“Please don’t slam the car door, Angelika… I know it’s hard to move from home, but we need to find a family that’s best for you.”
“My mom is best for me! No one understands!”
Leo shook his head.
“Angelika, you can’t live with your mom. I’m sorry,” he said.
“No you’re not sorry. It’s not like anyone cares that my mom is in jail except me!”
“Angelika…” Leo trailed off.
“Don’t call me Angelika,” I snapped.
“Right, Angie,” my caseworker replied.
I couldn’t believe it. My mom was taken to jail and now I have to go live with some foster family.
So right now, I’m stuck with fun-sucker Leo.
“You don’t have to act so excited,” I snapped.
“I think you should, Angelika. Mr. and Mrs.Wilson will probably be glad to meet you,” Leo said.
“I don’t want to stay with some old couple!”
“Angelika, they’re waiting for us. It’s time to get out of the car.”
“STOP CALLING ME ANGELIKA!”
“Angie! I was hoping you’d have a better attitude! The Wilsons are excited to meet you! So mind your manners and please get out of the car!”
I could tell that Leo was getting irritated by the way his mustache was twitching. Leo was really nice most of the time but I didn’t want to get on his bad side.
“Whatever,” I mumbled. I really didn’t want to get out of the car. It was basically the only thing that was protecting me from the Wilsons.
“Why hello!” cried the man coming out from the Wilson’s front door. He had tiny little wrinkles all over in his brown skin and was wearing a long-sleeved plaid shirt with overalls. His hair was black and streaked with grey.
Looks like a grandpa, I thought. Then, a middle aged looking lady came out of the house and stood next to him.
“Wow,” I breathed. She was actually quite beautiful. She was wearing a red long-sleeved shirt with jeans and she had smooth creamy skin with two faint dimples in her cheeks. Her hair was black and draped down to her shoulders. It was straight while it curled at the ends. She must have been cooking, I thought. An apron with a sunflower etched into it hung around her waist. It’s not going to fool me though, I told myself. Just because she’s attractive doesn’t mean she’s nice.
“You came just in time for lunch!” she called happily. “Come in! Come in! You must be hungry!”
“Anita made vegetable soup from our garden!” the man said. Vegetable soup. Yum. I actually was hungry now that I thought of it. Leo looked at me and said,
“Thank you for the invitation,” and led me inside.
“Would you like us to call you Angelika?”asked Anita while we were in the kitchen eating. I ignored her and tried to concentrate on spooning soup into my mouth. There was an awkward silence and the only sound you could hear was the clinking of spoons on the bowls.
“NO,” I told her firmly.
“She only likes to be called Angie,” Leo said.
“Angelika and Angie are both gorgeous names,” replied Anita. There was silence once again.
“I’m eleven years old. How old are you?” I said interrupting it with a smirk.
“Too old, dear,” she said with a sigh. My name is Mrs.Wilson. You can call me Anita or mom if you would like. This is my husband, Mr.Wilson. You can also call him Liam or dad if you want to.”
“No. I already have a mom, thank you very much! And she’ll take me back as soon as the dumb ol’ police officers let her out of jail.” “And for the record,” I added, looking over at Mr.Wilson. “I’m doing perfectly fine without a dad!”
Liam and Anita both looked hurt. But only for a split second of a moment.
“We want you to feel safe here. If you need anything just come to us. We want you to make yourself at home. We’ll take good care of you,” Liam added.
“I’m fine,” I said.
Leo shot me a ‘watch your attitude look’. I sighed. I wished I wasn’t in this mess. If only my mom was with me.
“Once you are finished eating I’ll show you to your room, Angie,” Anita said.
“I’m done,” I announced while I pushed my chair back and got up rudely.
“Very well then,” she said and she too got up from her chair. “Please follow me.”
Anita led us away from the kitchen into the living room. “This is our living room,” she said informally.
The room had a leather sofa and a recliner on one end that looked very comfy. On the other end of the living room was a fireplace with a TV above it. On one side of the room was a shelf full of books with a worn out blue looking rug beneath it. A curtain drawn back from a bright window was stationed above the bookcase. Also, on the other side of the room was a table put against the wall with chairs pushed in around it. A forlorn deck of cards sat on the table looking dusty and untouched.
Maybe some other kids used to live here, I thought. Almost everything made me feel welcome.
“Down here,” continued Anita pointing down a hallway. “Is your room.”
My room, I repeated inside my head. I was a little nervous but I didn’t know why. Maybe it was because this was where I was going to stay for how long? I didn’t know, and I wasn’t going to let Anita and Liam get to me before I left. “Are you okay?” asked Anita.
“I’m fine!” I shouted. “Why wouldn’t I be?”
“You just seem sort of…I don’t know…uneasy,” she replied.
“Well I’m not!” I said angrily. What was her problem?
“Let’s go then,” she said calmly as she guided me down the hall. Then she stopped abruptly at a door in front of us.
“Here we go,” she said and she opened the door. Inside was a bed lying in a corner. The comforter was baby blue; my favorite color.
On top of the blanket lay a soft looking pillow that was pink.
On the opposite side of the room was a wooden dresser. A white paint coated it. A pink and white checkered tablecloth layed on the top.
The drawers had a shiny, solid, gold flower for a knob. To top it all off a round mirror sat above the table. Next to it stood an old TV set.
“This right here is what Liam and I call a junk drawer,” Anita said while she motioned towards a long drawer attached under the bed. “You can fill it up with anything you want.”
