We Might Have Been Brothers

Submitted into Contest #2 in response to: Write a story about someone trying to escape their situation.... view prompt




It’s cold.

And I want to get out

Of this darn place.

I’m not sure

How I’ll leave

Because after all

I’m just

An unemployed kid

Who hates


Much everything.

I’m sitting

Here in my dark room

With the blinds

Shut and

The light off.

Thinking and wondering

How I could leave.

My foster family

Wouldn’t care.

Wouldn’t care that I’m gone.

My foster brother


Told me they didn’t

Want me anyway

So why would they care if

They woke up and I was

Not there?

They wouldn’t.

I wouldn’t.

But I can’t do it

By myself.

After all, two is

Better than one.

Wait, I know.

I know who will go with me.


I’ve been living

In this stinking foster home

For two years

And my only friend is

a boy named Trent

from across the road

Who hates


Much everything.

But then

So do I.

It’s 3am,

A usual bedtime hour

For an unwanted kid

Like me.

I hear a knock

A knock on my window.

Climbing off my bed

I visit the window

Man it’s cold by the glass

Outside it’s dark

And who should be standing there

But Trent?

Fully clothed

Holding a bag and

A bus timetable in his hand.

“Liam,” he says, “let’s get outta

This place,

And live a life

Our parents would be

Proud of.”

And the way he says it

It almost sounds like we could be brothers

And we are.

Kind of.

Without a thought

For my foster family

And their perfect, undefiled lives

I pack up a backpack with everything

I own.

Which is only

A toothbrush,                                                                                                    

My book that I stole

From my foster sister’s room,

And a grey hoodie I own

The one thing I bought

Before I was here.

And the one thing that I have

That my real parents gave me:

A photograph

Of them, my kin

By blood we’re connected

And I know what they

Look like

Or looked like, anyways.

And on the back?

A note.

‘Liam don’t

Forget us

Because we

Want you back’.

So I climb out of the window

And I say to Trent,

“Alright, brother,

Let’s find out

Where we really belonged

Once upon

A time.”


We’re really

Doing it

Me and my brother Liam

Who isn’t really

My brother

But then, who is

If not for Liam?

I’ve got nobody

At least Liam

Has a photograph

And a note from his real


And as we run

I can’t help but wonder

If my real parents are out there

Looking for me like Liam’s

Are looking for him?

Or even if they are still


We’ve been running

Just me and Liam

For hours’ now

Our breath is like clouds

Because it’s darn cold out here

And I can barely

Suck in a breath.

“Liam,” I pant,

“Please let’s stop

Before I can’t go on.”

And Liam nods

And stops

And we sit as I catch

My escaping breath.

Liam isn’t even panting

He’s always been an endurance

Kind of runner.

I can see something

Gleaming in Liam’s

Bright blue eyes

He’s hopeful

I’m not.

“Liam,” I say,

“What are we holding on to?”

Liam looks at me

He’s smiling.


“That our parents are out there,

Trent, and we might find them.”

I get to my feet, pulling Trent

To his own.

“Think,” I say,

“We might have been brothers.”

Trent looks doubtful

More than he had when we

Left our stinking foster homes.

Then he gives me a smile

A small one

But a smile nonetheless.

“Liam,” he says,

“We’re more like

Brothers than

Any real brother could be.”

Trent is my best friend

And together we’re running

Running once again

Through the park and

Streets of our little town

But it’s not really ours

Our future hasn’t even been


We’ve got a bus to catch

We’re getting out of here.


Is what

We’re holding on to.


The bus driver lets us on

For free.

Good thing too

Because I didn’t bring money

Neither did Liam

But we don’t have any


“Boys,” he tells us,

“I hope you

Find what you’re looking for.”

And we thank him.

He seems nice

As he revs up

His shiny bus and lets us

Sit at the coveted

Back of the bus

Amongst people

Getting up early

Heading to their jobs to earn

The money they’ll use

To give to their complete and wonderful


“Where are we going?” Liam asks me.

But I don’t know.

Just outta the place we’ve been stuck

Forced to stay in

For too long.

I guess

I should be grateful to

My foster family for taking me in

But my real family is out there




We’ve been on this bus

All darn day.

My back hurts from sitting

On this seat since the sun went up

Till now, when it’s

Going down.

Suddenly I let out

A laugh.

“What?” Trent asks.

I’m just imagining my foster mother’s


When she called me out of bed

Only to find

I already was

And all that’s left of me is a note

‘Thanks for everything,

But I needed to leave.

I’m going to find my parents.

Don’t come after me.

I’ll be long gone.’

I laugh again.


Liam keeps laughing

About the joke he sprung

On his foster family.

He says he left a note

For them to find.

I realise

I left nothing for them.

I just disappeared.

I almost laugh myself.

Lukas can take back all the things

I borrowed

Without asking.

And he can lounge on my bed and

Play with the action figures

We’re both way too old for.

Suddenly I remember.

My cat.

Jaspar was still at Lukas’ house.

