Foster CareI'm just going to tell you right off - I am a foster kid. Nope, don't ask me how or why, because I'm not going to tell you. The only place I spill my secrets is in my diary, and you're not going to read that.
My name is Maya Mills. I was born to a woman named Helen Stoleman, and now I'm in the car on my way to another foster home - what a surprise. I'm always getting sent to homes. They say, "Oh Maya, maybe this home is going to be your forever place!" But it never is. It always - and I mean always - ends up being just another board that breaks as soon as I step on it in my unstable walkway of life. Nothing is forever. I don't even know who this new "mother" is going to be, and they expect me to cheer up? No, I can't cheer up. I've been to over five foster homes already, so please, excuse me if I'm not all bright-eyed and optimistic for this one. It's not like it can be any different than the others. I mean, we all know how well they worked out, right?
Great. The caretaker lady pulls up to a small white house with a clean, manicured yard. It's not as bad as the smelly trailer I once lived in, but it doesn't look like the home of someone who appreciates having fun.
The steps are brick. I can't bring myself to knock, so my caretaker does it for me. The door is also white. There is a flower garden off to the right, filled with old lady plants like geraniums and nasturtiums. A woman opens the door. Holy mother of foster kids, she's an old lady! With wiry white hair on pinkish wrinkled skin, she looks like a mouse. She has golden glasses that sit on the edge of her nose. They're the kind that librarians wear, you know - they hang on a chain. This lady was like all of the old people I've ever met rolled up into one. She had the knobby wooden cane, the long nose with a sort of hook at the end, the blue, watery eyes, and even the thin lips that look like they haven't seen a smile since '92.
The woman sniffs and opens the door. As soon as we walk in, me clutching my leather bag to my chest, I know that this house is one of those delicate old lady houses. About everything in it is either white or covered in plastic. I'm dying of overexposure to floral print. The floor is very shiny and clean, like it is sprayed every hour with bleach. The house stinks of mildew hidden in the walls. I set my bag down on the plastic-covered couch, careful not to touch the glass coffee table. This woman seems like she'll rap your knuckles with a yardstick if you touch any of her precious furniture.
"Yes, Mrs. Belleman." my caretaker says. "That's what foster care is."
"My dear, you said you were bringing me a poodle!" Mrs. Belleman shouts. It wasn't an angry shout, but it does make me cringe.
"No, Mrs. Belleman," replies my caretaker.
"Oh, dear me, my memory must be getting old." Mrs. Belleman says with a chuckle. "Now, where were we? Oh, yes! Um, child, what is your name?"
On the outside, I am politely smiling, but on the inside, I'm bummed. "Eh..." I grunt. "I'm Maya. Pleased to meet you." I say the word 'pleased' icily, but I'm not sure Mrs. Belleman noticed.
She smiles sweetly. "Well, Maya, would you like to know where the bathroom is?" Before she gives me a chance to answer, she clears her throat and says, "It is right down the hall. Make yourself at home. I'll make some tea and sugar cookies."
As I walk down the hall, I mentally gag. Ugh. It's so gross how Mrs. Belleman is so welcoming. She acts like I'm a child, not like this is a temporary thing. Also, she's do... dainty! It disgusts me. I step into the bathroom.
Everything in it is either porcelain or glass. Floral patterns are also dominating this room. I look in the mirror and see that bags are under my eyes. My hair is limp and stringy, since I haven't taken a shower in a few days. My baggy T-shirt is ripped a bit near my hips, and my loose jeans come a couple inches short of my ankles. I turn on the tap - crystal handles? I can't stand this! - and splash cold water onto my face. There's a slab of orange soap on the counter, and bottles of pills sit with caps off on shelves. Everything here is so perfect, like no surprises ever arrive. It's all predefined, and I won't last a day. I know it. I slowly creak open the door and step into the living room. Mrs. Belleman is saying goodbye to the caretaker. I almost call out, but stop myself just in time. On the coffee table is a plate of cookies and a teapot. Mrs. Belleman cheerfully smiles. "Darling Maya, I bought you some clothes! Your bedroom is the first room on the left." she tells me. I nod slightly and grab my bag as I make my way to my room.