This book is a complete work of art. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission of the author.
All Rights Reserved.
Copyright © 2015 Lauren Kutterfly
Edition Two. First appeared on Wattpad under the name Emily Was.
Published and Distributed by Shakespir Publishing
Summary: After the tragic death of her only daughter Emily, Amber Helsing finds the last letter written by Emily. The letter tells a shocking story about one particular little boy who changed Emily’s life.
Fate breathed her last breath as Destiny rose to the throne. – Macee Elyse, “Soul Effect”
THERE WAS A THICK COAT of silvery dust lining the drawers like a gigantic moldy-gray blanket. Amber swiped a finger across the damp wood and came back up with a layer of fuzzy coating. She rubbed the fur between her fingers slowly, thoughtfully, and then let it slip out of her fingers and onto the floor.
“Perhaps it’s time I clean out this room,” she muttered to herself. “The room is starting to reek of the rot and dirt of the yard.”
Something caught the corner of her eye and she reached over and picked up a picture frame that was faced down, buried deep beneath the dust. She blew on it.
The glass cleared to show a teenage girl with dark blonde hair weaved into a bun on top of
her head and with gleaming eyes. She was carrying an overflowing backpack on her shoulders and around her neck hung a badge from the university she would soon be going to. She was laughing into the camera, her mouth opened wide in a grin.
Amber stared at the picture, frozen, unable to tear her eyes away from her daughter’s last smile. The picture was taken in front of their house the day Emily went to college.
It was bright and early in the morning. Emily was excited to finally go to college and had barged into Amber’s room to drag her out of bed.
“Come on, Mom!” she squealed and shook Amber violently. Her hands were trembling with excitement. “Today’s it! It’s really happening. I’m going to college!”
Amber groaned and rubbed her drowsy eyes. “What time is it? It looks dark outside. And- Oh, Emily! For God’s sake, would you calm down for a second? I’m barely awake. At least let me wake up properly first!”
Emily giggled. “Okay, okay, but make sure you get up quickly. I’m going to go pack the car. I’ll meet you outside!”
Amber chuckled as her daughter skipped out of the room. She got out of bed and threw on her clothes.
For the past few days Emily had talked of nothing but college. She looked forward to it so much that she packed and got ready five months
before the day they were supposed to leave on.
Amber walked outside and saw Emily trying to load the back of the car. The suitcase was too heavy for her, though, so she couldn’t lift it all by herself. She grunted and heaved but she was no match for the weight.
Amber chuckled lightly and walked over to help her. Together they pushed the suitcase into the car.
“Whew! Thanks,” Emily said and pretended to wipe an imaginary drop of sweat from her forehead. She smiled at the overflowing back of the car and set her hands on her hips. “Well, I’m all packed and ready to go.”
Amber stared at the car. “Seems like it.”
“I’ll be a college student soon,” Emily added.
“Yes, honey. And I’ll be an old lady all alone in the huge house.” Emily laughed and hugged her mother. “Oh, Mom, don’t be like that. I promise to call you every day and send you pictures. I mean, if you can stand my nagging.” Emily flashed a cheeky grin. Amber let a small smile slip onto her wrinkled cheeks. Her eyes shone with pride. “I know you will,” she said and returned the affection. “Just promise me you will stay safe and won’t do anything stupid.”
Emily pulled back and pretended to salute her mother. “Aye, aye captain.”
“Now, stand in front of the house for one last picture,” Amber instructed with fake sternness. “I’m not sending you to college without a memory
of you for four years.”
Emily, giggling and smiling, ran back into the house and brought out the camera. She handed it to Amber and posed in front of the house.
“Say cheese!” Amber said. She snapped the picture.
And that was the last time she ever took a picture of Emily. Amber’s eyes glazed over and became distant, lost within the memory.
The door to the bedroom slowly opened, a drawn out creak arising from the hinges. Amber blinked, snapping out of her daze. In her surprise, she dropped the picture back onto the drawer and landed with a dull thud, and she whipped around so fast that she almost tripped over her own two feet. A man, dressed in a professional dark suit, was leaning against the doorframe.
“Oh, Matthew!” she exclaimed and placed a hand to her heart. “Heavens, you gave me a fright. What brings you here?”
Matthew didn’t answer immediately and glanced around the room, his eyes traveling along the walls and the ceiling and finally landing on the drawer where Amber stood by. His eyes narrowed on the little frame that laid lopsided on the surface.
“Mrs. Helsing, how long are you going to spend your time in this room?” he asked with an edge hard to miss in his voice.
Amber sighed. “I don’t know, really. I just don’t want the movers to clear this place out. It holds so
many memories of her! I was just remembering
something about her, Matthew. It was the day of her departure, a year ago. Can you believe it? Just a year ago she was going to college. Just a year ago.”
“I understand, Mrs. Helsing, but you can’t dwell too long in this room. Don’t you remember what the therapist said?” Matthew questioned with a deep frown.
Amber sighed again, this time letting it draw out, and walked out the room, pushing past Matthew. “Please, Matthew. I know what he said. ‘Sadness and tears cannot bring back a life.’ But she was my only daughter. I cannot bring myself to completely shut out her existence.”
Matthew followed after her. “But you’re practically living in that room! This can’t continue. I won’t permit it. Remembering is okay, but not moving on is not. It’s already been a month. You haven’t eaten anything all day except for a few crackers here and there.”
“I am an old woman, Matthew,” Amber said, slightly annoyed by the man’s persistence. “If I want to survive on a box of crackers and a bottle of water, then I will.”
“But, Mrs. Helsing, your health-”
“My daughter has just died,” she reminded him.
“I wish to spend more time with her spirit than with no one at all.”
“Then I will come by every day and take care of you!” Matthew insisted.
Amber paused and placed a hand on his chest. “Matthew, you have a wife and child at home,” she told him quietly. “You have to make them your first priority, not me, not an old woman.”
Matthew doubled back and spluttered random apologies, for he had realized his foolish mistake. “I-I’m so sorry! I didn’t know what I was saying. I didn’t mean to sound like that! And right after you lost Emily…”
“It’s alright,” Amber assured him gently. She went into the kitchen and grabbed the open bag of tea leaves. “A cup of tea?”
