My name is Annaleigh Robertson and I am an orphan. My family was taken from me when I was only ten years old. I was at a friend’s house for a sleepover, when the call came that ended my world as I knew it. I was at my friend Sophia Thomas’ house, we’d been friends since the first grade and I had decked a girl for making fun of her. Anyways, on the night my world changed, we were sitting on her couch watching Tangled for what must have been the millionth time. When I heard the phone ring and Gaelyn, Sophia’s older brother answer the phone. Only a few seconds after he answered, he hollered for their mom to come to the phone. I remember Gaelyn’s sympathetic expression as our eyes meet, before he hurries back down the hall to where his room is.
Twenty minutes later Sophia’s mom hangs the phone up, shock written on her face, and I knew then something bad had happened. Even then I was good at reading people and their emotions; I could tell my life was about to change and not for the better.
“Anna” Brook called quietly, interrupting our movie, and I look her way again and I see tears in her eyes. “I need you to come with me, sweetie, I need to talk to you.” I get up from the couch, puzzled wondering what she needed to talk to me about. I had always loved Sophia’s mom, much like I loved mine because she was such a great person, she was very giving and loved helping people out, which is why I was often at Sophia’s house after school during the week, while my own parents were at work. They both owned their own business, Mom owned a restaurant and Dad owned a landscaping business. I wasn’t sure how they managed the time but somehow we managed to spend the weekends together. Anyways, as I followed Mrs. Thomas into the dining room, I wondered what could possibly be wrong. I couldn’t ever remember seeing her cry, because she was always laughing, she was a very joyful person.
“Mrs. Thomas what’s wrong?” my ten year old voice squeaked, and I swallowed hard as I looked into her eyes.
“I have some bad news.” Mrs. Thomas said softly. I stared at her, wondering what had happened to make her this upset. “I’m afraid it’s your parents,” she pauses for a minute as I only continue to frown. It was past the time for them to pick me up, and I wondered briefly why they were late. “I’m afraid there’s been an accident, and they your parents were both announced dead at the hospital.” I shake my head, instantly in denial, I would know if something had happened to my parents, and I didn’t. You would think people would instantly know that something was wrong, but I was completely blank, I couldn’t feel a thing.
“They can’t be gone” I deny in a harsh whisper, “I would know if they were gone!” Mrs. Thomas’ eyes flooded with tears as I shook my head back and forth.
“I’m so sorry Anna” she whispered “I’m sorry!” tears filled my eyes as I backed away from the arms that offered comfort.
“Quit lying to me!” I shouted as I backed out of the room and ran out onto the porch. Throwing myself down on the porch swing, I finally released the tears that had slowly been building up.
I lay there sobbing on the hard wood of the swing, for what seems like hours. I barely pause in my crying when I feel someone gently lift me up and slide under me, before laying my head on their lap. I look up through tears to see Gaelyn, Sophia’s 14 year older brother, looking down at me with sympathy.
“Why?” I ask, my voice breaking on another sob. I wanted to know why Gaelyn had bothered coming out, most of the time when I was present at his house, he wasn’t anywhere around, or he was always holed up in his room.
“Everyone needs comfort sometimes, even the enemy can admit to that.” he replied quietly as his hand raised and brushed my hair back gently, and I lay my head back down on his leg.
“Their gone.” I say quietly, tears pouring down my face once more. His hand pauses in brushing my hair but continued after a moment. “I don’t know what’s going to happen to me now, I’m scared.” It wasn’t like I had any other family I could go live with. Both my parents had been the only children in their homes, and both of their parents were gone. I didn’t think I would be able to stay with Sophia and her family because to put it quite frankly they couldn’t really afford another mouth to feed. So it looked like I would be looking at the foster care system.
My world had come crashing down when I was only ten years old; I didn’t remember much about the funeral except that I felt lonelier than I had ever felt before. I had suffered so much loss at one point, being moved from home to home, never staying anywhere long. It was a wonder that I knew how to love. Each loss was another scar that left its imprint on my heart, slowly eating away until there was barely anything left.
Now I was seventeen years old, and a junior in high school and a veteran of foster care. I was currently in my twelfth placement. I never really lasted long anywhere for some reason or the other. Some of the other kids could be abusive, as well as the foster parents, and then I’ve seen the foster parents only care about the money they made having us in their house. Those parents never really cared what happened in their homes, so I had to be ultra-protective of myself, eventually though I always moved on, nobody wanted a girl with emotional issues.
This is how I found myself in the home of Kelly Mead and her husband Travis. This place had thus far been no different from any other place I’ve lived in. Mrs. Mead was always yelling and getting onto me for something or the other. It didn’t matter what I did, nothing was good enough, and so I finally decided I was going to quit trying to please her because it wasn’t possible.
The one thing I was grateful for though was the fact that I only lived one or two houses from my best friend Sophia Thomas. Despite the many times I’ve been moved, I’ve been allowed to keep in contact with my best friend. And on the occasions that I got to see her, her brother Gaelyn was usually in the backgrounds. He still ignored me as much as had when I was younger, so I wasn’t all that offended by it, he out of high school now and in college. Over the years he’d become the best looking man I’d ever seen, however as far as I knew he hadn’t even looked twice at me, he still saw me as his little sisters best friend.
