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I wonder what it’s like to have parents.
I don’t even remember what my parents looked like. They probably abandoned me right after I was born. That’s what I was told. I was one of those poor infants who were left on the steps outside an orphanage by a woman who didn’t have enough money to support a child. I have foster parents, but I know that our “family bond” isn’t what parents would usually have with their biological kids. Boo-hoo.
Mary yelled from the other room, “Peter, would you help our new neighbors move their things?” Mary and Don, that’s what I called them. No “mom” and “dad”. I yelled back, “Okay, in a few seconds.” I made my way down the stairs, and I almost tripped. Dang it, I thought, the pain in my leg was coming back. I scratched at the small scar that was on my knee. I always tried to think of how I hurt it, because the scar was there for as long as I can remember. By the time I actually got outside to help, Mr. and Mrs. Kots, the new neighbors, had already moved most of their possessions into their recently built home. The smell of cardboard was almost overwhelming inside the moving truck. As I brought a box from the truck onto the sidewalk, I noticed a girl who walked out of the Kots’ front door. She seemed a few years older than me, but I was taller. She came to the moving truck and turned to face me after she lifted a box and hefted it onto her shoulder.
“Hi, thanks for helping us today,” she said with a smile.
“No problem. Where are you from?”
“Well, I moved in from Australia. I spent the last ten years growing up there.”
“Really? I’m part Australian,” I said. She seemed surprised. “Seriously?” she asked.
“No,” I answered with a smirk.
“Oh, you got me,” she laughed. As she opened her front door, I asked her what her name was. She turned around. “Sharon,” she said after a moment. Sharon turned back around and closed the door behind her. I stayed up late that night, staring up at the rough ceiling, trying to find her in my memory banks. I felt like I knew her, but I didn’t know where from.
I met her again the next day. We went outside to take out the trash at the same time, by coincidence. It was weird, but I wanted to talk to her anyway. It was windy and she was a dozen feet away, so I had to shout.
“Are you busy?”
“NOO,” she shouted back, even louder than I had. We plopped ourselves on the grass and began conversation. We talked, we joked around, and we laughed plenty. Finally, she turned to face me, a little seriousness in her expression now, but still smiling. “You’re like the little brother that I wanted for such a long time.” She forced a smile now, “I actually did have a brother for a few days.” All of my happiness evaporated, replaced with sympathy and curiosity. I feared the worst. “What happened?” I asked quietly, careful not to offend her.
“Some stupid baby mix-up at the hospital. My brother fell from his crib, and the nurses put him back in the wrong one. I saw it myself. We had someone else’s kid given to us, and we knew. The situation involved more than one family though, so even though we returned the baby we had to its real parents, someone else still had my little brother.” I frowned. She continued. “When we finally found out who had Peter, we~”
“Peter?” I said abruptly, cutting her off.
“Yes, his name was Peter too,” she said, annoyed. “So were the other three babies that got mixed up. When we finally discovered who our Peter was given to, he was gone. Dropped off at an orphanage. I don’t even know if he’s still alive.” Tears rolled down her cheeks and collected on her chin, but she wiped them off before they can wet her shirt.
While she kept babbling on, I couldn’t help noticing her nose. It was like mine, small and almost perfectly triangular. She also had the same long, restless fingers that absent-mindedly picked the blades of grass beneath her feet. I reached to scratch my knee again.
“……..stupid, and all I can remember about him now was the big freaking wound on his knee after he fell. And I couldn’t do anything about it either because I was four and I couldn’t even talk well~”
“Your brother’s alive all right,” I interrupted her again.
“What the heck are you talking about?” She was clearly annoyed now.
I lifted up one of the legs of my shorts until it revealed the mysterious scar that I've had for such a long time. Her eyes became as big and round as dinner plates.
“You’re talking to him right now.”