Addition // Short Story

( I used to write short stories a lot, and I kind of miss it. So here, I'll take a crack at it again).


They told me their names in a hurry, Carrie and Jack, the clean cut, smiling parents. Liza and Paul, the quiet-eyed little kids, each with a mess of curly blonde hair.

I wanted to ask them "Why me?" As I stood in front of them, backpack hooked on my shoulder, heart stuffed deep in the bottom, under books and a jacket and a lighter. I towered over the kids, my mid-puberty growth spurt making me long and lean after a childhood of being short and stubby.


Liza had grabbed onto my legs, that very first day, and exclaimed "I've always wanted a sister!" Carrie gently coaxed her off my legs, probably because of my shocked expression and Jack chuckled, saying "Let's let Jess get settled before we declare our love."

Liza was barely three and Paul, a short 5. They had those quiet eyes, but they loved to be loud. It was a happy loud, though, and it took a while to get used to, but I didn't mind it. Carrie would roll her eyes when they got too loud, look at me and wink, saying "They get that from their father."


They had all my history, they could see the lines I had written into my skin. They always asked, at first: "Can I hug you?" "Is it OK if we do this?" "Is it OK if I wash this for you?" Quietly, yet firmly. Like a pillar that didn't move, Carrie and Jack looked at me with eyes that loved me more than any other eyes I had ever seen look at me, even the woman who bore me.


Carrie and Jack came to me, while I sat in my room, struggling through my English homework, and asked if they could talk to me. I said sure, and closed my notebook, with the crooked letters from my crooked handwriting. Carrie asked if she could hold my hand, and I held it out to her. She took it, placing a thumb on a scar that I had embedded in myself a long time ago, one of my first. My heart started racing, waiting for them to tell me, tell me, tell me.


Tell me that I was unsafe, they couldn't keep me around their kids. Tell me that I was too broken. Tell me it was too much money. Tell me I'm a mess. Tell me I wouldn't fit into their clean cut lives, with their curly-haired blonde kids. Tell me I wasn't what they wanted.

I was going to my therapist this time, and actually letting words leak out of my mouth. I was being responsible. Even though I struggled in school, especially English, I was trying so hard to make it right this time. Even though I knew where the scissors and knives were, I wasn't touching them, wasn't using them. And I just waited for them to tell me that it still wasn't enough. It wouldn't be the first time I'd heard it and it wouldn't be the last.


Jack smiled a big smile at me, showing off his crooked canine teeth. Carrie squeezed my hand, looked at me with her green eyes rimming with tears.

"We'd like to adopt you."

And my heart stopped, right there, in that moment, it stopped and I couldn't breathe or think or fathom what was actually happening.

"Jess, we'd like to adopt you. Would you like that?" Jack said.

I didn't know how to nod. I just started to cry. Then, I started to nod. Nod and nod and nod. Yes and yes and yes.

Jack and Carrie.

My dad and mom.

They hugged me. They didn't ask that time.


Carrie and Jack and Liza and Paul and Jess.


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