As I lay in my bed staring up at the ceiling, I remember a conversation I had with Gaelyn about a year ago. It was when I’d made the mistake of thinking he’d cared for me more than he admitted.
I had spent hours getting ready to go to the Cumberland party, I hadn’t been invited personally but I was going with another friend of mine, Mariah Dawn. She had told me that Gaelyn was likely to be in attendance, when I had been more than a little reluctant to attend. After all no one liked party crashers. Gaelyn and I had formed a tentative friendship over the years; he was sweet to me at my parent’s funeral. Later when I had been placed in my first foster home, he’d written to me once a week, which eventually slowed to once a month and then to every months and eventually to not at all.
I thought it was just because he was in high school and was too busy with football, or he’d gotten a job or whatever and didn’t have much time for the friend of his little sister. Tonight would be the first time I’d seen him in almost two years. The last time had been right before I’d been removed from the Richardson home. The night before I’d been moved I’d wanted to tell Gaelyn that I thought I was starting to fall in love with him, but at fourteen what teenager really knew what love was. I’d snuck out to meet him at the park like we usually did, once a week, escape from the hell that was foster care, I would sneak out and meet Gaelyn and Sophia, though usually Gaelyn and I would stay out later than Sophia and talk about what was going on in each other’s lives. This time though when I reached our meeting place, I found Gaelyn already there but this time he wasn’t alone. He was with Rachel Morris, head cheerleader at his school. I frowned wondered if I’d somehow gotten the meeting wrong. I’d approached unsure of what I should do; unsure of whether I needed to go home or to interrupt Gaelyn and Rachel. My gut instinct was telling me to run, and do not look back, that Gaelyn didn’t care about me as much as I cared about him.
I approached from behind when I heard my name being spoken. I wondered what Rachel could have to say, but when I approached the car, I heard Gaelyn laugh when Rachel mentioned she’d heard about the crush I’d had on him.
“She’s fourteen, she doesn’t know what love is, besides she’s too young and far too ugly to even catch my attention, I was only being nice to her for Sophia’s sake, I honestly couldn’t care less about what happens to her, besides she’s in foster care, I hardly think she’s going to be staying in this home any longer than she’s stayed in any of the others. I’ve heard she’s been nothing but trouble since she’s moved in.” right then my young heart had been crushed and I’d turned to go back to the home that I was currently miserable in. I never caused trouble anywhere I lived. If I got moved it was usually because of the other kids had decided to spread lies about me.
So three years later, I don’t know why I decided to go the party, Gaelyn made sure he rubbed what I was feeling for him in the dirt, I shouldn’t still care what he thought about me, yet I wanted to see him, wanted him to see me as someone other than his kid sister’s best friend, someone other than a pest. I guess in a weird way, I still had feelings for him, not that I wanted too of course; he wasn’t my favorite person anymore. But my heart still beat wildly at the sound of his name.
At the party, though I felt uncomfortable being surrounded by so many people. I searched Gaelyn out and found him, shirtless tattoos running down both arms in long sleeves, I couldn’t get close enough to see what they were, but the sight of him sent my heart racing. I hadn’t seen him in two years, he’d changed since the last time I’d run into him. He’d added tattoos to his arms and a snake bite piercing to his bottom lip. I’d never liked piercings before but they sure looked good on him. I wondered if he still played football as I watched him dive from the diving board and into the crystal blue water of the pool.
“See something you like” a familiar voice said from behind me, and I turned to see Rachel standing right behind me. “He hates you, you know” she said conversationally flipping her blonde hair and making me want to strangle her. “He couldn’t stand coming to see you those few times he did. Sophia had to beg him to take her to see you.” each critical word felt like a sharp knife cutting into my already damaged heart. I had the feeling Rachel wasn’t being quite honest, but what did I really know about Gaelyn except what he’d told Rachel two years earlier.
“I get the point” I grumbled at her as Gaelyn pulled himself from the pool, meeting my eyes when he stood up. I watched him frown and stare but he remained where he was. I turned away from the hulk that Gaelyn had become. He was still the best looking man I’d ever seen, even if he did hate me.
“He never wants to see you again; just the site of you makes him sick.” Rachel goaded, and I turn away from Gaelyn, so that he wouldn’t see the embarrassment in my face. I knew I shouldn’t have come, but I couldn’t help but jump at the opportunity to see him again. It was the worst decision I could have made knowing that he thought so little of me.
“Sounds like someone’s jealous to be” a friendly voice said from behind me, while glaring at Rachel. “You perceive Anna as a threat, when she is not. If Gaelyn really thinks any of that then he deserves you, because Anna is far too good for him!” Mariah snapped from behind me. I almost chuckled, as I turned and headed towards the door.
“She’s not worth my time, and she’s right about Gaelyn, I just wanted to see him one last time.” I shot over my shoulder as I walked out the door. My heart felt crushed, having heard the cruel things that had come from Rachel’s mouth, but compared to what I’d overheard him saying a few years, I’d hoped he’d changed his mind, apparently he had not. I decided that night that Gaelyn Thomas wasn’t worth my time.
This is my story from unloved orphan foster child to broken teen to a woman overwhelmed with love.