The drive was short. Shorter than it had been the first time in the first house. I could remember that first drive like it was yesterday, even if it ten years passed. I was only seven, a lonely seven year old that was scared out of her wits. Sitting in the back of that mucky old Buick owned by a social worker by the name of Sandy Glass, at the time I only wanted one thing. Home
That was pretty much the same situation that I was in this time around, except I was an angry seventeen year old in the back seat of the same old Buick. Sandy was a great woman, very sweet, kind, and opinionated. I appreciated her- made me sad that I couldn’t live with her instead.
The radio played soft elevator music, and it seemed as if the song had no meaning, and though at the time it hadn’t, I knew soon enough that every song comes with meaning. Every art comes with life.
I took a deep breath and stared at the cover of the new book I had been reading- a book called Everything, Everything. It was a beautiful book, one that I sort of fell in love with- a character like the boy Olly and the love he had for the girl was admirable, almost envying. I allowed my fingers to stroke the white letters on the cover as Sandy spoke freely. I stopped paying attention the moment she mentioned the place- and how I would love it there.
Sure, I thought quietly. Who wouldn’t love moving in with a stranger?
“You have one more year, Ocean, one more year and you will be free,” I heard Sandy say, trying to lighten the mood. I finally decided to entree the conversation. I didn’t want to finish my book so soon, savoring would be a lifesaver at this point. Who knew if I would even have time to read books anymore- I wouldn’t until I meet the person who decided to take me in.
Shuddering at the sound of my birth name, I throw a glare in her general direction. “I thought we agreed not to call me that anymore,” I muttered.
Sandy gave me a soft smile. “Old habits die hard, Jane.”
Jane. That was the name I had demanded to be called due to the normality of it. Nobody cracked jokes about Jane Waters. Someone always had something to say about Ocean.
I didn’t always hate my name. It once used to remind me of a time when my parents were together, and my dad wasn’t dead. When my mom was normal- when my life was normal.
We would go to the beach and gaze at the ocean and eat ice cream on the boardwalks. My dad would hold my hand and have an arm wrapped around my mother’s shoulders. I had been so young back then- but they would tell me amazing stories of their journeys and how they fell in love. They weren’t always addicted to bad things- they weren’t always bad people. That was before my dad was killed, and before my mother decided she was going to ruin her life and mine. They decided after my father had gotten fired from his job- that they would result to selling drugs, just so they could feed the family. Even as a young girl, I knew something hadn’t sounded right about that. At first, everything was fine! We had enough money to live again, and my parents seemed genuinely happy. Soon, they began to participate in those drugs, and the alcohol. They became distant, angry... Awful. It was if a monster had taken over two people that I dearly loved.
After I was taken away from my mom, I was shipped to my first foster home. And there was an incredible amount of children. The oldest girl named Jennifer had always made fun of me for having a name like Ocean. Back then, it had upset me a little bit, and that was when I had begun to realize my name was terrible for a girl. I did not bother changing my name, and during those times I would just hide in a closet and cry, begging and praying that my mom would come get me and that everything would be okay. A few foster homes after that I finally realized that the scenario I had been praying for so long would never come true; I stopped praying.
Instead of praying, I began to rely on only fictional books and characters to help me through the day. Sandy requested that I lived in homes with little to no children. I was fulfilled with the ecstasy of being alone.
It sounds lonely, and it was, but I enjoyed it. It made me feel a little bit better about the situation that I was in.
“You have to behave in this home, Jane. You have to or you will be sent-”
“I know, I know,” I muttered.
I knew Sandy had wanted what was best for me. She watched me grow up, honestly. We were like family, and I didn’t want to disappoint her anymore. If I was sent to another home, then I wouldn’t be able to get into a college. At least a good college.
I turned to look out the window and I wanted to smile. I could see the ocean. The only place that actually soothed me in a way books could not. The ocean made me feel whole. And I loved that feeling.
“Am I allowed to open the window?” I asked, glancing at Sandy.
She kept her gaze on the road as she nodded. “Of course.”
I rolled down the window and gulped down the fresh air, allowing the salty sea air to engulf my nose. It was already calming down my strained nerves.
