“Get out of here you filthy stinking little vagrant! And I never want to see you around here again, or I will call the cops.”
These words stung me almost as bad as the pain in my stomach. I haven’t eaten in almost three days, and I just wanted to be someplace warm. I feel cold all the time now. Sometimes I wish I would just sink off into the darkness.
Life isn’t worth anything to me anymore. I have no friends, I have no family, I have no home, and I have no money. Unless you count the 3 dimes and 4 pennies I found on the sidewalk this morning. Maybe if I look hard enough today along University Avenue, I might collect enough change for a cheap hamburger at McDonalds.
As I walked along the street my mind went back to a time when I was a happy kid. I had everything you could ask for. I had a great home, with loving parents, 2 little brothers, and not a worry in the world.
Isn’t it amazing how your life can change in the blink of an eye? One minute my family and life were intact, and then the next there is an explosion, a fire, and then only ashes.
The family court sent me to a group home, but I ran away. I hated those people. They were mean and cold. They had no care. I just needed someone to love me again. I need to be warm again. I need one wish for myself and it is so simple. I want a family … I want my family.
My name is Chandler Isaac Hinton. I am thirteen, and this is my story.
I remember every last detail as though it just happened yesterday. God, how I wish it were all a bad dream. Instead, my life has turned into that bad dream. The kind of dream that constantly replays time after time with no stopping, only my dream was a reality. Like a roller coaster that had gone out of control.
It was a cold windy winter day in January. I was sitting in my 5th period geography class, getting sleepy from the combination of the heater in the classroom, the teachers lulling voice, and the after affects of lunch. I remember day dreaming about warmer weather and how I would rather be on a baseball diamond than listening to a lecture about Mesopotamia.
As I started to regain my senses I looked outside the classroom window and saw that it was starting to snow again. They warned that we could get close to a foot of new snow tonight. Well at least I can do something with my brothers when I get home from school. A good snowball fight always seems to be the trick.
My brothers, Robby and Zach are identical twins. They are only 19 months younger than me, but since they are still in elementary school, they get to have a half day today for parent teacher conferences. Those lucky little twerps get to relax and I have to endure till 2:40 and then take the bus home. Oh well, only one more class to go after this one and it is P.E. At least I will get to have some fun and burn off lunch before I get on the bus.
“Hey Chandler,” Billy yells from across the quad. “Wait up!”
I look around and see my best friend Billy Travens running towards me so I stopped to wait for him. Billy and I have been best friends since Kindergarten and I can’t remember any time in my life where we weren’t getting in some kind of trouble together.
“You’re lucky Principal Sanderson didn’t see you running like that,” I teased as Billy came to a screeching stop right next to me. “Or can you call that a run? It looks more like a fast waddle.”
“Bite me.” Billy barked as he punched me in the arm. “I was just having a hard time since my foot fell asleep in Algebra. Besides, you look like a girl when you run.”
“You are so getting a wedgie when you least expect it.” I said with my best attempt at an evil laugh.”
It was common knowledge among seventh grade boys that you can’t let any comment like that go unpunished. It is a secret code. A point of honor.
“Yeah, yeah, whatever.” Billy teased as we started to walk to the bus. “What are you doing today?”
“I don’t know. I don’t have any homework so I thought I would torment my brothers with some snowballs. You wanna help?”
“Yeah sure,” Billy started. “Oh crap! I have to go home first and do my chores or else I am grounded. Why don’t you come with me and help?”
“I have to go home for a few minutes and check in, and then I will come over to help you get ready. Hey … Do you think you could spend the night tonight? We can stay up all night long, playing video games and eating junk food until we throw chunks.
“I will ask my mom after we get the chores done, said Billy.
The bus ride home was boring as usual. The only excitement was when Jason Duval was snorting his silver chain up his nose, then coughing part of it back through his mouth and flossing the back of his throat with it. He did for a couple of seconds, but then started gagging and almost puked on himself, so he finally stopped. It was cool though.
Finally our stop came up and Billy and I got off the bus and headed to our homes. Billy lived across the street and two houses over from mine. We lived close enough that we had walkie talkies so we could talk back and forth about our plans and conquests.
As we reached my house I told Billy that I would be over in about ten to fifteen minutes. Just long enough to drop my backpack, pee, change, talk to my brothers about a snowball fight, and maybe grab a bologna sandwich. He said, “Cool,” and we went our separate ways.
