Journey of a Lifetime

Journey of a Lifetime

A Story by Anthony C.
"

"Where we love is home--home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts" - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

"

Dark clouds cast a blanket across the Earth as tiny drops of rain emerge from the sky and hurtle down towards the ground, pelting the aged pavement that is cracked from years of erosion. Footsteps send water splashing up into the air as the teenagers of Willow Wood Drive run home from the school bus. Charlie Burke’s coat flaps in the wind as he runs holding it above his head. His feet move in a rhythmic movement as he sprints down to his house at the end of the street. Getting closer, he begins to see the beige paint chipping off of the sideboards of his old, worn down house. Approaching the door, he hears the sound of water droplets colliding with the broken-down rain gutter. The rusted door knob feels cold against the palm of Charlie’s hand as he twists it to reach safety within his home. Wiping his feet on the mat at the foot of the door, he throws his backpack down, removes his shoes, and heads to the kitchen. In room adjacent to the kitchen, the living room, he hears his mom talking to someone on the phone. She doesn’t seem to notice him so he grabs a can of soda and some chips and heads to the computer room. Jumping down on the cushioned chair, he opens his soda with a fizz and moves the mouse to make the computer screen buzz to life. Taking a sip of soda, Charlie looks at the internet browser left open by his mom�"her email. He realizes that his mom must have been distracted by the phone call because she always makes sure to log out of her account. He is just about to log her out when an email catches his attention. The subject reads, “Charlie’s Papers”. Curious about what papers it could mean, Charlie checks over his shoulder to make sure his mom isn’t near and then clicks on the email. Suddenly, his mischievous smile turns into a frown. His heartbeat picks up, beating faster and faster as he rereads the first few words of the email over and over again in his head. The sound of rain beating against the window panes becomes a distant memory as confusion takes hold of Charlie. His soda slips from his hand and crashes to the ground, dumping the bubbling liquid all over the carpet. In just those four words written on a brightly glowing computer screen, Charlie realized that he’d lost the ability to trust anybody ever again.

            Suddenly, from behind him, someone gasped. Charlie’s mother read the words on the screen: Because Charlie was adopted…Her eyes darted back and forth between the open email and her son’s expressionless face. “Charlie-” she began.

            “Is it true?” Charlie demanded as tears began welling in his eyes. Charlie’s mom’s heart dropped. She felt as though she failed her son�"why hadn’t she closed her email? She shifted her focus to her feet and a tear fell down to the ground, much like the rain drops outside. “Is it true?!” Charlie asked again with much more force. He sniffled and was using everything he had to choke back his tears. His mom looked up and right into her son’s eyes: the eyes of the boy she had raised, nurtured, and loved, and she nodded her head slowly. Charlie covered his face in disbelief. A gentle hand reached his shoulder in an attempt to comfort him but he just shoved it away. “Who are they?” he managed to choke out.

            “What?” Charlie’s mother asked, fully aware of what he had said.

            “Who are they? Who are my parents?”

            “I don’t know who they are. I don’t know their names. I only know where they live.” She answered, regretting it the moment after the words rolled off of her tongue.

            “Where do they live? I want to know.” Charlie said. Mother and son locked eyes and held each other’s gaze for what seemed like eternity. Then, she forced the words out. She told her only child the whereabouts of his parents�"his real parents. He took a piece of paper, wrote down the address, shoved it into his pocket, and stormed out of the room. He ran up the stairs and shoved open his bedroom door. Out of his closet he grabbed an old backpack and dumped its contents out onto his floor. Charlie grabbed an extra sweatshirt, his wallet, some spare change, a snack, and his phone and shoved it all into the bag, which he then zipped up and slung on his back. He walked down the stairs and headed towards the door. He was deaf to his mother’s pleading cries as he pushed open the door and stepped out into the rain.

            Within what seemed like moments, Charlie found himself at the public bus stop only a few blocks away from his house. He ignored the water that collected in his hair and rolled down the edge of his face. His face burned a bright red from the anger bubbling inside him. He couldn't believe it. His life was a lie, and he found himself blaming his parents. He resented them for the lie. In fact, he hated them. Suddenly, the large, metal bus rolled to a stop, its breaks screeching as the wheels slid across the wet ground. Charlie got on the bus and took the seat closest to the front. He stared out the window, trying hard to focus on the world blending together as the bus picked up speed rather than the thought of the truth. His fists clenched in rage�"he couldn't pretend he was ok. He wished he hadn't opened that email. No�"he needed to know the truth. He wished his parents would have told him. He wished he could wake up from this awful nightmare. Charlie closed his eyes. Blackness engulfed him and he began shutting out the world surrounding him. He could only hear the sound of his breathing when the bus came to a sudden stop and he was jolted back into reality. This was his stop. He slowly walked down the steep, bus steps, scared of what he might find. Or scared of what he might not find.

            After about five minutes of walking, Charlie arrived at where he was headed. He arrived at the truth. At his fears. At hope. At despair. At love. At abandonment. He couldn't tell where he had arrived. All he knew was what he saw: a small, blue house that looked as if it had just been built. The garden in front of the house was neatly trimmed and surrounded by a sturdy, white picket-fence. Charlie walked onto the cement slabs in the mulch that created a pathway to the door. He ran his fingers along the points of the fence and imagined what his childhood would have been like if his real parents hadn't given him up. He imagined leaping from stone to stone, trying not to touch the mulch�"or ‘lava’. He imagined giggling and laughing as he rolled around in the grass in the middle of summer. He imagined his real parents teaching him how to ride a bicycle and he imagined himself falling onto the sidewalk a hundred times before he could finally keep his balance without training wheels. Suddenly, Charlie found himself face to face with an unfamiliar, white door. He didn't know what he planned on saying to the people he’d never met before and he didn't know what he expected them to say. Charlie ran his fingers across the polished door and wondered what was on the other side. His hand clenched into a fist and he was about to knock on the door. But his hand slowed to a stop before it connected with the door. He stood in that spot for a moment�"a thousand moments�"transfixed in a battle between curiosity and reason. Ultimately, he turned away from the house and walked back down the pathway. He couldn't explain why he did what he did, but he left. Just before walking out of view, he took one last look at the house, soaking in what never was. Then, he turned the corner and the house disappeared.

