BASED VERY LOOSELY OFF OF THE THEME OF CYNTHIA VOIGHT'S NOVEL HOMECOMING. HOPE YOU ENJOY THIS PREVIEW WILL CONTINUE AFTER I RETURN FROM MY HIATUS ALONG WITH MY OTHER WORK.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
The hands on the huge clock on the wall moved a little bit. It was almost eight o'clock, which meant the bus depot would be closing in another two hours.
"Selah I'm hungry"
"I don't know Davey"
"Saying and asking the same things isn't going to help"
"Chris you're not helping"
The five Wright children sat huddled together on the same bench for that past seven or eight hours. Selah the oldest was charge at thirteen and the only sister. Christopher Jr eleven months younger than his sister at twelve as the second child and wiser beyond his years.
Ezekiel the timid middle child who was eight years old. David who was six and wasn't scared to speak his mind. And last but not least was Timothy who at six months old only knew how to suck his pacifier and looked around wide-eyed at the world around him.
Selah bounced her baby brother Timothy on her lap as her mind scattered all over the place. She was getting worried and concerned but knew that if she showed her emotions it would scare her younger brothers.
"Yes Davey I heard you the first time"
"Timmy is the only one who has something to eat though," David pointed out referring to the baby bag full of bottles of milk, some baby formula, diapers, and a few changes of clothes.
However Selah didn't know how long that would last. All she knew was that their mother Barbara told her to take charge of her brothers and she'd be back soon. That was at one earlier in the afternoon it was nightfall now.
The only thing they had eaten were peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that both Selah and Christopher prepared at three in the morning. The clerk behind the window had periodically asked Selah every hour so far if they were okay and she said they were fine.
The situation sure as hell didn't look fine though. A thirty-year-old white woman dropped off her five biracial children at the bus depot with vague promises of coming back. So it was no wonder the clerk kept asking Selah if they were okay.
"Selah let's just get the little kids something to eat" Christopher said, "I'm pretty hungry too"
Selah sighed it also seemed that Timothy also needed a diaper change and a bottle as well.
Where was Barbara? What was she thinking?
To Selah it seemed like her mother was always leaving things up to her while she herself was still a child.
"There's a McDonald's across the street" she said, "I'll go get us a couple of burgers and fries"
"Milkshakes too!" David proclaimed
"I'm getting a large water with cups and we can share that"
"No Selah get milkshakes please?" the little boy begged
"A milkshake isn't going to wash the food down and it will make you thirsty later" Selah said nipping her argument in the bud with the stubborn six-year-old. Selah dug into one of the duffel bags their mother packed for the wallet.
There was only thirty dollars total. It was enough for McDonalds and she'd get some change back but would it be enough to last them if their mother truly didn't come back?
"Chris I need you to change Timmy and give him his bottle"
"I'll give him his bottle but why do I have to change him?" Christopher's nose wrinkled in disgusted "he probably pooped too"
"Because I'm getting dinner" Selah said "I can't do everything myself Chris besides you're the second oldest I need your help"
"Do I really have to?"
"Yes" she said firmly "when Momma's not here I'm in charge which means you do what I say"
Christopher rolled his eyes as he went through the baby bag to get out the supplies he needed. Just as Selah was getting ready to leave she felt a tug on the hem of her shirt.
"It will be okay Zeke" she reassured "I'm going to get dinner"
"You'll come back right?" Ezekiel whispered
"I'll be back you mind Chris okay?"
Selah left the boys in Christopher's care as she quickly made her way out the bus depot avoiding eye contact with the clerk who seemed to be observing them a little too much.
An hour later Selah was passing around the paper bag so the boys could toss their trash. Timothy had been changed and fed his bottle as well.
"Bathroom check" she announced "Chris take the boys to the men's room make sure they wash their hands too and we'll get ready to leave"
"But where are we going to go?" Christopher pointed out
"I don't know yet but we can't stay here"
"What about Momma?" Ezekiel whispered, "how will she know where we are?"
Selah noticed the clerk studying them when Ezekiel said this and looked like she was writing something down
"Momma will find us" she lied
"Of course she will"
Christopher led Ezekiel and David to the restroom while Selah got the rest of their things together.
