Please read “About this project and the Author” for more information on my project. In this excerpt, Daryl gets ready to me meet his fifth family.
“While I lay in bed, images are flashing in my mind so fast, it’s hard to keep up with the story they tell. I revisit the moment I first met Allan in the orphanage’s backyard, the time we spent together playing marbles, the day we “ran away”, our last hours with the interns and finally, seeing him leave with his new family by his side. In between the images of Allan, a few thoughts for myself as well as several heart beats skipped at the idea of a family coming to visit me tomorrow. Although I was told earlier they were not taking me with them immediately, that it would be just a visit at first, I know soon they will come and take me away with them. So many different but equally intense emotions fighting inside of me once more and I’m still not equipped to know which ones to entertain first. Exhausted from the crying and from the all these images bouncing in my head, somewhere before the end of the first run of the Cat Stevens reel, I fall asleep with my face buried in my pillow, soaked wet from my tears.
Upon waking up in the morning, I feel much better already. It’s a school day and I have these visitors coming to see me after dinner. I have to tell Gerard all about it since he has made me promise the next time they would find a family for me, I would tell him first. The moment the bus drops me off at school, I hurry to the yard where I spot my friend and run as fast as I can in his direction. I look at him in silence with a big smile on my face, which puzzles him.
“What’s with you today, Daryl?”
“Guess what Gerard? They found a family for me!”
“That’s great! I always knew you would be just fine Daryl”, he said. “With a bit of luck it won’t be too far from here so we can still see each other!” That’s why I like him so much, he seems so genuinely happy for me and he makes me feel like I matter to him. He has no stakes in this, he is only the custodian at my school but he truly believes in me. It’s no wonder I seek out his company.
“I hope so too Gerard. They’re coming to see me after dinner today. I’ll tell you all about it at lunch and tomorrow”.
I go to class with my heart racing while I keep an eye on the clock all day, which certainly doesn’t help time seem to go faster. At lunch I rush to the schoolyard to see Gerard but to my disappointment he isn’t on duty which saddens me because I really wanted discuss my good news more with him more in details.
Somewhere in the afternoon, it occurs to me that I have never felt excited about meeting a family before. Fear is usually what I feel as well as anxiety and whatever else overwhelms me in a mostly negative way in the hours preceding the meeting. Now and for the first time, there is also hope. I’m not sure where it comes from and how to handle it. This isn’t something I’m familiar with and when it rises inside of me, so does my discomfort and at times so intensely, I have to focus to keep breathing normally, to slow down my heart and I fight with everything I have to tame down this emotion, with mixed results I must admit. Repressing what feels good is now well on its way of becoming a reflex.
When the bell finally rings to announce the end of the classes for the day, I run for the bus as if my life depends on it. Today is “SPECIAL”. Today I do feel a little “SPECIAL”, so the sign on the front of the bus couldn’t be more right and I couldn’t be happier to get on it and take my seat.
The ride to Ville Joie seems to take forever so when I reach my destination, I fly up the stairs and run through the cafeteria to go straight to my room. I am excused from all the chores I would normally be required to do so I can prepare for my visitors. On my bed, I lay down my pants, my shirt, my jacket and my damn clip-on tie to make sure they will be fresh and wrinkle free after dinner, which I get to eat early because I am so excited and also because I asked for more time to get ready. I want so badly to look my very best for the big moment. In fact, I have planned this so well that, when I am finally ready, there is still more than an hour until my new family is scheduled to arrive.
Giles and I sit side by side in the cafeteria to wait for them. He is usually the one who accompanies us during these moments. There is something about Giles that calms us down in stressful situations and his presence alone is enough to make the wait bearable. The educators know what is happening inside of us at any given moment, they know our minds are racing just as fast as our hearts and they know just what to say, just what to do to bring back some sort of a balance in what we are feeling. I have spent the whole day hoping for this moment while at the same time dreading it. In the last few years, it seems life has given me just enough maturity to now know I have to do the best I can to make a good first impression on the people I’m about to meet and it is clear to me that, this time, I have to give a real effort to make things work. I can no longer hide behind innocence or youth; I have been here, at this very place at this very moment, too many times now. I know exactly how this plays out and I am confident I know what is expected of me.
And then just like that, I hear the side door leading to the cafeteria opening behind us and the steps of people walking in. Whatever confidence I was feeling a few seconds ago has been wiped out in an instant and I am suddenly so paralyzed by fear, I can’t even find the strength to turn around and look at them.
Giles notices me, frozen in my chair and says “They’re here, you want to stand and and say hello?”
I manage to get out of my chair and push myself up but I keep my head down while I turn around to face my new family. I take a deep breath and when I finally gather enough courage to raise my chin and look at them, my heart stops and my brain can’t process the scene offered to me.
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This project is entirely written on an iPad…and no I do not have representation!