“No, I’m alright,” Matthew said. He looked suddenly uncomfortable standing there. Amber ignored him and poured both of them a cup of streaming tea. She handed one to Matthew and took a long gulp from her own cup. The scent of mint leaves gave her a calming effect and, for a beautiful moment, her heart eased of its hollow pains.
“How is little Wayne?” she asked, suddenly out of the blue. Matthew jolted.
“He’s alright,” he answered quickly. “Lucy took him an hour ago to his grandmother’s house. They’ll be staying there for three days, two nights.”
“So you’ll be alone in the house?” Amber said and took another sip.
Amber nodded. “I see. Is that why you came to
Matthew shook his head a bit too vigorously. His tea almost splashed out of the cup. “No, no that’s not why I’m here. I’m here on my own free will. I just wanted to know if you were doing alright.”
“Well, you see me now and know that I’m quite alive and breathing well,” Amber mused. “Is that good enough for you? I am still walking around with strong legs, after all.”
Matthew opened his mouth and looked like he was about to protest. But the words seemed to die in his mouth as he thought about what he was about to say and he closed it again. Amber smiled in satisfaction for she knew she had won the battle.
“You needn’t worry about me, but if it assures you in any way I promise to start eating properly from now on,” she said. Matthew didn’t look like he believed what she said, but he didn’t have much choice. He gave a stiff nod.
“But you must keep your promise,” he said. His authoritative voice left her no room for further negotiations.
“I will,” Amber replied. She set down her cup. It was still a bit full, but she didn’t want to drink it anymore. She’s been feeling like this for days now. She would start something, but then suddenly stop, and never continue it again. She yawned.
“I’m going to rest in my bedroom now,” Amber announced. “Once you’re done with drinking, do
you mind putting it in the sink? I’ll wash it later.”
She turned and was just about to walk out the door when Matthew suddenly blurted out, “Wait, I found something about Emily.”
His words were so unexpected and so random that Amber almost toppled over in her haste to turn around to face the man. She stared at him wide-eyed. “What is it? What did you find? And why didn’t you say so earlier?” She wasn’t really thinking about what she was saying. They just came tumbling out of her mouth, each word tripping over the other.
Matthew pulled out an envelope from his jacket pocket and held it out to her. “It’s a letter written by her,” he confessed. “It’s dated a month before the accident.”
Amber wasted no time is rushing forward to grab the envelope. It was thick and felt heavy in her hands. She could already tell that there were a lot of papers sealed inside. Her tiredness suddenly evaporated and was replaced by a new profound energy. She flipped over the envelope and read the few words scribbled on the front:
To Whomever Who Finds This
Amber swallowed back a lump in her throat. The writing was definitely her daughters. She could recognize it anywhere. Of course she would, she was her mother! She could almost feel the warmth of Emily’s hands as she was writing the
“Where did you find this?” Amber asked breathlessly, still no believing what she was seeing and holding in her hands. It felt like a dream, not reality. She was shaking slightly and was swaying on her spot.
“Apparently, after the people at the university cleared out Emily’s dorm, they kept this letter and never told anyone. Why they did this I was never told. All I know is that the boss at my workplace handed this to me and asked me to pass it to you,” he explained shamefully and turned his face down.
“I haven’t read it. I think it would be more appropriate for you to be the first reader.”
“Emily…” Amber’s voice was barely above a whisper. Her voice was so fragile, like liquefied glass, breakable with a little snap. “Emily wrote this?”
“Yes, Mrs. Helsing,” Matthew told her softly. “I believe it’s the last letter she ever wrote.”
Amber’s eyes bore into the crisp paper. “Emily…” she whispered again.
Matthew set his untouched cup of tea, now cold, on the dinner table. “I think I’ll take my leave now and give you time alone,” he said quietly. He slowly and quietly backed out of the room and a moment later, the front door slammed shut. Silence encased the room.
Amber did not seem to hear. She had tuned out everything around her and was staring at the envelope in her hands as if in some trance. Then
she quickly shook herself out of her daze and ripped open the letter. She pulled out the pieces of paper inside and began to read it, her eyes scanning and grasping tightly onto every single little word like they was her lifeline:
This is going to sound really weird because I don’t really like writing about my life, but I’m really sad right now and I think that writing down my feelings might help. I want to write the reason why I’m crying right now. I hope that the rain would stop beating outside of the window and my tears will be dried by the end of the letter.
It was raining harshly that day. People were rushing back as fast as they could to avoid the disaster of traffic. I was amongst them, coming back to the dorms after my last class. I could barely see where I was going. The roads were slippery and the puddles mounted three inches high. My umbrella was useless. The rain still somehow managed to seek its way to drench me.
I was trudging back through the mud, my hair whipping around my face, and that was when I came upon a little boy, no older than 4, huddled by a wall. The rain had drenched his clothes to his skin, chilling him to the bones. He looked so small, so weak, so fragile sitting there, curled into a tight ball, as if that would somehow protect him from the heresy of rain.
I paused. It was odd to see a little boy on the
streets, all by himself, so I went up to him. I bent down and used my umbrella to shield some of the rain from him. He looked up and his distant eyes stared up into mine, blankly.
I will never forget that blank, empty, hollow stare. It was almost haunting, the way he looked at me, and I could feel it deep into my soul, drawing out all my fears and weakness.
I willed myself to pull out of his eyes and gave him a kind smile.
“Hello,” I found myself saying above the loud rumbling. A raging thunder boomed in the distance. “What are you doing here? It’s raining so hard. Where are your parents?”
The boy continued to stare at me with those eyes as if he didn’t hear me.
“What are you doing here all alone?” I repeated, a little louder, just in case he couldn’t hear me the first time.
The boy gave me one more look-over and said, in a raw, raspy voice that sounded almost like an old man’s, “I don’t have a mommy and a daddy.”
At first I didn’t comprehend his words.
Then I understood and I retaliated. “Oh! Is that why you’re here all alone?” I asked, appalled.
The boy took a moment before nodding slowly. I asked, “What is your name?”
He went silent, thinking hard. Then he said, “James. Just James.” I smiled to myself and held out my hand.
