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The hot sun was burning me, and I still had hours and hours of more work to do. I looked at my hands to see that they were bleeding and blistered from swinging my axe. But I kept on chopping wood, hoping I could get a meal out of my day’s labor.

 “Fifty-Two, you get a water break!” I heard Solomon Jackson yell at me. Mr. Jackson was the owner of the home for orphans that I lived in, and the home I lived in was quite different than any other orphans’ home. When you get into this home for orphans you get a new name, which was a number. I am number Fifty-Two.

 I then dropped my axe and walked over to Mr. Jackson, hoping he would praise me with food for working so hard. “Well what are you waiting for, boy? Drink up!” Mr. Jackson yelled at me. I put my hands into the water barrel and brought the water up to my mouth. The water was warm from sitting out in the hot sun, but it was still refreshing. I had had about five drinks when Mr. Jackson told me to stop. “Now get back to work, Fifty-Two,” Mr. Jackson told me harshly.

 I went walking over to where my axe was. My aching feet were started to bleed as I walked over rocks and dirt, but I started to chop more wood.

 I mostly chopped wood at this home for orphans’. The wood that I chopped would be sold, used to build, or used to make fires in the winter.

I continued to chop wood; it got dark and Mr. Jackson had gone inside of the house leaving me outside. I was scared that he had forgotten me like he has forgotten me many times before. Hours and hours past, I could hear wolves howling in the distance. Now I knew that Mr. Jackson had forgotten me yet again.

 “Get up, hurry!”

 I opened my eyes to see who was standing over me, it was Lizzy. But Mr. Jackson called her Eighty-Nine.

“Come on Mathew, get up and keep on chopping before Jackson gets here!” Lizzy yelled at me, I looked around and realized I had fell asleep chopping wood; I quickly got off of the ground and started to chop wood again.

 “Thank you for waking me,” I told Lizzy.

 “No problem. Sorry but I need to go and work in the field. Bye Mathew,” Lizzy replied. Her curly red hair was shining in the sun as she walked away.

 I had butterflies in my stomach whenever I talked to Lizzy; she was very pretty and very sweet.

 Then I saw Mr. Jackson walk out onto the yard. “Fifty-Two, keep chopping until I come and call you inside,” he told me, acting like he hadn’t forgotten about me last night.

 I started to chop wood very slowly because my hands were hurting so bad. I ripped off two pieces from my shirt, and then I wrapped the pieces of dirty cloth around my hands.

 “Hey Fifty-Two, Sixty-Three is going to take over for now, come inside and you can have some bread and meat!” Mr. Jackson yelled through the window of the house. I finally felt like he was giving me something for all of my work. Most of the other kids didn’t get meat…. Mr. Jackson says it would make us spoiled, but now I get some!

 I walked up the little wooden steps and entered the home. There were only four rooms in the home. There was one big room for all of the kids to sleep in, one fairly sized room for Mr. Jackson, one medium room for everyone to bath and shower in, and the last room was a very big rectangle room for everyone to cook and eat.

 I walked through the dusty old room for the orphans’ to sleep in. Then I made my way over to the cooking and dining room. There were two old ovens against the wooden wall; there were chests and a white fridge that held the food. I walked over to a table where I saw a little plate with a piece of white bread and chicken on it. I sat down at the table and started to eat. The bread was quite stale, and the chicken was cold and a little undercooked, but it was still very satisfying since I never got chicken.

 As I was finishing eating my stale bread and chicken, I heard a girl scream. It sounded like Lizzy so I ran out back to see if she was okay. The bright sun blinded me for a second when I ran outside; when I could see again I saw Lizzy was on the ground screaming and crying, and Mr. Jackson was standing over her hitting her with a switch. I felt a surge of anger come over me. I usually didn’t interfere with Mr. Jackson’s punishments, but I couldn’t let him beat Lizzy!