“As if I brought anything with me,” I said to Anita.
“You can fill it with the things we have here,” she replied.
“Over here, I’m sure you’ve noticed is the window.” Anita pointed over to a window on the other side of the room. “We’ve only got maroon drapes though,” she said frowning. “If you want, we can go shopping some time. To pick a different color. Maybe a bright yellow or something.”
“No thanks,” I replied sarcastically.
Anita put her hands on her hips, still contemplating the window. She acted as though she didn’t even hear me. That’s what was driving me crazy! She didn’t even react when I insulted her! At the very least she didn’t even notice what I said! She was just so calm!
“Angie, just so you know, me and Liam’s room is right across the hall,” began Anita. “If you want I can show you arou-”
“I’m good, okay?!” I said quickly. The tour was getting boring already and she wasn’t making it any better.
“You’re right,” she said. “Leo is probably ready to leave. You might as well say goodbye.”
I slowly trudged at Anita’s heals into the kitchen. Liam and Leo had just finished up their soup. Leo got up from his chair as it gave an ear piercing screech and said to me,
“Bye, Angelika. I hope you’re happy here. For a heads up, once a month I’ll come to check in on how you’re doing.” Leo slowly put on his fedora.
“Thank you, Anita and Liam,” he said, turning towards them.
Anita looked like she was about to say something but I interrupted her.
“Are you going to leave or what?” I asked Leo rudely.
Leo looked at me and smiled weakly.
“Take care,” he told me.
Then, Leo walked towards the door and placed his hand on the doorknob. I couldn’t see the sunlight flooding in from the stain glass window anymore now that Leo’s body was blocking it. The warmth of the light seemed to fade away and I didn’t want him to leave me here with the Wilsons. A little voice in my head pleaded, “please don’t go! Please…” but a stronger but quieter voice cut the other one off. It said, “I don’t need him…I don’t need anyone.”
“Angie, do you want to help me bake a cake? I’m sending it over to our neighbors. It’s their daughter’s birthday, and they wanted me to bake them a chocolate cake,” said Anita.
It had been not even ten minutes since Leo left, and Anita already wanted to do something with me.
“Anita is the best cake maker in town,” added Liam.
“I don’t know about that,” said Anita, smiling.
“Why would you want to bake a cake, if you don’t get to eat it?” I asked, snottily.
“Because it’s a nice thing to do,” said Anita. “Say,” she continued. “Our neighbors daughter is the same age as you. Her name is Jacqueline. Maybe you guys could be–”
“Oh, no. I know what your thinking,” I interrupted. “you think we could be friends.”
I said the last word slowly. I hated that word. Friends.
For me, the definition of the word friend is: someone that pretends to like you, and then over time rejects you and talks behind your back. Friends are liars. Friends hurt you and they don’t even care.
“Forget it,” I said. “I don’t need friends.”
“Will you still help me?” she asked.
“Count me out,” I said.
Anita and Liam looked at eachother. They were both frowning.
Anita shrugged and smiled again, and Liam walked into the living room. I followed him.
Liam grabbed the remote and sat down on the recliner.
“Whatcha you gonna watch?” I asked. “Some retirement show?” I smirked. Liam ignored what I said.
“Nah. Those shows are boring,” he replied, his eyes still locked on the TV screen.
“Well what are you gonna watch?” I asked.
“House Hunters,” he replied.
“Sounds boring,” I said dully.
Then I walked out of the living room into the bedroom that was now mine.
I layed on the bed and sighed.
I sat up and pulled a small leather bound notebook out of my back pocket on my baggy jeans.
The notebook was the only thing I had brought.
I got it from my mom on my seventh birthday. I clutched the notebook to my heart.
Everything seemed perfect back then.
Just me and my mom.
I shrugged off the memories and came back to reality.
I needed a pencil.
I quietly tiptoed into Anita and Liam’s room.
In their room was a queen size bed placed in the middle of the room. It had white covers with a dandelion design on it. A wooden dresser stood against the wall.
On it was a blue coffee mug with a handful of pencils and pens in it.
I grabbed a sharp yellow pencil and headed back to my room.
I sighed and flopped down on the bed. I grabbed my notebook and flipped through it until I found a blank page.
I gripped the pencil lightly and began to sketch.
I’ve always loved drawing. I’m pretty good at it. So was my mom. We used to draw huge pictures together. I mean huge.
We would draw pictures bigger than my mom. It was super fun.
Like I said, life was perfect.
Until Mom met Luke.
Mom met Luke at a bar and they started dating ever since. I hated Luke.
Luke and Mom started going out late together to the bar. I had to watch after myself and start making dinner for myself. Soon Mom and Luke would go on “trips” together and would be gone for days at a time. Then, they would come back home drunk and tired. Luke moved in and started taking over the house. He would hit Mom and abuse her. He kept convincing Mom to drink more and more. He got her to do drugs and smoke.
Mom and Luke were so drunk that they couldn’t take care of themselves. I had to start feeding them and taking care of them too.
At school when the teachers handed out permission slips, I didn’t even bother asking Mom for her permission. I never bothered to tell her about basketball practice or the science fair. I never mentioned my “A+” on my math test or about how I won the art competition. I asked her for help on my reading test or for advice on my grades. I stopped asking her to draw pictures with me.
She didn’t care.
I squeezed my eyes shut. A hot tear slipped down my cheek.