It was a cold fall day. The leaves were starting to change color, and were gradually falling off the trees. Some leaves would get picked up and carried around, then threw in a whole new place, a whole new environment. Just like my life.
It happened 2 years ago, the accident that altered my life completely. That night it was raining outside. Not just the raindrops that would lightly tap against your windowsill, but the type that was so hard, that it could make dents on the road. Since my parents were both going to be working the night shifts at the hospital tomorrow night, they wanted to have a family dinner. But, the only thing they could cook were the noodles that you would stick in the microwave and 30 seconds later you had dinner. So instead we went out for pizza.
“Dad,” I said, “Are you sure this is a good idea? I mean, look at the rain.” I press my finger against the window. Outside, I could see our neighbors taping the cracks of their doors shut, and people parking their cars in garages. Ten minutes later, we were on our way, driving on slippery, dangerous roads. If I could have, I would have said, “I told you so.”
“We got 3 patients needing emergency treatment. One male and two females. Two of them are adults in their mid forties, and the other is a child-looks around 12.”
5 minutes after the car crash
I sit up, surrounded with blue and red lights; the two front seats covered with broken glass. Two airbags in the front seats were popped. I could see that mine wasn’t there. I am left behind. Finally the medics come back for me. I am placed on a stretcher, and loaded into the ambulance. In there I see both my parents on oxygen, struggling to breath. A thought strikes me hard. I want to take it back. “What if my parents die?” I keep telling myself that it won't happen. I hoped it wouldn’t happen. I was so caught up in my thoughts, I didn’t realize how much pain I was in. My head was throbbing, and my ears were ringing.
That night, a nurse walked into my hospital room, her head down. When she looked up at me, I instantly knew my parents were dead.
For two years now, I’ve been in fourteen different foster homes, all experiences the same. They plaster on a fake smile and say they're so happy to have me. (But they're not). Then I lock myself in my room, and they beg me to come out. They normally get so mad, that they contact my caseworker and I leave.
Today, it was time to go to the fifteenth family. I knew that in two weeks I would be driving away from this place. I sit in the backseat of the car, looking outside the window as we pull away from Mrs. Martin's house, my caseworker from the Child Fostering Agency. The first time she drove me to my new foster parents’ house, she thought she was getting rid of me once and for all. She was wrong.
“Now listen up Teresse,” she says, looking at me as she backs the car out of the driveway, “This is your last chance. I try so hard for you to be happy and in the right home, but all you do is turn me down, us down.” She clears her throat and turns back around so she’s back facing the steering wheel. “Last chance, you got it?”.
“Yes,” I mumble, still not looking up at her.
2 hours later, we arrive at an old house in front of the ocean. It has what looks like gray paint, although, I can’t tell because half of it is chipped off. There are bikes, scooters, and toys laid out across the front lawn.
Mrs. Martin and I get out of the car, trying not to to stumble over the pebbles that make out the driveway.
“Okay, here we are,” Mrs. Martin says, glancing around at the house. We walk up onto the front steps, and I knock on the door.
“Why hello,” says a cheerful, plump woman. There were kids surrounding her huddled up, probably wondering who I was. I was wearing a dress that looked like a picnic basket. It had a square pattern and white sleeves, with buttons on the back. It was a dress from my old home. I hate it.
“Hello,“ Mrs. Martin said, reaching out to shake her hand. “Thank you so much for opening your home up for Teresse. She’s really grateful. Aren’t you Teresse?”
“Um..., yeah, thanks.”
“Oh, don’t mention it,” the lady said, bending down to smile at me.
After discussing money, food and clothes, Mrs. Martin started to look antsy.
“Well, thank you for your time.” she said, glancing at her watch, “Unfortunately, I have to go.” After a couple good buys, Mrs. Martin headed towards her car. As soon as she was out of sight, the lady, pulled me close and said, “My name is Rosa McAllister, and you can call me Nana. Well, that's what all the kids call me,” she said, smiling.”But you don’t have too, I’m fine with anything.” Rosa smiled. She had yellow teeth with lots of cavities and brown, thick hair tied up in a bun. She was wearing an apron.
“Mrs. Martin informed me about your experiences with other foster families. You should know I am not like other foster moms. I will not let you be ignored. I will love you, laugh with you, and we will make memories. Now go get dressed, dinner is in five.” I couldn’t explain the feeling I had inside of my stomach. But I guess it was happiness, for the first time in forever.
I sit on the sand, looking out at the ocean. My arm around Rosa. I have a pink bathing suit on, white stripes covering my shoulders, and my hair is pulled back into a tight bun. Sunscreen is all over my face, and I am smiling. This time, it's a real one.