“Well, James, my name is Emily. Come with
me,” I said. “You don’t have to be here anymore. I know of a place where you can live. It’s a place for kids like you.”
The boy looked doubtful. “A place for kids like me?” he repeated, his voice shallow. I nodded. “That’s right. It’s an orphanage down the street. I heard that it has good quality. Would you like to go there?”
The boy stared at my hand for a long time, his forehead creased in concentration. Finally, he made up his mind and took my hand, softly and shyly. I stood up and pulled him up with me. He stood on shaking legs and wobbling knees. I grabbed his shoulders to keep him upright and together we walked through the storm to The School for Homeless Boys. The School for Homeless Boys was, as the name explains, a school for orphaned boys. It sat at the corner of Elmerson Street, shielded by deciduous trees. I passed by it often as I walked to my part-time job. It was a huge red brick building with plenty of trees and flowers decorating the front of the school. I saw, once or twice, some of the students there walking around in their black and red uniforms and a teacher accompanying them. It was always the same teacher. I never got to know her name; I would see her and she would notice me staring at her, so I would pick up my pace and quickly walk pass.
I took James there and I knocked on the front door. The iron door opened and a woman with
brown hair pulled up into a bun and small specta-
cles that hung low on the bridge of her nose, greeted us. Her chin was pointed and her face was long. She towered above us.
“Hello, my name is Mrs. Mackle. How may I help you?”
Her voice was snippy, crisp, and staccato. She sounded tired like she had to say that line for a long time and didn’t want to anymore.
“My name is Emily Helsing,” I said. “I found a little boy on the streets, all by himself. Do you mind helping and taking him in?”
Mrs. Mackle narrowed her squinty eyes on the boy beside me. James flinched and moved to hide behind my legs.
I, myself, felt the urge to hide behind something. The stare that she was giving us made me shiver in fear and the howling wind did no help to calm my nerves.
“Very well,” she finally said and held up her nose in the air. “Come inside.”
I gripped James’ hand tightly to give myself confidence and made a move to go inside, but Mrs. Mackle struck out her hand in lightning speed and blocked my way.
“No, no, not you,” she scolded with a cold voice. “I meant the boy. You are dropping him off here, aren’t you? You’re not even the boy’s parent.”
I felt a cold hot anger fire up inside of me, but I forced it down and said with gritted teeth, “Ah,
yes. I apologize. You are right. Well, I’ll see you
I bent down to pat the top of his mop of messy brown hair. James didn’t say anything. He was looking down at his shoes. I stood back up.
“Please take care of him,” I told Mrs. Mackle. I didn’t understand why I suddenly felt so protective of James. I had only met him a little while ago, but I already held a strong connection to him. She gave a curt nod and grabbed James’ small hands in her large snarly ones. And, with that, she dragged him instead and slammed the door shut in my face with a loud bang.
“Take care, James!” I yelled to the door, though I was not sure if he heard me.
I didn’t see James after that, for a long time, a month or so. I was busy with work and school. When I did come across him again, I saw him sitting beneath one of the trees near the front of the school, sobbing into his knees.
Frowning and concerned, I strode across the campus and went up to him. “James?” I said. “Are you alright?” James’ head jerked up in my voice and he turned to face me quick and alarmed. His eyes were different now. It seemed alert and bright.
The moment he saw that it was me, he relaxed and a small smile of relief sprang to his lips. “Hi, Emily,” he said in his small squeaky voice. He seemed really glad to see me. There was a certain glow to his features.
“Hi James,” I greeted. “How’s school so far?”
At the mention of ‘school’, James’ face turned a shade of gray and he looked away, blocking out his eyes with his long bangs. “It’s okay,” he said, but his answer was far from the truth. It sounded like the opposite.
“Did something happen?” I asked. He shook his head. Another lie.
I came up with an idea and held out my hand.
“Come on. Do you want ice-cream? We can go get you some. Let’s go ask your caretaker first, though.”
James seemed reluctant at first, but the idea of licking ice cold ice-cream seemed to win over his will and he grabbed my hand and stood up. We walked to the door and I knocked on it again for the second time.
In a few seconds flat, Mrs. Mackle, a wild, disoriented bull, came bursting through and she yelled in her high shrilling voice, “Oh, there you are, you wrenched little boy! I’ve been looking through Africa and Australia for you. And here you are, outside without a care, like the little rat you are-” Her voice was cut off short when she noticed that I was standing next to James. Her beady eyes widened and she stepped back in shock. “Y-You!” she screeched and pointed a snarly finger at my chest, as if accusing me of something. “You’re the one who brought the boy here!”
“Yes,” I confirmed. I was beginning to like the
woman less and less. “I just wanted to know if I
could borrow James for a little while.”
She was fuming, her bun beginning to fall out of place. “Borrow him?” she said angrily. “For what? What can a boy that you left here, out of the blue, suddenly do for you?”
“I just want to take him out for a walk,” I said defensively. Mrs. Mackle wasn’t persuaded and her microscopic eyes pierced through mine, but I didn’t cower under her laser stare. I stood my ground and, to emphasize how serious I was, I clenched James’ hands tighter in mine and pulled him closer to me. James’ pressed himself against my leg and I could physically feel him shook. He was as scared and frightened as I was, except I could hide it better. “Please,” I added and forced myself to produce a convincing radiant smile. “We’ll be gone no more than an hour. I promise to bring him back by then.”
Mrs. Mackle’s face hardened and, for a second, I was afraid that she would deny us. Then she sniffed and said, “Very well. But only an hour or else I’ll send the police after the two of you.”
I let out a sigh of relief and felt James’ stiff figure relax against me. “Thank you,” I said. “See you soon.”
James and I hurried down the steps before Mrs. Mackle could change her mind. There was a new spring in every step James took. He stayed close to me as we crossed roads. We went to an ice cream shop called Moocho. It was my favorite
ice cream place since my best friend, Kattalee, worked there.
When we entered, Kattalee greeted us with a fake chirpy voice, “Welcome to Moocho! Moo, moo, moo! How may I help you today?”
I rolled my eyes. “It’s me, Kattalee. You can act natural and be the mean girl you are.”
Kattalee threw her head back and roared in laughter. “Be glad that no one else is here. If you said that out loud in front of everyone I would have lost my job.”