"Young lady" the clerk called out to her "we're getting ready to close soon"
"Where is your mother?" she pried into their business "you kids look awfully young especially that baby"
"She's at home" Selah lied "we're getting ready to leave now"
"Really?" the clerk continued to ponder, "that's not what I heard your little brother say"
Selah's stomach knotted in fear
"I think I better call the police and inform them---"
"We're on our way ma'am"
"Stay right there," the clerk said as she picked up the phone "we'll see where your mother is any idea where your father is?"
Selah's mouth suddenly felt dry
"Yes" the clerk, answered "Hello? I have five unattended minors here...."
Selah quickly and accurately strapped Timothy into his stroller packed his baby bag in the compartment underneath him and slung both her duffel bag and her brothers' over her shoulder and made her way towards the men's restroom.
Christopher was surprised to see his sister making her way over pushing Timothy's stroller very quickly and urgently.
"What's going on---"
"We got to go now!"
Christopher took Ezekiel and David each by the hand and they all followed their sister. To where? They did not know. Selah ordered the boys to walk quickly and in front of her and she didn't dare look back.
The only thing Selah could hear behind her was the clerk calling out for her to come back but to keep herself and brothers together she knew that wasn't an option.
Selah had no idea where they were but that was a given since Barbara carted them all into the family car in the wee hours of the morning. It was hot and humid and dark but at least they were far away from the bus depot now.
"What are we going to do now?" Christopher asked
"Find a place to sleep"
"I don't know yet" Selah replied
"Selah I'm scared" David said nudging his chubby little face into her side while Ezekiel looked confused.
How could their mother do this to them? It wasn't fair to them and it wasn't fair to her either. Why was her mother leaving everything up to her all of the time?
Ever since Selah was old enough and big enough to cook scrambled eggs Barbara would take extra jobs leaving her to care for her brothers. There were days Selah missed school because of her mother and now this.
Across the street was a dimly lit playground with the bus depot closed and the threat of police and social services coming after them it was the only place they could go.
Timothy was already asleep in his stroller and Selah took out clothes from the boys duffel bags as they each picked places to sleep on the playground equipment.
Ezekiel and David chose the little bridge while Christopher laid out on the slide. Selah was going to sleep on a nearby bench with Timothy in his stroller within hands reach.
Selah would have to figure something out in the morning. As she was pulling out some clothes from her duffel bag to sleep on a wrinkled envelope fell out. Under the flickering light post Selah could see her mother's crude handwriting with her name on it.
Opening it Selah pulled out the wrinkled piece of notebook paper and read the letter.
By the time you read this I know you'll be angry with me. I want you to know that I love you and your brothers very much but I just can't take care of you anymore. The past year had been hard on all of us you understand that.
Your father getting arrested just months before Timothy was born Christmas made things hard and there was hardly enough money to feed you all let alone another baby.
I thank God for him giving me you as my firstborn because I don't know what I'd do without you. I know you're still very young at thirteen but don't forget that your name means, "to pause and reflect" so I know you'll be strong enough to take care of your brothers just fine. You get it from your father's side of the family.
My parents Donald and Carol Walsh your grandparents live on 832 Seashell Drive Providence Rhode Island. I know you've never met them before and there a bit conservative but you should be fine since you look just like me when I was your age. Truth be told you and your brothers look more white than you do black especially Timothy.
Your grandparents are well off financially and can take care of you all better than I ever could. Perhaps when I get better I'll join you there and try to be a better mother but right now I can't. Please give hugs and kisses to your brothers for me. I love you all.
Selah had to scan the letter again a few more times and angry tears ran down her cheeks. Her mother really did just abandon them. Just out of the blue like that. What the hell did she mean she was young but strong?
Selah was just as much a kid as her brothers were and she was scared. What the hell was she supposed to do? Did Barbara honestly believe that she could herd all of her brothers all the way to Rhode Island all on her own? They were in the middle of Maryland right now with only fifteen dollars to their names.
Go all the way to some maternal white grandparents who will be shocked to meet grandchildren they never knew existed that happened to be half black. Selah sure as hell was angry with her mother because she couldn't do this.
She couldn't do this but what other choice did she really have that wouldn't split them up even further?