            Charlie knew the bus wouldn't come back for a while, so he began walking home. Before long, he was overwhelmed with emotion. His anger had since melted into despair and sadness. He felt alone and empty. He felt like he didn't even know who his ‘parents’ were. He felt like he didn't even know who he was. Charlie slumped down on a curb on the side of a road and brought his hands to his eyes. He felt liquid drops slip through his fingertips, but he knew it wasn't the rain. He let out a cry that held all of his grief and sorrow and self-pity. He felt his very existence crumble into dust and be swept away by the tides of an ever-changing wind. He felt broken. Charlie picked up his head and stared ahead at a playground. Suddenly, memories came rushing into him. He saw the mother and father who raised him pushing him on the swings as he yelled for them to push him higher. He saw those same parents laugh as they chased their toddler around the playground. He saw himself jumping off the top of the playground into the arms of his parents. Oddly enough, Charlie let out a laugh. Something about ending up at a big part of his childhood while on a search for what his childhood might have been like seemed… funny. He wiped the tears from his eyes and stood up. He felt the memories that had flooded within him melt away his confusion. He felt the pieces of himself that had shattered begin to build themselves back together.

            Walking towards his house after having reminisced about his real childhood, Charlie began to notice the sun peeking out from behind the clouds. Its rays shone down onto the quiet Earth, making the lonely road seem more alive. Charlie approached closer and closer to his neighborhood�"the thoughts of previous events still reeling in his mind. He thought about when he stood in front of a house that wasn't meant to be and wondered if there was someone that thought about the child they gave away. He thought about looking up and seeing the playground from his childhood, causing some of his happiest memories with his parents to resurface in his mind. Then, his worn down house came into view. His life was etched into each and every dent and piece of chipped paint that embellished the exterior of the house. He walked up to the pathway that was partially covered by dirt and pressed his hand against the cheap sideboards. He closed his eyes and became lost in memories. He took a deep breath, absorbing the moment�"every sight, noise, smell, and feeling. He opened his eyes and walked to the porch. In front of the door, Charlie rested his hand on the familiar, rusted doorknob. Taking in every detail of the house he had lived in his whole life, he realized something. Charlie realized that biology doesn't determine who your family is.

            Opening the door, he saw his mom crying and hugging his dad. As soon as he stepped into the house, they both turned around and faced him. His dad let out a sigh of relief and his mom did the same. Soon, the three were in an embrace, with his mom muttering sorry through deep sobs.

 

            Charlie knew that behind the polished, white door from the new house with the trimmed garden and white, picket-fence were answers to his questions. What he didn't know was that behind that same door were a man and a woman�"his biological parents�"talking about the child they gave away so long ago. The couple sat watching the rain fall and quietly missed the baby who they would never know. Just as the couple admitted they wanted to see their now-grown up child, a boy walked up to their door. They saw the top of his hoodie through an upstairs window and watched him stand on their porch. Expecting a knock, the couple was surprised when they watched him walk away. They saw his face as he looked back and then disappeared around the corner. Standing on their doorstep, Charlie didn't know that his biological parents were thinking about him too. But it wouldn't have mattered. Charlie didn't know where he came from, but he knew where he belonged. He belonged in the embrace with the two people who had sheltered and raised him�"because they were his parents.

 

His real parents.

 

 

© 2014 Anthony C.


Author's Note

Anthony C.
Don't hold back on your criticism--it will only make me a better writer.

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I wrote a story along these lines (not online) and fell into the same trap you have. I splurged a lot of the character's thoughts and feelings onto the page and my lecturer told me that I assumed my reader was dumb. You can cut back on the obvious like 'He felt alone and empty.' The start is seems like unnecessary weather related stuff. You had me at the email bit. I like these topics - questions about identity. The paragraphs are too long. At one bit, where he's at a white door, that should be a new paragraph. The ending was a bit confusing - so his biological parents are watching him walk away and at the same time he comes home to his adopted parents?
Story wise it doesn't make sense. The character gets angry and leaves immediately without thinking. He goes all the way to his biological parents's house in the rain and suddenly decides that his adopted parents are great. Surely you could have done all of this while he's in his room? Or, his biological parents answer the door and he discovers that they are in poverty and have difficult lives - for example, a father in prison, a mother who is alcoholic. If you edit all these factors (which will take you a while but will be worth it) then I'd really like to come back and read this.

Posted 6 Years Ago


Hi. My name is Paul. I go by Firestarter. I'm new to WritersCafe.

I am so glad that I joined because it gave me the opportunity to read your story. I enjoyed it very much.
I specifically like your choice and use of words. Your choice of words had impact. They allowed me to feel part of the story.

I sincerely hope you continue to use your talent...Paul

Posted 6 Years Ago



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Added on May 28, 2014
Last Updated on May 28, 2014
Tags: adopted, identity, search, journey, parents

Author

Anthony C.
Anthony C.

Lancashire



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