll be back tomorrow."
I had mostly been stunned as he walked out the door yesterday. Requested? Since when did a foster care child like me get a request to join someone's home and family? I was nothing special--with my plain brown hair and skinny features.
So after getting over my surprise, I had quickly packed up the few possessions that I owned. My dirty, rumpled clothes had been thrown into my small, equally dirty suitcase along with a few toiletries, my old childhood stuffed animal (I love you, Porkie), and a faded photograph of my parents. I wasn't that fond of the photograph, considering my parents dumped me, but I did look at it occasionally to see the resemblances between me and them. Just curious, really.
Anyway,the rest of the day passed with me showing a rare amount of enthusiasm. I did my chores with a smile on my face! Unbelievable for me. Mr. Arnold, the guy currently in charge of me, had actually asked me if there was something wrong with my face. And since I was so happy that it was my last night there, I had actually gotten to speak my mind. You can probably guess what my answer was. The rest of the night wasn't very pleasant, but it was only for a few hours.
Which brings me to now. I was currently seated on my not-even-resembling-a-bed bed, tying on my old sneakers. I double checked to make sure everything was in my suitcase, not that I really needed to. Then I just sat there in anticipation, fingering my messy side braid nervously. If I made a good impression on the new family, then perhaps I would be treated better. Of course, if they requested me, then maybe they actually wanted me. Although, when you think about it, not many people want to simply bring a 15-year-old girl into their home. Then why request me?
My mind turned around in circles until I heard the doorbell ring. I literally jumped off my bed, grabbed my suitcase, and ran to the front door.
"Goodbye, Mr. Arnold!" I called out.
He appropriately cussed me out as a reply.
When I finally managed to un-jam the front door, letting it swing open on creaky hinges, another stupid smile lit up my face. The same man I saw yesterday seemed a little taken aback, but he reached for my suitcase, even though it was so light that even a 3-year-old could've carried it.
"Are you ready to go, Miss Hawk?" he asked.
Well obviously, I thought. Out loud I said, "Yes, sir. So where does this family live?"
"Let's get in the car and I'll explain on the way there. I want to get going now, because it's a LONG drive."
I ran ahead into the passsenger seat, eager to be gone from Mr. Arnold's house. This is one place I definetly wouldn't miss.
"Alrighty," the man said, settling into his seat. Wait, wasn't his name John or something? Names tended to blur over the years. "So off we go," John said. (I'm just going to call him John.)
John pulled out of the driveway and took off down the road, driving like the careful old man he was.
"So who's the family I'll be staying with?" I asked.
"The Strocks," John replied,"To be honest, we don't know much about them. They just got into our system very recently. In fact, I believe you'll be their first foster care child. Mr. Strock is a...um, you know I forgot what he does. Something with the government, I'm sure. He and his family are very wealthy, living in this old mansion. So I'm sure you'll be well taken care of! And if this works out, hopefully you won't have to move again. I know Mr. Arnold hasn't been the best for you--"
I made this sound like, you have no idea.
"--but I feel really good about this family!" John continued, "And Mr. Strock has 4 children. Or was it 3? Four or three? One of those. But I believe two of them are your age, so I'm sure you will all get along!"
(Thanks! In a moment.)
Charlie Philips Experienced
Why is it that adults always thought that if you were the same age as another kid, then you would get along? In my experience, I didn't "get along" with anybody. But like I told myself earlier, first impressions. Make a good first impression. Vaguely, I realized John was still talking.
"And Mrs. Strock is a fine woman! Yes, very fine. Reminds me of my late wife, God rest her soul. She was very strong and kind, like Mrs. Strock. Yes, I believe you will do well at this home."
I hope so, I thought, but nothing ever works out perfectly for me. I relaxed in my seat and turned my gaze out the window, letting John talk on. New family, new adventure. First impressions...
I didn't realize I had fallen asleep until John excitedly shook me awake.
"We're almost there!" he exclaimed.
I blinked groggily, then sat up quickly. The surrounding countryside had changed dramatically, now showing rolling hills and thick woods. It was almost impossible to see the sky from where I was, since the trees were overgrown and blocked the view.
After a moment, I realized what was missing. "Where are the neighbors?"
"Oh, they're miles away. The Strock's mansion is somewhat isolated actually. A bit strange, but I'm sure you'll enjoy the privacy. No nosy neighbors peering across their lawns at you. Just wide open...um, woods. Very tightly woven trees. You'll enjoy it."
