My heart is racing. Feeling as if it is going to burst into millions of little pieces, but I have to get out of this dreadful place. They call it an orphanage. I can feel the stings of the cold rain hitting me in the face. My socks are absorbing all the water out of the little puddles that I am running through. My special toy monkey Jude Wills is dripping water from his fur and he is getting heavier, but I can not let him go. He is the only thing that I care about, he is my only friend. It’s very dark outside, I don’t think they know I am gone. I made it out unheard. I see a bridge up ahead, maybe I can stay under there for the night. The ground is wet and cold, but I am exhausted from all that running.
I feel the warmth burn my face. I had opened my eyes to see a bird sitting in front of me. My day is already better than all the days before. I tried telling Mrs. Duncan I wasn’t happy there and I wanted to leave. She told me I was only eight years old and I was too young. She said a nice family would come along, but it has already been two years there and no show. I decided she was wrong and eight years old is old enough. Now here I am. It is a beautiful day out today. Cars are covering the roads, people are walking in big crowds all over the place, and no one questions who I am, why I am alone, or where my parents are. If they did, well, I would have to tell them I don’t have any and I never had any; I can’t lie. But nobody seems to notice I was there. That is a good thing, I don’t want to go back to the orphanage. I don’t belong there. I should be part of the big city I live in.
My tummy is growling; I think it is about lunch time. I see a restaurant across the street, I guess I'll have to eat there. Well, the door is locked and the lights are shut off. Maybe they are closed today. I don’t see any other places to eat. It looks like there is a little patch of woods behind this place. Maybe I can find berries, fruit is my favorite. Ouch! I think I kicked a rock. That did not feel good on my toes. Oh no! That wasn’t a rock. It’s an old man sleeping. He looks very nice in his suit and tie. He must of fell asleep out here last night. He is pretty cold, I was cold last night too from all the rain. “Come on Mr, wake up.” Well shaking and shouting isn’t working. I don’t want to leave him out here. I should go find someone to help me get him out of here He is very pale. Maybe he got so cold from the rain last night made him sick.
I am almost back to the restaurant and I think someone is unlocking the door.
“Hey! Mrs. I need your help.”
She dropped her keys and ran towards me immediately. “What is it dear, are you alright?” she asked as she looked at me with concern.
“Yes ma'am, I just need your help waking up this old man, I think he is sick.”
“Where is he at? Is he your grandpa?” she asked me sounding confused.
“No ma’am. I don’t know who he is. I just found him.”
She replied, “Where is your family at, dear?” as she is looking around me as if she is hoping to see someone.
“I don’t have one. I was looking for berries to eat for lunch in the woods back there and I found him laying there sleeping. He is very pale. I think he slept out here last night. I did too, but under a bridge. It was very cold last night. I think the cold made him sick, and now he is too tired to wake up, but he needs to so he can be warm and feel better.”
“Okay dear, let me call the police so they can come here and help us get to him and get him feeling better faster.”
“ You are a very brave young kid”, said the police officer.
“I am very proud of you for finding someone to help the man out, but I am afraid we are too late to help him,” he told me.
“Was he murdered? That is what happened to my parents when I was too little to remember.”
The officer replied, “Yes, that is what happened. I am sorry to hear about your parents.”
“That is okay officer, like I said, I don’t remember.”
“Where are you living at now? Also, what is your name?” He asked me with concern like the girl did when she asked about my family.
“Amelea, and last night I was under the bridge across the road over there.”
“Well, Amela, we can’t have you sleeping under bridges. Do you have any family you can stay with?”
“I don’t want to lie to you, so no. I don’t have any family at all.”
He told me,“We will figure something out for you, I promise. Have you ever heard of an orphanage?”
“NO! Please don’t take me back.”
“Have you been there before?” he replied.
“Yes, and I hated it. I wasn’t happy. That is why I ran away last night.”
“Well, we need to find you a safe place to stay, but we also need to make sure you will be happy there. Let’s talk about some ideas over lunch.” he said to me sternly.
“Hey, ma’am, what is your name?”
The girl that had helped me with the old man replied, “Candice.”
“Candice, can we eat lunch here at your restaurant, I am starving.”
“Of course dear, what would you like to eat?” Candice replied.
“Do you have stuff to make pancakes? Oh, and fruit to put on top with some whip cream?”
Candice replied, “I’ll see what I can do for you Amelea, and for you officer?”
“I think pancakes with fruit and whip cream sounds wonderful,” replied the cop. “Amelea, what is your ideal dream home?” asked the cop.
“Well sir, I want a family. Not just a mom and dad though, I would like to have a baby sister or brother. You see, I am not very good at making friends; Jude Wills here is my only friend I have. That is why is he so special to me and why I ran away. Mrs. Duncan was very kind, but I don’t belong there.”
“I understand, I didn’t have very many friends when I was a kid. I have a younger brother that was my friend. It was just us two, facing the world together,” the cop said to me.
“That sounds fun! That is what my dream life is.”
Candice came up to the table, brought us our food and asked, “Hey, may I speak with you privately for a minute Officer Daniels? Are you okay sitting here by yourself for a second Amelea?”
“Why of course, Candice,” Daniels and I both replied at the same time, then giggled afterwards.
“It has been like twenty minutes. I thought you said you guys were only going to be gone for a few seconds. I have already finished my plate.”