She leaned over the counter and grinned when she saw James. “Hey, what do we have here? I see that you have brought a little friend. What’s your name, little boy?”
James took a small step behind me. I patted his head in an assuring and encouraging way. “You can go ahead and tell her. She’s a friend of mine.”
James licked his lips as he eyed the ice cream posters that were put around the room and said in a soft voice, “James.”
“Well, James, welcome to Moocho. My name is Kattalee,” Kattalee said. I bent down beside him.
“What kind of ice cream do you want?” I asked. James thought for a moment before saying, “Chocolate.”
Kattalee hopped over to the containers of ice cream and scooped out a spoonful of chocolate
ice cream. She put it into a pink cup, stabbed a spoon into the mush, and handed it to James, who
took it eagerly. “Enjoy!” Kattalee said and winked.
“Thank-you,” James said with a mouth full of the icy treat. Kattalee and I watched him shovel the ice cream into his mouth without stopping to breathe between each scoop. He devoured it like he has never seen it before in his life.
“Is he yours by any chance and ou just never told me anything about him?” Kattalee suddenly asked without warning. I doubled back in shock and quickly composed myself. “What? Oh, no. He’s a friend that I met while I was walking back from class. He lives in The School of Homeless Boys.” I felt like I did a bad introduction of James, but Kattalee seemed to overlook it.
“You’re from The School of Homeless Boys?” Kattalee asked James. He tried to speak, but his mouth was full of chocolate ice-cream, so he nodded instead. “I see,” Kattalee said. “Do you like it there?”
James swallowed and looked down at the ground. “It’s okay,” he said, the same answer he gave me. There was a grave note in his voice, but I couldn’t figure it out. I thought it sounded distantly like a remote sadness. I guessed it made sense because who wouldn’t be upset with having to live with Mrs. Mackle, the most menacing human being on the planet?
James finished eating and we walked out the little shop and back to the school. I found James dragging his feet slowly behind him, his arms as long as the floor, his head held low. When we reached the school, Mrs. Mackle was waiting for
us, standing on the bottom of the steps. She looked impatient, tapping her foot angrily on the floor. The moment she saw us, she began to made long strides towards us.
“You two are finally back,” she said sternly and stopped directly in front of me. She glared with threatening eyes. “Where have the two of you been for this little walk?”
“Mrs. Mackle, it has only been forty-five minutes,” I told her and crossed my arms. “We came back fifteen minutes early.”
Mrs. Mackle shook her head. “It matters not. The sun is beginning to set. James hadn’t had his dinner yet. I think it’s time you say good-bye to him.” I felt a thrilling urge to argue with her, but little James, giving me a last small smile, walked away from my side and went to the wrenched woman’s side. Mrs. Mackled grabbed his arm harshly and turned without another word, dragging his small, frail body away, back to the school.
I watched them go and, for reasons that I cannot explain, something flared up in my chest, something so red and so hot and so vivid. It burned in my heart, a longing feeling that almost stole away all my happiness. I shook my head and walked away, the image of James’ smile forged into my mind.
The second time I came to visit James was a week later. Something in my mind nagged me to go see him. He was sitting below the tree again,
this time twirling two pieces of grass in his hands. I walked up to him and said, “Hey there, again. What’s up?”
“Not much,” he said. “What about you?”
I shrugged. “Not much, either. Do you want to do something fun?” It came out so randomly that I didn’t have time to think. It just felt so normal to say that.
He looked up into my face. “What is it? Won’t Mrs. Mackle be mad at us again?”
I laughed. “Not if she doesn’t know about it!” I joked. “Come on. I’ll take you somewhere to see something you’ve probably never seen before.”
He beamed and took my hand and we hurried away before Mrs. Mackle could catch us. There was a sense of adventure in out getaway, as if we were in a movie and was escaping an isolated island. There was freedom in our minds and hearts.
I took him to the college movie theater across from where I lived. I brought him a bag of popcorn and a medium sized coke. I brought two tickets for the movie Cars. I had watched the movie before and thought that it was a really good movie and decided to share my experiences with James.
James’ eyes were glued to the scene the whole movie. He was so drawn in that he became as still as a statue. When it ended, we walked out of the theater and back towards the school.
“That was amazing!” he said with a grin. I
“You think so?” I said. He nodded.
“My favorite character is the brown car,” he said.
“You mean Mater?” I asked. Mater was the main character’s best friend.
“Yes!” he said. “He was so funny.”
“I like him, too,” I admitted. “He reminds me a bit of Kattalee.” The two of us laughed together.
“Are we going to do that again?” he asked and looked up at me.
“Definitely,” I said and grasped his hand tighter in mine. Suddenly, an unexpected warmth filled me. For some reason I didn’t want to let it go. When we reached our destination, I hid behind a tree and watched him walk back into the school. When the door slammed shut safely behind him, I turned to headed back to the dorms.
I started to come and see him more often. In fact, I made “surprise visits” so much that my visits became an instinct. I would take him away from the forsaken school when Mrs. Mackle wasn’t watching over him like a hawk and take him to the park, to see the town, to eat lunch with me. As time passed by I began to notice that it didn’t take a lot for James to crack a smile or a bubbly, giggly laugh. I loved his laugh since it was so beautiful. Everything about James was beautiful. His hair was no longer a dirty ragged brown, but a honey colored almond. His eyes were as green as the sprouts that grew when spring arrived.
As I hung out with him more and more, I began to love the little boy like my own. I think that it was because of my love that brought the truth before my eyes.
One day, as I sat on a bench at the park, watching James laugh angelically and chase around the pigeons and squirrels, something flashed before my eyes. It was my life, my past, my future. I saw myself as a mother one day and there was a little angelic boy laughing beside me. It was James. We lived together in a house, just the two of us. There was nothing to fear since we had each other to hold on to, to tell our secrets, to spill our sadness.
The vision was so perfect, so vivid, so electrifying, that I made one of my biggest decisions that day: James will be my son.
I didn’t tell him that I would be adopting him soon since I wanted to keep it a secret. I would sign all of the papers for adoption and then pick him up. Imagine the surprise when I tell him that I would be his mom! I was so excited about my idea that I called Kattalee later that night.
