I had a meeting with my caseworker today. Old bat that she is gave me the final death blow to my foster care career, not that I was surprised. I had been expecting it for some time. After all, everyone gets older, everyone ages out of the system. Well, everyone that grows up in the system, moving from home to home like I have.
Now, I guess, it’s my turn to take that next step.
You would think, having been expecting it and all, that I would have handled it better. That I would have been able to put on the sour face that has become so conducive to what everyone knows of me or thinks they know of me anyway.
I could have buried my heart and feelings away, never to feel as I always have. Instead, with those few words, all the cursed emotions came back. Five little words that punched me in the gut and brought back every time I was turned away, every time some guy that I had hoped would be ‘Dad’ turned into a monster instead.
I felt the sting as their words echoed through my mind, as they called me possessed, crazy, destructive, petty, needy, a run away, schizophrenic.
The labels had been piled on me for years, and as much as I tried to say they didn’t cut deep, they did. And right then, I felt the depth of them.
I felt them as an ache deep down inside my bones.
They all came back, loud and angry, and it was all I could do to keep them inside of me. Not to show Reeves how much of a wimp I was.
My spine shook and curled as I fought the emotion, fought the tears that wanted to flood out of me. I hadn’t cried since that very first day, and I wasn’t about to show the depth of my weakness right then. Not to her. Not to anyone.
“You have been selected for trial placement,” Ms. Reeves had said in that soft, sweet voice that was so familiar, but right then, it sounded dead and cold against my skin.
“I guess the state wants to keep you a bit longer,” she had said with a smile as she tried to put a Band-Aid on what she was really saying.
I barely heard anything she said after that. It was all a buzz of white noise. My fingers curled around the iPod I held, the one I had gotten from the Christmas donation pile a few years ago. My body twitched with a need to place the tiny nubs back in my ears, to flood my mind with the music that I had on a constant stream, but I couldn’t make the move. So I sat still, everything feeling heavy and numb as I listened in a dumbfounded stupor while Ms. Reeves’s voice burst around me like angry soap bubbles. That was until the date pulled my attention.
“June seventeenth!” I had practically screamed at her. It was less than three weeks away.
She only smiled at me with that pitying look she always gave me and then went back to shuffling papers, making it clear there was nothing I could do.
June seventeenth. The date repeated itself through my mind.
That’s my last day in the room I had grown up in, the group home that had tried so hard to be a home. Even if it doesn’t feel right, it’s still home. It’s still the place I go at the end of the day, the place I end up after another family turns me away.
While most kids my age are heading off to their senior year of high school or their freshman year in college, I’ll be forced into a small apartment, education and any form of a future ahead of me slaughtered. I guess it could be worse, most foster kids are shoved onto the street. In some ways, trial placement isn’t as bad as it could be. It still doesn’t change what the future holds for me.
That’s how it was when I left her office, my hands shaking as I replaced the ear buds.
It was the end.
Everything felt different when I got back to my room. I don’t know why, but it felt foreign, hazy, distant. It was like I was looking through the world with a fish-eyed lens no one had cleaned in a while.
I let the 30s swing music flood through the ear buds as I started packing on instinct, throwing the few belongings I had into the thick, black trash bags I had been sent home with so many times before. It seemed fitting that every time I was sent away from a foster home, sent home like an unwanted piece of trash, I held these bags in my hand, symbols of the trash I am. And now, I will take the same bags away from here to what, in many ways, will be my final destination.
I opened the first drawer on the communal dresser that was also used by the three other girls who shared my room. My name had been on the drawer front for so long that most of the ‘y’ had wiped away, revealing the ‘i’ beneath it. I ran my fingers over that letter, trying to remember why I changed the spelling in the first place when the room flashed with a bolt of lightning, the bright flash pulling my attention from the silly, meaningless letters to the rain that splashed against the tiny window above me.
It seemed fitting it would rain now, that the water would come and make the world grey and gross. At least that’s what I told myself. Both the rain and I knew that I liked the way it made the world glimmer and smell like spring, but I could never say it aloud, not with who I was and what I was known for. I had been named Rain for a reason, after all, and I’d changed it for the same.
I pulled the ear buds out of my ears, listening to the gentle patter of the rain against the glass for a moment.
“If you are going to tell me who I am,” I whispered to the rain, “Now is the time because it appears I am out of it.”
I had said the words aloud, as if the water could respond. Part of me prayed the streams of water flowing over the windowpane would spell out some magic answer. Yet I know they never will.
They never have after all.
So I filled the trash bags anyway, my heart pulling me toward the only home I had left.
I only hope I can find him.