Letting out a small cough, a few drops of blood fall from my split lip, yet I refuse to wipe it away. I rest on my elbows, while the rest of my body lies limply on the wooden floor, my head pounding furiously.
“Come on, Arab,” Heather taunted above me. “Is that really all you got?”
I sucked in a deep breath, attempting to push down all the raw anger that was bubbling inside me. Arab. That’s what she always called me, no matter what my actual heritage was. My mother was part Egyptian Arabic, and to fit in with the American names yet have a slight tie back to her heritage, she named me Cleo. This meant that every single person assumed that I was entirely Egyptian, when only a very tiny part of me was. The only giveaway besides my name as to where my family is from was my tanner skin and dark hair. Besides that, me and Heather could be sisters.
I flung out one of my legs, kicking her square in her right knee. Heather sucked in a breath, bending over, giving me a chance to hop back onto my feet.
“Fucking bitch,” She seethed, clutching her knee tightly in her grasp. “You always cause so many problems. No wonder no one wants to adopt you, after your mother deemed you worthless, everyone else has realized it, too.”
I clenched my teeth together so tightly I feared they’d crack. I tried to ignore her words, to convince myself that this was just Heather trying to be mean and that her words weren’t true, but some part of me listened to her. If I was worth something, my mother wouldn’t have given me up for adoption an hour after I was born; someone would’ve wanted to adopt me before I got too old, now that I was sixteen and would leave the foster system in two years, I was officially worthless. No one adopted a full grown teenager. It just didn’t happen.
I shot Heather my fiercest glare before I lunged at her. We landed on the floor with a big thud, my anger taking over completely. Our fists were flying around, each other attempting to hit any part of the other person. I had a slight advantage, since I was pinning her to the floor, and I had some room to dodge her hits. Heather had no such ability, so when I smacked her square in her nose, she grabbed a huge chunk of my hair and yanked it.
I cried out, hitting her over and over again in her chest to try and make her loosen her death grip on my hair. My scalp was burning, and just as I thought it would never end, someone’s arm slithered around my waist and pulled me off of her.
Someone was helping Heather to her feet as well, and so her fingers slid out of my hair once she released.
I was pinned to someone’s chest, their arms restraining me from any movement at all. I managed to turn my head slightly, and realized that it was Dustin holding me in place.
“Cleo! Heather! Are you girls fighting again?” Mrs. Donna, who was our foster parent, scolded. She stood with her arms on her hips, glaring at both of us. I spared a glance at Heather, where her brother, Derrick, was holding her by her biceps. By how Dustin was holding me, I probably looked like the crazy one.
“Cleo started it,” Heather immediately accused, feigning a scared look. “I was just minding my own business -”
“-Heather, quiet. I do not care who started it, both of you, up to your rooms. I do not want to hear from either of you for the rest of the night.”
Dustin released me from his grip, and I didn’t bother to stay anything to Mrs. Donna, or him. I just turned and walked in the opposite direction of the living room. Heading up a set of stairs, I took a sharp right and dove into my bedroom.
Alla was absent, so I had the entire room to myself. There wasn’t much in the room, just two simple beds and a dresser that Alla and I shared. Our bedroom was really intended to be a leisure room, so we didn’t have a closet or a connecting bathroom. Alla and I didn’t mind though, we made it work.
I slumped onto my bed, ignoring my bloody lip and any other possible wounds. My anger inside was dying, and as long as I didn’t think too much about Heather, it would eventually fade entirely.
After about an hour or so, there was a knock on the door. I had dozed off slightly, and when the sound woke me up, I didn’t bother to get up and open the door. I knew it wasn’t Alla, afterall, it was her room, too. She wouldn’t knock.
“Cleo?” Came a soft voice, and slowly, the door opened to reveal Mrs. Donna.
I sat up in the bed, crossing my arms across my chest.
“I’m not apologizing to Heather,” Immediately, the anger was blooming in my chest again. I clutched the covers tightly, feeling myself grow insatiably hot.
“Cleo, honey, take deep breaths.” Mrs. Donna came over and sat herself on the end of my bed. I did as she ordered, and surprisingly, I managed to calm myself down.
“I don’t want you to apologize. I understand that sometimes you can’t control your anger. I just want to know what she said that initiated the fight.”
“How do you know I didn’t start it?” I was curious as to why Mrs. Donna took my side, and why she assumed Heather had started it.