“Oh, Kattalee, I have the best news!” I exclaimed into the phone.
“What is it?” she questioned.
“Remember when you asked me if James was my son?” I said and was practically jumping up and down.
“Yes, I do.”
“Well, he’s about to be,” I said, no longer able to
contain it anymore. There was a moment of silence before Kattalee exploded in screams of joy. “Oh my gosh, are you adopting him?” she squealed.
“Yes, yes I am!” I said and squealed along with her. “I can’t wait to be a mother soon!”
“You have to make me the godmother,” Kattalee demanded. “I want cute little James to be my godson.”
“Alright, I will,” I promised. Then we laughed and laughed until tears came to our eyes. The future was bright and perfect.
The very next day, early in the morning, before the sun was even up fully into the sky, I went to The School of Homeless Boys and rapped on the metallic door three times. It took several moments for Mrs. Mackle to open the door. She already was already looking grumpy and out of place and when she saw that it was me, she seemed to dive into a deeper mood.
“What is it that you want?” she sniped. “And at this hour, too!”
“May I come in?” I interrupted. “I want to speak with you of an important manner.”
She glared at me and I took that as an invitation to go in. I pushed past her and walked into the grand hall of the school. It was dimly lit by a few lamps along the walls. Several large oil paintings of angels hung on the walls, illuminated by the lamps. The carpet beneath my feet was blood red under the flickering light. I shivered
because the room gave off an eerie feeling. Mrs. Mackle closed the door quietly behind her and asked in a frustrated voice, “Well, now you’re inside. What is it that you want to say that’s so important that you disturbed my sleep?”
“I wanted to asked you something about James,” I said. She crossed her arms.
“And what about him?”
“May I adopt him?” I blurted out. I clutched my little purse close to my chest and awaited her answer. I could feel myself hold a deep breath.
Mrs. Mackled looked me up and down. She seemed to be deep in thought. She said slowly and calculatingly, “Adopt James? Well, I guess that can be arranged. But adoption cost quite a bit of money. I assume that you have that amount?”
“What is the amount?” I asked. “I’ll pay anything.”
“Anything, huh?” she repeated. I thought I saw an evil look in her eyes and knew that nothing good was about to come. “It’ll be thirty thousand dollars.”
I almost jumped out of my shoes. I wasn’t expecting so high of an amount. “Thirty thousand?!” I repeated, aghast. “But… that’s so much! I haven’t got that much. Can we lower it by half?”
Mrs. Mackled chuckled. “I’m afraid not, dear. That would be the final amount.” There was venom in the way she said ‘dear’.
“Please,” I begged. “Can’t I pay any other
She shook her head.
“No,” she said and began pushing me out of the house. “Now, if you would excuse me, you are disturbing the entire school. I bid you good-bye.” And, with that, she shoved me outside and shut the door.
I couldn’t believe it! That woman made me want to throw up. The way she talked was intoxicating. Even so, thirty thousand was exceeding the limits.
I stared blankly at the school for a couple of moments before I took a deep breath and said into the dawn, “I’m not giving up, James. Wait for me. Mommy is coming to save you.”
I came back again and again to Mrs. Mackle, asking her for adoption. Each time she denied me and sent me away. It was like a merry game to her, seeing my despair and agony.
But I never gave up. I wanted so badly for James to be my son. My days were spent trying to earn enough money to adopt him. I began to slack off at school, but I didn’t really care. The more money I earn, I tell myself, the closer I get to my dream. But then, on a fateful day, everything spiraled out of control. All of my dreams, wishes, hopes came crashing down like a gigantic destructive wave.
It started out pretty normally. I worked until the day grew dark and walked over to The Home of Homeless Boys. I knocked on the door and
without a missing beat Mrs. Mackle opened it and poked her head out. I prepared to ask the question I asked every day, “May I adopt him, now?”, but Mrs. Mackle beat me to it.
“You don’t need to come here anymore,” she said bluntly. I was taken aback and had no clue what she was saying.
“I’m earning money,” I told her. “So, please, can I at least see him?”
Mrs. Mackle shook her head firmly. “No, you may not. He’s no longer living here.”
At first her words didn’t register in my mind. I felt like I was trudging through murky brown water. When I pierced together her meaning, my eyes widened and I stepped back shakily.
“W-What do you mean?” I whispered. Everything around us suddenly went quiet, anticipating the moment. “Where have you taken him?”
Mrs. Mackle said, “To Britain, over the seas, at a school across the world. You will never see him
again. He’s gone, for good.”
“No,” I said, refusing to believe her. I took several steps backwards down the stairs, shaking my head. “No. No. No. Please tell me you’re just joking.”
She only sighed in annoyance. “Do you have a brick for a head? I’m telling you I’m not joking around. Now leave.”
I didn’t need her to say twice because I ran, then. I ran away, as fast as I could. I didn’t even
know where I was going. Just as long as my feet carried me to a place that was nowhere near that orphanage. When I finally came to my senses, I had realized that I was standing at the doorstep of my dorm, breathing heavily with tears flowing down my cheeks. The front of my shirt was slightly drenched in it, but I didn’t care.
I couldn’t stop the flow of my tears that night. I would stop for a moment, but then the image of James would appear in my mind and I would start bawling all over again.
I think this is where I would end my story. Not much happened after that. I hated feeling so helpless against Mrs. Mackle. Despite that, I continued working hard even though my sole reason was gone to place I would never reach. I’m
fooling myself to believe that James is still there, somewhere within me, guiding me, reminding me that I am still alive. I don’t want to let his image go since it is the only thing that keeps me going.
That’s right, I can’t give up. Not now. There’s still hope. If I earn enough money, I can buy a plan ticket to Britain and search for James. I’m going to keep working hard and do my best.
It’s not over yet. Not until I really give up.
I’m going to meet James again, soon. Yes, I think that’s what I want to do. I’m going to find him again and, this time, I won’t let go of his hand.
I’m going to call my mother soon, when I’m ready, and I’ll explain everything to her. I’ll tell
her that she’s about to become a grandmother.
I believe tomorrow will be my new future.
It’s looking bright.
Lots of love,
There was a cloud of mist around Amber’s eyes as she finished reading the story.