 So I ran and knocked Mr. Jackson to the ground, he then threw me off of him then he started to beat me with the switch. Dirt and dust was getting into my eyes as I was on the ground looking up at Mr. Jackson’s red face. I got many slashes on my leg, and I got a couple hard slashes on my face. I had always had a very big pain tolerance, but I won’t lie, I started to cry just like Lizzy had. After Mr. Jackson was done whipping me, he looked at me and saw that I was crying, he laughed at me, then he told me to go stay in my room. While I was walking past him he whipped me one last time on the back of my legs.

 I entered my room then I got into bed. The beds were made out of white plastic. We didn’t get a good blanket to sleep with, we just got a dirty ripped up white sheet each. I put the white sheet over me and stared at the broken ceiling fan above me, it was missing a blade.

A couple hours later I fell asleep… then I awoke, it was probably around midnight. I couldn’t go back to sleep. So I lay in my bed, thinking. I started to imagine me being a knight, and Lizzy being a princess. I imagined an evil scary dragon was going to kill Lizzy. But I killed the dragon with my sword and won Lizzy’s heart.

 After a little while of my lying in bed thinking, I heard someone cry; it sounded like it was coming from out back. So I walked as quietly as I could. I made my way outback…. and I saw Forty-One and Twenty-Three; they were the bullies in the home for orphans. I saw the bullies messing with a new orphan that had just got here two days ago; the bullies were beating him up.

“Hey, just leave him alone,” I told them.

 “Shut up Fifty-Two, we are just roughing the newbie up a little,” Forty-One said, laughing.

“Go back in the house and go to sleep, dirt bag,” Twenty-Three told me.

 I wanted to help the poor boy, but I didn’t want to get beaten up. So I went back inside of the house, and I lay in my bed. Hearing the poor boy cry out in pain. But eventually I blocked out the noise, and I fell asleep.

 The next morning I got up early. All of the orphans usually got up at five in the morning, but I got up at four. Mr. Jackson usually got up around seven or eight.

First I went into the kitchen and ate an apple for breakfast, like I usually did for every morning. I then went outside, it was still dark. I gathered the chicken eggs and put them in the kitchen. I went back outside and grabbed my axe, and then I started to chop some wood. We always went through wood very fast; since we sold the wood to a bunch of people, built things, and we put most of it into the shed for winter.

A while later Lizzy came outside. “Hey Mathew, thanks for trying to save me yesterday,” Lizzy said.

 I paused looking at her; I thought her curly hair was extra pretty this morning.

“No p-problem Lizzy,” I told her, still staring at a pretty curl over her pale face.

“Okay well, I got to go and work in the field…. the weeds are growing up,” Lizzy groaned, walking toward the field.

“Bye, Lizzy.”

 I kept on chopping wood until Mr. Jackson came outside.

 “Fifty-Two, come up into the house and get cleaned up, some people are coming over to pick out one of you kids to adopt,” Mr. Jackson said. My heart was racing with joy. I was so happy that there would be a chance that I would be able to leave this horrid place.

 “Thank you, sir! But what about Lizzy or, I mean, what about Eighty-Nine?” I asked Mr. Jackson, wondering why she would be going to work in the field instead of getting cleaned up and maybe adopted.

 “Eighty-Nine was real sassy to me today, so she will not even have a chance of getting adopted until she learns how to hold her tongue,” he replied.

 I felt bad for Lizzy, but I did not think anything else of it.

I went up to the house and walked into the kitchen. When no one was looking I grabbed a tomato and ate it. After I was done I went into the bathrooms. I looked into the mirror at myself; there was a big piece of mud in my dark brown hair. I suddenly felt so embarrassed I was in front of Lizzy like that. I took a cold shower, we never got hot water. I put clean clothes on, which was a pair of jeans and a plaid shirt I buttoned all the way to the top. I also combed my hair, making a straight part in my hair with the comb.

I walked through the dusty orphanage, and then I went and lined up on the front porch with the other kids. I could see Lizzy out in the distance. I felt so bad she had to be working in the field right now.

 “Now you kids know the rules. Don’t tell anyone about your labor or how much you get fed, and if someone asks about your injuries just tell them you were climbing a tree and fell or something! Oh, and don’t tell people that your names are numbers. Just make up a new name. They’re here!” Mr. Jackson said, fixing his black tie and standing very straight with a big nice smile on his face.