“Cleo. I know you, as hotheaded as you are, you never initiate anything with anyone. You’re entirely harmless unless provoked.”
Somehow, that made me smile. Mrs. Donna understood me, and I almost wish she was able to adopt me. Just me, though. Maybe Alla.
“Heather said that the reason I don’t know my father, and why my mother immediately gave me up for adoption was becau-was-” I forced down the fresh anger, because now it was the messy anger, the one that usually led to crying and me breaking down. Mrs. Donna placed a comforting hand on my bicep, rubbing the area soothingly with her thumb. “-was because I was a rape child. My father raped my mother, and after she had me, she couldn’t bear to look at me since I reminded her of my father and what he did. She later said that I was worthless -”
Mrs. Donna cut me off by saying, “- that girl just wants to transfer her own suffering onto you. Heather has had a hard life, just as yourself, and wants to make herself feel better but putting you down.”
“Is it true?” I held in the tears in my eyes, locking eye contact with my foster parent. “Am I a rape child?”
Mrs. Donna sighed. “I don’t know, Cleo. I’d love to reassure you and say no, but that’d be lying, and I can’t lie to you about something like that, it’d be wrong. I honestly do not know.
“But that is the past, and we can forget about it. I have some news for you and the other foster children.”
It was weird to be considered a child, since I was sixteen I liked to consider myself older than a child and on the brink of adulthood. Yet, compared to Mrs. Donna, who was pushing fifty, I must’ve been fetus young.
I nodded to her, telling her to go on.
“This older couple has contacted the foster agency and is looking to adopt. They’re planning on stopping by tomorrow afternoon to meet the foster kids.”
I would’ve been excited at the possibility of getting adopted, but almost no one wanted older children to adopt. Usually the younger ones were gone first, and the older kids were in the system until they turned eighteen and were sent on their own.
“That’s good news for Alla,” I noted. She was about five and was the youngest one here. If anyone had a chance, it’d be her. She was the sweetest thing, and looked the part too, with her golden blonde hair and honeydew eyes.
Clearing her throat, Mrs. Donna said, “I briefly spoke to them over the phone and they said they were interested in someone to spend time with their older daughter, who is in highschool. Apparently the couple works a lot, and the daughter has trouble making friends, so they were hoping to adopt someone that would keep her company and make the family feel whole again.”
My eyes shot up at that. Highschool definitely meant someone from around fourteen to seventeen, which I fit perfectly.
The only other candidates were Heather, who was seventeen, and her brother Derrick, who was fourteen. But they were a package deal, and this couple seemed to only want one child.
“Why are you telling me this, Mrs. Donna?” I asked her. She could’ve told this news infront of all of the foster children, yet here she was, telling me alone.
“You missed out on the notice since I sent you up to your room early. But I didn’t tell everyone the age group the couple is looking for, as to not dwindle their spirits. I told you, Cleo, because out of everyone here, you deserve a family most.”
“But Heather -”
“Heather has her brother. She turns eighteen in a few weeks and will take her brother with her.” I opened my mouth to protest further, but she stopped me again. “Dustin is only thirteen right now, but he still has high hopes. He has recently discovered an uncle that is in the stages of adopting him. Alla is only five, and she will get adopted by a loving family in no time. And all the others are just like them, they all have a chance. But this, Cleo, this is your last chance. I feel it so.”
I frowned at that thought, even though I believe it rang true.
“So,” She continued, removing her hand from my bicep. “I shouldn’t have to tell you this, but you must be on your best behavior. Show that sweet side that is hidden under that angry hide you wear.”
“Yes ma’am,” I joked, rolling my eyes at her antics. It was the same spiel, every time someone visited the home. But maybe this time was more important.
“I do not care what Heather says to you. I do not care what anyone else says to you. You are going to be the best behaved child tomorrow or so help me god, I do not know what I’ll do with you.”
“Okay,” I weakly smiled, silently thanking Mrs. Donna for what she was doing for me, since I couldn’t bring myself to say the words.
“Now I better go, Alla has been waiting outside the door and it is way past her bedtime.”
After she left and Alla came in, I just turned over and went back to sleep, curious as to what tomorrow will bring.
A/N - Thanks for clicking on! Just FYI, I am actively writing most days and will be publishing chapters every week on a schedule, so you don't need to worry about me just falling off of the face of the Earth and never updating. Hope you enjoy!