I lay in my bed. Tonight I am not going to change my clothes. I’ll just sleep with them on. I tuck my wavy brown hair behind my ears. Really, I actually want to be uncomfortable tonight. I want to see Dad when he comes home. Mom said dad is always away on business trips. He’ll be gone for about a month, then at around midnight, “Way past my bedtime so you shouldn’t be up, it wrecks your health.”, as my mom always says. He stays for about two hours and leaves before even she gets up. Tonight, my mom told me he’s coming back and I am going to see him. For the first time in twelve years. I look at my clock. 11:56. He’ll be here any minute now. One hour later I’m in bed still awake, still waiting. I still haven’t given up hope yet. A while later, I didn’t look at my clock, daylight pours into my room. I hear Mom stretch and walk to her bathroom. Dad didn’t come!
Thinking Mom might have made a mistake, I crawl under her bed to see if she kept any dates when he was scheduled to come back. If Mom had anything, it was under her bed in the collection of shoeboxes. I was crammed under the bed with all the shoeboxes. I felt a sneeze coming on. Why Mom never swifers under here, I do not know. I luckily held it. Trying to shift to a better position, I bumped my head and immediately ducked down. One shoebox was in my way. Hector Johnson. My dads name. I open it up. There were a bunch of pictures of people that I didn't know standing next to a coffin, including Mom. Something at the bottom of the box made my jaw open in surprise. It was a funeral card with an angel on it and the dreaded words. In memory of Hector Jonson. Then it hit me. My. Dad. Is. Dead.
Mom’s footsteps were getting louder. Soon I could see her UGG slippers. Another sneeze was coming on. This time I was not so lucky. In a second, Moms’ face was where her slippers were. “What are you doing, Max?” Her brown hair covered her expression, but I could tell she was worried. Worried that I discovered The Secret. The Secret I did discover. “Well, why would you care?! You wouldn’t even tell me Dad died! I’ve been believing you all these years to find out it’s not true!” Tears stung my eyes. I ran out of her room, ran into my room, and slammed the door. Why didn’t she tell me earlier? I would’ve already gotten over it. Suddenly, I felt an urge to run away. Run away from all the terrible things I discovered. I opened my closet and pulled out a suitcase. I threw in six pairs of clothes, a few handfuls of candy and my entire life savings of money. I zipped up the bulging suitcase. Now how am I going to run away without Mom seeing me? I looked out my bedroom window, the one showing the backyard. Not to far a jump. I open the window and push my suitcase through. It landed sideways in a pile of leaves. Before I left, I scribbled a note for Mom: Don’t look for me, I’ll manage on my own. I am NOT coming back. I taped it on the windowsill and before I would regret it, jumped out and landed on the thickest branch on the Magnolia tree. I climbed down, grabbed my suitcase, and I was off.
Mrs. Johnson yelled dinnertime for about the tenth time now. She had decided to leave Max alone during lunch, knowing how shocked and sad he might be. The funeral was still as clear as day. All the people that Hector might have known and she didn’t meet were staring at her and whispering, like she didn’t belong. Her parents and in-laws all died, and they were both the only child, so no relatives whatsoever showed up. The closed coffin was on a table, with pictures of a person she did not recognize, a mystery she never discovered, an enigma. She pushed those thoughts away. Finally, she got the key to Max’s room and unlocked the door. No Max. She checked the closet, under the bed, everywhere until she noticed the note on the windowsill. As she read the note, anger and fear rose up inside of her. Why didn’t she hide the shoebox better? She could barely breathe as she dialed 911.
The hard part of running away is acting normal. The suitcase can be a dead giveaway, so have to act like you’re in no hurry, or else it’s obvious. I’ve read about running away, but I’ve never realized how hard it was. Also, a kid with a winter coat in the beginning of fall, all by themselves is hard to deal with because: 1. We are usually sleeping at this time, 2. No parents, 3. Looks scared, 4. Suitcase in hand, and 5. Paying no attention where he’s going. I checked my watch underneath a streetlight. 10:06. I wonderif Mom found my note yet. Good thing she wasn’t there to see me leave. And I got a whole day to get away from The Secret. I was getting hungry. I skipped lunch today. Maybe I should eat something and stop for the night. I was halfway through a Hershey bar when a strike of lightning lit the sky and it started raining. Hard. Uh-Oh. The Blackheart Orphanage was across the street. I ran across the street and pounded on the door. A really old women with short-brimmed glasses, and a piercing stare opened the door. “What do you want?”, she said sounding anything but helpful. “My dad died. I’m an orphan now.” Her expression dropped. It looked like she was trying to drill holes through my head with her stormy gray eyes. “Come in.”, she said walking down a hallway. I hurried after her, leaving puddles of water on the wooden floor. At least what I said was half-true. Finally, she stopped at a heavy oak door. She took a key ring off her belt, and looked for a certain key, then unlocked the door. “This is your room.”, she said. Two boys stared at me. They were laying on the floor with a tattered blanket. She pushed me inside, then shut the door and locked it behind me. It was dark without the hallway light. I left my suitcase took off my coat and started searching for a bed. The two boys rolled over and left an empty spot on the blanket. My new bed. I sighed and lay down. “What’s your name?”, One of the boys asked. I could only make out the shape of his head. “Max.” “Oh. My name is Jacob, and this is Aidan.”, He said, pointing to the other boy. The other boy, by his height, looked like a six or seven-year old. “Are your parents dead?” Aidan asked. “No, only my dad, but my mom’s still alive. I just found out he died a long time ago, and, well, I couldn’t stand it and living at home now knowing that he won’t ever come back just seemed terrible.” “We have a different story. Our dad’s still alive, but we ended up here.”
