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As I sit here beside these birds, I wonder if they know who I am apart from everyone else. Can they tell the difference? Or am I just another hand that feeds them?
I talk to them often. I Like to think that they listen. If they do, they're wonderful secret keepers, because they never tell anyone else.
I'm only eight years old, but I've seen a lot that the world can do in a short amount of time. Like destroy the home of a family, or like separate a mother and child in an area being evacuated.
But I promised myself I wouldn't feel sorry or guilty, and I wouldn't cry.
`So here I sit in this big city I don't know the name of. I sit here every day, and I get by all right.
Sometimes people stop and ask where my mommy is, and I tell them all I know. Which isn't much, but
it's enough to make them understand why I stay here, in this park with my new friends.
My new friends, these birds. They come every day, some stay all day, some come and go, and I think there's a lot, but I can't count higher than 29. So there's at least 29 birds here.
I have 29 friends, and at the same time, 29 brothers and sisters.
Every single time I tell someone my story of how I got to this big city, and why I don't have a mommy or daddy, they feel sorry for me. I can see it in their eyes. Some sit by me on my special bench and talk with me for a long time, they're the nicer ones. Others stand awkwardly until they think of an excuse to be on their way.
I don't tell people my life story to get food or anything. I only tell them because they ask. I could make it a much better story, with more detail and fancier words, and that would get me more than an apple they were carrying in their bag or whatever change was sitting in their car. But I never think that far.
I never think far enough to go anywhere else, either. I like it here, with my 29 members of my family. We always share our food, even though they fight over it all too much.
One day, a lady came and sat down next to me and she asked me my name. I told her, and I said, “My name used to be Annabelle.” She looked at me funny, like everyone else. So I told her what she wanted to know, which was why I was here, where was my mommy, why wasn't I in school. She listened to every detail about the bombs that raided my town, and how we were forced to evacuate and how I was put in a truck with at least 29 other people and brought here. I didn't let myself cry when I said my mommy wasn't in the truck.
After I finished, I waited patiently for the single tear, and the scrambling to find some change to spare me. But she just kept looking at me, and then she stood up and held out her hand. She said if I took her hand, she would take me to a big house where there were lots of kids without mommies and I would make friends with them, and we would all share a mommy. I asked if there would be more than 29, and she said maybe.
So I took her hand, because I wanted a mommy again, and I didn't want to be a mommy to anyone at eight years old. And then I got to a big house just like she said, and there were less than 29 kids there, so I could count them all. But now that I'm 17 and I'm almost too old to live here, I have to think about my future. And the future I'm going to build for myself.
I don't think about my gone mommy anymore, I just think about how I'm a strong woman and since I was eight, I've built myself a life. And I have a family, and it's the kids at the orphanage. And I'm going to go out into the world and do great things, like help little kids find their own families.