I am not an orphan - or not yet. But that is basically how it feels like. Living here, or at least since she arrived, my sister - no not sister - stepsister. What can I say, I had the perfect family with my mom and my dad and they both loved me so much and I loved them too. But ever since my mom died five years ago in a car crash my dad has never been the same. He was completely broken and blamed himself for it. I tried to help him all I could, but it wasn’t enough.
This went on until he met my stepmom around a year ago and after that my life has become even worse than I could ever have imagined. My dad started drinking and completely forgot I existed, and my stepmom doesn’t care about him or me, because I know the only reason she's here is because of our money.
The only one I can count on is my teddy bear Bobo which was the last gift I ever received from my mother. Ever since she died, I have been more attached to him than ever. I talk to him all day, every day, and he talks back. He says I’m special because I’m the only one who can hear him, he's also my best and only friend.
“You know Bobo today is the 1st of December and I used to love Christmas with my mom and dad. We had a great time singing Christmas carols and decorating the house with as much light as possible and just being this small happy family, but that was then, now it’s the worst time of the year. I hate Christmas all the way down to the bottom of my heart and everything about it. Why? You may ask, but you already know Bobo. I tell you this story every Christmas. I will tell you again.”
“It’s just, I don’t get how everybody is so damn happy all the time, while singing, dancing, and eating with no regrets. While I’m sitting here mourning over the loss of my mother. Why won't they just let me be in peace. I have no interest in a man wearing a Santa costume to come over to me in the street saying: “Ho ho ho, merry Christmas”. Can’t they just leave me alone and get lost. And also, these annoying Christmas commercials: “The snow is glowing, Christmas is near, the wind is blowing, so just drink a beer”. Like c’mon it’s not even like anyone likes or listens to commercials anyway. And the fact that they try and make people drink even more than they already do, makes my blood boil.”
“And you know what Bobo this part is not even the worst. The worst is the 24th of December or more specifically Christmas Eve. Urgh, I can’t stand it, everybody is having this great time opening gifts, while someone decides to get drunk - and yes of course, also decides to go driving in the middle of the night, while drunk, on an icy road, speeding, and hitting a random car. Oh yeah, and you guessed it Bobo and kill my mother. Yes, my mother, just like that and she was gone and then just seeing that man in my head leaving his car without a scratch, completely drunk, and the fact that he probably doesn’t even remember it kills me, no no the fact that I was woken up the next day hearing my dad crying and telling me what had happened. Bobo, I just don’t get it. Why did it have to happen to us? Why me?”
Days have passed with me and Bobo in my room throughout December, watching and hearing people in their best moods while all I ever wished for Christmas - the same wish I’ve had the past five years - is getting my mother back, and now it’s Christmas again, and I feel empty. My mom is still gone, and my dad is drunk while my stepmom and sister is figuring out what they should spend our money on, not theirs. And as I’m sitting here, I can hear something I don’t think I’ve heard for five years. My dad crying. I can hear his sobs from downstairs all the way to my room, but it’s not a sad cry. It is more of a happy cry and of course, like the curious person I am, I want to see what is going, and as I am going down the stairs, I hear her voice, a voice I kind of recognize but I can’t quite put my finger on. And then reality hits me like a truck. MOM.
My legs are trembling, and my heart is all the way up in my throat. I’m trying my best to keep my balance while I’m running down the stairs. And then I freeze completely, and I can do nothing but stare. She is standing in the doorway with my dad hugging her tightly while he is crying his eyes out. I start running towards them again with tears in my eyes and with Bobo in my hands. My mom is back.
I don’t understand it. But I don’t care - I got my Christmas wish.
Inside St. George, a children’s home, lived a boy named Isaac. It was the 25th of December, the day on which Christmas was to take place and the same day Isaac was born.
The Matron had told Isaac that on his fourteenth birthday, he was to be given a gift from his now deceased parents, the parents that Isaac had never met. So as soon as Isaac heard the other children thumping down the stairs that was when Isaac decided to crawl out of bed and downstairs to the small dining hall, where he was to have breakfast.
While Isaac was consuming his breakfast, bread with milk, the Matron walked up behind him and tapped on his shoulder.
“Isaac, you are to receive your parents’ gift today,” said the Matron sternly.
Isaac just nodded and hopped off his seat, abandoning his breakfast. The Matron led Isaac to a small room in the back meant to keep archives of the children that had previously lived there. It was slightly dusty, and the smell of paper lingered in the air. Isaac watched with barely hidden eagerness as the Matron pulled out a shoebox from a small cupboard and handed it to Isaac.
Isaac took it in his hands with the same gentleness you would a baby.
