A Million Pieces | Teen Ink

A Million Pieces

June 23, 2016
By trebleclef28, Christiansburg, Virginia
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trebleclef28, Christiansburg, Virginia
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Goodbye, Florida. I’m going to Virginia today. I don’t know how I’ll ever get used to four seasons and trust me I’m being sarcastic. I’ve got mixed feelings because more than one season (Yay!) but who would want to leave the behind the beautiful ocean view (Boo!). I look out the window at the crystal blue ocean and swaying palm trees one last time. I put in my suitcase the last outfit I own; one Mom gave me. A crisp light blue, green, and gold flannel with monogrammed khakis. “James! Time to go!” Dad calls. 

“Coming!” I close my suitcase and run downstairs. 

“Go get in the car and hold my suitcase,” Dad smiles and I scurry off to the car. I sit and watch the ocean when Dad gets in the car I barely notice. Dad looks into the mirror. “So, James are you excited for Virginia?” 

“Yeah,” I look toward the ocean. “As long as we are living on the coast.” 

Dad frowns. “We are going to be living in southwest Virginia.” 

I look up. “Oh, okay.” Dad continues to tell me it will be fun and that my cousins love it here. I look down at Mom’s favorite book, Oliver Twist. I’ve always wanted to read it but…. Oh, never mind. I’ll just put on my gloves when I read it so I won’t…. I do just that. I get my gloves out of my suitcase and start reading. The time passes very quickly and when I look up we are leaving a place called Orangesburg and entering Romansburg. Then everything turns to slow motion. A truck rams into the front of our car. The suitcases land on my chest and Oliver Twist flies to my left. Dad’s head hangs out of the window. I try to scream but my mouth won’t make any sound. I am scared to death and the main sound I can hear is my shaky breath. Two paramedics arrive with two ambulances. They argue about which hospital is closer. They finally agree to take each one of us to a different hospital. I want to run away but I’m trapped, trapped in a real life nightmare.


It seems I have snapped out of my nightmare. I’m glad it was just a dream! On my right is the beautiful mountain view and on my left is …. a…. nurse. Great! Still in a terrible nightmare.  The nurse had a look that said. “You poor child.” She looked at the changing trees in the mountains and the sapphire sky then she sighed and looked at me. “I’m sorry James but you’re a foster child.” 

I made a questioning face. “Why is he hurt so bad that he can’t take care of me?” 

The nurse’s eyes well up. “No, he is….” She can’t seem to finish her sentence. “d-d-d-dead.” 

My heart fell out of my chest. My eyes well up and I can’t stop the tears. I sob. My eyes are hurting and it feels like someone is scraping off my eyelids. My tears are so salty that it feels like I’m drowning in the ocean. The nurse hands me a towel and I wipe off my sopping wet face. “What happened?” I choke out through my tears. “Tell me every last detail.”

The nurse looked at me like I was foolish. “You really want to know every detail?”

I nodded my head vigorously. “Of course!”

The nurse shook her head slowly. “Okay. He died of Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.” I opened my mouth, she shushed me. ”Before you ask, it is a sudden kind of death that is caused by the myocardium or the heart muscle becoming very thick to the point that the heart can’t pump blood anymore.” She then proceeded to give me an English lesson. “See hyper- means over and -troph means nutrient matter. So the word hypertrophic means too much nutrient matter. Cardio- means heart, -myo means muscle, and -pathy means disease, so the word cardiomyopathy means heart muscle disease.” 

I didn’t say anything but I knew that the man she described was not my dad. “Thank you! What’s for lunch?” I rubbed my stomach

The nurse smiled. “Spaghetti with meatballs and garlic bread. Also, chicken tacos with refried beans.”

I winced. “Spaghetti, I guess” The nurse disappeared for a few minutes and then returned with my lunch. The scent of garlic, basil, tomato, and beef filled the room. The sauce was a wonderful carmine and emerald color. The meatballs were perfectly formed and the noodles were a nice ivory color. I took a bite and looked up at the nurse. “Wow, pretty good for hospital food.”

The nurse smiled. “Made by the best in Virginia.” She pointed at herself.

I was shocked. “You actually took the time to make me lunch?”

The nurse smiled. “Of course, I would. I care about every single patient that is under my care.”

I finally felt happy for the first time today.  “I’m glad I’m here with you.”

“I’m glad you’re my patient instead of somebody else’s.” She smiled. Maybe the hospital wasn’t so bad.

  The day finally came to leave the hospital. It had been a month since the wreck and now I had to go to foster care. Luckily, I had already been adopted by a very nice woman, the nurse. Her name is Zyana Moore. At least I knew that the person who adopted me loved me. As we walked out of the hospital together, I started asking my new mom about our family. “So, do I have any siblings?”

    Mom chuckled. “I don’t think you’ll like this but you have a sister that is the same age as you. Her name is Safiya. She is very sweet and caring.”

