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Let me begin by telling you my name. I am Steward. I turned 16 last month, and I am about to graduate from graduate school. Why am I telling you all of this? Well, it’s quite simple actually. I felt someone should know the story behind why I’m sitting here in my dorm room, instead of being a high school sophomore.
It all started when I was 7. Both of my parents were doctors, my mom was a cardiologist, and my dad is a general surgeon. I had an older sister that was in medical school in Boston. It’s what most people would call a “functional” family, but it was really far from it. Whenever my mom would come home she would always complain about the patients that she had, my dad would always come home and sit on the couch to watch TV, and when my mom complained to him about it he would just tune her out.
Then there was that one day. The one day that my mom and dad didn’t come home. I just thought that they were late, and that they would be home soon. I stayed up waiting for them, just staring at the front door. It got started getting really late. I noticed this because I was beginning to doze off. Then I heard a loud crash, and through the door I heard the first words of the night. They were my dad’s. He was rambling things like, “I killed him,” “my son is dead,” “God why is this happening to me?” I didn’t understand what he meant by all of this so I decided to walk over to him and ask what the matter was. I walked down the stairs and tugged on his shirt; he looked down but then looked back up and proceeded with his rambling. Minutes later, my mom ran into the house and she knocked my dad to the ground, she yelled at him “Why did you do it,” “Why?” He just laid there with glassy eyes, as if he was dead. Tears began to stream from my eyes, as I ran to him to see if he had died. Since I was only seven I had no idea how he to check what was going on with him. My mom stood over his body, not moving, not crying, motionless. I just didn’t understand what my parents were doing. Was this to show me a lesson or was there something deeper?
I’ll come back to that event later so that you’ll understand what everything means. Let’s jump to my 10th birthday. I thought this was such a large step in my growth toward adulthood. But I was surely wrong. One of the presents I got was from my cousin; we had been really close ever since I had moved to Memphis. My sister didn’t live with us; she lived with my Grandma in Washington. I got letters from her each year on my birthday, with some money from my grandma too. This year the letter came with $100 dollars in it. I decided instead of sending a letter back I would call them. When I called no one picked up. I tried again later with the same result. I thought this was strange, but didn’t really pay that much attention to it. I was too busy trying to figure out what to spend my money on.
I went to the store the next day and found a really interesting toy. I don’t know what it was about it, but I was drawn to it. The toy was nothing that I’d seen before. It had an antenna, connected to a small cube. It seemed very simple, but I wanted it. After buying the toy, I still had $80 dollars left. I decided to save that for college, like most of us do as young kids.
When I took the toy home, I quickly ripped it out of the packaging, and began tinkering with it, to see what it could do. I saw that it had but 2 buttons, one that said “Go” and another that said “Stop”. I decided that I’d press the “Go” button. When I did, nothing happened. Then I pressed the “Stop” button. Once again nothing happened, or so I thought. Because later that I night, when I went to sleep, I had the most bizarre dream. To this day I remember this dream, because I kept having it every night for an entire month. In the dream I was at the front of the class, standing there in front of the board, my teacher was napping, but the rest of the class was fully attentive to what I was talking about. Then the bell sounded, and the dream ended. Pretty short, but from that I knew I really didn’t want to be a teacher.
Over the next year, my grades improved drastically though, I used to be a B and C student and then I went to straight A’s. My teachers were suspicious that I was cheating, but when they saw that I was actually turning in my assignments that suspicion quelled. And to fill that place they decided that I needed to be skipping grades, but even then as an 8th grade student, I thought my classes were really easy. So I got moved to high school.
9th grade was a quiet year, I sat in the front as usually, but I never spoke to anyone. It went by quickly with me taking classes like Biology, Calculus, and History. When I turned 11, I had a small party with only my family, because I hadn’t made any friends that year. That year I didn’t receive a letter or gift from my sister and grandma, I got concerned again, so I called, but still I got no answer. I decided that it was time for a trip to Washington. So that summer my uncle bought me a flight to Washington, little did he know that that was going to be one of the last times he’d see me for a few years.
When I arrived at the airport there was no one waiting for me, so I caught a taxi and went straight to my grandmother’s house. When I got there, I knocked, I noticed that the door was unlocked and walked in to see that the house had been completely ransacked. It hadn’t looked like anyone had been there for at least a year. That explained why I didn’t receive a call from them my 10th birthday. I looked around and found my sister’s room. Written above her bed were these words, “I know what happened to your parents, sister, and grandmother, if you can find me then everything will be revealed to you.” My first thought was that the person obviously took the time to write this, knowing that I’d eventually come and read it, but I just didn’t know how he knew I’d come. I walked to my grandmother’s room, and on her bed laid a letter, it wasn’t a fully written letter, but it did have one word on it, “Go”. I quickly called my cousin from the phone inside my grandmother’s house. I told him to find the toy in my room, the one with the two buttons and the antenna. He insisted on asking questions, as he quickly ran up to my room and grabbed the toy. Questions like, “Where are you, when are you coming back, and he asked if he could talk to our grandmother.” I just told him that she had left me there to go to the store; not knowing exactly where she was either. I told him to push the “Go” button on the toy.
