“I wish I can just run away and never see both of you again,” cried Jim. Jim could not believe what his parents were thinking. Just because he was homeschooled didn’t mean that he needs a companion.
“I like being alone, I am fine,” Jim burst out to his parents trying to fight back.
“Why do you want to adopt a strange kid from the foster home? You will also have to homeschool him, too!” Jim retorted before he stomped up their stairs in tears.
As he recounted the arguments that he had lost, he fell asleep.
* * *
Suddenly the Earth shook violently when Jim was studying in his bedroom. Hours passed and more aftershocks took place but his parents never came home from grocery shopping. Panic started to rise in his throat but Jim shook his head.
“Stop it,” he said out loud.
Mom and Dad are just coming back a bit later. There is probably a lot of traffic because of the earthquake, he thought to himself. But his parents never came back.
Later that evening, the police came and informed him that his parents were among the few who did not make it out of the building before it crumbled. Turning pale and speechless, Jim slowly recovered and contacted his only other living relative that he had. Many emotions washed over Jim in the days ahead. At the funeral, his parents’ friends watched him with pity and concerns towards his future but none offered to take him in.
The reality of Jim’s parents’ death finally sunk in when the landlord of his home was notified. To Jim’s horror, the landlord began to pressure Jim to move. With no choice, Jim and his relative packed the belongings of his parents for the garage sale. Flashes of happy memories rushed into his head when he found the pictures from the family’s vacation two years ago. Jim quickly put the family portrait inside his pocket as tears streamed down uncontrollably. At the garage sale, Jim broke down again when his neighbors purchased his mother’s favorite items. His final hope of a returning to a normal life was shattered when his relative confirmed that she would not be able to take care of him. Jim realized that he would need to go to a foster home.
The following week, the police took Jim to the foster home fifty miles away from San Jose. Throughout the ride, Jim stared at his precious family portrait while bidding his old home and neighborhood good bye. He then turned his thoughts to the Foster Home. Jim recalled the details of Charles Dicken’s Oliver Twist. The orphans had to wear dirty clothes, worked long hours and got in trouble when asking for more food. Jim imagined the life that was waiting for him in shudder and revulsion.
Walking into his new home, Jim noticed something very different from Dicken’s story. The kids were not wearing ragged clothes, far from being skinny and did not look like they had to work for long hours. He was surprised that the building was quite old and the bullies stopped chasing the younger kids when they saw the police. As Jim observed the surrounding of his new home, he saw a young boy with blond hair and blue eyes sitting by the window staring blankly at him. The foster home Director reviewed the papers from the officer.
“Welcome to your new home. You will remain here until you turn eighteen or until you are adopted. John, get over here. This is Jim. Please take him to the empty bunk bed below yours,” the director said without any expression or enthusiasm.
John jumped off the seat by the window and immediately obeyed. Jim noticed the fear in John’s eyes but decided to keep it to himself. Jim and the blond hair boy, John became fast friends. Not only did John introduce Jim to the rest of the occupants in the foster home, he also helped Jim to overcome some of his immediate challenges. Since Jim was homeschooled by his parents, he was not used following rules of the classroom. During the first few days, Jim blurted out answers to the teachers’ questions and was severely punished. Instead of abandoning him to his punishment, John stayed with Jim and kept him company. Moreover, John stood right by his side when the bullies made fun of Jim.
As Jim got to know John better, he realized that they had a lot in common. Both boys were small for their age, did not enjoy playing any sports and most of all, both had lost their parents from tragedy. Slowly, Jim’s sorrows for his loss of his parents lessened and he began to adjust to the daily life in the foster home. However, both of them could not get over the constant bullying by other older kids: their lunches were always eaten by the bullies and they often lost their spots at the lunch table. A few months had gone by and some of the boys’ good friends were adopted. One afternoon, Jim sighed,
“John, I am going to tell you the truth. I am very thankful that I had met you at this foster home but I really don’t feel that I am in the right place,”
John thought of the time before Jim’s arrival. He went through similar torments but without anyone that he could talk to. Poor Jim, he thought and said,
“I know you don’t and I can understand. But unless someone adopts us, we will be stuck here until we are eighteen,” commented John.
“I really miss my parents and their love, I feel so hopeless in this place.”
Both boys became quiet as they were lost in their own thoughts. Ever since he arrived at the foster home, Jim lost hope of having a happy life again. For weeks, he lived in denial that his parents were gone but finally he accepted the fact that he had to move on with his new life alone. Jim decided that he would not escape nor follow the path of Oliver Twist. I am more logical than the boy in the story, thought Jim. As they sat in the porch of the foster home, a middle-aged man approaching the steps caught their attention. He was a nice looking man with rosy red cheeks and brownish-black hair. Along with a friendly face, the man had a kind and tender voice. He introduced himself as Mr. Alex.
Mr. Alex studied the two boys on the front porch with interests. He himself was once an orphan living in this foster home. Looking at the blond boy’s expression reminded Mr. Alex of his old life. Now as a successful businessman, he wanted to adopt a child and change the child’s life. Mr. Alex’s thoughts and memories were cut short by the bullies’ loud footsteps. He quickly asked one of the bullies for the directions to the office but the older bully rudely snorted and continued to run off and play. Jim and John immediately greeted the gentleman politely and led him into the director’s office.
Mr. Alex became a frequent visitor to the foster home for the next few weeks. Each time he came, he chatted with both boys. Jim was grateful for his visits because Mr. Alex gave him a new perspective of growing up as an orphan. John, on the other hand, secretly wished that Mr. Alex could become their teacher in the foster home. It had never occurred to both boys the true reason of Mr. Alex’s visits. A few weeks later, John was shaken with fear when he was called into the director’s office. To his astonishment, Mr. Alex had decided to adopt him. Tears swelled up in his blue eyes. For the first time since he had entered the foster home, John felt truly happy and that his dream of having a family again became true!
Jim was stunned at the announcement of the director. He felt unbelievably happy for John. Knowing that John had always wanted to be a part of a family again, this was an important moment for him. But then suddenly, Jim realized what this meant. He would lose his only close friend and would be once again alone by himself. Jim excused himself, went to the bathroom and burst out crying.
* * *
The pillow was soaked with tears. Jim awoke at the sound of the alarm clock. It took him a moment to realize that his parents were still alive and he was not living in a foster home. Taking a deep breath to forget the sad and hopeless life of an orphan, Jim began to look at his current situation with a new view. Perhaps it may not be so bad to have a companion and learn together, he thought. Happily, he made a decision and ran to his parents’ room to apologize for his behavior and harsh words.