[ the anderson years ]

by staff sgt. seasons

The wind swept streets echoed with the sound of his running feet pounding on the pavement. Zeke skidded around the corner, scrapping the skin from the palm of his hand and nearly knocking over a couple on the way past. He shouted "sorry" as he sprinted toward the gates.

Zeke ran through the large stone gates that housed the sign and up to the front door. He slowed his run to a walk and stepped quietly into the house. All the while keeping a close look out for the Penguin (Mother Superior) He snuck a quick look into the dinning room as he passed and saw that some of the boys where already there and silently cursed Miss Summer; An hours detention for kissing behind the bike shed it wasn't fair.

The last of the boys where trailing into the dinning room when Zeke arrived.
After having changed out of the horrible grey and purple uniform he was forced to wear to school. He sank into his chair thankfully after prayer. He had made it..

A loud voice sounded from the hall "Clayton Zekehill Anderson Come to my office immediately" The whole room fell silent and everyone's gaze shifted to look at him. Zeke stood with a feeling of dread. He had been found out.

He walked slowly out of the dinning room toward Penguins office, his feet dragging along the floor. He wondered what he would get this time. A bawling out, mouth washed out with soap or a couple of hard whacks across the butt. Well there was only one way to find out. He raised his hand and knocked on the door.

Zeke Carefully checked his door for the second time in as many minutes, seeing no-one about he quickly knelt next to his bed and pried up a loose floor board. He spun the lid on the bottle and took a quick swig of the Jack. Nothing else seemed to get rid of the soap taste as quickly as his friend JD.

Leaning back with a contented sigh and nursing the bottle he thought about Miss Summer and Penguin, He never wanted to end up like those two, F**k he wished he could run away to war or something that would teach those two. They wouldn't even let the other children call him Zeke and they both knew he hated Clayton. It made him sound like a first class idiot.

And all the fuss over kissing, God it wasn't like he was smoking at school. He forced his window open and lit his first ciggie of the evening. Zeke finished the Jack and quickly stubbed out his third smoke and jammed the window shut as heavy footsteps strode across the floor just outside his room. It was Sister Mary making the 11 O'clock rounds.

Zeke jumped into bed fully clothed and pulled the bed clothes up around his ears. He heaved a huge sigh of relief as Sister Mary checked his room and moved away. He quickly changed in the dark and slipped into bed.

The day began with a bang, as the storm clouds broke and rain pelted against the windows. Lightening cracked across the grey sky leaving jagged scares and an almost supernatural afterglow.

Zeke lent his folded arms on the window sill and watched the rain drops chase each other down to the bottom of the glass. The other kids where yelling and screaming, some of the smaller ones where crying and running over toward him for a reassuring cuddle. Usually they where guaranteed a cuddle and maybe even a story of two but today Zeke ignored them. He continued to stare out into the storm wishing he could be somewhere alone with his thoughts. Alone to mourn the fact that he was alone and unloved. To answer the many questions running through his head about his parents and why he was put into an home straight out of hospital.

Today was the one and only day of the year he allowed himself to feel this way, for the other 364 days of the year he buried the feelings deep down and refused to touch them; But today was different today was his birthday. he thought about what some of his school friends did on their birthdays and just as quickly put the thought out of his mind. Zeke turned with a shrug and a deep sigh as he noticed the tugging on his leg for the first time.

He looked down and smiled at the tear stained face staring up at him. Zeke picked up Emma and placed her on his lap feeling her heart beat rapidly and cling to him with frightened fingers, whenever a clap of thunder or a crack of lightning lit up the sky. Zeke rested his cheek on the top of her head and sang a quiet melody, Emma looked up with wide eyes filled with love.

Zeke smiled feeling some of the blackness lifting. He lifted Emma into his arms as he stood and walked over to a huddling group of children all aged between 3-5 and sat with them until the storm passed. All the while reading stories and playing games. He didn't miss the grateful smile levelled at him by sister Teresa. Maybe today wasn't such a bad day after all.

Zeke leaned back against his pillows with a satisfied smile on his face. He glanced at the clock on the wall and still couldn't believe that he was just getting to bed at 11.00 on a school night. Just when he had felt so low, everyone had got together and thrown an impromptu party for him. It was the best night of his life.

He had met a heap of people from the girls home down the road. Two he especially liked where Starbuck and Seasons. he had read a story by one of the girls Kitty Kat and couldn't stop laughing, who would of thought a story about a dog was so funny.