“Thank you, ma’am.” Isaac murmured with an innocent smile on his face. The Matron grunted in reply before walking past him.
It was a few days after Christmas, the 29th to be precise, and Isaac had already gone through his shoebox. He had found a photo of his parents; his mother was short and plump with shoulder-length hair. His father was stocky, had short hair, a trimmed beard and round wired glasses.
Isaac couldn’t see what colour hair or eyes they had but he didn’t mind, at least he knew what their faces looked like.
The other items in the small shoebox also included a brown teddy bear the size of his hand and a letter. The problem was, Isaac didn’t know how to read so he had spent the last few days trying to learn how to read since the only people that knew how to read around here was the Matron and a few of the older kids. If he asked the Matron, she would dismiss him and accuse him of being dim-witted and dumb. If he asked the older kids, they would make him pay money which he didn’t have so he stuck to trying to read it himself.
So far, he had gotten ‘We are tied by’ and ‘Nothing can’ after hours of hard work.
Whilst he was trying to decipher this jumble of words that his parents had left him, he was approached by his friend Johnny. Isaac’s friend had vibrant red hair and piercing dark brown eyes. Johnny was older than Isaac by a month.
“What are you doing? “Johnny asked, the redhead’s curious eyes sliding over the letter that Isaac was holding.
“I’m uh, trying to read this letter,” Isaac responded clumsily.
Johnny sat down next to him on the floor and leaned closer to him to try to get a good look at the letter.
“I think that says, ‘We shall’ right there,” Johnny says, pointing at the letter. “Who’s this letter from anyways?”
“It’s from my parents,” Isaac revealed to Johnny.
Johnny’s eyes went wide and that’s when Isaac knew that the ginger wouldn’t leave his side until he had helped Isaac decipher this letter.
It was a few hours later when Isaac and Johnny went down for supper, he had his precious letter in his pocket. Isaac and Johnny managed to get;
‘We are tied by blood and love
Nothing can ever cut the ties that bind us together
We shall guide each other and fight for each other
Which was more than Isaac could ever figure out on his own, but before Isaac and Johnny even reached the dining table, sirens started to sound. He looked up at the Matron waiting for instructions on what to do. The Matron stood up from her seat at the dining table, knocking her chair to the floor.
“Everyone out!” she shrieked; her face paler than paper.
Isaac looked around for Johnny but to no avail, before he could shout for his friend, he was pushed by a small crowd of children outside. When he stumbled outside, Isaac noticed people looking up at the sky, some were pointing with a horrified expression dawning on their faces. Isaac followed suit, looking up only to see planes hovering above. Then and only then he realized what was happening.
Isaac’s thoughts began to go into overdrive.
He hadn’t even become an adult yet; he would never get to have a family of his own. He wouldn’t be able to treat his children like royalty and treat them with the love, he desired so badly.
Isaac hadn’t even read his parents last words to him yet.
Isaac was only broken from his stupor when he heard an impossibly loud BOOM! and sounds of people and children screaming. He snapped his head to his left to see that down the street was a building, previously a grocery store, in pieces and on fire.
Before he could have a proper panic, Johnny was next to him. The redhead turned to see where the Matron was, but all Johnny sighted were mostly young children running around in panic with no greying middle-aged lady in sight.
“That bint,” Johnny spat “’Can’t believe she just left us here!”
Isaac felt the panic crawl back into him, strangling him and choking him.
“I…“ Isaac paused for a second rubbing furiously at his eyes: “What do we do?”
Johnny grabbed Isaac by the shoulders, even if he was shorter than Isaac his presence seemed to loom over him in a protective aura.
“We’ll be okay, we’ll find a place to hide.” Johnny declared.
The taller boy nodded and took him by the hand, implying that Johnny should lead the way. Johnny started walking, manoeuvring through the crowds of panicking children with a few adults scattered in between.
After a while they stopped in a dingy alleyway, Isaac could’ve sworn he saw a rat scamper through a hole in the wall. Towards the end of the alleyway Isaac could see a stone staircase leading down into an unlit semi-basement with nothing but a beat-up sofa in there. There were shattered windows on the right side of where the staircase was.
“Is this safe?” Isaac whispered to Johnny as they advanced towards the stairs.
Johnny gave him a little squeeze through his hand and nodded.
“There’s no one there and there’s shelter for us, I’m pretty sure it’s safe.” Johnny looked back at him with a smile.
The two boys trudged down the stairs with Johnny leading the way. Isaac looked around the room again. There were broken milk bottles littered about the floor, they looked as if they’ve been there for an eternity. Johnny and Isaac walked towards the previously mentioned sofa, avoiding bits of glass. They settled on the sofa together, dust bursting out.