Emily never did find James again. She was in a car accident and never woke up from her coma.
Something shattered into a billion pieces in Amber's heart. She couldn't even begin to imagine the pain that her daughter had gone through, alone. Emily had been holding on to a blind hope -and she knew so herself- but she did that all for James. Amber clutched the letter tightly in her hands and held them close to her heart and took her shaky breath.
For the first time in all her life, she had a clear picture of what she must do. She reached up and pressed the papers to her lips and said in a firm, declarative, determined voice, “I’m coming to get you, James. Wait for me. I’m about to give you the home and future your mom had anticipated for you.”
She wasted no time to ring up with Matthew to tell him everything that she had discovered. She told him of her plans to go to The School of Homeless Boys and adopt James under Emily’s name. She told him how she planned to raise the
boy like her own.
Matthew agreed immediately. He knew that if Amber did this, she would crawl out from her shell of depression. James was the answer to everything, to the universe, to beyond.
“I’m going right now,” Amber told him.
“Let me come with you,” Matthew said.
“No,” Amber said gently. “This is something that I must do alone.”
“But, would you be alright?”
Amber smiled a genuine smile for the first time in days. “Yes, I think I will. You know something that’s strange? I have never felt so determined, so full of energy, all my life. I have a feeling that I will succeed.”
“What if James is no longer in America?” Matthew asked.
“No, he is still here,” Amber said confidently. “I can feel it crawling up my spine.”
“Alright, then. I wish you luck,” Matthew said.
“Bring back Emily’s child for me, please.”
They hung up. Amber looked out the window and into the sky. “I’m coming,” she whispered. “I’m coming for you both, Emily, James.”
She threw on her coat and ran outside to her car. She drove as fast as she could to the college. All the while she could feel excitement and worry bubbling in her chest.
This was it. Everything was going to come down to this.
She pulled up to The School of Homeless Boys in no time and hopped out of her car. She jogged up to the front of the school, not even a little bit out of breath.
She was old before, but now she was young and full of life again. She stood straight with her chin up towards the sky. She knocked on the rusty door and waited.
Slowly, the door swung open a crack and a brown eye appeared. It swirled around for a moment and finally settled on her. It narrowed. “Who are you? What is it that you want?” a voice behind the door hissed.
“Hello, my name is Amber Helsing,” Amber said and hugged my coat closer to her body. The winter dry wind was prickling her skin. “May I speak to a woman named Mrs. Mackle?”
The eye widened at Amber’s name and then darted back and forth fearfully, as if it was afraid someone was listening to their conversation, and then it disappeared and someone swung open the door wide enough for Amber to walk through. So she did.
The halls were exactly as Emily had described. Amber looked around at all the oil paintings in fascination.
“You have quite a collection here,” she remarked.
The woman who had opened the door for her was not impressed with Amber’s attempt at making a small conversation and did not answer.
She had hair that was down by her shoulder and was an ashen gray, but Amber could tell that it was once a brownish color. Her face was hollow and empty of happiness. Her emerald eyes were dull, and she had a hunched back as if trying to bury a dark secret from the past. She wore a worn brown dress with patches of blue and red to cover the holes that had appeared over time. She eyed Amber warily and remained a long distance away from her.
Amber took a daring step forwards and said warmly, “Hello, Mrs. Mackle.”
Mrs. Mackled jumped as if she had not expected Amber to know her name. She wrangled her hands and visibly swallowed and said quickly, with no breath in between, “I’m so sorry about what happened to your daughter. You must be here to blame it all on me, and I can’t say that you are wrong. I never asked her about anything, not her age, not what she does. She looked very young as well! When I first met her, I thought that she was perhaps a freshman in college. It was odd to see her with a four-year-old boy. I didn’t mean to be so cruel to her. I was just-“
Amber held up a hand to silence her rambling. “I know,” she said. “But that’s not what I’m here for.”
Mrs. Mackle looked down at her feet and shuffled
back and forth. “Then what brings you here? Is it money that you want? How much? I’ll give you anything.”
Amber shook her head. “No,” she said again. “That is not what I came for, as well. I want to speak with you about the matters of James.”
At the mention of the name “James” Mrs. Mackle seemed to grow a hundred years older in a second. Her eyes shrunken into their socks even more, if that were even possible. “I think…” her throat closed up and she coughed into her hands and started over again, “I think that you should follow me into my office. I think it’s time I tell you something.”
She led Amber through the hall to a little room at the end. It stood shaded by the shadows and Amber almost didn’t see it. A lopsided faded brown sign hung over the door read Headmistress: Jeanne Mackle. Mrs. Mackle pushed open the door and allowed Amber inside.
The room was small and was mostly taken up by the large desk placed in the middle. Amber sat down on one of the couches that was not piled up with books and toys and looked around. Different posters of part of the world were posted on the walls. An ancient looking lantern sat in the corner of the room, lit by a small wavering flame.
There were school pictures taped around as well. There were approximately twenty five boys in each. Amber noticed that at least one different boy each photo. She immediately identified Mrs.
Mackle as a blurry figure that stood off to the sides in every picture. It seemed as if she didn’t want to be in the pictures but had no choice.
Mrs. Mackle walked to behind the desk and sat down. There was a deafening silence in the room until she finally said, slowly, “Do you want to know why I work here?”
Amber was taken aback. She was not prepared for that question. She blinked. “Why, yes, but only if that’s comfortable with you,” she said.
“Do you see that picture over there?” Mrs. Mackle pointed to a small picture frame sitting on the corner of her desk. It featured herself young and beautiful with flushed cheeks and perfect hair, and of two other people, a man and a boy no older than 5. The little boy was a hat that covered his hair and was smiling into the camera. In his hands he held a baseball and a baseball bat.
“Is that your family?” Amber questioned. Mrs. Mackle nodded.
“Yes, it was, until the accident,” she said and gingerly grabbed the photo and stared longingly at it. “My husband and my son both died in a plane accident. The two of them had gone on a vacation to Germany. I stayed behind to take care of the house. Even now, I wish I could go back in time and be in that crash with them.
