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John’s (Tarzan) grey eyes scanned the room. He indeed was the only one sitting in the abandoned classroom. He took his time packing up his things since he still had 30 minutes to catch the bus he had rode to school. As he walked to the bus stop, hands stuck in his pockets, he thought about his life.
John was the only white boy in a bad neighborhood. But still he loved his town, his family who took him in when he was a baby. He desperately wanted to fit in with his brother and sister, both who were actually the children of the parents they lived with. That’s part of the reason why he spent so much time working out. Where he lived, if you were athletic, you were respected. They treated like you actually had a future.
The bus pulled up to the stop. John climbed on, noticing his best friend in the back seat. He walked to the back of the bus. “Got some room?” he asked, knowing she did.
“Course I do Tarzan. Sit right down. What’s on your mind?” Kala questioned.
“You know me better than any one right? You should know what I’ve been thinking about. I just want to be like you. I want to be like the dad who hates my guts. But there’s no way for me to change who I am. It sucks!” John exclaimed. Kala patted his shoulder and gave some kind of encouragement.
“I know it’s hard. But trust me, your life could be worse. Think about it, where would you be living if your parents hadn’t taken you in like they did? You’d be on the streets. And trust me; the streets are a lot worse than not fitting in. I should know, I’ve been on the streets before,” Kala said, gazing out the bus window.
“I’m sorry Kala. You know I didn’t mean for it to sound like that. But sometimes I wonder about my real parents. Why they abandoned me. What they were like. Who I really am….” His voice trailed off, and the bus driver announced his stop. “I’ve got to go Kala. I’ll see you later I guess.”
“No, you’re not getting away from me this easy. I’m coming with you. I had to go get off soon any way. It’s not going to kill me to walk,” she said, following John as he got off the bus. They walked to his house, talking the whole way. He left her at his door step though, needing time to himself. But as soon as he walked in to his home he was confronted by his father.
“Why are you home so late? We’ve been waiting for you so we can eat dinner as a family. Well, a family plus an abandoned kid my wife took in without consulting me first about,” his father said to him, spitting the words. John really didn’t feel like dealing with him, so he stepped into his kitchen and sat at the table. His father, fuming now, ignored him the rest of the meal. This was much to John’s pleasure.
“Mother, may I be excused?” John asked after finishing his dinner. His mother nodded and told him to wash his dish in the sink. He did as he was told. “I’m going out. Don’t wait up,” he called to his mother. His iPod sat on his dresser, so as he changed into workout clothes, he grabbed it.
As soon as he was outside of his house, he ran. Ran to nowhere in particular, just wanting to escape his life. John’s lungs burned, grasping for air, but still he ran. He slowed however when he saw the new family moving into his neighborhood. They were like him, white. He couldn’t help but be curious when he saw the daughter, about his age.
The family noticed him and looked frightened by his presence. So he slipped into the shadows, acting as if he had continued on his way. Instead he sat and watched the family, mostly watching the daughter. He wanted to know her, maybe even be accepted by her. After all, they were the same in many ways, like how they both rattled their fingers against the railing to their houses when going up the steps. But John wanted for once in his life to stand out against the crowd of guys that are no doubt going to want to get to know her.
The parents stepped inside the home, but the girl stayed outside. John took this chance to step out of his hiding spot and walk to the girl. “Hi. I’m John, what’s your name?” he asked, cursing his inability to talk to girls besides Kala. The girl looked slightly puzzled, but answered any way.
“My name’s Jane. It’s nice to meet you John. If you don’t mind my asking, what is someone like you doing in a neighborhood like this?” Jane nervously smiled, hoping she hadn’t hit a sensitive area.
“I could ask you the same question,” John chuckled. “But seriously, I’m not exactly here by choice. My parents abandoned me here when I was little. My new parents took me in and have raised me ever since. But I’ve never really fit in around here, in case you couldn’t tell. What about you? You’re not exactly bad neighborhood material yourself. So why are you here?”
“Well, I’ve lived kind of rich my whole life. My parents are editors of an important newspaper back where we really live, and they took this article to come into the ‘bad section of town’ and write about what goes on here. They didn’t want to take me at first, but I really wanted to come so they allowed me to. I’m sorry by the way. It sucks that you’re an orphan and everything, but at least your parents took you in like they did.” Jane smiled meekly. John mumbled something about getting back to his jogging, and she let him go but not without giving him her number first. “Call me any time. Just call though, I can’t stand texting.” She smiled and waved as John jogged away.
John sprinted once he was out of sight from Jane. There was so much going on in his head, he just couldn’t take it. Trying to out run his thoughts didn’t work however, so he just had to accept the fact that he had to stop running and sit. He found a bench in a park, and sat. He did his best to sort out his thoughts. On one hand he was happy, ecstatic even, that Jane liked him. But was it just him thinking that she liked him? And would his adoptive dad ever accept him? Probably not, but still John wondered why. And he wondered why in the world he cared what his adoptive father thought of him.