“Isaac.” Johnny turned to face Isaac, his brown eyes looking into Isaac’s. “We should read that letter your parents left you.”
Isaac had all but forgotten his precious letter stored in his pocket, alongside the photograph of his parents. He was too busy panicking about the bombs raining down. Isaac hastily buried his hands into his trousers to retrieve his letter and photograph. Johnny slid closer to Isaac, peering down at the letter.
“Before we left the orphanage, I skipped dinner to look up on some dictionaries in the Matrons office.” Johnny looked up at Isaac with a wicked smirk on his face. “I tore a truck-ton of pages out and stuffed in my pants before we left.”
“So that’s where you went.” Isaac murmured mostly to himself.
The ginger reached into his pockets, fetching scrambled pieces of paper in his pants. He unfolded them one by one, flattening the small quirks disrupting the white surface.
The two boys got to work.
After what felt like an hour or two of them going through crumbled pages of words and comparing them to the letter, they managed to figure out everything.
“We are tied by blood and love,
Nothing can ever cut the ties that bind us together,
We shall guide each other and fight for each other,
We shall be kind to each other and assure that all will be fair,
We care for and adore you Isaac,
Isaac read out-loud, his hands shaking as he finished the poem. The bombings had become more frequent with the smell of smoke clearly in the air.
“We did it!” exclaimed Johnny, his positive energy infectious.
Isaac smiled a triumphant smile and fetched the photograph of his parents laying atop the arm of the sofa. He started down at them in silence, with Johnny gazing down at the photo next to him. Isaac felt as if his parents were smiling at him even if there was no uplift of lips on their faces.
“Are those your parents?” Johnny spoke quietly.
Clutching the photo tighter, Isaac nodded.
Suddenly, a large boom interrupted the moment, landing right outside the entrance to the basement they were in. Debris and bricks flung at them and the walls around them crumbled. The two boys were supressed under the weight of the rubble, Isaac couldn’t feel his legs anymore.
Isaac focused on Johnny, sitting on his left. Johnny was gurgling on his own blood his midriff was penetrated by a pipe and his legs concealed by huge pieces of grey remnants of the building.
This was it. They really were going to die.
Isaac grabbed Johnny by his right hand, his left arm also buried under debris. Isaac starred into Johnny’s eyes, the blood coating the right side of Johnny’s face. The red head’s eyelids were closing, the bright brown fading from his eyes. All Isaac could do was watch as his best friend died. The hand going limp.
Isaac blinked away his tears and looked away, looking down at his parents standing side by side, he tried to ignore the incoming pain leaking into his nerves as the adrenaline wore off. He focused on his parents and their letter, repeating the poem in his head again and again.
He was so deep into his mind that he didn’t notice the sound of the crumbling wall behind him.
I wake up to another dull day, but as I look out the window, I see snow, so I think to myself “oh it’s winter”. As I get up, I can feel the cold breeze run through my legs. After I brush my teeth and feed my fish, I get ready for school. It’s Monday today so I haven’t really been outside my room so as soon as I step out into the hallway, I see a bunch of Christmas decorations. I walk downstairs and greet my family; my mom offers me a warm smile, so I smile back. As I walk out the door, I yell goodbye and hear my family say goodbye.
So, I should probably introduce myself. My name is Alex and I’m 16 years old and I go to Rydell High School. I have three siblings, all younger than me and I, of course, am the mistake of the family. My parents weren’t ready for a kid but were forced to have me, they didn’t want to put me in a foster home or put me up for adoption ‘cause they didn’t want me to end up in an abusive home and I’m thankful for that. But my dad didn’t give me any attention and my mom did try and is still trying but it isn’t enough. Especially after my siblings came. I barely have any friends in real life but I have a lot online, so my phone is very precious to me, and I always have it on me. As I near the school I put in my headphones and start listening to music. When I enter the school, I hear snickering and talking but I don’t pay attention to it. After school, I walk home like always. I notice that it has been snowing so I pull my hood up as I take a detour.
As I reach my house, I hear screams, so I run inside to see my parents arguing. As I run to my room, I hear crying coming from one of my siblings' rooms, so I knock on the door and hear a weak “come in”. I open the door to see my younger sister on the floor crying with a bruise on her cheek, so I hurry to her and hug her. When I ask her, what has happened she says that she was trying to stop the fighting since I wasn’t here, and our younger siblings were so scared, and dad was so angry he slapped her.