“My son was only 7 when it happened. He was so young! He had an entire future ahead of him. And, as for my husband, I loved him dearly. The two of us were high school sweethearts. Where I
go is where he goes. I could never ask for a better family.” A single tear escaped her eyes, but she did not make a sound. She continued her story, but
now her lips were quivering.
“I guess when the news arrived to me early one morning, saying that I might not see them again, something broke inside of me. I don’t really know what it was. It was just something. I tried to live through it, telling myself that everything was going to be okay, but reality hit me square in the face. My husband and my only son has gone to a place too far for me to reach.
“At first, I tried to follow them. But I came to my senses and knew that that was not the answer to all my problems and sadness. So I came here to work with kids. I had believed that if I surrounded myself with children’s happiness I would become happy as well.
“But that didn’t happen. I didn’t know that I was sent to a place of eternal sadness instead of joy.
All of the children here cried day and night. I couldn’t stand it so I began to lock them in their rooms. I knew it was wrong, but I had to do it.” Another tear slide down her cheek, but she composed her posture.
“I didn’t understand what was making them so sat. They had friends, I did not. They had someone to take care of them, I did not. They had each other to look out for each other, I did not. So why? Why were they crying? Shouldn’t I be the one shredding more tears?”
Mrs. Mackle had to stop because a lot of tears had accumulated in her eyes. She wiped it over
with her sleeve and sniffed. “I-I didn’t understand that it was m-m-me who was making the children s-sad at the time. I didn’t understand how p-painful it was to lose your mother and father. I only understood my own pain. But now I understand.”
When Mrs. Mackle spoke no more, Amber got up from her seat and walked over to her. She gave the woman a hug, surprising herself and Mrs. Mackle.
“It’s okay,” Amber said in a soothing voice. “It’s okay. You’re okay now. I understand. I forgive you. So don’t cry anymore, alone.”
Jeanne Mackle’s tears were like rivers. She let her bottle of waves that she had kept to herself ever since she lost her husband and son pour out all at once. But they weren’t tears of sadness. No, they were tears of joy, joy that someone finally listened to her story, her words, and understood her feelings of loneliness all those years. Her heart was finally mended of its hole.
When Mrs. Mackle calmed down enough to speak, her first words were, “Thank you.”
Amber pulled back smiled. “Of course, anytime.”
Mrs. Mackle dried her eyes and stood up. “Come,” she said. “I’ll take you to James. He is upstairs with all the other boys.”
Amber followed her out the tight little room and up the winding, spiraling stairs. The steps creaked beneath her feet, an indication of old age.
The two of them walked down a long corridor.
There were sounds of children laughing echoing down the hall. It got louder and louder as they neared two wooden double doors. Beside them, inscribed into a small metal rectangle that was nailed into the wall, read “Bedroom”.
Mrs. Mackle gripped the handle and turned. As she opened the door, all laughter ceased to quietness.
There were boys of all ages sitting on rows of twin beds. The youngest of them was a baby. They all stared past Mrs. Mackle to Amber, who stood awkwardly by the doorway.
Never in her life had she had so many eyes trained on her. She shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot.
Mrs. Mackle scanned the crowd of silent boys before asking, “Where is James?”
The boys looked at each other and a silent agreement seemed to pass over them as to who should answer.
The boy nearest the door spoke up. “He’s in the private bedroom again.”
Mrs. Mackle nodded. “Thank you, Edward. Come, Mrs. Helsing. He’s right through that doorway.”
The two of them walked through the middle of the beds and to the back of the room where a door was located. Mrs. Mackle knocked on it once and
called through it, “James, are you in there?”
At first there was no reply. Then, a high pitched male’s voice answered back, “Yes I am,
“I’ve brought a visitor who wishes to meet with you,” Mrs. Mackle said. “Do you mind if she comes in?”
“Alright,” James called back. Mrs. Mackle stepped back from the door and said to Amber, “He’s in there. You may go in. Good luck.”
Amber nodded her thanks and went inside the dimly lit room. A small boy sat perched on a cream white bed placed near a small circular window. He was looking out of it at the passing streets below. He didn’t seem to acknowledge the fact that Amber walked in.
“Hello,” Amber said, breaking the silence. “You must be James.”
James turned to face her. “Yes, I am. Who are you?”
Amber crossed the room and sat down on the tiny bed beside the boy. She smiled and said, “My name is Amber Helsing. I’m here to give you a home. Would you like to come with me?”
James stared at her and frowned. “Does that mean you’ll be my mommy? But all mommies look younger than you.”
Amber laughed, her voice ringing throughout the room. “No, I’m not going to be your mommy. I’m going to be your grandmother.”
“What’s a grandmother?” James asked in pure
curiosity. He was still young and didn’t exactly understand what family meant. After all, it’s been a long time since he last had a real family to take
care of him.
“It means I’m going to take care of from now on,” Amber explained.
James seemed to be in deep thought. Then he said, “Okay, you can take care of me.”
Amber stood up and held out her hand. James grabbed it and hopped off the bed to stand beside her. Together they left the small dark room and back into the large bedroom. All of the eyes of the boys were on them as the glided through the room to the front where Mrs. Mackle stood, smiling radiantly, and waiting for them.
“I hope you have a good life, little one,” she told James. James nodded.
Amber signed the papers and wrote Emily’s name in the place where it said “Mother’s Name”. She handed it to Mrs. Mackle who sealed it into a crisp envelope and dropped into a folder on her desk.
As Amber and James were stepping out the door of the orphanage, Amber suddenly stopped for a thought made its way into her mind. She turned her head and spoke directly to Mrs. Mackle one last time, “Let’s start over, again, from the beginning, the both of us. But from now on we shall have each other, to lean on and depend on.”
It wasn’t a question, but more like a plea. Mrs. Mackle seemed to understand beside she nodded and said, “Yes, let us walk as sisters from now on. I will work my hardest and provide the boys a happy life. You look after James and make sure
that he lives a fulfilling life.”
Amber smiled. That was all she needed to her to be content. She gave Mrs. Mackle one last smile and a wave and walked out to the sun. James squinted in the light and raised a hand to shield his eyes.
