With a slam and the loud bouncing pound of the screen door, Dons bolted out of the house.
His mother, struggled to chase him but stood on the porch overcome with exhaustion at having to handle yet another of his outbursts. She wiped her forehead with the inside of her tee shirt collar and turned to go back inside. Her heart ached for her child and the unrelenting pain he must feel. She walked inside to call her husband.
Dons ran full force away from the house. “She is not my real mom, she is not my real mom, she is not my real mom,” he repeated to himself.
At eight years old he had finally understood that he was adopted. That explained everything. That’s why he wasn’t allowed to stay up late, why he always had to shower before bed, and why he had to eat broccoli. Of course. She hated him for not being her own baby. And he hated her for keeping him away from his real mom.
He finally slowed down somewhere between the house and the park at the center of town. He knew that the train station would be on the other side of that park, just past the rose garden. The sun was starting to set, but he knew that the late train would arrive soon.
He grabbed at a pale lavender rose and pierced his palm with a thorn. When he found his mom, she would think his gift was thoughtful and wouldn’t be mad at him for finding her. All he had to do was get on that train.
As he gently carried the flower toward the train station he wondered if this time he would find her. Why did she leave him with that woman? What did he do wrong to be left behind like that? What could he do to prove to her that he was worth keeping
He walked carefully across the street like his not-real-mom taught him, looking both ways before stepping off the curb.
The sun was dropping fast, so that meant it wouldn’t be long before the train arrived. He walked into the vast room of wood beams across high ceilings. It smelled like dust and old things, kinda like the library at the county center.
He walked around casually, running his hand across the backs of the wooden benches trying to ignore the echoing squeak of his gym shoes across the tile floor. He found an empty bench toward the back of the building, where he could sit quietly until the train arrived. No one bothered him.
He sat down, let out a deep breath and gingerly lay the rose beside him. He slunk into the worn curve of the bench and settled in to wait. His face itched from where his tears left tracks down his cheeks. He ran his sleeve across his face.
The sounds of feet coming in and out, luggage rolling along the tile clicking at each grout line, and voices discussing times, locations and plans blurred into a constant, monotone murmur. His head bobbed.
His dad walked in and looked around. He didn’t see Dons at first. Then he noticed the red Spider Man shirt. He slipped his left hand under Dons neck and his right arm under his limp legs. Dons rolled his face into his daddy’s shirt and breathed deep, letting out a staccato of warm air as he fell deeper into a comforted slumber. Tomorrow he would be disappointed that he didn’t make it onto the train, again.
The abandoned lavender rose lay on the bench as a testament to his desire.
His not-real-mom kissed him as she pulled his jeans off so that he would be comfortable. She covered his sweaty, little boy body with a red and blue spider-webbed sheet.
Tomorrow, Dons would wake in his bed, surrounded by love and feeling alone, again. Tomorrow, his not-real-mom would try to understand him, to make him feel wanted, and pray that he would be comforted by her very real love.