Yesterday, I told you my exciting news about my book to be published and on shelves soon. I also promised a short excerpt from the book. This is the point in which the protagonist, Mike, meets his new foster family and begins to question where he fits in.
I’m nine. He’s in fourth, I’m in second. His teacher, Mrs. Sheryl, says he’s
smart enough to know when to be quiet” answered Willie, who answered for
Frankie from habit.
laughed Max and Willie simultaneously.
ready,” called Molly from the door.
Fish gravy and French fries,” yelled Willie as he raced back into the small
blue and white frame house.
rest of the family waited to begin serving plates. Molly quickly placed a
large, black-iron pot of catfish sauce piquante in the center of
an oak table built of wide rough-hewn planks sanded smooth and waxed to a rich
honey-color; she surrounded the pot with bowls of white rice and sliced cucumbers
and a platter of fries. Chairs and two benches lined the sides of the table,
giving the setting a homey, picnic-like feel. Photos of the children hung on
the wall just above the table, which was pushed in toward the wall when not in
use. Mixed in with the photos were drawings from some of the kids, crosses, and
a plaque with the phrase, “The world so fierce cannot harm family.” Quickly the
children found their places and sat down. As the noise settled, Molly invited Mike
to sit on one end of the bench closer to the wall and asked Max to say a
blessing. Then the chatter picked up again as introductions were made and each
child told Mike a little about himself and shared something about his day with
the rest of the family. Nikki spoke apprehensively, twisting her fingers on her
lap as she spoke to the young man. For some reason—perhaps it was the dark eyes
that seemed to stare through her—he frightened her.
them about himself, but Bud had already filled them in when the family discussed
his coming. As he spoke, Mike thought of his real story, not the watered-down
version that he had practiced for the last couple of days. His parents were just
in the tenth grade when he was born and, at first, he was to live with Meme until
they could graduate and get on their feet. They never managed either, quitting
school as soon as they were old enough to do so. Drugs and alcohol were a constant in their
lives. They could not hold down jobs, and the split came as no surprise to
anyone but Mike. Though Josie had come to get him several times, those times did
not last more than a few weeks or months. Her using and her boyfriends always seemed
to be more important. Finally—and it ended this way every time—she gave up, chose
her life and brought him back to Meme. Back and forth this way, never attending
school when he was with Josie, never knowing when or what he would eat, never
truly safe, he became a shell of a boy. Then, just as easily and without reason,
Josie returned to Meme’s small house for a visit. Always she left a few days later
without telling either Meme or Mike goodbye or where she was headed.
He and Meme
had not heard from Josie in years, and he assumed she was never coming back. Meme
had died two years ago. He was in LTI when she died and that was it. He ended the
introduction by noting that now he had only a month to answer to the State. He’d
be 18 and on his own. He planned to make his own life.
last bit of information Bud and Molly looked at each other. Keeping him in school
until graduation would be difficult. The state would allow him to remain in their
home beyond his birthday, provided he stayed in school and worked toward his diploma.
Their goal was to do exactly that—keep him in school even though it meant he
may have another year to go. They knew, however, that earning his diploma would
mean a lifetime of difference in his ability to find work and earn a decent
prompted the kids sitting around the table, “The world so fierce…”
harm family,” they responded in unison.
kinda corny, but we say it for each other, Mike. It’s just a line from a poem.
It means we make our own family,” Shane explained.
“Yeah. We pick
our destin,” Max added.
But that’s only one word. We choose each other and we choose to find joy in
each other. It’s kinda hard to put into words, but you’ll see. We’re brothers
and sisters. Just like in other families, cause that’s what we choose,” Trish summed
way of knowing that we have each other. When other people look at us like we’re
“Or call us
“the Orphans,” Trish chimed in.
whatever else they want to say. It doesn’t matter because at the end of the day,
we’re all sitting here just like a normal family and we know we can count on
each other.” Shane summed up.
we don’t hurt each other, right, Bud-wiser?” Willie had taken to calling Bud
numerous silly nicknames. It had become something of challenge to create new names,
but this was his favorite so far.