I nodded my head, wondering how much I would actually enjoy it.
Then we drove around the bend, the trees cleared, and there it was. The home of the Strocks.
The mansion itself was huge--as mansions tended to be. But it was also very old, and had likely stood there for hundreds of years. There was no telling how many generations had lived there. Moss and ivy clung to parts of the brick walls, and some of the walls were cracked as well. A few of the windows were boarded up, and whever paint was, it was flaking off. My excitement dimmed somewhat. The mansion was so...foreboding? Sinister?
"What a lovely home," John murmured.
I glanced at him incredulously as we pulled up. John was actually being serious. I always knew something was mentally wrong with him.
We exited the car and I grabbed my suitcase on the way. Mr. John certainly wasn't carrying it for me. I didn't want to look like some stuck up princess who wouldn't carry her own 3-pound suitcase.
Stepping onto the wooden porch made me somewhat nervous. The wood was decayed and full of termite damage, or so it seemed. It also seemed like it wouldn't hold my weight, even though I didn't weigh much to begin with.
John stepped comfortably onto the porch, not even noticing as it creaked under his weight. He walked confidently up to the massive double front doors and knocked loudly on it. Unlike the porch, the doors were solid and strong, no doubt bruising John's soft knuckles.
I glanced around while we waited, and quickly spotted two pairs of eyes watching me through a window in one of the upstairs bedrooms. As I looked their way, the eyes quickly disappeared.
Abruptly, the front doors swung open and standing in front of us was a short blond-haired girl who was looking very annoyed. And the irritated look she gave me made me want to turn and go back in the car.
Then she switched her cold blue eyes to John.
"You're the foster care guy, right?"
John seemed a little taken aback at the 8-year-old's bossy tone, but simply responded, "Yes. May we come inside?"
The girl scoffed, "I suppose so. My mother's been waiting for you." She thrust another disdainful look at me. Whatever happened to making a good first impression?
She led us inside, where the foyer and the hallways were dark and still. The floors were slightly dirty, old, worn away, and covered in heavy rugs. The walls had been painted an uninteresting shade of brown who-knew-when. It was a rather unremarkable hallway.
"Lovely place," John said to himself again.
I shook my head with pity at him.
The girl walked quickly down the hall, urging us to keep up.
The hallway opened into a sitting room, where I saw (I'm guessing.) Mrs. Strock.
She was standing by a closed window, one arm poised on the armrest of an old couch. Her looks were uninteresting. She had dull blach hair tied up tightly into a bun. Her tight, thin pale skin was stretched over her high cheekbones. Brown, almost black eyes stared at me. She wore a tight, high-necked, long-sleeved, plain black dress. She was sort of making me wonder what funeral she just came from, and whether this said funeral took place in the middle ages. Or if that dress belonged to her great-great-great grandmother. In all, she looked nothing like the angry little girl who was leading us in.
"Welcome to my home, Mr. Horace." Mrs. Strock said, her voice low and emotionless.
Oh, right. John Horace. That was his name.
"Ah, thank you, Mrs. Strock! I'm so delighted to be in your lovely home." John Horace looked around, taking in the uninteresting wallpaper and dusty couches with an expression of true delight on his face. Then he brought his attention back and cleared his throat, "I believe introductions are in order..."
"Yes," Mrs. Strock said. She turned to me, her mouth set in a firm line. It looked like smiling would be a painful effort for her. "I am Catherine Strock. This is my youngest, Lidia," She waved a hand at the girl, "And then there are my two sons, Elias and Alex. They'll be along in a moment. Remind me your name, child."
"I'm Rosalind Hawk, Mrs. Strock. It's very nice to meet you." Tips for making a good impression: smile, speak politely, and actually look like you enjoy what the other person's saying. All three of these were difficult for me.
"What a thin child." Mrs. Strock murmured to herself. Then she abruptly turned on her heel to face Mr. Horace. "I assume I need to sign something?"
"Ah, yes. Of course!" He fumbled with his coat pockets until he brought out a stack of papers.
While the adults messed around with the papers, Lidia turned to me with a smirk on her face, "Rosalind? That's a mouthful."
"Everyone just calls me Rosa," I explained patiently. Or, I was trying to be patient. I had a feeling I wouldn't get along with this brat.
Lidia wrinkled her nose at me, "You're dirty."
And you're annoying, I thought. Considering she was an 8-year-old, she didn't bother me that much. Yet. Of course, there was a limit to every person...