Lukas would be patting her and stroking her

And laughing because now he’s got

The only friend

I ever had

Before Liam.

Jaspar wasn’t really my cat

But my foster mother said that

If she made me feel comfortable

Then I could call her mine for a while.

I let a tear slip out

Because she’ll be wondering

Where I’ve gone.

But I wipe it up because

We’re supposed to be escaping

Me and Liam.


Trent thinks I didn’t see

The tear that slipped out on his cheek

But I did.

As the bus driver stops at the next stop and

People coming home from work

Get on, I tell Trent,

“Let’s get off and find

Somebody kind

Who also has food.”

We thank the driver

Who shakes our hands,

Wishes us luck.

The town we’re in

Is far, far away

From the one we were

Trapped in.

At least,

I thought,

No one will be able to trace us


It’s dark

About 10pm.

I jog up to a big sign

Illuminated by lights

It’s a map

And I can see an information centre

Shown by an ‘I’ on the billboard.

“Should we go there?” Trent asks.

I think we should.

We should find a place that can

Tell us where our parents are.

It takes us

Ten minutes

To run down

To where the

information centre is.

Right next to the

Child Protection Society


I didn’t even see it on

The billboard.

Neither did Trent.

I suddenly can see

The hope in Trent’s eyes

That I felt growing in mine.

We were a step closer to discovering where we once

Belonged. Truly belonged.

Suddenly Trent curses.

The door is closed and locked

And a sign says,


We’re closed’.

Trent doesn’t accept

Their apology

Neither do I.

But we’re helpless


Nobody’s there.

So there’s nothing we can do

But wait.

In the cold

In the dark.

Until morning.


I don’t believe this.

I’ve never slept

On a street

Except once.

Before some agency

Found me and

Sent me to the stinking

Foster home

With people who didn’t really

Want me there.

At least, the foster siblings

I was stuck with


I thought my situation

Would be better than

The one I had just escaped from.

But I guess I was

Wrong to hope

As Liam was hoping.

“Things could be worse,”

He says to me.

Yeah, I tell myself.

I could be a homeless kid

Sleeping outside

With no family

No food

No shelter

And no friends

Except for my brother

Who isn’t even my brother.

He’s just my best friend

Who’s stuck in the same

Darn situation as me.



It’s now that

I really want Jaspar

Not just because I love her

And she loves me

But because she’s warm

And I’m not.

Liam notices me


He hands me the

Grey hoodie I knew he

Managed to buy once.

I spread the hoodie over

My cold legs.

What an idiot,

I thought,

To not wear my long pants.

I wonder if

My real parents

Are living around here

Feeling the same cold.

“Liam,” I say suddenly,

“We might have been brothers

Once upon a time

When we truly belonged somewhere.”

And I realise

That without Liam

I really would have nobody

In the world.



I stretch

I’m stiff as a board

I look at Liam.

He’s still sleeping.

I shake him.

If somebody finds us here

We might get sent home

For being homeless

Seems ironic.

But where’s home?

Don’t have one.

Tough for anyone

Trying to send us home.

Liam stretches too.

Both of us stand

Our joints cracking like a whip

And we

Take off to

The public toilet block

To ‘freshen up’.

But how fresh is fresh

When you’ve been in the same clothes for two days

And slept on a street all night?

Liam shuts himself

In a cubicle

And I try and

Fix my hair

Wash my face

Look presentable.

Nobody’s gonna talk to a kid

Who looks like a vagabond

A thought hits me

As I wash my hands.

Is that what we are?


I guess it is

Until we

Find our home.

I look at Liam,

Who’s fiddling

With his strawberry-blonde


We might have been brothers,

Once upon a time.


I think we look

Better than we did

After spending the night

On a step

Outside a shop

Like homeless kids.

Which I guess is what we were.

But there was still one

Big problem.

Neither Trent

Nor I

Had eaten since before

We’d run away.

At 3am yesterday morning.

Seems like an age ago.

People are walking around

Giving us looks

But none stop to talk.

The hunger was dulling our eyes

And making us look

Almost as hollow

As our hearts were beginning to feel.

But all

We can do

Is head

Back to the

Child Protection Society Headquarters

And hope we can

Get them to

Find who we truly belong to.

What’s the worst

That could happen?

I ask myself as Trent leads the way.

They could only send

Me back to a stinking foster home

And then

I’d just run away again

Me and Trent

Could just leave.


Me and Trent

Might have been brothers

Once upon

A time

So they can’t split us up.

A horrible thought comes

To me as

We push open the doors to the CPS HQ.

If both our sets of parent

Were indeed alive

And wanted us back

Then what would happen to me and Trent?

We’d be split up.

I want to tell Trent my fears

But I can see the excitement in

His brown eyes

As we walk

Up to the desk

Where a lady sits.

I won’t say anything.

But the thought won’t leave.

Just like I won’t leave

Until we find Trent’s parents.


The lady looks like she

Might leave

When she sets eyes on

Us two ragamuffins

Coming up to her desk

With the light of hunger

In our eyes

And the stench of

Homelessness on us.