“We are sorry to keep you waiting on us,” replied Candice.
“So do you want me to tell her the news or do you want to tell her?” Daniels asked Candice.
Candice went on to say, “I think I will. Amelea, how would you feel about living with me? It doesn’t have to be permanent. You can stay as long as you like, and if you feel uncomfortable and want to leave tell me, and we can call Daniels and he will figure something out for you,”
I am frozen right now. I am excited, does she really want me to come stay with her? This is the best day of my life. I can come here and help her and eat all the pancakes I want. I better respond. What do I say?
“Do you have any kids of your own?”
“ Yes, I have a four-year-old son and a six-year-old daughter,” Candice replied.
“Yes! I would absolutely love to stay with you. Can I come home with you today?”
“Yes, you can,” she said very sweetly.
I can’t wait to see her house and meet her kids. Maybe they will want to be my friends. I am scared to go back and see Mrs. Duncan while I pick up my things. What if she hates me now? What if she is mad at me? Well, I guess am I going to find out, we are here. I don’t want to look at her so I guess I'll just stare at my feet.
“Hi, Mrs. Duncan, I am here to get my clothes and shoes so I can go home with Candice tonight. I won’t be coming back.”
“I heard, that is wonderful news dear, I am very happy for you. You scared me when I couldn’t find you anywhere; I have been searching everywhere for you. I was so relieved when I got the call from Officer Daniels telling me you were safe and the brave thing you did.” replied Mrs. Duncan.
“So you are now mad at me?
“Of course not dear, I am just happy you are okay and found a wonderful family. I will miss you,” Mrs. Duncan said very sweetly.
“Here is your new room and bed, I hope you like it.” Candace said as she showed me.
“It is beautiful I love it!”
“Get your stuff put away and when you get comfortable come down for dinner,” Candice replied.
“I just want to go to bed; I am tired. Do you mind?”
“No, not at all dear, I hope you rest well and I'll see you in the morning,” Candice replied. Well, she had left the room I guess I'll get changed now and lay down. It is very dark, I think I will turn on the lamp. I don’t understand, I was very tired, now I can’t sleep. I had a very eventful day, I should be able to sleep now. I have everything I ever wanted. My day started off kind of scary though. I don’t like the thought of the pale old man just lying there dead. Who would do something like that? Maybe it was the same person that murdered my family when I was a baby. Did the old man do something wrong? Was that his punishment? If so that is a pretty cruel punishment.
It’s morning already? Oh, wow, I didn’t sleep at all last night. I will try again tonight. I should definitely be able to sleep after going a whole day of being awake. “Good morning Amelea,” Candice and her kids are shouting at me.
“Good morning everyone.”
“Did you sleep okay?” Candice asked me.
“Yes, I slept very good. What are we doing today?”
“We are all going to go to the restaurant and cook lunch for everyone that wants to come in and eat. After lunch you three are going to the babysitters and hanging out with her until I get done with dinner.” I also think the babysitter will be taking you to the park and possibly to get ice cream. When we all get back home we are going to eat dinner and watch movies,” Candice replied.
“Sounds wonderful to me. I can’t wait.”
It is day number four here and still no sleep. I can’t help but stay up wondering who the old man was that I found and why I found him. I feel like a zombie. I don’t want to tell Candice I haven’t been able to sleep. I like it here, I really do. I don’t want her to think I don’t and send me back to the orphanage. I have become really good friends with my new brother and sister. I think Candice is starting to catch on that I haven't been sleeping. Earlier today she asked if I felt okay. She told me I looked like I haven’t slept in weeks and I could take a nap if I wanted to. I told her no, I felt perfectly fine. She looked like she didn’t believe me, but she said okay. She also said she wants to talk to me tonight before I go to bed.
“Amelea, can I come in, dear?” Candice asked and she knocked on my door and slowly opened it. “Yes, and I need to tell you something. I lied to you earlier. I am not sick, but I havn’t been able to sleep at all. It’s not you or the house. I love it here. I have become really good friends with your kids and I am happy here. I just can’t quit thinking about the old man I found.”
Candice sadly said, “I am sorry. I want you to come to me about things like this so I can get you help. I know that is a scary thing to experience. Is there anyway I can help you?”
“I don’t think so, but maybe Officer Daniels can. Do you think you could call him and see if he will come see me so I can ask a few questions?”
Candice replied, “Of course let me go give him a call.”
Daniels knocks on my door and asks to come in. I tell him yes. He asks me if I feel okay, if I am happy to be living with Candice, and if I have made friends with my new siblings. I told him I loved it here, but I had trouble sleeping because all I could think about was the old man. He told me he has been wanting to talk to me about that. They found out who he was and why he was in the woods. He had a big long story. From what I understand the old man's name was Bruce Wills. He has the same last name as my best friend Jude. Daniels also said he gave me Jude. The old man had lost his family a long time ago; he was on his own. He would bring toys to different orphanages for little kids, and that is how I ended up with Jude. Daniels also said he thinks Bruce Wills was murdered because someone was trying to rob him while he was on the way to the orphanage. He likes to cut through the woods to get away from the big crowds.
It has been a few days since Daniels told me about who the old man was. I have been able to sleep every night now and I have finally got my dream home and family.
The Escape to a Better Life
November 2, 2017