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I have spent my entire life in one room. The room is fairly large, but I have done everything there: sleeping, eating, using the restroom, and so on. I have always lived with the same group of children. All of us children who live in the room have the same thing in common: we don’t have parents. We have no one to read us bedtime stories or play with us, we only have us; however, all of us children get along well. We spend our days chatting about our dreams that will never come true or playing silly games that we concoct in our heads. We have formed a fantasy over the years where a loving mother and father would break into our orphanage and take each of us to their home. In our fantasy, the mother and father would read every book and tell us every story that they knew. We spend too much time dreaming about fantasies that will never come true, but it is the only thing that gives us hope.
Everyday is the same as the last in our room. We sleep, eat, and dream everyday. We were starting another typical day when Miss Riley, the manager of our orphanage, rushed into our room and proclaimed, “There is a lottery! Oh, a lottery! One of you will win!” All of us children glanced at each other and secretly thought to ourselves how crazy Miss Riley was acting. She has never spoken more than one word to us before and has never showed any emotion. Today she barged into our room and practically started singing to us. A lottery? Seriously? She twisted and turned around our room and shouted, “Children, wash your faces, tidy your space, and form a straight line in the middle!” All of us children glanced at each other. Why was Miss Riley so excited about this lottery? As she danced around the room we splashed water on our faces, threw our sheets on our cots, and slowly formed a line. When Miss Riley stopped her dancing, she scurried out of the room. The second she sashayed out of the door, we immediately started to chatter about this so-called lottery. Just as we started to gossip about Miss Riley, she twirled back into the room and gushed, “Are you ready children? The lottery is about to begin. Make sure you put on your best smile!” Miss Riley flashed us a smile and stepped aside. I glared at all of my friends in disgust. She has never acted this way towards us. Why was she being so weird?
Before I could fall deeper into my thoughts, Miss Riley was shouting out orders. She told us that we would walk out of the door one by one and turn either right or left; it was our choice. All of us children rolled our eyes at each other as we silently thought that Miss Riley was going insane. She had never let us step foot out of our room before, until the lottery came about, and she never gave us any choices. As the line began to move, I watched my friends apprehensively walk through the door and then disappear. I hung my head as I wondered if I would ever see them again. They were all I had, my everything. My friends, my teachers, my peers, my roommates….my family. I started to drown in my misery when my thoughts were interrupted by the tapping of Miss Riley’s shoe. When I glanced up, I realized that I was in the front of the line, and it was my turn to disappear through the doorway. Before I made my way to the door, I glanced around the room and looked each one of my friends in the eye who were in line behind me. At that moment, I was not sure what was going to happen next. Would I ever get to share stories and play games with my friends again? What about the room….would I ever step foot in there again? All of these uncertainties made my head spin until I felt like I would collapse. In fact, my legs gave out under me, and I started to crumble to the floor. Before my body melted to the ground, Miss Riley lunged her tapping foot forward and caught me in her arms. As she brought me back to my feet she hissed in my ear, “The lottery must go on. Walk. Now.” She shoved me through the door into a stuffy and box-like hallway. In that cramped space, I was forced to make the choice: go right or go left. Both sides of the hallway seemed the same, but feeling Miss Riley’s intense glare burn into my bones, I hastily decided to turn left. Little did I know that that seemingly insignificant decision made all the difference.
Turning left led me down a long and narrow corridor. At the very end of the stretch, I saw two pairs of eyes gleaming in the darkness. I thought I was being met my ghosts, but when I reached the end of the corridor, a man with strong arms hoisted me up into the air while a women draped on his arm spoke in a soft tone,
“He’s ours, John. Look at him. We finally have a boy!” At that moment, I violently started to kick and scream. I was being kidnapped!