That is the final straw for me. I give her some soundproof headphones and tell her to go to our siblings' rooms and give them the other headphones while I go downstairs. When I reach the bottom of the stairs the screaming gets louder, as I walk into the living room where my parents are, I see my dad slap my mom. My mom gets more furious and starts to yell louder so I scream at the top of my lungs for them to shut up, they stop, and my dad looks even more furious than before. I know I am in danger but at that moment I don’t care because my little siblings are scared and it is my duty to help them, so when my dad starts to walk up to me I accept my fate. At least my siblings don’t have to worry anymore.
I wake up a few hours later sore everywhere because of all the bruises. I stumble around as I try to walk. When I finally reach my room, I slump down on the bed in pain. I decide to just ignore the pain and try to sleep.
When I see it is daytime, I realize I have barely slept. I decide to get ready for school and stop at a store on the way and buy an energy drink. On my way to school, I talk to my online friends. In school we barely learn anything, everything is just about Christmas and I don’t really care because Christmas has never been a happy holiday for me, I always just get ignored or forgotten over the holidays. After school, I don’t really want to go home so I just decide to stop at a small café. After I order, I find a seat and sit down, I take a book from my bag and start to read while listening to music. I have gotten so immersed into my book I don’t even realize what time it is. Suddenly a really cute girl comes up to me and tells me that the café is closing.
She is apparently the owner's daughter and works there. She is so cute, she has light brown skin and little freckles all around her face. She is wearing a light green frog sweater and ripped black jeans.
I start walking home and check my notifications to see well nothing special. As I reach my house, I notice that it has no lights turned on which is extremely weird. As I walk inside, I turn the light on to see a little letter. I take it and recognize the writing immediately. It is my younger sister’s. The letter states that my ‘family’ has left for a vacation and has left me at home without telling me. Our ‘parents’ told my siblings not to tell me because they didn’t want me to come with them. I surprisingly am not surprised that they pulled this crap, so I decide to call my grandparents. They live on the other side of the state, so I barely get to see them but when I do they show me the affection my ‘parents’ are supposed to show me. When my grandma answers I tell her what has just happened, and she is furious and tells me she will put some money on my credit card for the next few weeks. She then tells me that she and my grandpa will come to get me on Friday when school ends so I can spend the holidays with them.
I end up ordering pizza for dinner and clean the house a little. The next day after school I go to the small café again. And to my surprise the cute girl is here again, I go to a corner table and sit down after ordering. While I wait for my order, I try texting my bestie, but she doesn't answer. Then I remember she is working so I put my phone down. The cute girl brings me my order and I finally get up the courage to ask her what her name is. It’s Charlotte and to be honest, it fits her perfectly. I decide to study for an hour at the café before I go grocery shopping. After I finish my homework, I say goodbye to Charlotte the cutie and go to the store. I just end up buying some essentials and food. When I get home, I finish my homework and the cleaning and then I make dinner and go to sleep. And that's how my week went by. School, and then to the café to talk to Charlotte, then home to make dinner and text my bestie, who I call Bunny, then I usually call my grandma and then go to sleep.
On the Friday when my grandparents are supposed to come to get me, I get a phone call from a hospital. They inform me that my grandparents have just been in a car crash and my grandma was pronounced dead at the scene while my grandpa is in a coma at the hospital. I ask which hospital, and she says it is the County General Hospital which is three hours away by a car, and I just start crying. After I hang up, I fall down in the snow. I was outside waiting for them… but now… I am on the ground crying my eyes out. After a while I go inside and text my online bestie with hands that are numb from the cold, and I tell her what happened.
She asks which city I live in and I tell her. She says she lives there too. I give her my address and less than ten minutes later she is standing outside my door. As I open the door, I recognize her as the cute girl. I fall into her arms and start crying again, she helps me inside, and we lay there in complete silence as I cry my heart out. The next day as I wake up, I smell bacon and eggs, as I walk into the kitchen, I see Charlotte cooking breakfast and I feel my heart skip a beat.
Later that day her dad drives me to the hospital, my grandpa is in, and as soon as I get there, I see my parents surprisingly not arguing. When I go to the receptionist and ask for my grandpa’s room, she asks what my name is, and I tell her and then she leads me to his room while my parents follow while whispering. When we get to the room I run up to his bed and start crying. Thankfully Charlotte's dad is still here and he hugs me.
After a few weeks my grandpa woke up from his coma. He then became my legal guardian. Charlotte and I started dating and through all my teen years and still now my most precious item is my phone. Now Christmas is one of my favorite holidays and this is a poem I made for Christmas:
Christmas what a wonderful thing you are,
With all that snow and gifts,
All the happy families
And the baked sweets, now thank you