I ran up to the door of my house and yelled I was home.
“You don’t need to yell Chandler,” my mother said from the living room.
“Sorry Mom, I didn’t see you there”
“Look at you,” she continued. “You’re a mess. March straight to your room and get out of those clothes and put them down the chute to the laundry room. While you do that, I will make you a snack...”
“Thanks Mom,” I said as I reached up to give her a kiss on the cheek. “Where are Robby and Zach? Me and Billy want to have a snowball fight over in the park as soon as his chores are finished. Oh, and by the way, can Billy stay the night?”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, young man … You are going a mile a minute,” my Mom teased as she grinned at me. “Let’s see here. A snowball fight with your brothers … Maybe they can burn off some pent up energy from not having much to do all day, and by the way, they are in their room making some huge contraption out of legos. Now as for Billy spending the night, I don’t have a problem, but I will discuss it with Dad, and if he is fine with it, I will call Jean and talk to her about it.”
With that I told my Mom that I loved her and then ran upstairs to talk to my brothers and get ready for the all out butt whopping snowball war of Kindred Park.
First I went to my room and changed clothes. I put on some long underwear and wool socks. Then I added a Billabong hoodie and a pair of Tommy jeans. I then went and threw my dirty clothes down the chute and went to talk to my brothers.
“Hey guys,” I said as I started to open the door. “Put ‘em back in your pants, I am coming in.”
As I walked through the door, I looked at my brothers and realized how much they have grown in the past year. I guess I was about their age when I started to put some meat on my bones, so it is probably the same for them. They really are the coolest little brothers a kid could ask for and I really did like spending time with them. It wasn’t like some kids where they feel like they are forced to be nice to their siblings … I really did enjoy being around them. We liked all the same kinds of sports and music, and they were just like me when I was their age, all of nineteen months ago.
As I made it past the door jamb, I was hit broadside by a pillow.
“What was that for squirt,” I asked?
“Put 'em back in your pants,” Robby said in a sing song voice.
I just smiled and said, “Me and Billy want to have a snowball fight over at Kindred Park, and we want you guys to come too. How about it, Mom already said it was ok?”
“Cool,” both replied at the same time.
“When do you want to go,” Zach asked?
“Well Billy has to finish a few chores, and I am going to help him so they actually get done. So how about you guys go and change into some warm clothes and then come over to Billy’s house in about fifteen minutes, ok?”
“Hey Chandler,” Robby said.
“Thanks for being such a cool big brother. Eric told us that his brother never allows them to even talk to him, and you always invite us to tag along. We both know you don’t have to do that, so thanks.”
“Hey,” I am the lucky one here … You guys are great, and we’re family. I love you guys. I will always want you to be around.”
“Now get ready and come over to Billy’s,” I added as I gave them both a quick hug. “I am going over there as soon as I grab my snack from Mom.”
After I had finished talking to my brothers, I went back downstairs to get my snack and leave, but as I did, I ran into my Dad who caught me from behind in a big bear hug.
“Where are you off to in such a hurry Tiger,” Dad asked?
“I am going over to Billy’s to help him for a minute, then me and Robby and Zach are going to go to Kindred Park and have a snowball fight.”
“Sounds like fun,” Dad said. “Have a good time. I have to go and light the pilot light on the furnace. It went out again. I guess I will have to just replace the igniter. Oh well. By the way, your feet are stinking up the place kiddo, or did you fart?”
“Daaaaaaaad,” I groaned. “I didn’t fart, and my feet are fine. You must smell your upper lip.”
And with that I darted away from him before he could grab me in a noogie, and ran to the kitchen, grabbed my sandwich and was gone out the door.
I ran across the street to Billy’s while I was stuffing my face with sandwich. When I got to the door I almost knocked Billy’s Mom Jean over as she was setting a jug of tea on the front stoop. She tousled my hair and said Billy was in the kitchen doing the dishes.
I went in to the kitchen and got right to work on helping, and Jean got to work on making us some hot chocolate.
“You see Billy,” Jean said teasingly. “Chandler isn’t afraid of some big, mean, scary dishes. You shouldn’t be either.
“Mom,” Billy sighed. “Sometimes you can be so lame.”
“Yes son I can,” she replied. “It is actually part of the parent training manual. How to be lame 101 I believe it was called. See what you get to look forward to when you get older. Kids calling you lame. Ahh, it’s the parents life my lad.”