“Let me go, let me go!” I screamed, “Miss Riley, Miss Riley! Friends! Help me!” I gasped as my screams echoed off of the walls in the corridor. Frightened by my thrashing and screaming, the man dropped me to the ground. When the cold from the floor started to nip at my cheeks, I scurried to my feet and dashed back towards the door. I wanted nothing more than to be back in the comfort of the room with my friends. I just wanted to rewind everything that had happened in the last hour and go back to my life before Miss Riley announced that there was a lottery. As I turned the corner to enter back into the room, Miss Riley caught me by the arm and drug me into her office. I wanted to scream and run again, but I knew it was no use when Miss Riley was around. In her office, amidst stacks of papers and books, I saw the couple that I had met at the end of the corridor. They trembled as they cried waterfalls. What was wrong with them? They were trying to kidnap me. Miss Riley motioned for me to take a seat in a chair by her desk. As I fell into the chair, Miss Riley turned towards the couple and sighed,
“Don’t worry, I got him.” What were they talking about? I got him? As thoughts were swimming around in my head, Miss Riley turned to me and filled me in,
“Stay calm as I explain, okay? You won the lottery! You see, this couple, Joan and John, came to this orphanage wanting to adopt a child. They had no preference as to who it was; they only wanted a child. I organized the lottery to help Joan and John find the perfect person to adopt into their family. I decided to line all of you children up and make you decide whether to turn right or left in the corridor. The first person who turned left would finally have a mom and dad! Lucky you, you were the one!” I glanced from Miss Riley to Joan to John and whispered,
“So they were not trying to kidnap me?” Miss Riley laughed, but Joan and John’s eyes grew wide as they stared at me. Joan looked at me sympathetically as she spoke,
“Oh dear, we had no intent to frighten you. We are just over the moon that we finally have a child. Since we learned that we could not have children, we have been longing to adopt. Now, our dreams have come true.” A single tear flowed down Joan’s face as I choked on my words,
“You’re going to take me away from all of my friends? I have spent my entire life here with these people. I’m sorry, but I just can’t leave them here. We are a family.”
“Oh, buddy, we will give you the world. You are so young, and there is so much of life that you will miss if you stay here,” voiced John. I hung my head and sighed. Miss Riley gave me a death stare as I muttered,
“I will not leave without my friends. It is not fair that I get to go enjoy the world, but they have to stay locked up here. Surely, Joan and John, you can take us all?” Miss Riley’s gaze paralyzed me. She sternly said,
“Joan and John only want one child. You will go with them, and your friends will stay here.” Joan and John glared at each other and then at me. I refused to walk out of that place without my friends. There was no way that I would leave them behind. I would kick, scream, or do whatever I had to do to keep them from taking me away without my friends. Joan and John continued to stare at each other as if they were speaking with their eyes. I crossed my arms and glared at them, communicating that I would not leave unless all of my friends could leave as well.
“We have an idea,” started John hesitantly. “You see, we live in a neighborhood with about ten couples like us who also cannot have children. All of them dream of having families, but most of them have never saw it as a possibility. The truth is that we have already fell in love with this boy. So, our proposal is that we take all of his friends and distribute them to the couples in our neighborhood. They would be thrilled!” A wide smile spread across John’s face. I jumped up from my chair and exclaimed,
“Are you serious? Our dreams our coming true!” I ran over to Joan and John and embraced them in a hug. Tears were streaming down both their faces because their dreams were coming true as well. I didn’t expect Miss Riley to be ecstatic about our agreement, but she was dancing around the room shouting, “I get to leave, I get to leave! Oh, I get to lock up this dungeon and go smell the roses! I am free! I am free!” Before Miss Riley changed her mind, I rushed into the room and told all of my friends about the agreement. They cheered and hugged each other before starting to daydream about what they would do in their new lives. I have never cried, but seeing how excited my friends and Joan and John were, I couldn’t stop the trickle of tears that flowed down my face. I didn’t think dreams actually came true, but there I stood preparing to start a new life with my friends.
In the coming days, we gathered our few belongings and were brought to our new homes. All of my friends lived within walking distance from me, so we got to frequently see each other. We were shocked by what the world is like outside of our room. Particularly, in our neighborhood patches of green grass surround each of the towering houses, and large trees are scattered across the lawns. My friends and I have enjoyed rolling in the grass and daring each other to climb the trees. When I am not running free with my friends, I spend my time with Joan and John, or as I call them, mom and dad. They read me bedtime stories every night and play with me whenever they can. Most importantly, they tell me how much they love me at least a thousand times a day. Joan and John are the parents that I have dreamed about for as long as I can remember. There is no better feeling than the feeling of being loved unconditionally. When Miss Riley proclaimed that I had won the lottery, I didn’t believe her for a second; however, as I look around at my grand home, my laughing friends, and my loving parents, I know I have been blessed. Perhaps I did win the lottery.