“Your new foster mom is a single woman who lives alone. Her name is Sherry and she is in her early thirties and she is very sweet,“Sandy said.
“How long has she been a foster parent?”
“This is her first time.”
I froze and wheeled around frantically to look at Sandy. “What?” I exclaimed. “Sandy, if I make one wrong move I could get kicked out for sure!”
Sandy gently smiled at me as she pulled into the driveway. “I have met her, Jane. She isn’t uptight at all.”
I gave a sigh and gazed at the house through the glass. The house was not anything special. It looked like a regular old town house.
I opened the Buick and slammed the door shut. I was feeling worse than I had before I opened the window. I grabbed my suitcase and walked up the sidewalk and headed towards the door where Sandy already awaited. I stopped right next to her and raised an eyebrow at her.
“Ring the doorbell,” she said.
I gaped and said, “Why don’t you do it?”
She rolled her eyes and said in a warning voice, “Ocean-”
“Alright, alright.” I leaned forward and pressed the doorbell, then I stood straight, having a look of boredom plastered on my face.
The door opened and a young woman appeared. This woman was painfully beautiful, and I presumed this woman was Sherry. She had long, dark wavy hair and almond shape eyes the color of warm hot chocolate. She stood at about five foot seven and had a nice figure. She gave me a warm smile as I calculated her appearance. She wore a navy blue sweater and crisp white jeans, and had bare feet with purple painted toenails.
“You must be Ocean,” she said sweetly.
I ignored the feeling of warmth. All fosters had to act like this in front of Sandy. To improve their image. It was sick.
“Hi, you must be Sherry,” I said with false cheerfulness, holding out my hand.
She took it and gingerly shook it. “Come in, please.”
“Alright,” I said, stepping inside when she moved out of the way.
I looked around and smiled. The living room seemed very normal and relaxed, with a beige sofa in front of the bay window and nice glass coffee table in front of it, on top of white carpet that looked oddly soft. A large television was hanging on the wall diagonally turned towards the sofa. A fireplace was placed under the television.
“Nice house you have here,” I said, glancing over at her.
“I am glad you like it...” she said, smiling around. “It is normally not this neat in here.”
I nodded and Sandy smiled at me.
“If you have any questions, Miss Dotson, do not have any fear to call me. And Jane? Behave. Remember what we talked about in the car.”
I nodded once more and noticed the confused stare I had gotten from Sherry. “Yes, Sandy.”
Sandy gave me one last embrace and shook hands with Sherry, then she walked out the door, leaving me with a complete stranger.
“I thought your name was Ocean,” she said, closing the door behind Sandy.
“It is,” I said, “But I prefer to be called Jane.”
She beamed at me. “I understand. Would you like me to show you your room?”
“Yes, please,” I mused politely.
She led me down the hallway to the last door on the right.
“This will be your room,” she began to say as she turned the doorknob, “I hope you like it. And if you don’t, you can always tell me.”
When she opened the door, my heart leaped. This room was different from all the other rooms I had lived in.
The wall was an ocean blue, which was ironic in a way, and there was a queen sized bed that was next to a large window that covered the whole part of the wall. I wanted to scream in delight because this particular window was pointed towards the ocean. There was a nice oak desk situated over by the door, with a desktop computer and a blue swivel chair. There was a medium size television on an oak dresser that faced the bed. And then there was a large closet filled with clothes. Clothes I would where everyday if I could.
And now I could.
Sherry smiled. “My parents are loaded, and I was the only one living here. I hope you like it, but if you don’t we can always change it-”
“No!” I shouted. Sherry’s smile widened. “It’s perfect,”
The only things in my suitcase were books and a few pairs of clothes. I was really grateful for all of this.
“Thank you,” I said.
“Now I know you like to read, so I ordered a bookshelf. It should be here in the next few days, so you can just keep your books in your suitcase for now.”
I nodded and I sighed. This was all too good to be true.
“I will let you get settled in while I make some calls. We will be going out to dinner to celebrate, so if you are hungry, just holler alright?”
I nodded slowly and smiled.
“I really want you to be happy here.” And with that she walked out of the room, closing the door behind her.
I fell on to the bed and gazed out at the ocean, a smile playing at my lips. I might actually be happy here.