The Orphanage

The Orphanage

A Chapter by John

The putrid smell of blood and human waste filled the child’s nostrils and startled him into attention, just to find him waking up to a universe of pain from his broken wrist and numerous lashes crisscrossing his back. He tried to look around but was surrounded by darkness. Were it daytime, as the child had come to observe, tiny rays of sunlight would have pierced the darkness through holes in the shipping container. The tenebrous shade, however, let him know night was well under way.

      He dared not move much, in fear of worsening the pain but also of waking up the other children that he knew were there, even if he couldn’t see them. Life was bad as it was without missing a night’s sleep. The boy lay down carefully and closed his eyes, trying to think of the terrifying events that had taken place over the last few weeks. Key events that had, in that short a time, transformed his life �" even if it had not been a perfect one �" into hell.



     “You see, Andressa, our son passed not two months ago, just before we moved here. The wife…well, she didn’t take it very well. Not saying I did, right? I may have been hard on him, but I loved the boy,” the man said, putting his arms around his wife and gently bringing her closer to him. He was dressed in well-tailored clothes that were well beyond their prime, a sign of former wealth. “I talked to a friend of mine, knows about trauma and such, told me a child might be good for her. Took some convincing but here we are.”

     The room they were in was simple in furniture, having only what was necessary for the caretakers to keep everything in order and be able to attend to visiting parents. The couple, both already of an age, sat in comfortable chairs, faced with the senior caretaker across an old cherry wood table. The caretaker was still in her thirties; her lively face betrayed only by the signs of fatigue in it.

     “I’m so terribly sorry for your loss, Mr…” she answered in a sympathetic tone, checking the name in her file. “Ellwood. Certainly, I’ve heard that it is good to bring a child in after losing another. Tell me, how old was your son?”

     “Young Thomas was barely seven, miss. It was our last chance to raise a child, you see, taken so suddenly. I can’t bear anymore,” this time the woman spoke, in such a mild manner that the caretaker had to get closer to hear her. She sounded almost empty, so devoid of emotion was her voice.

     Andressa stood up and begged the couple do the same. “We house several children that would be a very good fit for the two of you. Most of them are great kids, full of energy and good of heart,” she explained as they crossed one of the halls of the orphanage. It had been built on the foundation of a crumbling hospital just a few years before. She opened the doors to a great hall and the hall was suddenly brimming with the sounds of children playing. The room presented was filled with children of many different ages, playing in groups big and small. The hall also had a set of sliding doors that led to a small field, where boys and girls were playing what appeared to be soccer.

     “Miriam!” She motioned to another caretaker, who was talking enthusiastically to a group of teenagers. “would you please find Sebastian, James and Nailah? Those three are always together, shouldn’t be too hard. I have a couple who’s here to see them,” the girl smiled at that and hurried off into the yard, earning yells and complaints from the players as she crossed and entered a room on the other side.

     “Why don’t you make yourselves comfortable while you wait, and I’ll go get us some water? The heat can be quite unrelenting at this time of the year,” she pointed to a few chairs on the corner of the hall and walked to a table in the center, where she grabbed three cups and filled them with water from a ceramic filter and distributed them before sitting.

     “So, Mr. and Mrs. Ellwood, do you have anything more specific that you are looking for in a child? Some parents can be quite unrelenting with certain details, such as sex, hair, and eye color,” she sipped the water and calmly faced them. They looked at each other tenderly and smiled.

     “Nothing of the sort, Andressa. We just want someone we feel comfortable with and feels the same toward us. Someone to help us fill the void left by Thomas’ passing,” Mrs. Ellwood answered for them.

     As she did, Miriam came back into the hall, followed by three scruffy kids, roughly the same age. They were all blushing; from the heat or anxiety, no one could tell. The two boys had their hair cut short, though one’s was a light shade of orange while the other’s was completely black, while the girl �" a few centimeters taller than the boys �" wore hers in a long braid that danced down her back.