    She better not be pretty or I’m going to be in a very awkward situation. I smiled at my mother. “She sounds very lovely. One last question, do I have a new dad?”

    Mom stopped in her tracks. “...... I’m sorry. He died about three years ago on Safiya’s ninth birthday.”

    I stopped in my tracks as well. “I know how hard it is. My mom died on my sixth birthday. I still won’t throw out the old junk she used to give me. In fact, it’s in these suitcases.”

    Mom and I walked back to the car with a new understanding of each other. The car was timid and took a while to come around and when it finally did, the therapy session started.

    Mom looked at me through the mirror. “How do you act around your biological mother’s old belongings?”

    I timidly looked up. “I always put on gloves or just don’t touch them at all because I have this irrational fear that if I touch her stuff it’s just going to be ruined and I won’t have anything to remember her by.” I shut Mom out and got on my phone. I couldn’t deal with these makeshift therapy sessions any longer. I guess I should search if my “dad’s” cause of death is plausible. 

Hyper-troph-ic cardio-myo-plasty.  Medical Terms for Dummies Click “A condition where the heart’s muscle becomes too thick and prevents the heart from successfully pumping blood. Death usually happens suddenly and the victim may not even know they have a heart problem in the first place. It can be triggered sooner with a traumatic event like a car accident.”  

    My heart stopped. My dad has never gone to a cardiologist and that car accident definitely could have triggered something. I thought he wasn’t dead but I could be wrong. There is a slight chance they mixed his records up with someone else’s but probably not. Oh god, why! He was my only thing left. I’m not opening his suitcase for a while. Not until I get some new gloves.

We finally arrived at our house. It was larger compared to my old house. Then, Mom looks at me. “It has four bedrooms. We turned one into a playroom already so, your room is the one beside Safiya’s” 

My brain stopped. She really better not be beautiful or I’m stuck next to my new sister that I have a crush on. I walked into my new home excited but nervous. The ferns happily greeted me before anyone else had the chance. There she was, Safiya. Dang it! She is pure perfection. Her brown hair cradled her narrow shoulders. Some brown crept into her vibrant cobalt eyes and her scarlet lipstick accentuated it. Her freckles made everything come together. Her beauty was beyond measure. 

She stepped towards me and my heart fluttered. “Hello! You must be James. I’m Safiya. Nice to finally meet you!” She smiled and the world stopped. She walked in for a hug and I froze. “I love you, James.” 

I smiled uncontrollably. “I love you too, Safiya.” Good lord, how could I live here for the rest of my life!

It has been four months since Mom brought me home from the hospital and I can say that I have managed pretty well. I’ve moved on from Safiya to Allison. She has gorgeous Malibu blonde hair that is always embracing her back and enveloping her being. Her carmine lipstick is always marrying her lapis eyes to her lilac eyeshadow. She is beautiful. Anyways school is kind of difficult but luckily, Safiya is really smart. She is the best sister I could ever have. She practices the piano and singing all the time and she still has time to study and get all A’s. She is pretty amazing. 

Mom signed me up for the soccer team and I’m actually pretty good. Ever since I came into town our team hasn’t lost a game. I had to play against Safiya’s team last week and I have to say it was a pretty tough match. Safiya is just a powerhouse! Anyway, life has been pretty good. Mom promised to buy me gloves at Christmas, which is only in four months. I may find a clue to solve the case of the missing dad but who knows.

CHRISTMASTIME!! It is Christmas morning and I run down the stairs as fast as I can and it pays off. I’m the first one down here which means I can open presents first but Mom doesn’t want to be unfair. Dang it! It takes Saf two hours to get out of bed. The zombie finally makes it down the stairs and sits on the couch. 

Mom looks at me. “To James, the one thing you have been asking for this whole year, a pair of viewing gloves.” My face instantly lights up when I see the azure gloves with my initials monogrammed in. J.M. I can finally open the one present no one had to buy, my dad’s suitcase.

I put on my new gloves and undid the latch. Inside was his clothes, my mom’s old belongings, and BINGO a business card. The number read 540-987-6543. I pulled out my phone and dialed the numbers. 5-4-0-9-8-7-6-5-4-3. It rang and rang and rang. “Derek Mady. Who is this?”

I smiled. “It’s James, Dad.”

I heard a very surprised noise. “James?! It’s actually you?!”

I started to tear up. “It is, Dad. I love you and miss you.”

He sighed. “I would tell you where I am, but I don’t know.” He paused. “After I was released out of the hospital, I was stuck on the streets. I bought a survival backpack and trekked out into the woods. I have a lot of supplies but I don’t know where I am because of this stupid flip-phone.”

I knew what we had to do. “Don’t worry Dad, we’re coming for you.”

We all knew very little about the woods. So it might just take us a while to search, I don’t know all of the woods in Christiansburg. We all walked up to the woods by our house. Allison and I paired off and Safiya and Mom paired off. I looked at the two of them. “Allison and I will go right and you two will go to the left.”

