The next day at school we all gather around at lunch again. Cali and I are becoming good friends. Today, she has on another colorful dress with a matching headband. “Hi, Cali”. I go over and plop my lunch tray down on the table. “Anything good to eat, today?”, Cali says looking over at my tray. “Not really. I hate vegetable soup” I grimace at the thought of eating soup. “So, I got chicken strips instead.” Jessie, Advik, and Jaxson come join Cali and I at the lunch table.
“Aren’t you going to get you some lunch”, I ask Cali. “No, I don’t eat meat”, she replies. “So, you’re a veterinarian?”, Jaxson asks. Cali begins laughing. “What’s so funny?”, Jaxson asks seemingly confused. “It’s just that you said veterinarian?” “Well isn’t that what it’s called?” “No, the correct word is vegetarian. A veterinarian is an animal doctor”, Cali says.
On the way home from school I see Alani standing in Mrs. Shiner’s driveway. “Hi, Alani. It’s so good to see you.” I say as Jessie and I approach her. “Hi, Katie and Jessie.” I am swept off my feet. I have never heard Alani speak in such a calm tone and she even cracked a smile. “Jessie and I are going to take our dogs for a walk after we go home and change. Would you like to come with us?” “Sure, I would love to” “We’ll be right back” Jessie and I go home and change out of our school clothes.
Once I have changed I head downstairs and Jessie is standing at the bottom of the stairs. “Oh gosh, you just about scared me silly”. I bout jump through the ceiling when I see Jessie standing there waiting on me. “I was just about to yell for you to come down”, she says. “Next time be quicker about it”, I say with a laugh. Mom and dad haven’t made it home from work yet. I leave them a note on the front door and I go to the backyard to get Brownie. Brownie is outside digging a hole when I find him. “Hey there boy”, I say as he jumps up and down on me. I put his leash on and we go over to Mrs. Shiner’s to get Alani. As we knock on the door, Alani opens the door and motions for us to come inside. Mrs. Shiner’s house is nice. She has so many pictures lining the walls of her staircase. And the entire house smells like cinnamon rolls. Yum!
“Come on in girls”, Mrs. Shiner says. We tie Caramel and Brownie to a pole near Mrs. Shiner’s steps. “Would you two like to sit down and have a cinnamon roll with us?” “We’d love to”, I say before Jessie gets any ideas about declining the offer. As you know by now, I really love to eat! “We must be going now”, Jessie says after we’ve eaten three cinnamon rolls apiece.
“Yes, we should walk some of these cinnamon rolls off”, I say rubbing my full belly. Everyone laughs, and we go and untie Caramel and Brownie. We take our puppies for a walk in the park. Alani is very talkative and very friendly. As we pass through the trees we come to the street where Alani was taken from by the police. Alani’s suddenly gets quiet and when I look over at her she has a serious look on her face. “I’m going to have to turn back now, guys”, she says. “Okay, we’ll all go back”, I say. Jessie, Alani and I turn around and head back to our neighborhood.
“I want to apologize to you guys for the way I’ve treated you” “It’s okay, we know you didn’t mean any harm”, I say reassuringly. “No, it’s not okay. I was so mean to you both and now you’re the only friends I have”, she goes on to say. “The truth is, I was angry because my life hasn’t been so great lately. You know, since my parents had to leave”. I had no idea what Alani was talking about at this point. “I just seen your mom the other day, she was looking for you. Her name is Ayla, right?”
Alani stands still for a moment and looks down at the ground. “, Ayla was my foster mom” “So you mean Mrs. Shiner is your foster aunt”, Jessie asks. “Yes, well she was but now she’s my new foster mother” “Where are your real parents”, I ask. “My real parents came to the United States as immigrants when my mom was pregnant with me. Everything was fine until recently. About 3 months ago, the immigrant police came to our home and forced my parents to go back to Japan. They said that I had to stay because I am a US citizen and they said something about me not having the right paperwork to go with them”.
Tears begin to well up in Alani’s eyes. “I miss them so much. To top it all off, I was sent to live with Ayla and her husband Jeff. They were really mean to me and they hit me a lot”, she says. “When I would go to school, kids would make fun of me because I didn’t have on the nicest clothes or the latest shoes.” Truth is, Ayla barely wanted to feed me. So, I wasn’t going to bother her with a request for new clothes” “That is horrible”, Jessie says. “I’m so sorry all this happened to you”, I say. “Why would they take you and then treat you like that”, I ask. I can’t understand why someone would want to treat anyone like that but especially a child. “They wanted the money that they would get for keeping me”, Alani says. Jessie and I go over and give Alani a tight and warm embrace. For the next few minutes, neither of us say anything. We just hug each other tight, as if we’re afraid to let go. “Thanks, you guys”, Alani says. “No problem. That’s what friends are for”, Jessie and I say.