When he said he had, the phone dropped from hand, and I went into a deep thought. I couldn’t do anything, but I saw that my body was moving, as I walked right out of the front door, and got into another taxi. The address that I had mouthed to him was a warehouse, somewhere near the harbor, because I could smell the sea water. I paid the taxi driver, and stepped out of the taxi. Then I walked right into the warehouse.
Inside there was a table, I walked right up to it, and realized I had control over my body again. There was an odd puzzle there, but for some reason I knew how to solve it. When I finished, the darkness in front of me lit up, and I saw a person approaching me. I stood there stunned from head to toe, no way to escape. The woman seemed oddly familiar. It was my mom! I rushed over to her, and asked her why she was there, but I got no response. I backed away, and saw that her eyes were still glassy, like that one fatal night. From behind her another person walked forward, it was my dad. This time though he began talking. He began by telling me that, I wasn’t his son. This shocked me; I didn’t have a response, so I let him keep talking. He went on to say that his real son had died four years ago. This left me confused, because I was there that night, I knew I was their son, and there was no way for them to prove that I wasn’t, but he explained how it was true.
He told me that, that night there was a storm. This storm kept him from getting home, because he wasn’t allowed out of his building, he knew that I was home alone, but he couldn’t do anything about it. So he waited. When the storm finally let up, and he could get home, he found me lying on the ground, smoking, and looking burned. From that he figured out that I had been struck by lightning, and I needed medical attention. He ran me into the house and laid me on the stairs, and ran into the kitchen. When he returned he was looking around frantically, this is when he walked back out of the front door.
Now, this is the part that I told you about earlier, when my dad came in, with me coming out of my sleep, then my mom running and knocking him to the ground, and staring, just staring with those eyes, like she was while my dad was telling me what happened.
He continued by saying that the moment my mother knocked him down, both of them were being given information, on what was to become of me. They were to take me to a warehouse, when they did he said that they handed me off to a man inside the warehouse. When they handed me back he said that they both agreed that something was off, but they never said what. Whatever was different with me seemed to bother them, so they sent me away to live with my cousins, and my sister to my Grandmother’s. Just so it didn’t seem odd why they had sent me away. This is how I came to live with my cousins in Memphis.
After this explanation of my childhood and why it had been so arbitrary and full of confusion, my father decided that it needed not to worry about my past any longer and just go back to my cousins. He assured me that my “sister” and “grandmother” would be returned so enough, and life would be back to normal.
For some reason I knew that I could trust his word, so I left, but I knew going back to my cousins wasn’t what I needed to do, so I went back to my grandmother’s house, and that ‘s where I stayed. Conscious that no one was there except me and that at one point I’ll have to go back to school, and graduate.
So I sent word to my uncle to send me all of my things, and that I would be finishing up high school there in Washington. He sent a letter, and all of my belongings to me as asked, as well as $100. I used this to get food, until I could get a job out in the city. From there I would go to school and live life normally. Well, as normal as you can get for an eleven year old in the 10th grade. Life in that house was as quiet as my school life; I was just going through the motions, and again as my teachers saw that I was excelling in their classes, they began to let me skip grades again. First junior year, then the first half of senior year, and even though I hadn’t taken the full 12 years of school, I still had the majority of my credits, and was able to be a sophomore in college. I kept this cycle up until my 15th birthday.
I was going through my things and stumbled upon that mysterious toy. I remembered what had happened the last time it was pushed, so I decided I wouldn’t push it this time. But when I put it down, it landed on the “Go” button, and something interesting happened. It felt like kind of a daze, and when I woke up I wasn’t at my grandmother’s house, in fact I had no idea where I was. I was lying on a bunk bed looking up at the ceiling, in a small room.
This brings me back to my current position.
There was another bed on the other side, but it was clean, and had the look that no one had slept in it yet. I got up and walked out into an empty hallway, I walked to the commons area and saw someone sitting there reading. I walked over and asked them where I was, and she replied “You’re in a college,” she saw my confused look and continued explaining, “Well, we’re in the commons, Steward, and you’re supposed to be at the podium accepting your diploma.” Looked at her in shock and ran back to my room. I saw the gown laying there; I slipped it on, along with all of my cords, and ran down to the stadium. I saw the people standing there, looking at me as I ran up to the stage. The dean laughed as he saw me, a small boy for my age, running in such a large gown. When I got onto the stage I accepted my diploma, and walked off. Later that day I looked at that toy, and still had no idea what was behind the enigma that was that toy, I decided to save that for another day, and to just live my life, as it came to me. Well, until the next time I hit that button.