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In a world where I feel very fortunate, I felt like it would be a learning experience to write a story on someone who isnt. It is a reminder that our bad days aren't nearly as bad as what others may be experiencing.
I crossed my legs, teeth chattering, for the fear of losing my mother was unbearable. Trying to take my mind off of the situation, I picked up a magazine about cooking and skimmed through the recipes. It was 30 minutes until a nurse finally walked up to me. She was a brown-haired woman with glasses, possibly in her thirties.
“How is she?” I asked as I bit my lip placing my shaky hands between my legs. The woman gave me a hesitating look and said
“Her wounds are not getting any better, and she is starting to fall unconscious. She would like to see you in her room, Rodger.”
“Ok,” I answered. I stood up from my seat and placed the magazine on a table. We walked up the long flight of stairs since the elevators were broken from the storm. Walking down the hallway to room 137b, I clenched my teeth uncertain if I wanted to face my mother. We rounded the corner and stepped into my mother’s hospital room. The room was silent except for the occasional hum of the heart-rate monitor. I ran to her side, placing my arms around her.
“Hi Rodger,” she said in a whisper.
“Please mom don’t leave me I need you,” I answered back, tears filling my eyes.
Her stomach wound soaked my white T-shirt with blood as she said, “It’s my time.”
The monitor’s sound went flat as the doctors rushed to her side. Although I prayed and prayed for her to recover nothing happened. I whimpered over the loss of my mother as the same nurse assisted me out of the room.
I woke up to the sound of my father yelling at the television in a drunken tone. Ever since the incident he could not stop drinking. I decided it was best if I avoided him for the fear of him hurting me was not on my bucket list. I heard the sound of a bottle break as the doorbell rang and I quickly peeked outside the window to see who it was. There was a woman accompanied by a man in a black suit.
I heard my father open the door and shout, “Go away.”
“Hello Mr. Jones we are here to take custody of Rodger D. Jones over the loss of his mother,” the woman said leaning against the door. The door opened and my father pleaded
“Please don’t take him he is all I have left.” But the woman did not acknowledge him. The steps creaked as the woman walked up the stairs, through the hallway, and into my room. My first instinct was to hide in the closet. She opened the door and walked into my room.
“Don’t be afraid, Rodger. We just want to take you to a home where you can be happy,” she said in a babyish voice. Was this woman insane to think that I would just leave my home willingly? I heard her grunt in frustration and looked up to see her staring down at me in the closet. She grabbed me and forced me down the stairs.
“Let go of me,” I yelled, trying to release myself from her grip. Walking past my father, I yelled for help, while he stood on the porch crying. I was pushed into a white Subaru sedan and handcuffed.
“Why did you handcuff me?” I asked trying to free myself from the metal chains.
“We don’t want anyone to get hurt,” the woman responded skimming through some yellow folders. After what seemed like hours, the car finally stopped at a 3-story building. I stepped out of the car and saw a sign that read Newark Orphanage.
“Why did you take me here?” I asked already knowing the answer.
“Because your mother is dead and your father is not a safe guardian to live with. We had no choice but to place you in a orphanage,” She responded slamming the car door shut. We walked into the building and were stopped by a woman sitting at a desk.
“You must be Rodger. My name is Rose and I am the director of this school.”
“Nice to meet you, Rose,” I lied. She stood up from her desk and took me on a tour of the school. First, we stopped at the dining area, then the bathrooms and the living quarters. Overall, the orphanage looked like a jail, except there were no cells–for all I knew. They gave me bed sheets; they were stiff and ridged, like sandpaper to the touch. The sleeping courters, which smelled like a gym locker room, and was very overcrowded.
“Hey look, boys, we have a new kid” called a short chubby boy with blondish hair.
“I don’t want any trouble,” I said while tucking my sheets onto my bed. Others gathered up around me curious about their new visitor.
“It’s fine, we won’t hurt you. We all have been down the same road,” said the boy patting my back.
“Hi, my name is Rodger,” I told them as I sat on my bed.
“I’m Buck, nice to meet you,” he said sitting next to me.
“Nice to meet you too,” I responded, smiling.
“So what happened?” Bill asked.
“What do you mean?” I questioned raising my brow
“Why are you here?” he responded.
“Oh, my mother died when a tree hit her car, and my father was not doing so well. So they sent me here.”
“I am so sorry,” said Bill standing up. I finished making my bed while the dinner bell rang. I stood on the line in the kitchen and was given a disgusting looking beef stew. Even though the food did not look appetizing, I gulped it down letting my hunger take over. I was in the orphanage for a few days, and I made lots of new friends, including Bill. Everyday the lady from child services would come and ask me questions about my father. It seemed like she wanted to know how he was at parenting me before my mother’s death. I would always tell her good things about him, hoping she would let me go home. Until one day my father visited the orphanage.
“Hey Rodger,” he said to me, his voice cracking.
“Hi dad, I missed you so much” I said wrapping my arms around him.
“Rodger, don’t worry. I will get you out of this place. I’ve been taking parenting lessons for the court to see I am a good parent,” he said excitedly.
“I hope they let you take me home because I miss my bed” I said, jokingly. We laughed and said our goodbyes. That night I had a nightmare about the storm that hit our town and the car crash that injured my mom. The next morning, the Child Services lady took me to court where I met my father. He had a smile spread across his face and I knew I was going home.
Hoisting his foot over the seat, Tom balanced himself on the pedals of his new Schwinn Speedster bike. The hands on his watch ticked by, as he hurried down the five blocks to get to school.
Tom hugged the curve of Everdale and First Ave. He pulled up to the heap of bikes in the front of the school. He took the blue helmet from his head and tossed it carelessly next to the bike rack. He then pushed back his thick brown hair from his blue eyes. Tom locked his bike to the tree next to the cafeteria and he ran inside.