Frustrated beyond belief, John headed home. He checked his wristwatch, saw how late it was but didn’t exactly care. In a dark alley, he saw a shadow of a figure. The figure walked towards him. It was his father. “Dad…?” John asked.
“Yes idiot! Where have you been? Your mother is worried sick! And don’t go giving me some of your world famous excuses! Come with me, now!” he screamed. John however wasn’t listening. He was watching another figure slipping in and out of the shadows of the alley ways. The figure held a gun, pointed to his father.
“No!!!” John screamed. He threw himself at the figure, wrestling him until he got a hold of the gun. The figure, a bulky man, ran into the shadows. “Are you ok dad?” John asked, ignoring the scrapes and bruises on himself.
“Yes son. I want you to know that I’m very proud of you,” his father said. “Let’s go home.” He led John home, where his mother sat in tears.
“I heard what happened, John. I was so worried about you! Don’t you ever do that to me again!” she cried. He sat next to her, letting her cry. John felt bad, but he couldn’t help but be happy as well. For the first time, his father had called him his son. And he was proud of him! All because he wasn’t going to allow him to die by a bullet when he was around. He should do that more often.
John contemplated giving Kala a call, talking to her like he always did when something big happened to him. But instead he just headed up into his room and dialed Jane’s number. It rang and rang, but she didn’t pick up. John had kind of figured she wouldn’t since it was already one o’ clock in the morning. Kala would have picked up, but he still didn’t dial her number. He just lay down on his bed and slept, still in his clothes.
That was how he spent most of his days. He talked to Kala on the bus, and then went home. He faced no more tirades from his father, and he commonly went out ‘jogging’. While jogging, he would conveniently find his way to Jane’s house. They had started dating. And John couldn’t be happier about that. The only thing was, Kala still didn’t know and she was bound to find out eventually.
One day, two months after John met Jane; he was on one of his ‘jogging’ trips. He ran to Jane’s house, finding it dark and lonely. He checked his watch. He was later than he normally was, so maybe they were just sleeping. But that wouldn’t explain why there was a moving van in the front of their house.
They’re leaving. The realization hit John hard. Jane was leaving. And there was nothing he could do about it. Jane stepped out of the dark house, looked at John, and started to cry. “We’re leaving. Moving back to the city. And I can’t come back. I’m going to miss you so much!” Jane explained.
“Maybe you don’t have to miss me. I’ll come with you. We’ll start a life together, away from everything. How does that sound?” he asked. She sighed, dreaming about it. She nodded, and John started to walk away. “I’ll go pack. Wait for me. I’ll be back around midnight. And then we can start our lives together.” John started sprinting back to his house. He didn’t slow until his house was in sight.
He rushed into the house. “John, is that you?” a strange voice called from the kitchen.
“Who wants to know?” he called. He walked into the kitchen. His parents sat with a couple, younger than them but old still. His mother did the best she could to explain.
“These are your parents. Your real parents. They say that they didn’t have a choice but to abandon you, they couldn’t afford any more mouths to feed. But now they’re wealthy CEO’s of a major company in the city, and they want you to come live with them. It’s your choice of course; I just think it’d be good for you. I’ve always known you have a lot of potential you know?” She tried her best not to cry, but John could tell she was going to.
“No thanks. I don’t want anything to do with my parents who didn’t care enough about me to keep me. I will however be going to the city. I’ll be going with Jane and her family. I’ll miss my parents. My real parents that took me in when I was abandoned by the likes of you. Bye mother, bye dad. I love you.” John left the room in a huff, packed his things and left. He got to Jane’s house, and found her waiting on her front porch step.
“Ready to go John?” Jane asked. They grabbed their bags, and John called a cab. They sat for five minutes, waiting completely silent. The yellow cab came, and they loaded all of their things in. Suddenly, Kala came running up.
“John! Your dad, he had a heart attack! They’re taking him to the hospital now! We have to go!” she exclaimed. John apologized to Jane, and she shrugged.
“I can’t wait any longer John. I’ll be in the city if you decide to come,” Jane said. John felt bad, but he had to go see his dad. No one was more important than his dad. At least, now that he was accepted by him. He rushed to the hospital with Kala, but they were too late.
“He’s gone. I’m sorry John,” Kala apologized. She hugged him tight. John was numb. Just when he finally got his dad to accept him, he’s gone.
Kala turned his face towards hers. She kissed him. John instantly forgot all about Jane. He knew who he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. And Kala had always been there for him, he just never bothered to appreciate it. Now he knew better.
Kala and John got married, and moved away to the big city. He ran into Jane one day, but she had already moved on and so had he. They exchanged a few words, and left each others lives forever. And it was all because of his dad. John reminded himself to thank him one day. Just not any time soon. After all, he still had some work to do.