But I put down my hand

On the desk

Before she can rush off.

“Please,” I say

In my politest voice,

“We want to know who

Our parents are.”

The lady gives us a little smile

But it doesn’t

Reach her eyes.

Nonetheless she

Nods and says

“Do you have any details

at all?”

And it’s Liam’s turn

To come up to the desk

And hand the lady

The photograph

And the note.

“What is your

name?” the lady

Asks Liam.

Liam can barely contain his


“Liam Charlie Hughes,” he says.

The lady types.

We wait.

You could have heard

A pin drop

And the beating of

My unsteady heart.

The lady presses a key

And a

Printer begins

To whirr.

Out comes a sheet of


I can hardly believe

What Liam reads.

We might have been brothers.

But we’re not.


We might have been brothers.

But we’re not.

The paper reads


Bonnie Tabitha Hughes.


Charlie Steve Hughes.’

And what gets my heart

Beating more

Is that it says

I have a brother.

And actual

Blood brother

Called Jim.

But I don’t really want a brother.

I already have one.

I read the address where

They supposedly live.

I have to go there.

It says it’s a long,

Long way from here.

I can’t believe it.

We might have been brothers.

I can’t even


That it was this easy

That I found my parents

But the next problem is

Do they want me?

The note says

That they do.

Do Trent’s parents want him?

He doesn’t have a note.

And he doesn’t have a brother.

Except me.


I’m holding paper now.

It says-

Wait. It says I have

A brother.

Who isn’t Liam.

Whose name is Alfie.

I don’t want another brother

Maybe this was a bad idea

Is being a vagabond

Such a bad thing?

If I can be Liam’s brother?

But wait

The paper says

I have a mother.

Her name is Sarah Johnson

But the spot

Where my father’s name

Should be

Is empty.

Except for one word,


But I don’t care.

Because there is

An address.

It’s a right here.

In this little town.

Only a few streets away.

And I can go there and meet my family

Find out why they couldn’t keep me

Why my mum didn’t want me.

Why she kept her other son and not me.

Why I have no father.

My head

Is spinning.

I just



Deal with this excitement

That’s mixed

With a ton of misery

What’s going to happen to Liam?

My brother?

His family is written down

On that piece

Of paper.

But I’m not there.

We might have been brothers.

But we’re not.


The lady arranges for

Me to be

Sent directly

To my family’s house

To meet my parents

And my brother Jim.

I can’t wait

To find out why

I wasn’t kept

And Jim was.

There is no time for me to

Tell Trent that

While we can’t have been brothers

I still consider him

My brother

My only brother.

The escort is taking me away

The worker from

The CPS is driving me away

I look out of the back window

Of the black car

They sit me in.

And there is Trent.



On the curb with another worker

Who is on the phone

To Trent’s family

A few streets away.

A tear slips out

And I let it.

We might have been brothers.

And now we

Might not even

See each other again.


My brother has just driven away.

I couldn’t tell him that

He still is my brother

My only brother.

The CPS worker drives me across the street to my family.

I’m not

A vagabond



I still feel homeless.

No Liam.

No Jaspar.

Nobody but my blood kin.


I’ve been miserable

Since I arrived.

My family is nice

Mum said she

Couldn’t keep me

Because the family

Was broke

But I don’t care.

Mum drove me for hours and hours today.

She said it was a surprise

But I don’t want surprises

Because she brought


Jim’s OK I guess

But he’s not Trent.

Our road trip is spent

With Jim

Talking in the front

And me sitting silently in the back.

I hate


Much everything.

Because we might have been brothers…


But we’re not.

Mum took me to the park today.

But she brought Alfie and I don’t want Alfie

Because he’s not my brother

Liam is.

Mum talks on the phone for an hour

I don’t know who she’s talking to

And I don’t care.

I keep thinking

That we might have been



A lady walks towards Mum.

She has two boys with her.

One has strawberry-blonde hair

And the other has brown.

I can’t move because it reminds me too much of

Liam’s hair.

The two women talk and the brown-haired boy talks to Alfie.

But the strawberry-blonde boy stops.

He’s looking at me.

He drops

The backpack he

Was holding.

I know who it is.


I know who it is.

It’s my brother.

My only brother.



He’s running.

It’s Trent.


When we reach

One another

It’s a tight embrace

Because we're still brothers


Even though

We’re not brothers

Liam is more of a brother than

Any other brother I can have

More than my

Actual brother Alfie

More than his

Actual brother Jim.

“Liam,” I say,

“We might have been brothers.”

Liam doesn’t hide the tear he lets loose.

My tears

Are unbidden yet


“Trent,” Liam says,

“We are brothers.”

And it

Doesn’t matter

That we live

A world away.

No amount of

Distance can change the fact

That we might have been brothers

And we always will be.


“Bye Jim!”

I call as I run

out the door

And down the street

to the bus stop.

I’m going to meet Trent.

We moved house a while ago

Now Trent and I live closer.

Because he’s

my brother.


he always will be.

August 10, 2019 05:13

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