     “Ah, my three little devils. You weren’t up to anything mischievous, now were you?” Andressa greeted them warmly. “Please sit, this couple is here to see you. They are Mr. And Mrs. Ellwood, who moved to Cairo just recently. Why don’t you present yourselves to them, children?” she smiled and waited for them to come forward orderly.

     “M-my name is James, sir. And uh, madam. Aunt Dessa says my parents were outsiders, and that’s why my hair is the color of carrots. That’s my nickname” �"he opened a big, proud smile, as if he had been rehearsing this and finally got it right�" “Carrots.”

     “How cute!” Mrs. Ellwood said, enchanted, “And do you like eating carrots, James? They’re very important for your health.”

     “That…is still a work in progress, ma’am. I feel quite bad about eating my fellow kinsman,” he answered, scratching his nose with his finger and blushing while everybody laughed. He sat, satisfied, and the other boy came along.

     “I’m Sabah, but Andressa says Sebastian sounds better if I want to be adopted, so she calls me that, but I prefer Sabah, or Bash. I don’t care what you call me, though,” where James was warm and pleasant, Sabah was so cold and blunt he left both the adults and the children unsure of what to say. He sat calmly�" as if the eerie atmosphere wasn’t his fault�"and refused to speak any more.

     “Well, what about you, Nailah?” Andressa said, trying to lighten the mood and giving Sabah a killer look, her warmth all but gone.

     “Aunt Dessa, you meanie, now that you said my name, you ruined my intro!” She said faking exasperation, and then smiling a little. “I want to be an actress when I grow up and star in big action movies. I really hope you like me,” her smile broadened and she sat between Sabah and James.

     “That’s that, Mr. and Mrs. Ellwood,” Andressa sounded relieved. “Would you like some time to talk to them alone?” As the Ellwoods nodded positively, the two caretakers stood up and left to take care of their chores around the orphanage, promising to be back in an hour or when they called.

     During their time with the Ellwoods, the children came to learn a lot about them. That they had lost their only son, and had come from the U.S. to live in Cairo. Their original plan had been to enjoy a peaceful life where they could raise their child in peace. They had chosen the city for its safety after the military crackdown by the Israeli, who now ensured most of Egypt was as safe a place as possible. However, a few weeks prior to their trip, Thomas had been in a car accident and passed away. As heartbroken as they were, they felt going on with their trip would be the best, both to honor Thomas and to have a fresh start.

     The Ellwoods seemed to have a lot of money, going by their clothes and the photos of the house that they showed to the kids. Throughout the hour, they also talked about the children’s wishes and aspirations for the future, and other amenities. When Andressa came back, the initially surly atmosphere had transformed into a cheerful one, with all of them laughing and smiling. That gave her some hope that at least one of the children would be out of the house and into the loving couple’s care before the day was over.

     “Aunt Dessa!” James spoke when she approached, “These two are really nice! I think we are ready to go with them,” always the joker, he drew more laughs from those around them.

     “Ms. Andressa, if we could have a word…?” Mrs. Ellwood said, standing up with her husband. They motioned for the children to stay as they began to stand up, and accompanied her outside the hall. “Here’s the thing. We really loved all of those three. Even Sabah with his surliness. We were wondering if it would be possible to adopt all three of them.”

     Andressa almost couldn’t hide her surprise at hearing that. The adoption of twins was somewhat uncommon, when chance had it, but for a couple to want to adopt three unrelated children was extremely rare, and borderline fishy. She would have been suspicious if she hadn’t spent the last few days doing a thorough background check on them. Aside from minor infractions decades before, they were squeaky clean.

     “I’m really glad to hear that, and frankly, I don’t see why not! I would just need some minutes to prepare the documentation for all of them. Why don’t you go back inside and tell them the news?” She pushed them gently towards the door and the waiting children, and went back to her office.

© 2016 John

My Review

Would you like to review this Chapter?
Login | Register

Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


Added on February 22, 2016
Last Updated on March 25, 2016



Brasilia, DF, Brazil

Just someone who writes a lot of random stuff... more..

One perfect day One perfect day

A Chapter by John

The Façade The Façade

A Chapter by John

Sold Sold

A Chapter by John