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PIPE DREAMS, PART 3
THE NEXT GENERATION

 

Stacey sat in shock as she grabbed her husband’s hand. Surely he didn’t say what she heard.

“Excuse me? What did you just say?” she asked.

The doctor took a deep breath and let out a sigh.

Bruce gently squeezed Stacey’s hand in support.

“I’m sorry, Mrs. Adams.”

Stacey released the tears she was holding.

“There are other options. Adopting, perhaps,” the doctor said, but he sounded far away.

I’ll never have children. The thought hit her like a ton of bricks. She had always envisioned herself being a mom of a house full of children, and now that vision was evaporating before her eyes.

* * *

“What’s wrong, Ms. Stacey?” a thirteen-year-old boy asked as he sat down in her office.

Stacey quickly gave the young man a smile. “Nothing is wrong. Why don’t you tell me why you’re in my office?”

“Stop being fake with me. I KNOW something is wrong. Did my caseworker tell you that I was kicked out of my foster home again?”

Stacey gasped. “Robert, that’s… what? The third home this month?”

Robert gave her a sly grin. “The fifth. Second one doesn’t count. That was a group home. Not real.”

“What did you do this time?” she asked, rubbing the bridge of her nose.

“Took a knife to their couch,” he said proudly.

Stacey groaned.

“I didn’t like it there. There were too many rules, and no rules for their ‘REAL’ son. So, I cut up their couch, and ran away.”

Stacey let out a sigh.

“Robert, you can’t just run away or vandalize something when things don’t go your way. How do you expect to get adopted if you keep acting out? Everything you do is in your records. It’s going to be difficult to place you if you keep breaking rules and running away.”

“ADOPTED? ME? I’m almost fourteen and way past the cute puppy stage. People don’t adopt teenagers. Besides, I can’t be placed. That’s why I’ve been told that Juvenile Hall is my next stop. My caseworker is convinced I’ll be in federal prison by the time I turn eighteen.” Robert laughed nervously.

Stacey noticed the pained look in his eye and the fake laugh cover-up.

“Robert, I’m sure there’s SOMEONE out there that is a perfect match for you.”

Robert laughed for real that time. “Good one, Ms. Stacey,” he said as the bell rang.

“You should get to class,” Stacey said gently.

“What for? School is pointless, just like believing I’m adoptable.”

“Robert, that’s not true, and please don’t cause trouble today.”

Robert rolled his eyes and grabbed his backpack. “Whatever you say, Ms. Stacey.”

* * *

“What did you just say?” Bruce said as he washed the last plate and handed it to Stacey.

“You heard me. I think we should consider adopting a teenager.”

“That’s what I thought you said.”

Stacey playfully hit him with the towel. “Bruce, I did some research. Did you know there are almost 114,000 children in foster care that are available for adoption? Only a little more than 4,000 get adopted per year. Did you also know that 25,000 teens age out of the system every year? They’re just kicked out without any resources, and some are still in high school. Some turn to prostitution or worse. Bruce, we HAVE to do something.”

“Stacey, I know that look. You’re not going to let this rest until we have an apartment full of teenagers. Let’s sleep on it, and we will decide together whether this is what’s best for us.”

Stacey quickly kissed her husband and left to put the towel in the hamper.

* * *

“I know it’s been a long road, but it seems as though everything is in order,” the caseworker said as she looked over the paperwork. “Congratulations! You’re foster parents. Any idea how old of a child you wa…” The caseworker stopped at the sound of an angry boy storming in and slamming the door shut.

“YOU LIED TO ME! YOU SAID THIS HOME WOULD BE A GREAT MATCH. IT’S NOT. IT’S WORSE!” The boy crumpled to the floor in tears. “Why doesn’t anyone want me?” he whimpered quietly.

His sobbing tore at Stacey’s heart.

The caseworker opened her mouth to speak, but Stacey stopped her. “Robert?” Stacey gently asked as she sat on the floor beside the heartbroken boy.

