Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Tour Comes Home...



..."A Charming Endeavor" book tour has returned home. And for those who've followed along, (but don't sweat it if you haven't ;) I promised a final story. A fitting tale for capping off a month long trek covering far away lands...and a few spots just around the bend.

Some of you may remember my earlier posts featuring a young lady that I've named The Girl. A foster child who'd been paying my family routine visits over the past year and a half. Several have asked whatever happened to her, this lonesome teen in search of a place to nestle upon.

And so my tour ends, with her new beginning...


...a few months ago, a young man of seventeen, having just inhaled a final draw from a smoldering joint, dropped the flaring nub to the dust and followed it with the toe of a faded Nike. He tilted his head back, grinning at the stars, how they shivered and danced under his current state, and decided then and there to share his good cheer with a buddy of his. And what more fun than to invite his pal for a spin in Mom and Dad's car.

The drive through a wooded hillside lasted no more than thirty minutes. They passed no other vehicles, swerved to avoid a crossing deer, and rolled safely into the family driveway no worse for the wear.

The young man of seventeen stumbled out of the car, his mouth churning a mile a minute about fast rides, easy girls, ditching school during final exams, and how those stars up there may in fact be aliens, their ships fleeting about like insects, just out of reach.

He left his friend in the driveway, tiptoeing his way around the house to the back deck. His senses on high alert. After all, you never knew when Mom or Dad might be lingering.

The teenager's friend, who'd accompanied him on the joyride, and had quickly realized the situation he'd been lured into, exhaled a breath, considered his options, then walked inside the house.

For the boy who'd been sitting in the passenger seat of that car, was a foster child of the same age. He didn't particularly care for the family he was living with. Had in fact grown weary of his "step brother's" antics as of late. And there were other foster kids in the house...all of them sick and tired, of being sick and tired.

Listening to the heavy breathing coming from his foster parent's bedroom, the boy quietly scooped up a nearby cell phone, and dialed his social worker's number. She'd once promised him that he could call her anytime, and she'd be there for him.

...despite the hour, she answered on the third ring.

I was in my office the following afternoon, glaring at the overhead clock, when my phone started ringing. I recognized my home number, picked up the receiver.

"What's up, Hon?"

...breathing hard, "We got a call about taking in another kid," my wife said.

"What?" I huffed. "Are you outta your mind? Have you counted how many kids we already have? We're already going through eight gallons of milk a week. We'll be causing a shortage soon! We can't... No! Tell 'em to find someone else! I mean, I can't believe you'd even consider..."

"Okay, chill out. But before I turn her down, I thought maybe you'd like to know who it is. But I guess not, so..."

"Wait a minute." My breath caught in my throat. There was something she wasn't telling me. Something in her voice. Hopeful. Perhaps a bit ornery. Something. And a thought crossed my mind.

A chill danced and jittered like a centipede along my spine, leaving goose pimples and anticipation. And when at last I spoke, my voice came out in a whisper. "It's her, isn't it?"

"It's her."

For a moment only the sound of our breathing could be heard over the phone line. But that was enough. No words were needed.

And then I asked, "What happened?"

"Her foster family ran into some trouble, got their license suspended. Sounds permanent."

"Okay."

"We'll have to rearrange the bedrooms to make room."

"Okay."

"You do realize she's a teenager now...lotta baggage."

"Okay."

"They told me if we can't handle her, they'll put her in the D.H."

"She'll be fine...she'll be home."

"So...okay?"

"Okay."

"Good, because I already told them to bring her home."

"Atta girl." I giggled like a ten year old, hung up the phone.

She was in the garage when I came home. Sitting Indian-style on a plastic tarp, sorting through her things. Her life's belongings piled into a half dozen garbage bags and an old blue chest, one side caved in from an angry boot. I knelt by her side.

A steady rain formed a veil across the open garage, the spatter of water on pavement like a steady applause.

When at last she spoke, the voice belonged to a stranger, for I hadn't heard from her in months. During that time she'd become a teenager. And yet, when she looked up, I saw the girl who's wounded childhood had so captured our hearts. The Girl who could never return home. The Girl who's mother suffered from a severe case of schizophrenia, as did mine. The Girl...

"I'm tired of my things always getting thrown into garbage bags," she said.

"I'm tired of that too," I answered.

"I'm tired of bouncing all over the place. House after house. New schools, new rules, on and on."

"Our rules aren't so bad."

She hesitated, then, "So I'm staying this time? For good?"

"If you'd like."

"Do I get my own room?"

"Eventually."

"How about a TV?"

"Don't push it."

She grinned. I spotted a tear dangling from an eyelid. Then, "So I hear that you're a writer now. What's up with that?"

A chuckle rose from my throat and bounded out like an errant belch. "Yeah, something like that..."

We listened to the rain. Vehicles rolling by, each one carrying a unique drama all its own. Tires whining on wet pavement.

"So I'm home now?" she finally asked.

I swallowed. "You're home. Come on, let's unpack your things..."


The contest winners from the tour will be forthcoming!

Thanks for reading ;)

El

5 comments:

Elliot Grace said...

...by the looks of it, Blogger gobbled up my story and swallowed it whole.

I'm hoping that it may eventually reappear as these things sometimes do. But if not, I promise to republish it very soon.

Stay tuned ;)

El

Sarah Pearson said...

And here I thought you were just being all mysterious :-)

Anne Gallagher said...

Oh, and I've been waiting to hear it all this time. Please fix it.

The Golden Eagle said...

If I highlight the text I can read it . . . the text seems to be white on a white background.

That's such a wonderful story. :) I'm glad to know she's home.

Adeeva Afsheen said...


Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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