Part III: The Hopeful Orphan
The Eyre Orphanage sat across the street from one of the town's parks, one of the more deserted ones on any normal day. But today, it was not deserted, instead it was occupied by two young boys; one was only six while the other was eight.
The eight year old was the more talkative of the two, his mouth always open and jabbering on and on about something or another, otherwise he gave a smirk as his companion said a sentence, maybe two, in response. He had dark red hair that seemed to stick out in odd directions, as though he didn't even try to brush it, along with thin, sea green eyes.
The younger boy was extremely quiet, anyone could tell by watching the two during their exchange; while the redheaded child talked almost incessantly, his friend simply kept his mouth closed, nodding occasionally and only speaking when it seemed as though the other boy wanted him to. And, oddly enough, it seemed as though he was actually…interested, even though half the time the topic was random and of no importance whatsoever. As opposed to the other boy's thin eyes, his own blue ones were quite wide. He also had blond hair that looked as though it had been brushed but somehow a part of it seemed to stick up in the back.
The six year old looked away as his friend continued to jabber on about this crazy ice cream his mom had bought, and looked around to see the sun was now a bit behind him. When the two had first shown up, the sun had barely reached its highest point in the sky, but the boy had no idea what time it meant that would be. For the first time since the two had been hanging out together, the younger boy decided to interrupt, "Xander, what time is it?"
Xander stared ahead for a moment, temporarily silent, before holding up his left wrist and looking at his Red Power Ranger watch. "Uh…almost three o'clock."
The younger boy leaped off of the bench they had been sitting on. "I've gotta head home," he said, taking steps slow steps away while still looking back at his friend. "Some family's comin' to adopt and Ms. Eyre wants me to talk to 'em."
"Okay. See ya, Fred." After the words left his mouth, Fred nodded and then began running toward the direction the orphanage was in. Xander was about to head for home as well before he remembered something. "Oh, Fred! Same time tomorrow?" he shouted, cupping his hands around his mouth.
"Yeah! Bye, Xander!" Once Fred ran across the street (looking both ways, of course), he stopped on the bottom step of the building and stared up at it, his expression somewhat worried.
It was Fred's greatest hope to be adopted; but for the past four years, it hadn't happened. Every family, even ones he had liked, simply seemed to skim over him and chose some other child; one that was nicer, smarter, cuter, more outgoing, or more talkative than he was. He loved that he still had a chance to be adopted but being rejected so many times by so many different people was really beginning to take its toll… Ms. Eyre told him that it was only a matter of time, but he began to think that he might not even be adopted. What if he just was stuck there for the rest of his life? What if he became an adult but was still an unwanted and unloved orphan living in this old building?
Fred shook his head of this thought. He just had to stay positive, like Ms. Eyre said; after all, all of his friends from the orphanage had been adopted so he should be too…right?
He made his way up to the entrance, letting out a sigh before he stood up straight and walked through the door. He hoped that when Ms. Eyre saw him he would look a lot more confident than he felt. He stepped through the door and saw familiar surroundings. The room was relatively bare, with only a small desk that Ms. Eyre stood at whenever there was a couple that came in to adopt; along with two doorways, one that lead to her office and an archway that lead to the hall where he and all the other kids lived.
At the moment, Ms. Eyre was at the desk talking to a tall, blond-haired man and a brunette woman at his side. Realizing that it would probably be best if they didn't notice him, the six year old slowly and quietly closed the door behind him, watching the adults to make sure they didn't notice.
Once the door was shut, he began to tip-toe toward the hall, still watching the adults. He was almost home free; and he would have made it…if he had noticed the other boy that was staring into the hall. But since he did not, he ended up crashing into the other kid and they both fell down with shouts of surprise.
Fred grimaced knowing what was going to happen next: the kid would complain, Fred would get a lecture from Ms. Eyre, and then the couple would immediately write him off and move onto the next orphan.
"You okay?" Fred glanced up and recoiled a bit in surprise after finding himself face to face with—what looked like—himself; but then he realized that this boy had brown hair and he was perfectly aware that his own was blond, so it couldn't be him.
Though, they were strangely similar. He also had wide, blue eyes; a short, slightly pointed nose; around the same height; and his hair seemed just as, if not more, untidy as Fred's own locks. The two stared at one another, mutually surprised that the other looked so much like him.
"Charlie, are you alright?"
Fred finally looked away from the other boy to see Ms. Eyre come out from behind her desk to check on the two while the couple quickly walked over as well. "What happened?"
"Hey, wait," the brunette duplicate began, looking at him curiously, "don't I know you?" Fred turned back to him, and this time something in his head clicked, he did know this boy. They had been in the same class together a few weeks earlier. He usually only saw him from a distance though, which would explain why he had never noticed how much they looked alike. "Don't you go to my school?"
