Up the Faded Brick Path

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I stood silently in front of the old, dingy, probably-never-been-washed dump of a building. The windows were cracked and covered in grime, the brick walkway was torn up by the green stalks of weeds, and the door bore what looked suspiciously like bullet holes. What the hell was I doing here?

Susan, my social worker, finished paying the cab driver and came to stand next to me. She smiled her signature wide-lipped smile and gestured toward the front walk, excitement oozing out of her. Once I might have shared in that excitement, but now I was older and knew that there was a difference between moving between houses likes other kids and moving between lives.

So who was it now?, I wondered. Who thought my plight pitiful enough to take me in for a few months? Because that was as long as I lasted, usually. Despite Susan's perpetual 'this is your new home!' attitude, I knew it was no more my home than the hotel she was staying in for the night was hers.

"This, Rachel, is the house of a very nice lady named Mrs. Lotts. She's very excited to see you!" Susan smiled encouragingly down at me, hoping for some sort of response. But I had zoned out; I'd heard this speech too many times to be fooled by the glistening veneer Susan was trying to put on my new life. Susan's smile faltered a little bit and she delved hastily in her bag to cover it. After a few seconds she reemerged with a fistful of papers. My mouth set in a scowl and I started up the faded bricks of the front walkway.

Despite my reassurances that this house held nothing for me, I began to feel a bit nervous. Suppose this house was finally it? What if there really was a nice, charming, motherly lady waiting for me behind that door- one that could be my mom?

No, I thought vehemently, the loyalty to the mother I never knew rising to the surface. She can never be my mother. She's only a replacement, until...until...

I was supposed to think, until my mother comes to get me. but i was fifteen now, and I doubted that if my mom didn't want me for the first fifteen years of my childhood, she'd want me for the last three. I doubted I'd even recognize her is she did decide to release me from the perpetual prison of fostercare I was in.

With a mental shove I cleared my head of thoughts of the mysterious woman who'd dumped me on the front steps of the foster agency all those years ago and turned back to the house. i'd reached the worn concrete steps and climbed them gingerly, trying to imagine myself doing so a hundred more times over the next few months. The door rose up to greet me and I stopped still, all my nervousness crashing back down upon me. What if she didn't like me? What if she made Susan turn right back around and take me back?

I fidgeted uncomfortably as Susan reached the faded wood of the front porch and gave me another one of her toothy smiles. She looks so out of place here, I thought, noticing the sharp contrast between her bright red suit and the tired glory of the front porch. somehow that made me feel better; I had never liked Susan very much.

Susan stepped distastefully around a pot of wilting daisies and came to stand next to me. "Are you ready, dear?" she asked absently, her eyes on the papers in her hands. Without receiving my answer, she reached out and pushed the doorbell.

A deep, reverberating DING-DONG seemed to echo through my very soul. Before the sound was finished I heard the pit-pat of tiny feet and the door swung open.

Standing in front of me was a stout, plump lady, the kind you'd think of as a fairy godmother or something. She was curly brown that was more out of her bun than in, and her face was flushed a rosy pink color. Covering her was a ruffled, cherry-dotted apron that bore the marks of whatever delicious treat I was smelling wafting down the hall. I decided I liked her at once.

Mrs. Lotts smiled. It was a pretty smile that lit up her entire face and made her eyes dance; I was smiling before I could check myself.

"Hello!" She said brightly. "Hello! Welcome, Rachel, welcome to your new home!"

My smile still on my face, I stepped inside a bright hallway. Mrs. Lotts gestured for Susan to come inside, too, but she protested.

"I really must be going, Mrs. Lotts, if you'll just sign here..." She handed a piece of paper and a pen through the doorway. Mrs. Lotts clucked her tongue disapprovingly.

"No guest of mine is going to leave without tasting my signature cherry turnover!" she exclaimed, ignoring the offered paper and turning to me. "Miss Susan, why is this girl so thin? Didn't they feel her at all before she came here?"

Susan, who was standing uncomfortably next to a coatrack, smiled halfheartedly at her. Before this, she'd never bothered to say more than Hi, Bye, and Thanks for your troubles to my foster parents. I had the feeling she wasn't too excited about Mrs. Lotts' hospitality, and my mood went up considerably.

"Mrs. Lotts," I asked hesitantly, "Can you tell me-"

"Mrs. Lotts!" exclaimed the lady in question. "Heavens, Rachel, if you're going to be living here with me, Mrs. Lotts just won't do. Can you possibly call me 'mom'?"

She bent over to look into my eyes. I was frozen. I wanted to shout, I have a mom of my own, thank you very much, and you aren't her! But for some reason the words died on my tongue and when I looked back into Mrs. Lotts' cheery blue eyes a smile grew on my face and all I could say was, "Of course, Mrs. Lo-mom."

Mrs. Lotts smiled back at me and opened her arms up and before I knew it was was folded in her embrace, smelling the scents of vanilla and lavender-the scents of home.





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