“If it isn’t the honey to my tea, Mr. Tom Jones!” Dale exclaimed, tossing his football into my hands.
“ I try my best!” I exclaimed, placing the ball down on the table. Dale is the kind of friend who you’ve known your whole life and always repeats the same morning routine again and again. Dale isn’t the most talented football player but he has the looks that make him a target for the schools hottest girls. His strong body and slim figure is what made him the QB of the school football team.
I talked to the usual group that gathered around us and bragged about my four touchdowns in yesterday’s game.The homeroom bell sounded as my group shoved themselves through the 6th grade halls, knocking over some kids and calling them losers.
As the students settled into their seats Tom made his way over to his designated chair in the back of the room with his friends. These were the kids he spoke sports with everyday.
The first three periods always went by the quickest out of the seven we had during the day. This was because Tom’s school schedule was math, language, and art class that was an easy A since the teacher wasn’t allowed to judge on skill. Next was the much-needed break of the day, lunch. Lunch was where was where every kid in school had their time to themselves, and could choose to could become part of a mob of athletic popular kids like myself.
Tom pulled out his bologna sandwich with the bag of Lays potato chips that his mother packed every morning before leaving for her job at the local bakery. His table was now packed with the usual crowd of jocks and some of the girls that tried their best to impress them.
Stacey, the Duff of the group went on and on about her weekend at South Beach with her other annoying friends, relaxing at the finest spa. “ OMG I had the best time with Melissa and Crystal. We did everything including attending an Ed Sheeran concert. You should have been their it was Amazeballs!”
All the girls grew extremely excited about this even though they had already learned about it from Snapchat. Nick, who was always getting into some kind of trouble for drugs or stealing, came over to me and started a conversation about my NFL draft picks.
“Yeah, there, OK I have all the good picks like J. Graham, and D. Brees,” I snorted out proudly, lifting my bottle of water and taking a gulp. Nick was obviously impressed, although his face stayed blank.
Later, when I rode back home from school, my father’s car was parked outside in the driveway. I curiously stepped inside wondering why he was home so soon. I nervously yelled out “Mom, Dad, I’m home from school,” as they stepped down the stairs with boxes in their hands. Confused, I asked about the pictures and other memorabilia that the box contained.
“Tom” my mother said in a gentle voice. “We are moving to a new home in New York City.”
Tossing and turning, due to the traffic below our one room apartment, forced me up from my slumber.
“Tom,” my mother yelled, hunched over the stove, prepping my morning cup of stew. “Don’t forget to grab your bag for todays paper route.”
“Ok mom,” I said pulling myself off the cold hard floor of the apartment. Grabbing the bag of papers, I slurped down the mix of broth and carrots.
I leaped out the door, down the rickety old steps, and out onto the pavement of the street. Ever since my father lost his job in the stock market, I have been forced to work to keep up with the electric bill every month. Although he works three jobs and has sold all of our belongings it still wasn’t enough, so the burden has fallen on my shoulders as well. I dropped out of school to take on another decent paying job in order to help out as much as I can.
Walking through the cold streets of the projects of New York City, I thought about my past life in Miami. Every kid is supposed to go to school, but since the move to NYC, I’ve been working another job at Marty’s Convenience Store. Where I was in Miami I would hate going to school everyday. The only good part about it was the social aspect.
After about two hours of delivering, Papers I sat on the steps of the last house and reviewed my times tables. With my sack empty, I continued past some shops on the upper east side of town and came to Marty’s.
“Hey how is it going buster,” Mr. Goldstein commented. Drinking a cup of coffee and reading a Time magazine, he pointed to the unopened boxes of snacks that he wanted me to stack.
When I went home that night my mother was on the floor gasping for breath.
“Mom are you OK,” I asked holding her soft hand and guiding her to the bed in the corner of the room. She laid in bed for three weeks until her eyes fell as still as water.
During that difficult period none of our family came to mourn my mothers death, except for some friends who weren’t afraid to see our poverty situation.
I took on the daily chores of the house and continued my paper route every morning. My father would come home each night drunk and sit in his chair crying over a picture of my mom as I gave him dinner.
Until one night he came home yelling, “I can’t anymore, I just can’t.” He threw a bottle of whisky that sent a “CRASH” when it hit the wall.
“Dad!” I yelled, trying to get his attention, however he did not answer. He stopped going to work after that incident and spent the rest of his money on liquor. I couldn’t pay off the electricity bill since my paper route didn’t pay enough.
I started my old job at Marty’s and as I finished up my shift at my second job, I was handed my pay for the week. I was only a few steps out of the dumpy old convenience store when out of the corner of my eye I spotted a red plastic cap belonging to a cheap bottle of vodka. I don’t know what came over me at that moment but I snatched the bottle and a pack of smokes and tucked them into my ripped jacket pocket. Instead of going straight home like I normally did, I ended up on the fire escape of a neighboring building. As I settled down at the edge of the roof and took out a smoke I started to cry.
I quickly wiped the tears onto my jacket and took a big swig of the vodka. It tasted like regret with a hint of remorse. What was I doing up here? I was away from my father who needed me more than ever now that mom was gone. I realized I was becoming like my father. I looked up at the sky and couldn’t hold back the tears anymore. This was it, I was done!
I threw the bottle down and crumbled up the smokes. At that moment, I realized what I had lost. I stood on the edge of the roof looking down at the black pavement before me. A child rode by on his bicycle and pulled up next to the school two blocks away. At that moment I realized I had lost my father to a bottle of whiskey, and my mother to a preventable sickness, I grieved over an education that I didn’t ask for in the first place.