Worth 1000 words: Summer Herald will each day publish an entry in our short story competition. The winner will be announced on January 30. Picture: Peter Stoop
EVERYONE is capable of hundreds of different emotions, but that feeling when you know yours have become a routine, is tragic.
My schedule of emotions repeated every day. Fear, loneliness, anger, frustration, and then, of course, the disappointment, when you realise this is your life, and it’s not going to change. For months I felt hopeless. Living on the streets isn’t exactly set up for success.
Monday morning, I sat up from the park bench. Cold. My body didn’t move.
I had two thoughts bouncing around in my head. Skating and my parents. I always wondered what they looked like.
My three year old brain didn’t remember their faces, and the funeral was blurry.
My life was the definition of a tough childhood. Drawing the memories, in my head, the canvas showed the day I met my first foster family, Greg and Lara.
Then when I was moved to Sydney to live with Mike and Amy. New parents, new home, new school.
I thought of how scared I was, but it was nothing compared to now. That fear was an excited scared, this was just sheer terror.
I travelled to my other thought, skating; the one thing that kept me sane. Skating on my board was my free counselling session, my passion. The freedom I felt as I rode through the wind, my hair blowing, as if I was flying.
I flashed back to reality when something screamed from around the corner. My head swung to the left, and the shock made my reflexes freeze.
For the first time, I didn’t know what to do. The car was coming straight for me and it was huge. But more importantly it wasn’t slowing down.
Just as I was shooting into complete panic, my ribs were shoved, thrashing me down onto the concrete, sending an ache through my head, wiping all consciousness.
I woke to the ache of a migraine, the smell of smoke, and the sound of crowds nearby.
Where am I? My memories had faded. I was unsure of the day, and the time. More fear kicked in. My eyelids opened, revealing an old caravan. I was laying on a ripped mattress sitting beside towers of cardboard boxes.
My lungs smoked the air, in and out, regaining my breath.
I taught my feet to walk again, and they stumbled to the door and down the front steps. I was greeted by a crowd of gawking eyes. There was a mass of teenagers standing outside the caravan, hovering around old oil drums, flames burning through the air.
I noticed heads in the back began to move, then more further towards the front, started scattering like ants. I saw a silhouette, making its way through the people.
Again I froze. I stood there, waiting for him to get closer, revealing his identity, until there he was, standing over me, tall and intimidating. The shadows were wiped from his face, and I could finally see him.
He was old. His wrinkles suggested around 50. His eyes overflowing with kindness and trust.
I wasn’t afraid anymore, just curious.
My instincts reacted to something, as I thought “this is the man that pushed me away from the car”, but then came the next question … Why?
Reasons replayed in my mind as he led me inside and sat me down. He looked at me as if he was waiting for a question. So, first was obvious, “Who are you?”. His answer was simply “Marcus Johns”. Before I could cough up my next sentence, he interrupted. He pleaded for my name and age.
Nervously, I told him:Dylan Porter, 15years old.
I felt tension floating in the air, however, there was nothing inside me that resembled fear.
I almost feltcomfortable, a feeling I haven’t experienced in too many years. And I appreciated that.
Turns out Marcus led the group of teenagers through life. He had saved them all from similar situations to mine. As Marcus spoke, I was being introduced, and accepted by this new group, my new family.
It wasnow the beginning of November. My introduction ceremony from Marcus was three months ago. I had met new friends, who welcomed me without judgement.
I spent every day with Marcus, and he taught me many lessons; to help me survive, and win this difficult game they call life.
But one Friday morning itall changed. Marcus and I were walking to the same place we always do, but something was different. I could see he needed to say something. But no sounds escaped his mouth.
I stared into his dark brown eyes and saw his soul; kind, selfless and extremely protective of me.
I was about to release my confusion in words, but just one glance. One look at me and my mind overflowed with images. Memories, of my parents. I saw their faces, only for a second, but it was enough to tell me. Marcus was my father.
My mind buzzed with millions of questions and my normal reaction would have left him sitting by himself, watching my back as I ran away. But I had changed. To his utter surprise, I fell into his arms and hugged him tightly. The one thing that kept me fighting all these years, was the thought of him, and here he was.
We had built a relationship so close, nothing could knock it down, and I was not going to run away from that.
Five o’clock hit, and the sunset was being painted, a palette of orange and pink. We all rode our skateboards to what felt like the edge of the earth.
My routine of emotions had ended, and didn’t start again. I no longer had a routine. As Marcus said, just live life, don’t waste time planning it.
My dreams had finally come true. My father had found me, and I had returned home.