Jacob and Aidan’s Story
A long time ago, when Aidan was a baby, our dad took us to Florida for a vacation, and well, I don’t know how, he got into a car accident and lost his memory of where we live. Aidan and I were too little to remember where we lived, so we ended up in Florida. He lived with us until one day he went to visit a friend in Greenland. A huge snowstorm delayed his flight back to Florida, for many days. Aidan and I were by ourselves, and I was taking care of him. After a while, the word was spread that our father was gone (they didn’t know where he was) and we didn’t have a mother anymore since she didn’t come with us on the driving trip and didn’t know we were going to Florida (she was on another vacation) so the mayor found the only orphanage with rules that if anyone adopted one of us, they would have to adopt the other. I never could convince them my dad was in Greenland If our dad ever did come back, he wasn’t informed that we are here.
“So that’s why you are here.”, I said. Aidan yawned. “Can we go to sleep now?”, He asked. “If Mrs. Hawkins is going to have us clean her office tomorrow she is going to make us get up early.” “Okay, I’m going to sleep. Good night.”
“Get up.”, Mrs. Hawkins was in the doorway. I checked my watch. 4:06 am. We got up, I got dressed (Aidan and Jacob don’t have spare clothes), Aidan and Jacob quickly brushed their brownish blond hair, and we walked to the breakfast table. We had oatmeal, more like it, something unknown, and I sneaked a candy to everybody. The rest of the day we cleaned her desk, sweeped the staircase, and even polished the TV screen. Mrs. Hawkins sure is picky. A girl, Amanda, was sweeping the staircase stopped to take a breath. “How dare you!” Mrs. H screeched. She reached for a key on her key lock. “Uh-Oh. She is going to put her in the pit. It is a room with no windows, or light. She doesn’t even let them eat inside the horrible place. I’ve been in there once, and boy, I didn’t know if I’d ever see daylight again.” While Jacob was talking, anger boiled up inside me. I hated Mrs. H. I knew what I had to do.
“You lazy peabrain! We work our butts off cleaning this dump, and this is what you do!? You should be enrolled in manners school!” All eyes turned to me. I signaled Amanda to run and hide. “In fact, I want everybody here to drop the brooms, rags, everything, until Mrs. H cleans it up for us.” Jacob was the first. He threw his cleaning rag at Mrs. H, who looked disgusted. Aidan and I followed. Soon, everybody was throwing something at Mrs. Hawkins, now the lazy peabrain. Somebody knocked on the door. Amanda hurried to open it. Everyone fell silent. There was Mom, walking in the orphanage.
“Mom!” I yelled, running up to her. “Max!” she said and hugged me. She surveyed the room. She stopped looking at Aidan and Jacob. “You two Jacob and Aidan Johnson?” Jacob looked surprised. “Yes.” “Your dad’s name Hector?” “Yes.” Mom looked like she was about to cry. “I’m your mother.”
That’s when it hit me. “Mom, was the coffin ever open at the funeral?” “No. Why?” The words were spinning inside my head. In memory of Hector Jonson. In memory of Hector Jonson. Hector Jonson. Hector Jonson. Jonson. Then it all made sense. Jonson is not spelled with an H! Our last name is Johnson, not Jonson! “Mom, Dad never died.”
Mrs. Hawkins was fired. My next-door neighbor Mrs. Florist became the new orphanage director. I hear they have ice cream parties every week. About Aidan and Jacob? They were my brothers. Strange how Mom kept so many secrets. Anyway, Dad’s in Florida and coming over in a week. I can’t wait!

Add Discussion