"Then that's it?" Mrs. Strock announced loudly, "Well, then Lidia, dear, please show Mr. Horace the way out."
Lidia grinned at me evilly then grabbed Mr. Horace's arm and marched him out of the room.
"I'll, uh, check up on you in a week, Rosa!" he called over his shoulder.
If you survive that monster, I thought. Then I was left alone with Mrs. Strock. Not my favorite moment.
"How old are you again, child?" Mrs. Strock asked.
"Fifteen, Mrs. Strock." I replied with the best manners that I possessed (which weren't that amazing).
"You may call me Madam Catherine. And Mr. Strock is simply 'sir' to you, though I doubt you'll see him much during your stay here. He is always away at work. Rule number one is do not disturb Mr. Strock or myself. Behave, and we won't have a problem." Madam Catherine (as I must now refer to her) walked slowly away from the window, leading me out of the sitting room. "Let me show you your room, Rosalind."
"Er, you can just call me Rosa," I volunteered.
"I prefer your real name, Rosalind." Madam Catherine said sternly, her tone leaving no room for protesting.
I could tell already that I was going to have a swell time with Madam Catherine.
She led me out of the sitting room, through the hallway, and around the foyer, where staits led up to another level. I was getting the impression that the entire house was dark, silent, old, and gloomy. The stairway sported another thick rug that draped down the steps, and the walls were patterned in a beat-up wallpaper. Didn't Mr. Horace say that his family was wealthy? If so, couldn't they at least put a little investment into their house?
Upstairs, many bedrooms were set up side-by-side, and all looked pretty much the same. Boring old wallpaper. Old, beaten down carpet. So, not much of an improvement from her last bedroom.
"Pick whatever room out of these that you wish, but only out of these rooms. The bathroom is further down this hall, last door on the left. Lunch will be served at exactly noon, and dinner is at 6 p.m. Make sure you show up on time with clean hands and clothes. Clean up after yourself. Be in your room by 10 p.m., no staying up late." With that said, Madam Catherine turned on her heel and walked silently away, her head held high and her back straight.
Yay, rules. I was familiar with those. Every new family I came to usually gave me a whole list of them, so Madam Catherine wasn't really bothering me too much yet. Still, I also usually received an entire list of chores, so not having been given said list was alarming me somewhat. "Clean up after yourself." Was that it? Why was there no, "clean the entire kitchen on Tuesdays," or, "vacuum this house top to bottom,"? My point was, Madam Catherine didn't request me for work. That was unbelievable. So now my curiousity had woken up. She didn't look that thrilled to see me (or was she just really good at hiding it?), so she probably didn't get me because she thinks I'm amazing. So why was I here? Maybe the work list would arrive later.
I peeked my head in through all the empty bedroom doors. They were all basically the same. But one of them was diffferent. Near the end of the hall on the left was a door painted a bright blue color, like the color of the sky. Bright blue. It must have been the most colorful thing in the entire mansion. I tried the door handle, but found it was locked.
"Hey! What are you doing?" A voice accusingly said behind me.
I turned around quickly, not sure what it was that I had done wrong. Then I relaxed slightly when I saw that the voice belonged to a tall, thin teenage boy. He had pale skin and long dark hair like his mother. (At least, I'm assuming that he was Madam Catherine's son. They sure looked alike.) The only difference was that his eyes were a lighter brown.
"I--I'm sorry," I stammered. What, I never stammer!
The boy's features relaxed and an apologetic smile crossed his face. "It's fine. Just--just stay away from that room. Pick a different one. I'm Eli, by the way."
Oh, right. I remembered that Madam Catherine had mentioned that her two sons were Elias and Alex.
"Hi, I'm Rosa. Foster care." I explained.
"Yes, we've been expecting you. But, I thought you'd be older." Eli looked slightly uncomfortable.
"Well how old were you expecting?"
"Like, around 18."
Hmm, I don't look 18? That was insulting. "Well how old are you then?"
"Like, 18." He smiled at her.
"Liar," I responded confidently.
"How did you know?"
"I always do," It was true. I had a knack for making people tell me the truth, "So how old are you really?"
"Sixteen," he admitted. That was more believable.
"And what's wrong with this room?" I pointed to the blue door.
Eli squirmed uncomfortably. "It's nothing," he said softly.
I could have pressed for details, and I could've gotten the answers I wanted, but Eli's expression made me stop. I didn't want to make him more uncomfortable. So I turned away from the blue door, noticing that Eli relaxed visibly.
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