For the first time in a long time he felt contented and part of a group, he felt like he actually belonged. Maybe this wasn't such a bad place to be after all.

The sunlight streamed in through the window just before before the alarm clock starting screaming in his ear. Zeke poked his head out from under the bed covers and rubbed bleary eyes into focus to see who was fostering this torture on him. It took a while before he rememberd that he was the one responsible for the torture by forgetting to close his curtains and that if he didn't turn the blasted clock off soon, all the other boys on the floor would barge in and beat the S**T out of him.

By the time Zeke made it to the showers there was only cold water left. He set an world record time and was out of the shower before his hair as even wet. No one could tell with his hair any way.

Mark met him at the stairs and they both slipped out for a smoke before breakfast and heading off to school. On the way to school Mark and Jordan decided to skip school and meet up with some of the girls from the party last night. Zeke walked onto school alone the mouth washing still to fresh in his mind to try that again so soon.

Zeke stopped at the drug store on the way home and overheard some of the local gang bangers talking about a drive by shooting that killed two of the local kids. Zeke paid for his candy and walked on home not giving the shooting much thought until he rounded the corner before the home and saw the cop car standing out front. He walked in slowly and went to find someone who knew what the hell was going on.

Zeke found Sister Teresa crying in the chapel and a ball began to form in his stomach. He walked up to her and asked what had happened. She told him that Mark and Jordan had been standing in front of the cinema trying to sneak in with two girls when a car drove past and the two gang members inside started shooting at a rival gang member standing a short way from Mark and his friends. They where killed instantly.

Tears fell from his eyes as his hands turned to ice and his heart seemed to stop beating. But he still couldn't stop thinking "Thank God it wasn't me". He turned and ran out of the chapel and threw himself down on the bed. He felt guilty for being alive and at the same time glad he wasn't dead.

Zeke stayed in his room all evening. he ignored the knocks on the door and in the end cried himself to sleep. His last thought was about his friends and their short unstable and lonely lives. He knew that life would go on and more children would come to take the place of those that had left too soon. He made a pact to himself that if he ever had a child he would never leave him/her and would always ensure they where safe. Because to put it mildly "life is a bitch."

Zeke sank back across the soft mattress of his bed and thought back over the last week. He felt like a hurricane survivor, only now being let back in to pick up the pieces and try to reform his life. It wasn't meant to be like this. He thought being fostered meant a new life, one that would give him chances and experiences that just weren't available with over 100 kids in the one place.

Zeke gently rubbed his knuckles, he glanced at the imprint of the brush and was suddenly glad that her hand hadn't found anything harder to hit him with. She only hit him to help him she said, it was amazing how much help he needed, when Jack wasn't around. Zeke vaugley thought about telling Jack (Mr Timms)but in the end he wouldn't be believed. Who listened to 9 year olds anyway. Jack would ask Alice and that would result in another helping session. That he could do without. He would take of this in his own time, just as he did everything else.

A small smirk suddenly crossed his solomn face, an image of a scrawny 7 year old crossed his mind. That was a kid with problems. He had heard a group of 3 kids planning to beat the kid up and had decided to go along to check out the scene. It hadn't been hard to find there was a crowd of approximatly 10 people all cheering the 3 older kids and quite effectivly shutting off any route of escape by the little kid. Zeke pushed through the jeering spectators and watched as the the little kid was hit twice. The kid turned his head toward the crowd as blood streamed out of his nose and satined his shirt. He looked eyes with Zeke and seemed to stare into his soul. The next thing Zeke rembered he was wading into the fight and flinging his fists left, right and center. The crowd quieted as the the 3 boys backed off, eyeing him wairly, like he was a mongrel dog waiting for a reason to bite. He took one step toward the boys and they fled, the crowd slowly began to disperse as Zeke bent down and offered the little kid a hand.

By the time they both stood sis by side the playground was deserted and the only sound was the traffic roaring past on the nearby freeway. Zeke watched as the kid pulled out a hankerchief and wiped ineffectivly at the blood dribbling from his nose. The kid suddenly drew himself up and held out his hand, taking zeke by suprise and announcing in a firm voice " Thanks, My names Myron, Myron Goldman. What yours"? Zeke grinned and shook the offered hand "Zeke Anderson" he stated.

A friendship had begun that day. His first friend at the new school and Zeke couldn't help but think that this friendship was different, this friendship would push the bounds of society as he knew it and become something more than anything he had seen or experienced in his 9 short years of life.

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