Short Story 18

The Foster Parents

He used to walk across the school grounds the same way every day, while feeling completely alone. Most of his schooling he was bullied, he didn’t have many friends, and by friends, he meant acquaintances, but despite this, school was markedly better than life at home.

Back in those school days, he didn’t think anything would have hindered him more in life than being born to a drug addict prostitute and an abusive electrician who used his mother as a punching bag before moving onto him when he tried to defend his mother.

Judging by where he ended up though, his unfortunate circumstances arguably got worse than having a relatively terrible upbringing. Sometimes he would wake up not knowing what had happened or where he was, but then he often felt like a cold fish had slapped him across the face as he was snapped back to reality, remembering the turn his life took one cold night in July.

You see, a few years back, his father went a little too far and killed his mother in a bloody fit of rage after she overcooked his steak. He was present during the killing, and even tried to intervene, which led to him getting thrown against a wall with the wind knocked out of his body.

In fact, he was so close that although he didn’t see the lights go off in his mother’s eyes, which he always assumed at the age of thirteen happened when someone died, he was near enough that when the police promptly arrived to arrest his father, they had to clean some of the blood off his sneaker before packing him in a car with child services.

His life appeared to take a random upward trajectory suddenly and without cause, because it didn’t take him long to get placed with foster parents. Many of the other kids protested this decision and kept telling him in disbelief how lucky it was, whilst simultaneously letting him know how incredibly unfair it was for those who had been there for years. It wasn’t like he didn’t agree, he did, and he even offered to trade his place for someone else, but the well-dressed man and woman were adamant that they wanted him.

Even though he knew he shouldn’t have gotten his hopes up, he let a small amount of optimism slip into his mind, thinking just this once he didn’t get the short end of the stick and could enjoy a tiny bit of normalcy.

Three years later, he had well and truly realised that his life was nowhere near the happily ever after he didn’t even know he was looking for. As soon as he crossed the threshold into what he thought was his new home, his world became a different kind of hell.

He woke up in a basement, at least that’s what he presumed after feeling the dirt underneath him. Although, when he became fully aware of his surroundings and the pain in the back of his neck from the stun gun, he noticed he was caged in by pristine steel bars.

When he stood up to shake the bars and see if there was a way out, he realised he wasn’t the only foster child…although now he was reconsidering the word foster; there was a girl who had been there far longer than he had. She rarely smiled at the beginning, and offered very little information about how she ended up in the house.

She was close to him in age, and her blonde hair was messy and dull with dirt. She greeted by telling him that if they followed the psychos rules he would get various privileges like food and maybe television use, but not before saying that he had been the third boy in a year to come and go.

When he pressed her for more details she didn’t offer them, but merely nodded grimily when he asked if they were dead, and vaguely pointed while mumbling the word incinerator.

He picked up the rules quickly, but when he got food, she didn’t and vice versa. When he got food he would always try to share and throw food across the two metre gap to his new foster sister. He had never had a sibling before, but he felt responsible for her.

The evil surrogate parents noticed what was happening quickly, and from then on, he seemed to be getting the cold shoulder. He thought it was some kind of sick game, to see how long he would last, and they threatened the girl the incinerator if she dared throw anything to him from then on.

They still gave him water, and he remembered watching something that said humans can last eight weeks without food, but he didn’t really trust his mind, especially when he only got a bowl of gruel every three weeks or so.

Somehow he and the girl managed to survive a respectable three years, doing the same things over and over. They knew everything about each other, literally everything, including their bathroom habits, and neither could imagine their lives without the other anymore. They had become symbiotic and they found comfort in one another’s presence.

Then one night out of nowhere, the foster father came into the basement with a shotgun. Without saying a word, he shot the girl in her sleep, the noise breaking the silence of the night. The boy woke with a jolt, but didn’t turn his head quick enough to see the gun. What he did see, was the cell light up for a split second with a bang, followed by the clink of the shotgun shell hitting the ground, and then he felt his last breath leave his body before the cold took him away.

By Naomi Eleanor

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