“An Orphan’s Wish”

October 26, 2010
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My name, not really sure. I have been called Sue, Jane, Liz, Her, You there, but I like to say my name is Emma. I live in a cold house full with hundreds of cots side by side, each filled with other children like me. The adults call us orphans, but to tell you the truth, I have no idea what that means. I’m a twelve years of age, and my best friend, Anne, is also. She’s got the cot beside mine so we have been friends for a long time. We stay up when the other children are asleep and play adventurers. It’s October 10th, Weathers starting to change to fall and the leaves are falling from the trees. We only see the outside a few times a month when we would go on field trips, so Anne and I enjoy every moment of it. The Public Park and Church are the most visited sites. Anne pretends to be a rock climber as she climbs to the top of the big apple that sets center of the park, where she meets me, an evil pirate coming to find the treasure hidden at the top. Ms. Sue Ellen, the bus driver says the giant apple is the symbol of our home, New York, and that it’s disrespectful for us “orphans” to be near it. I really hate that word and wish people would stop calling me it.

My plan for the rest of my life is to get out of this pale, duel, scary place and travel the world and find the ideal parents. I want to see the Statue of Liberty, the Rocky Mountains, The Grand Canyon, and maybe even the Eiffel Tower, making long lost memories I couldn’t have with my our parents. My friend Noël, three cots down from mine, is from France. He’s even trying to teach me French words. I’m not very good at speaking; he chuckles when I say bonjour through my nose, trying to imitate him as best as I can. He applies “You silly Americans and your jokes crack me up.” But I really don’t understand since I didn’t say a joke.

I’m the smartest child in my class. We have one lesson a week, or sometimes two, over different subjects. It’s only a few hours long, and then they give us a packet of papers and leave. We never see that certain teacher again. There was one teacher who would visit once a month, Ms.Cindy. She was our music teacher and I adored her greatly. She made learning about music joyful and brought a smile to every child’s face. Showing music from all around the world was what inspired me to travel. She was very young and you could tell she didn’t inspire to stay in this little town much longer. The day she left to bigger and better places was a very depressing day, and we would miss her dearly.

Today’s Wednesday, also known as the day adults come in and take a few of us away. We don’t know where they go though. Some say they are being taken to another building similar to the one we live in, others say they are going to the hospital because they were sick and weren’t going to get to live outside anymore. It frightens to think of where they went, and knowing I’ll probably never see my friends again. Ever since the rumors of the children being taken away to child prisons started, Anne and I hide from the adults, sometimes in the bathrooms but when that fails we offer to help the cooks. Sweet, little old ladies come in and fix our three meals a day. They aren’t very tasty but we don’t complain.
One day, Mr. Hamm, the man in charge of the house hold, who occasionally visits, wearing a black suit and red tie, brought this happy couple into the kitchen while Anne and I was cooking, they looked at us and smiled. We were nervous and didn’t know if we should run, or try to hide. The cooks winked at us and asked us to continue helping with the sandwiches. The couple comes over and introduces themselves. The woman’s name was Madison and the man’s name was Daniel. They looked very young and very much in love. They begin to talk to both of us and asked questions. They seemed very fond of Anne. She loves dancing and drawing, and Madison is an arts and humanities teacher. It was good to see my best friend happy but I was still wondering what they were wanting. They wave goodbye and say we’ll see you around.
I’ve always imagined my parents were as happy as the happy couple before they were killed in the car accident, a few years after I was born. I don’t remember much, other than what the adults say around here, in this depressing place I call home. Mr. Hamm took me to his office last year and he had a yellow envelope in his hand. He opened it up and it had pictures of this family and some papers. He told me the woman’s name was Emma-Marie, the man’s name was George, and the baby was me. He went on to tell me about what happened to my parents and that’s how I come to live here in, Hamm’s Home for Children. He let me keep the picture that to this day remains under my pillow. Once in a while I’m able to fall asleep and see my mom and dad, while they talk to me, a tear rolls down my mother’s face, they say they love and miss me and then disappear.

Weeks have gone by since the couple visited and I’ve began to notice a change in Anne. She doesn’t seem the same, very quiet and kept to herself. She doesn’t even want to play adventurers with me anymore. It’s been a pretty depressing place here since so many children have left. Teachers have begun to come only once every few months, and I haven’t seen Ms.Cindy in weeks and we only have two cooks, the others don’t come anymore. There’s no more field trips, we just stay around the home and mope around like zombies. But I still had my best friend, no matter how upset she is, I know things will turn around for us.

It’s Christmas! It’s the coldest time in the home, since we only have one small heater that rests in the far back, but such a loving time that we don’t even notice how cold it is. I’m excited to see what Santa is going to bring me. Mr. Hamm explained to the children that since they aren’t sure when our exact birthdays are for each child, that Christmas would be when we celebrated the Birth of Christ, our savior, and our own birthdays. We each got a toy from under the narrow, pitiful looking tree that fell over countless times and a cupcake with a candle. Each of us was to make a wish. I already knew Anne would wish for the happy couple to come back and take her, and Noël will wish to go back to France, but me, I don’t know what to wish for. “You only get one wish”, Mr. Hamm kept repeating behinds us. My friends wish to leave me, but I would do anything to keep us together.
Their wishes came true, they are all gone. Adults flew in days after Christmas taking every child that was there, except for me. Mr. Hamm closed down the home and has sent me back and forth to any home that had room for me. I have never been so depressed; I barely stay long enough to get the confidence to speak to other children. Noël and Anne use to send me post cards from the wonderful places that they traveled to with their humble families, but since I’ve been switched so many times, I guess they couldn’t find my address, because I know my best friends wouldn’t forget me. I kept up with my studies, since teachers didn’t visit the homes I lived in; Mr. Hamm would send my books in the mail. Reading them was as much as I could do but my intelligence was truly expanding. The dictionary is my favorite; I skipped to O the day I got it so I could finally understand the meaning of orphan. It states, “Orphan; noun-a child who has lost both parents through death, and, less commonly, one parent.”

I could not believe my eyes, how could these people judge me! It was not my fault my parents were killed, and truthfully, why am I any different from any other child. Full of anger, I began to write a letter, to every newspaper, to the book companies, stating that this definition of orphan may be what I am, but I am still a citizen of the United States and did not deserve to be criticized as anything lower. I was not shocked that there was no replies weeks after it was sent, but at least they will know my feelings on this touchy subject. I was called to the front office of my 5th home, I brought my bag of the clothing I had left with me, since this feeling has happened many times and I knew I was being sent off somewhere once again. I get to the office and see Ms.Cindy, my old music teacher. She begins to tell me that she has started working for a local newspaper and read my piece. As a tear ran down her face, she hugs me and says she is sorry she had to leave me alone, that she wanted to find a real job that earned real money to begin her future. There were papers on the desk, Ms. Cindy’s signature was on it, and there was a line that read, “Childs signature here.” I had no idea what was going on.

“Will you be my daughter, Emma, will you be a part of my family?” Ms.Cindy asked.

Trying to catch my breath and try to understand what was going on, when all my thoughts were together, I jumped into Ms. Cindy’s arms and shouted yes! My futures beginning, my new mom tells me she has to go to the Statue of Liberty this weekend and do a report on it, then for her vacation, she wants to visit the Eiffel Tower. I guess all wishes do come true. This is the story of how my wish changed the lives of all orphans who deserved happiness.

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