George’s Wish

Submitted by James Offenhartz to Contest #17 in response to: Write a story about a "chosen family" dinner, where no one is related by blood, but they still feel like family.... view prompt


Every night we children get on our knees beside our bunk beds and pray for the same thing: a family. My name is George. I am currently living at another Foster Home, it’s almost Thanksgiving, and this will be my first Thanksgiving at this Home. I’m turning fourteen, going into Eighth Grade, and this is my sixteenth home in Virginia. However, there are thirteen other children in this home and they’re probably all praying for the same thing I am.

     Thanksgiving is tomorrow and I’ve been to Thanksgiving dinners before, but this is a much bigger house, but the point isn’t the food. The food could be burnt for all I care. The point is the people I’m eating with. I don’t know these people yet. Also, these foster parents, Margarette and Joey, have a dog named Toot.  He’s a Jack Russel Tarrior. He’s the only one guaranteed to have parents after three months. I ask permission to pet Toot and Margerette says that would be fine.  

For the dinner before Thanksgiving we, the other children, Margarette and Joey all eat spaghetti and meatballs and drink water with ice cubes. I saw the other children around me. Bill is a boy who has speech problems, maybe because of his teeth. He also walks weird. Mary is the one with down’s syndrome. She has a styrofoam “P” shaped thing where she sticks the bottom of the “P” into her mouth and sucks on it. Mary is blind because she was a pre-me. Me, I’m the unwanted child of a teen pregnancy. There isn’t anything physically or mentally wrong with me, my parents just couldn’t take care of me. I could meet them some day if I wanted to, but I haven’t decided yet.

So, the next morning, at Margerette and Joey’s place, I politely ask for breakfast, which is scrambled eggs from the plate in the middle of the table, bacon on another plate in the middle of the table, a plate of sausage, and lots of cups of orange juice. I see the dog, Toot, beg at my feet, so I take a small piece of bacon from my plate, and give it to Toot. Maybe if Toot wants me to stay, Margarette and Joey will want me to stay, too.

***

I remember the last home, where the state had to pick me up and tell me the foster parents decided to pass. I cried and begged, but foster parents were used to that. So, tonight is Thanksgiving and I’m going to do everything in my power to make Margarette and Joey love me and want to keep me. I’ll do the dishes without complaining, help prepare the meal, hush the two babies, anything. Just let me stay.

***

So, it’s 2 pm and Margerette and Joey put two unlit candles in the middle of the table. I ask Joey if there’s anything I can do to help make Thanksgiving Dinner easier.

“No, we’ve got this,” says Joey with a smile.

“I can set the table if . . .”

“I’ll set the table,” says Margerette.  

I don’t know what to do to make them keep me. God, tell me what to do.  

    So, I decide to pet Toot. Toot wags his tail and looks at me with a big dog smile. Then, I take a shower, change into my button down white shirt, slacks, and penny loafers. I ask if Margerette or Joey want help gathering the other 

children and they nicely say, “No”.  

***

See, I remember my last foster parents said I didn’t contribute enough to the housework/chores and that was one of the reasons they decided to give me back to the state. So, maybe if I do all the housework at Margerette and Joey’s, they’ll let me stay. Maybe.  

***

    Then, Margerette and Joey collect the children and we wind up at the dining room table, which has a dark red table cloth, two inlit candles, and nice china for us kids. We all sit, but no one says anything. Then, one kid asks if I could pass the turkey, please, so I pass it to her. Then, again, there’s almost total silence. See, we’re all afraid that if we do or say the wrong thing, we’ll be picked up by the state. Then, Joey starts a conversation about where we were last year for Thanksgiving and we cautiously start talking about our past foster houses and what we did and didn’t like about them, one at a time. One of them says they didn’t have money for food last Thanksgiving, another one says he had a good time at his former foster home.  Then, it comes to my turn:

“Last Thanksgiving I was at the Jones’s and I thought they were nice and they said, “I love you” every night before I went to bed. We had a 5 lb. turkey and cranberry sauce, potatoes, and pumpkin pie. It was good, then they called the state and had me picked up again and I didn’t know why? Why? What did I do wrong?”

Margerette and Joey said I probably didn’t do anything wrong. But then why send me back? After a few minutes they asked the kid next to me about his last Thanksgiving and he said it was nice and told what he ate at Bob Evan’s Restaurant. They let every kid talk about their past Thanksgivings. We all talked and had a good time. The food was delicious too.

***

    I remember arguing with my former foster brothers and sisters three houses ago that those parents should be my parents. And they shouldn’t say anything to interfere with me getting those parents. The former foster parents overheard me though and kicked me out anyway.

***

If in a few weeks, if I’m still at this house, and I can go to the mall, I want to sit on Santa’s lap and I’m going to whisper into Santa’s ear very softly that all I want for Christmas is a permanent home, a permanent school, to play sports, to have friends, and to have what Toot has: security. It isn’t that I don’t want the other foster kids to stay at this home, I just don’t want to be the one that has to leave again. I want to stay here. Please, Santa, please. That’s what I’m going to ask Santa. That’s what I’ll ask him.  






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