“Well, are you ready to go to your new home?” Amber asked. James turned back and stared at the red building behind him, memorizing every little detail of it and stamping it into his mind. He couldn’t believe that he had lived in that place for a whole year. He had so many friends, so many brothers, there. He tore his eyes away and faced the street again.
“Yes,” he said. “Let’s go.”
On the ride back, James peered out of the window of the backseat the entire time. Amber couldn’t help but giggle as she remembered that Emily was the same as him when she was his age. She’ll count the passing cars and then tell Amber how many she saw. It became a sacred game between them. James wasn’t like Emily and was silent, probably in wonder. He had not seen such beauty all his life.
Amber pulled up into the driveway of the house and got out of the car. She opened James door and helped him out. James looked around in awe. He took in the scenery before him, the trees,
the poppies in the front, the mini fountain, the verdant lawn.
“Wow,” he breathed. “It’s so beautiful.” Amber
“Yes, it is,” she agreed. “I love this neighborhood. It’s quiet most of the time and gives me my own little space of quiet to think.” She took the boy inside. To James, the inside of the house made the outside look lame. He took small steps through the hall and twirled around slowly as if he wanted to see everything all at once, but just can’t.
“Do you like it?” Amber asked kindly. It took a second for James to answer.
“Yes,” he said. “Yes! I love it. Thank you so much.”
“Come with me,” Amber said and beckoned him to follow her into the kitchen. “You must be hungry. It’s almost dinner. I’ll make you a ham sandwich and some lemonade.”
James eagerly followed her, all the time still looking around. He sat down at the dinner table and placed his hands neatly in his lap. Amber busied herself with slicing the bread in half and placing two pieces of ham in each of the halves. She poured a glass of fresh lemonade that she made that week and brought the plate and glass over to the table. She set it down carefully in front of James and then took a seat beside him.
James picked up on of the sandwiches and took a tiny bite out of it. He chewed and swallowed and grinned. “This is so good!”
“I’m glad you like it,” Amber said. James shoved the rest of his dinner into his mouth and drained the glass of lemonade. He was about to
carry his plate and glass to the sink when Amber quickly stopped him.
“Wait, I’ll get that for you,” she said and took the plates from him. “Why don’t you go upstairs first? Wait for me in a room with a big letter “E” on the door.” James nodded and walked out.
Amber washed the dishes and placed them away. She dried her hands and went up the stairs. She walked inside the bedroom and saw James sitting on the bed, staring at a photo frame. Amber walked up to him and sat down beside him. She saw that he was looking intensely at the picture of Emily.
“Is this… Is this…” He could barely speak. His eyes were wide in disbelief. He took a deep breath and said, “Is this Emily?”
Amber was silent for a moment. Then, ever so quietly, she answered, “Yes, she is.”
James gasped. “Does that mean Emily lives here?” he asked eagerly.
“Yes, she used to,” Amber said.
“Are you her teacher, then? Like Mrs. Mackle?”
James continued, his voice raising in excitement. Amber chuckled lightly.
“I guess you can say that. I’m her mother,” she told him.
“Her mother,” James repeated and then frowned. His little mind had trouble wrapping around her words. “You are Emily’s mother?”
James stared more carefully at the picture and then back up at her. “Then… if you are Emily’s mother… what am I doing here?”
“Emily is your mother,” she told him. “That makes me your grandmother.”
James looked taken aback. “Emily is my mommy?” he asked in wonder. “And you are my grandma?”
“Yes,” Amber said. James sat in shock for a couple of moments before breaking off into a wide grin. His dimples showed and his eyes lit up like a candle. “I want to see Emily!” he said happily and bounced up and down on the bed. “I want to see my mommy!”
All of a sudden, Amber didn’t know what to say. She was stuck. All of her confidence from before flew out of her body. Tears welled up in the back of her eyes and it took all her power to will it not to fall. Her throat closed up and restricted her from saying anything. Emily… Emily… Emily…
Then, for a second, she thought she heard a female voice, clear and sharp, say something in her mind and she suddenly knew exactly what to say.
“You can’t see her, honey,” she told him softly. James stopped jumping.
“Why not?” he said and his face fell. Amber hated to see him upset, but she forced herself to continue.
“Well, you mommy is no longer here. She went to Heaven,” Amber explained. “She’s up above
with the angels.”
“Then, when can I see her?” James asked. Amber thought about it for a moment.
“How about this? If you wait long enough you’ll not only be able to meet her, but you’ll also be able to be with her,” Amber suggested.
James gave it a thought and nodded. “Okay,” he said. He looked up on the ceiling and called,
“Mommy, I’ll be waiting for you!”
Amber chuckled lightly. “Come on, now,” she said and pulled the covers over the little boy. “It’s time for bed. Your mommy will be watching over you as you sleep.”
James snuggled into his blankets and hugged the picture close to his chest. His eyes grew droopy and soon he was fast asleep. Amber brushed a lock of hair from his face. He really did look like an angel.
She looked around the pallid room, at colorless ceiling, walls, and furniture. “Perhaps it’s time I clean this room,” she said to someone invisible. “Tomorrow I’ll dust off the drawers and paint the walls a light blue. I’ll change the bed and the sheets and buy a bunch of toys for James. I think I’ll add a dark blue curtain, too. James and I will have a fresh new start tomorrow.”
There was a light wind that blew through the room and Amber smiled because she knew that
Emily had been listening. “Thank you,” she whispered to no one in particular. “Thank you.”
Then she turned off the lights and fell into a
deep slumber besides her grandson.
END OF WHERE THEY WILL BE
About the Author
Lauren Kutterfly is an author on the popular writing website Wattpad. She first debuted Where They Will Be there under the title Emily Was.
She is an undercover part-time author, which simply means she writes for an hour and then lies on the floor and stares at the ceiling. She lives with her family in Houston, Texas. She loves to write family love stories as well has action packed and horror novels.
She hopes to publish more novels in her future. Where They Will Be is only the first book in her life time of writing.
After Emily Helsing made a death dive from the top of the parking garage at her university, Amber Helsing, her mother, is left with a letter explaining Emily's reasons and motives. The answer lies within a single boy who holds the key to the secret of Emily's death and the secret to a happy family. A novella written by Lauren Kutterfly. Second edition. First appeared on Wattpad under the title 'The Story of Emily'.