Fred's eyes widened and he glanced around him, and became nervous at all the inquiring looks. He felt like running from their stares but he couldn't even stand, let alone run. He finally looked back at the boy—Charlie, the woman had called him—and gave a nod. His cheeks flushed a dark pink; no one at school knew that he was an orphan.
Charlie, however, didn't seem to notice the color his face had gained. He only continued to look on curiously. "But why're you here?"
Charlie's mother tried to catch her son's attention. "Charlie, honey…"
Suddenly Charlie's blue eyes widened. "Ohhhhh. Are you here to find a brother too?"
Fred stared on in surprise; he thought for sure that Charlie would have realized why he was here but it definitely didn't sound like it. "I…guess so."
Now the boy's father spoke up, "Charlie, I think that's enough."
Charlie didn't seem satisfied though, and plowed on to his next question, "But then where're your parents?"
Fred looked down at the ground at this question, his face turning a shade darker. "Charlie," Ms. Eyre began gently, deciding to spare Fred from revealing the horrible truth, "Fred's parents…died in a car crash four years ago…" Charlie looked from Ms. Eyre, back to Fred, his eyes wide open in surprise. "He's one of the orphans here…"
Fred kept his head bowed, somewhat ashamed of his background; he liked everyone at the orphanage perfectly fine but he found the fact that he had no family, no one that really loved him, a bit sad. He slowly began to get to his feet, and was offered assistance by Charlie.
Ms. Eyre began to speak again, this time to Charlie's parents, but Fred didn't really listen and it didn't seem like Charlie was either; they only stared at one another. Fred only did because he was still wondering how it was possible that the two of them looked so much alike, after all, he didn't have any family left. His records proved it. So how could they look so similar?
"Charlie." His thoughts were interrupted when the other boy's mother spoke, "We need to go start an interview now."
Ms. Eyre nodded, glancing at Fred. "Fred, dear, you should go in your room, I'll come get you when it's your turn."
Fred nodded and headed back toward the hall behind Charlie when a hand grabbed hold of his arm. "Wait." The blond boy looked back to see Charlie was the one that was holding him back, and the brown-haired boy had a concerned look on his face before he looked at the adults. "I already know who I wan' for my brother; I wan' him."
Fred's eyebrows rose in surprise when the other boy pointed a finger at him, nearly poking his nose in doing so. "Me?" The other boy looked back at Fred when he had spoken. "You want…me?"
Charlie gave a kind smile and nodded. Fred felt himself smile a bit as well; this was the first time since he had been here that anyone said that they wanted him. His joy was short-lived, however.
"Charlie, we still have to go through other interviews first," his mother explained as she came closer to the two boys. Fred felt his heart drop to the pit of his stomach at her words. The woman knelt down, so she was around the same height as them and folded her arms on top of her knees. She glanced at her son before looking at Fred and giving a warm smile. In that moment, he realized she had the same eyes as he did—the same shade of blue, just like Charlie. "You seem like a nice boy, but it wouldn't fair to any of the other kids we're supposed to talk to. Do you understand, Fred?"
They stared at each other for a moment. Fred suddenly broke the eye contact by looking down at the ground, still a bit saddened, and mumbled, "Yes..." She stood back up to her normal height, frowning slightly at the boy's actions.
Charlie's father came over as well, standing beside his wife, and looked down at Fred. "We'll be back to talk to later alright, son?"
Though Mr. Davison probably meant nothing by calling Fred this, it caused the boy to stare up at him with a jolt. He had never remembered being called that before; but when the man had said it, it didn't feel strange like he thought it would. It felt…right. Almost like he was meant to be called son by this man.
There was a moment of quiet as the family of three looked at the orphan—not awkward or confused—but an almost comfortable silence. Fred looked from one person to the next before giving a small smile and nodding as he turned to head back to his room. Charlie shouted a goodbye to him before Ms. Eyre began to talk to the family again.
Once he was in his room, he flopped down on the lower portion of the bunk bed. The room was relatively bare; with only the bunk bed, a desk, and a small dresser. Fred stared up at the wooden planks that held the top half of the bed up as he nervously played with his fingers. That worry he had felt earlier that day seemed to have grown ten-fold; would he finally be adopted or would he, like all those other times, be brushed aside and have someone else chosen? It wouldn't be surprising and you would think he would be used to all this rejection by now…
But the hope he had also increased significantly. Someone wanted him. Someone wanted him. It was hard for Fred to wrap his mind around the possibility. Even though it was another kid that said that and not the adults, it felt like they may have liked him too. Was this what all the other kids felt when they had been chosen? Fred could only wonder, he hadn't seen most of the other children that had been adopted, and if he did he never bothered to ask. Now he realized that he probably should have…