“Ms. Stacey, what are you doing here?” he asked while using his sleeve to wipe his tears.

“That’s my husband, Bruce.” She nodded toward her husband.

Robert quickly glanced at the man, and then rested his head on his knees.

“What do you say, honey? Want to take Robert home with us? I mean, if that’s OK?” Stacey said as she looked at the caseworker and placed an arm around Robert.

“Since he’s run away from his last one, I don’t see why not,” the caseworker said.

Bruce let out a sigh. “If we’re doing this, we may as well jump in. Sink or swim, right?” He chuckled.

Stacey gave him one of her million-dollar smiles.

“All you have to do is sign some papers, and Robert can go home with you.” She then turned to the boy. “Young man, take this as a warning. If I were you, I’d make this family work. This is your very last option before Juvenile Hall,” the caseworker said sternly.

“He will do just fine,” Stacey said as she signed her name.

* * *

It was a rocky nine months as they got used to each other. Even with the ups and downs, he found living with Stacey and Bruce was the best home. For once, he didn’t feel like running away or vandalizing the apartment. His grades even improved drastically.

Knock knock knock

Robert closed his history book. Must be my friend Sam coming over to play video games. 

“Sorry, Sam, I have a huge history test tomorrow. I can’t…” Robert’s words died as he saw the girl in front of him.

“Hi, I’m Brooke. Father told me that we need your dad’s help. There’s a pipe leak in the tunnels by the Great Hall. Is he home?”

Robert shook his head.

Great Hall? Tunnels? She’s the prettiest girl I’ve ever seen in spite of her funny dress. 

“Um…hello?” Brooke waved a hand in front of him.

Robert blinked and cleared his head. “Oh. Yeah. I’m Robert. My foster dad should be home any moment. You can come in, if you like. Could I get you a Pepsi?”

“A what?”

“A Pepsi. It’s a soda,” he said as he grabbed a couple out of the refrigerator and handed her one.

She took it hesitantly.

“Don’t worry. It’s not poison or alcohol.” He laughed before taking a drink.

Brooke took a drink and coughed. “It tickles my nose.”

The door opened and Bruce walked in.

“Oh, Brooke, is it? What brings you here?”

Brooke smiled. “We need your help Below. Pipe next to the Great Hall has a leak. It needs to be repaired as soon as possible.”

Bruce frantically looked at Robert and then ushered her out of the apartment.

“Robert doesn’t know about the tunnels.”

Brooke’s eyes grew wide and filled with tears. “I thought…I thought since you were a Helper, he was, too.” Tears slid down her cheeks. “What am I going to do? Father will be so angry with me.”

Bruce sighed and gave the girl a reassuring hug.

“Go back. Don’t say anything to anyone. I’ll be right there as soon as I talk to Robert, and I’ll discuss the problem. Don’t worry, I believe there’s a solution.”

Brooke nodded and left.

“Robert, do you know how you’re always asking us to trust you?”

Robert nodded. “Yeah.”

“Well, trust is a two-way street. I’m going to trust you with a secret that you will have to guard with your life.”

“I can do that.”

Bruce smiled. “Put on your shoes while I grab my toolbox. We’re going to fix a pipe.”

4 Comments

  1. How it all comes together nicely…Stacey and Bruce’s adoption saved Robert. There is no telling what fate would await him. He had a rebellious nature and didn’t believe his life could change for the better…and I’m so glad that Stacey and Bruce are expecting a baby …. Reading these three stories was a pleasure.

    Reply
  2. This was a wonderful arc of 3 stories. I loved your new characters and how you wove their stories. Perhaps we could see them again at some point?

    Reply
  3. Loved the way the three stories blended into each other! I can see many more additions to this line of stories?….

    Reply
  4. This was a sweet story all around, very enjoyable. I can’t wait to read more of your stories, Angela. You are an amazing writer, congratulations!!!

    Reply

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