 I saw a blue car pull up, and then I saw a couple walk up to the porch. There was a red headed woman with a huge smile on her face. She was wearing a very ugly dress with cherries printed onto it. There was also a man with light blonde hair who looked quite grumpy, and he was wearing an old suit and a bright red tie. I still very much hoped they would choose to adopt me.

 “Well hello children. You look like some nice boys and girls!” the cheery woman said.

“Yes mam, they are all very bright and smart kids.  You may ask them any questions you would like!” Mr. Jackson replied.

Then the woman and her husband started to ask questions to the other kids. Then they started to ask me a couple questions.

 “What is your name?” he asked.

 “My name is Mathew, and I’m eleven years old. If you adopt me I promise I would be good!” I said hopefully.

“Oh, well I bet you would be a good boy Mathew! What do you like to do?” she asked me; I didn’t really know what I liked to do, I never got to do anything that I liked.

“Um… I like to chop wood….” I said, then I saw Mr. Jackson give me a look, so then I knew that I had said the wrong answer. “I really like art!” I exclaimed, trying to come up with something a normal boy may like.

“Oh well we like art too!” the woman laughed.

 Then she and her husband were ready to tell us their decision. “We think that Mathew here would be perfect!” the woman smiled, hugging me tightly. I was so happy! I would be able to leave this place! After the couple filled out some paperwork, they started to walk me to their nice blue car. I turned around and looked at Mr. Jackson, I waved goodbye to him and smirked. I got into the backseat of the nice car and I felt so happy. I had arrived at that horrid orphan home ten years ago, and now when I am eleven years old I finally get adopted.

 “So, I would just like to say that my name is June Pricket and this is Allan Pricket, and now you are Mathew Pricket!” June told me, in a very cheery voice. I didn’t really like the name Pricket, but I didn’t want to be selfish. One thing I noticed is Allan didn’t talk much, but I usually didn’t either.

We arrived at my new home. I was quite surprised to find at least six young kids on the front porch playing jump-rope. They must be my new sisters and brothers. I have never been good with young kids.

 As I was walking into the house I saw one of the kids stick their tongue out at me, but I didn’t find it too annoying. When I walked in I was happier, the house was huge, it wasn’t very clean and tidy but it was way better than the orphan home.

I could see the living room from the doorway; it had a huge TV on the wall! The floor was dark wood, and the wallpaper was faded green.

 June walked me upstairs, and I got my own room! The room had a bed, dresser, closet and a big toy train set! The walls were eggshell paint which I thought was quite plain, but it was still wonderful!

The only thing I truly missed back at the orphan home was Lizzy. I missed her smile, her curly hair, and her sweet voice. I will probably never see her again.

After a couple days went on I realized that the family definitely wasn’t perfect. They argued and bickered at each other, but I didn’t mind at all. I would actually bicker at my new sisters and brothers too!

 One rainy morning Allan and June left the house, they didn’t say why though. A few hours later they walked in, with Lizzy! I ran and hugged Lizzy; we were both crying tears of joy.

 “I’m guessing you know this little girl,” Allan smiled.

“Yes, she is my best friend! What made you adopt her?” I asked. The Pricket family had so many kids; I didn’t understand why they would want two more.

 “We love kids, and we know your orphan home is a bad place. Police arrived this morning and arrested Mr. Jackson for child abuse and kidnapping. When we saw Lizzy we thought she was a wonderful girl, so we adopted her!” June smiled.

Lizzy and I stayed best friends, even if we were brother and sister. My feelings for Lizzy changed. I was still protective over her, but now I didn’t really have a crush on her; she was my younger sister now.

Police questioned Mr. Jackson. He confessed to many bad things he did. It turns out I hadn’t been an orphan after all; I had been taken by Mr. Jackson when I was one. My birth parents are out in the world somewhere….. I will go looking for them one day, but for now, I definitely have a home at last.


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