“Hey Jean,” I asked. “Is it ok for Billy to stay the night with me tonight? My Mom said it was OK with her and she was going to ask my Dad and then call you.”
“Well,” She replied. “I guess it will be ok with me since you guys are getting the chores done. I also heard you guys were planning on going to the park to have some winter fun. Tell you what … You guys finish the dishes and your hot chocolate, and I will call your Mom right now and discus it with her, sound fair?”
“Yes,” Billy and I both shouted in unison as we did silly little dances around the kitchen.
“Thanks Mom,” Billy said as he tried to juggle a plate before it fell into the dishwasher.
We went back to washing the dishes and Jean pressed the button on the speakerphone and dialed my number. I heard it ring 3 times and then I heard the sound of the phone being answered. At that moment there was a loud sound and the whole house shook. We even heard glass being blown out of the front windows. All of us ran to the living room with Jean beating us by a few steps.
“Oh my God,” Jean screamed. “Boys go into the kitchen right now! Billy, call 911 and tell them there has been an explosion and we need help. Send ambulances too.”
“Where was the explosion so I can tell them Mom,” Billy asked.
Jean replied with a blank tone, “Chandler’s House.”
I felt my stomach do flips as I started to run, and even more as I made it out the front door and could see that my house had been blown apart and was on fire.
“Mom!” “Dad,” I screamed as I started to run towards the flames. “Noooo!”
Jean caught me before I could even make it past her driveway and held me tight to her. By this point many of our neighbors were running around trying to see what they could do to help. Fire trucks, ambulances and police cars were starting to flood the street. I fought against Jean's hold on me; trying to reach my family.
“Boys, get inside now,” Jean ordered! “Let the emergency crews do their jobs.”
“I need to find my Mom and Dad,” I yelled. “I need to find Robby and Zach. Let me go!”
“No,” Jean said. “Go inside and let the adults handle this.”
“I said let me go! Please, I need to find them.”
By this point I was starting to feel sick to my stomach. I remember dropping to my knees and starting to throw up. I felt like I could never stop. Heave after heave, I just kept spewing until everything started to go black. I think I heard voices all around me and felt like I was being moved, and then the darkness came over me completely.
When I finally started to open my eyes, everything was bright and I was very warm. I tried to sit up but was pushed back down gently and told not to move quite yet by a voice that I didn’t know.
“Where am I,” I asked. “Where is my Mom?”
“Sit still baby,” Jean said to me.
“Jean,” I asked. “What happened, where are we?”
“We are at Mercy General Hospital,” She told me. “You got very sick and then fell down and hit your head on the cement.”
Everything started to come back to me at this point. I remembered the explosion.
“Where are my Mom, Dad, and my brothers,” I asked as I started to cry. “What happened to them?”
“Chandler, I want you to calm down for a minute and I am going to go and get the doctor,” Jean said as she started to walk to the door.
“Sit down Jean,” I said forcefully. “What happened to my family?”
Jean looked at me in shock as I have never been one to raise my voice to an adult, and she slowly walked over to my bedside.
“Chandler, I want you to listen to me very carefully and not interrupt me,” Jean said.
I just nodded my head and kept my mouth shut.
“Chandler, we know that the explosion was caused by a gas leak. The fire that happened with the explosion went through the whole house. Baby, I hate to say this, but nobody lived in the explosion and fire. Your Mom and Dad and Brothers were all killed in the fire. I am so sorry.”
Jean just wrapped me up in her arms and let me cry it all out. How could this be? Why are they dead?
“I want you to know that Billy, Daniel, and I are all going to be here for you,” Jean said softly as I continued to cry. “You won’t be alone.”
“I should have been with them,” I cried. “I should be dead too. I want my family back … I want to die.”
The last thought that I had before I went out again was that no matter what Jean said, I was alone. I had no other family. I was on my own forever. All I want is my family back. Just this one wish.
much to say here folks ... You thought I had disappeared, or that I
forgot how to write. Well neither is true, but I did find that I didn't
have it in me to coninue ANDD. At least for now. But this idea popped
into my head and with the help of Jeff P and AC I managed to squeeze
this out in less than 24 hours ... And I do plan to continue this one.
I have many ideas on how I want it to go, so watch out ... I found my
pen, err keyboard again ... Thanks for sticking around,
Continuity review: JeffP