Seems like yesterday when I blew out the candles of my birthday cake, for my 10th and last birthday party with my parents. “Happy Birthday, Linx!” they said together. I have always had two parties. One party for friends and one party for just the family. I opened up my first present, revealing the new “Rusty Cowboy” game I had begged for. I couldn’t even say anything, but the giant smile on my face spoke more than words. “I had to go to over four different stores to find that, but it was worth it, lil Link,” my dad said, and then he ruffled up my hair.
“Lil Link” was the nickname my dad always called me. When I was about to run off and play with the game, my mother stopped me and said, “Wait, Linx, there’s one more gift.”
My father walked to the other room and came back with an acoustic guitar in his hand. “Is that for me, dad?” I asked.
“You bet it is, lil Link,” he said handing the guitar to me.
The weight of the guitar was larger than I had thought, and I almost dropped it. “Isn’t this too big for me?” I asked, seeing that the guitar was almost as tall as me.
“Yes, but it’s mainly meant for when you’re older. I still want to teach you now, though. That way, you’ll be a pro when you can finally use this baby,” he said with his eyes full of excitement.
Over the weeks he taught me day by day the basics of playing guitar.
I still remember waking up that day thinking it’d be like the last day. Mom had cooked breakfast, my favorite, as a matter of fact. I sat down at the table, and she said the normal “Good morning” and gave the daily kiss on the forehead. “Smells delicious, dear,” Dad said, sitting down at the table licking his lips.
Mom set the plate of pancakes, sausage, and eggs in front of my hungry eyes. The room was silent, except for the satisfied crunches. After taking my last bite, I felt myself being lifted up. My dad piggy-backed me all the way to the front door. After setting me down, he got on one knee, looked at me and said, “Lil Link, we’ll be back in about an hour. We’re going to your mother’s friend’s baby shower. She doesn’t want any kids there, or else you would be going. Kat’s going to babysit you. She should be over in a few, after we call her.”
I nodded, gesturing him that I understood. “Now where’s the money for the food?” he asked.
“On the fridge!” I said, proud that I knew the answer.
“Good job, lil Link!” then he ruffled my hair, and walked out the door with my mom.
I watched the car roll out the driveway, and then looked for things to occupy my time. I watched reruns of my favorite shows, and then soon grew bored. I looked at the clock on the wall, and it read “12:43 pm”. Kat still hadn’t shown up, even though my parents had left around an hour ago. However, my main concern was to find entertainment. The guitar was my first thought. Even though the guitar was a bit too big for me, I had gotten used to it, and I was still able to play it. Since I was only a beginner, I couldn’t really play much. I didn’t even know how to read music yet. Dad had promised me he’d teach me, during the summer. Strumming a few cords together, as my dad had showed me, I soon was playing the lullaby he played me every night. However, I couldn’t play it as smooth and melodic, and I couldn’t remember all the cords. After continuously trying for what seemed like forever, I still kept trying, when I would usually quit. It was just something about the guitar that amused me and made me feel happy. Eventually, my stomach growled furiously from lack of food. I was confused, because it usually growls around lunchtime. After putting down the guitar, I looked at the faithful clock, and confirmed that my stomach was correct, because it read “3:16”. I began to feel alone, still waiting on Kat. Seeing the note on the fridge with the number to reach my parents, I went to the phone to dial the number. As soon as I picked up the phone, a voice came from it. “Hello?” the voice said.
“Hello..” I said, wondering who the voice belonged to.
“Oh, is this Linx?” the voice asked.
“Yes, ma’am,” I said, assuming the feminine voice belonged to a female.
“Where is your mother and father? They were supposed to be here 2 hours ago,” she said in a frustrated, impatient voice.
“They left this morning. They were supposed to be at this baby shower, and Kat was supposed to be over,” I answered back.
“Oh, well if you hear any news, call me,” she said.
I wrote down the number she gave me to reach her, and then hung up the phone. “What could be taking Mother and Father so long?” I kept asking myself.
“They’re probably stuck in traffic. Yeah, that has to be it!” I reassured myself, but the bad feeling in my gut stayed and believed otherwise.
I wanted to distract my mind, so I flung myself on the couch and turned on the television. It turned on to the news channel, which I didn’t remember leaving it on. I tried flipping it to the cartoons, but the remote didn’t work. “The stupid batteries must be dead. I thought dad said he changed them last week,” I said, hitting the remote to make it work. Getting up to turn the channel from the television, I saw something that made me stop. The news showed a massive car wreck, on the interstate. No matter how much I wanted to turn the channel, I couldn’t move. I saw the pile of crunched up cars. There were patches of fire everywhere. What really caught my eye was the red minivan…which looked a lot like ours. I didn’t want to believe it, but the car magnets confirmed my fears. My feet grew numb, as my legs gave away and I fell to the floor. “There were over 15 lives lost, with only three survivors,” the television said.
Hearing this, I stared at the television hoping that my mother and father were one of the survivors. They revealed the three lucky survivors, and none of them were my mother or father. The moment felt so unreal, almost like I was in a dream. They were really gone…forever. I couldn’t cry, I couldn’t feel anything. I went out on the front lawn, put my head to my knees, and the tears streamed out. The tears warmed my face, but I still felt cold inside. I felt empty, as if my emotions had abandoned me. My eyes throbbed from crying, and I stayed on the lawn, even after the tears ran out. Suddenly, a hand touched my shoulder and startled me. I looked up to the face of a boy around the age of 16. “What’s the matter there?” he said in the calmest of voices.
I explained through my sobs what happened with my parents. I felt much better being able to tell someone. He helped me up and said, “I know where to take you. Follow me.”
He began to walk, as I followed. Normally, I wouldn’t follow a stranger, but something about him made me calm and trust him immediately. While we were walking, he said, “Linx, you’re going to a place where there are other kids like you— kids that have also lost their parents.”
I didn’t even wonder how he knew my name, I just nodded my head. “By the way, what’s your name?” I asked, realizing that I didn’t know it.
He stopped and stood there for a minute, as if thinking, then he said, “You can call me Gabriel.”
We stopped in front of a rundown building. The sign was supposed to say, “Camp Foster”, but the A and T were missing. “I don’t want to go to a foster home,” I said.
“Nobody wants to, Linx, but you have nowhere else to go. Here, take this,” he said, reaching into pocket and pulling out a roll of money, “Now, don’t spend this, this is only for emergencies. This is $500 exactly. Keep this safe.”
Without questioning, I accepted the money and asked, “How will I know when to use it?”
He smiled and said, “I trust you to know when it’s appropriate to spend the money,”
With that being said, he began to walk away. I yelled, “Wait!”
He turned around. “Will I ever see you again?” I asked.
He stood there for a minute, and said, “To be honest, I don’t know. I won’t make any promises, but hopefully we will meet again,”
Then he continued walking. I turned to go inside, then turned around to wave, but he was too far away.
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