Mom reluctantly nodded. “Th-that sounds like a great plan.” It seemed like it caused her physical pain to say those words.

I gave Safiya and Mom a hug. “I love you guys, and I’ll see you later”

Mom smiled. “Don’t get too crazy with your girlfriend over there.”

I glued my teeth together. “Mom, be quiet. I don’t want to be mad at you before I go into the woods.”

Mom chuckled. “Okay! I was just messing with ya’. Calm down!”

We both laugh wildly. “Ok, love ya.” We say in unison.

Allison and I start our journey into the woods. “Hey James?”

I turn my head “What, Allison?”

She looks me straight in the eye. “It’s just that… um… I’m moving in two days.”

I stopped walking. “Really? How long have you known about this?”

She tears up. “I knew about it for a month but I didn’t want to hurt your feelings. I mean, what you went through was absolutely terrible and I didn’t want to put salt in the wound.”

I walk over to her and give her a hug. “It’s fine, Allison. I’m not mad, so promise me you won’t cry.” I hold out my pinky.

Allison wraps her pinky around mine. “Promise.” She pauses. “You know if you are going to make a move then you better make it now. We’re alone. I leaving in two days. It’s would be perfect timing.”

She’s right… but do I want her to be my first kiss? I walk away from her and focus on finding a good place to stay. We continue walking until I find a creek. I turn to Allison. “This is where we will set up camp for the night.”

She smiles and nods. “Perfect. What’s for dinner?”

I have a mini panic attack. “I don’t know. What do you want? Fresh meat or instant food?”

She thinks about my question. “I guess some instant food tonight. What kinds do we have?”

I open my survival bag. “There is…. Chicken fried rice and…. Steak and mashed potatoes. I have more but those two flavors are abundant.”

She looks directly at the bag. “What do you think?” She smiles.

I know the exact answer to this question. Allison loves steak and potatoes. “The steak and mashed potatoes.”

She smiles. “Good job! Who’s a good boyfriend? Yeah, you’re a good boyfriend.” She says to me like I’m her pet.

I play into the act. Rolling around on my back, waiting for her to scratch my stomach. She also continues the act and scratches my stomach. Then we both start laughing like crazy. I rip open the packet and pour the different foods into different containers. Allison goes to the creek to get water while I start a fire.  Allison comes back with a metal pot full of water and puts it over the fire. “So, where are moving to, Allison?”

She turns around. “Oh, Florida. The house we are buying has a beautiful ocean view but the house itself is pretty small.”

I c***ed my head. “Sounds like my old house. If it is, then promise that you’ll send my mom’s old stuff if you find any.”

She smiled. “Of course, James.” She paused for a good thirty seconds. “Hey, James?”

I looked at her. “Yeah.”

She looked nervously at the ground. “We need to talk.”

I got up and sat beside her. “Of course we can Allison.” I knew what was coming.

She teared up. “I’m sorry but… I don’t want to be with someone that has this much emotional baggage. I’m afraid I’ll accidentally say something that brings up bad memories, and there are just too many things, that could do that. I’m really sorry, you are an amazing person, but I just don’t want to set you off.”

I wiped away her tears. “I understand. Find someone great in Florida, Allison.” I started to walk out of the woods.

She started to bawl. “Wait! James! I didn’t mean that I don’t like you. Just, please stay and find your dad.”

I turned around. “Fine. All I’m trying to say is if you knew about my situation from the start, why did you go after me and get my hopes up? Let alone, date me for so long.”

She was stunned. “You are kind, and funny, and just flat out amazing. I just didn’t realize how much you had actually been through. So, I made this decision, so I wouldn’t taint your personality.”

I walk back down to the creek. “I guess you’re right.”

It has been three days since Allison broke up with me. We have used up all of our instant food but we have made it deep into the forest. Then, Dad pops out from behind a tree.

I give him the biggest smile ever. “Dad! It’s actually you! I haven’t seen you in forever!”

We both run up and give a huge hug to each other. Dad kneels down to eye level. “You know that I was worrying every day without you by my side. I will never let us be separated like that again.”

I start to cry in a happy kind of way. “I know you won’t, Dad. Its like Mom always said, even if I’m not here beside you, my heart is beside your heart. I’m just so glad you’re not dead.”

We sat there and hugged each other without any words. All of a sudden, Zyana and Safiya appear from the right of the woods. Zyana looks at us. “Nice to see you happy with your dad, James. Just one question, how are we supposed to get out of here?” 

I smile at her. “I have a compass. We’re supposed to go south, just a straight shot.”

We all walk together out of the woods and into our lives.

It’s been three months since we got Dad out of the woods. Life is normal, I guess. Safiya confessed her feelings for me and now we are the “it” couple of school. Allison moved to Florida and got a boyfriend named, Troye. Dad and Zyana aren’t a couple but they are best friends and we do live right next door to them. I guess you can say a terrible tragedy turned into a great opportunity to meet new people.

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