There’s a knock at the door and as hardly anyone visits me, I know exactly who it is.
“Hey Damian”, Mr. Sharks, the postman barked.
“Hi Mr. Sharks”.
Mr. Sharks never drops letters in the mailbox, he prefers handing the letter personally to its recipient. He is short, fat and kind. He lost his family in a car crash twenty-two years ago. Currently, he lives alone in a small house.
“Here is your letter”.
“Thanks. How are you doing, by the way?”.
“I’m fine, thank you. Have lots of letters to deliver, I’ll catch up with you later”.
“Sure, have a good day”.
I shut the door, made myself comfortable on the couch before opening the envelope. By the time I finished reading the letter, I was sure the authorities had made a mistake. The letter said that my sister Paige Haloway passed away, and she passed down all her wealth to me.
But the irony is, I’m an orphan. I grew up in an orphanage. When I was old enough and capable of earning, I moved out of there. But the letter clearly stated that it was for me. It perplexed me; I didn't know what to do.
After hours of breaking my head, I decided to visit her house, which soon will become mine. Her house was near the countryside. It looked beautiful from the outside, but when I stepped inside everything was caked with dirt. But there was this one room that surprised me. The room was cleaned very recently. Why would someone leave the rest of the house to rot and only clean one room?
The room amused me; I entered and inspected it. As I walked around, a mirror caught my attention. Someone has scribbled something on it with BLOOD! I reluctantly walked towards it and to my relief, what I thought blood was actually lipstick. Someone had scribbled ‘ATTENTION’ on the mirror, with a note stuck below the word. ‘Save them before he kills them too’ was written on the piece of paper.
That night, I couldn’t bring myself to close my eyes. ‘Was that note meant for me?’, ‘If not me, for whom was it?’, ‘Who is ‘he’?’, ‘Who did ‘he’ kill?’, ‘Who are ‘them’?’ These questions kept me awake the whole night. I just couldn’t avert my thoughts from the paper.
Another set of thoughts arose. What if that was a prank? New thoughts arise now and then. Suddenly I find myself ruminating about my past - my life in the orphanage.
I always liked to sit in a corner, away from the crowd, but soon I started feeling lonely, left out. Yet I did not want to make friends. I had a lot to say; I wanted to puke out all the things that were buried in my stomach. I wanted to listen too, listen to how these kids ended up in this orphanage. I wanted to know how having parents feels like. But the kids in the orphanage were way too inquisitive, and I wasn’t very comfortable describing the things I had gone through. One day the volunteers who used to visit us every weekend asked me why I didn’t mingle with the other kids. When I told them the reason, they told me I was too choosy, and they also said that if I don't adjust with the other kids, I’ll always be left out. I believed them; they were right. I was destined to be alone, die alone. I believed them until she arrived.
Then at last I fell asleep.
The next day, I visited Paige Haloway’s ex-neighbour. I knocked on their door and was greeted by an old lady.
“How can I help you?”, she asked humbly.
“Hi, I’m Damian. The adjacent house is eh my sister’s. She passed away recently. We weren’t in touch. So I have no clue about what she was doing here or with whom she lived. If you don’t mind, could you enlighten me with the stuff you know about her?”.
“Sure, come in”.
Her house, a cosy little thing, smelled like apple pie. I sat on the coach.
“Would you like to eat an apple pie?”.
“No, I’m full. Thank you”.
When she finished speaking, I was shocked to the bones. She handed me a paper with the address on it. I stuffed it in my pocket, thanked her, then left.
The address led me to an old apartment. The apartment gave me Willies, I couldn’t even imagine people living here. But finally I found the flat and knocked on the door. A small and frightened face popped out of the door. He saw me and swung the door wide open, screaming, “Our angel has arrived. Now we are safe. No one will harm us now”.
I shushed the two kids and asked them about their father’s whereabouts. Both looked at each other and shrugged. I asked them to pack some of their clothes and come with me. Surprisingly, both with no protest or argument went straight, threw their clothes into a bag. In no time, we were at my house.
I gave them something to munch on while they narrated the things they had to suffer. I asked them if they could share their experiences with the police; they agreed and soon their father was behind the bars.
I still couldn’t make out why Paisley changed her name. When Pie first arrived at the orphanage, she was a timid and grief - stricken girl. Which was how every kid arrived at an orphanage. But as time elapsed my belief in the proverb ‘time heals’ grew stronger, because after a few days, Pie collected herself. She realized that now she has no one but herself. I wonder if Pie transformed to her old self, when her parents were alive or had she changed completely, but when she did, she was our inspiration. That is how all the orphans should be, emotionally strong. She had made friends with everybody in the orphanage except me. She approached me several times, but I used to shy away. But one fine day, we spoke to each other and from then there was no looking back. She became my best friend. We used to spend hours together. We spoke about all the things that didn’t matter, but we never spoke about our past lives because we knew, if our past is tragic, it’s better to forget it and move on. If we keep recalling and weeping over it, we’ll never be happy in our life again.
But one day, a couple visited our Orphanage and decided to adopt Pie. Pie had to go in another five days. But we never spoke about her leaving until the fifth day. She walked up to me and sat beside me. For two minutes neither did we look at each other nor spoke.
“I know, you’ll feel lonely after I leave”.
“I want to tell you something”.
“After I leave, I’ll never come and meet you again,” I could sense the irritation in her voice. “If no one adopts you and you end up alone, I’ll make sure you have a family when you die”.
“When you wouldn’t even bother to visit me, who the hell will tell you where I’ll end up in the future?”.
But she just smiled and off she went. But all I know is she kept her promise. The inheritance she gave me was a family, and I promise her I’ll take care of them till my last breath.