Life is short, art long, opportunity fleeting, experience treacherous, judgment difficult.


Matthew Cole Marx

You know those people who see tragedies happening to other people and turn away without a second glance? They believe it doesn't matter because it will never happen to them. There's not even a possibility, it just won't. These people can look at a child sleeping on the street in an alley and their only thought is to be thankful it's not their own child. When the see pictures of past and present wars, they don't even think of them as realities. Just pictures, nothing more.

When there's an article in the paper about a husband beating his wife to death no one stops to wonder if there could have been a way to help her. They think of how stupid the woman was to have married someone like that. And at the end of the day, they just go on living their lives. They never wonder about the woman again or her child. While he's going through his life without his parents, living within the system, reliving the night his mother died; they continue on with their lives. The boy and his mother will never pass through their minds again.

I envy these people every day.

Because, unlike them, I relive that story every time I close my eyes. Because you see . . . that was my life. My own father attacked my mother until there was nothing left of her but her body, broken and beaten as it was. Nobody remembers that day better than myself.

I watched my mother die when I was five years old. That's my happy childhood memory . . .

A Tragedy at Home

March 18, 1998

Last night, tragedy struck at a small home in neighborhood in Manassas, Virginia. Mrs. Emma Katherine Andrews, a nurse at local hospital, was beaten to death by her husband. Brian Chase Andrews, a formerly respected business man, was found kneeling over his wifes body when emergency teams responded to the 911 call made by a neighbor who overheard screams, coming from the house. Mrs. Andrews was found dead at the scene when police arrived. Officer Jacobs addresses reporters on scene; "She suffered many wounds to her stomach and neck as well as her arms and legs." Police have refused further comment. Since Mrs. Andrews' parents, David and Maria Matthews, died in a car crash the previous fall, she is survived only by her son, Cole Brian Matthews-Andrews. Cole is currently in protective custody by the social services and will be kept there until further notice. Mr. Andrews has been taken into custody by the police and is not expected to be released any time soon. This is a terrible thing to happen to anyone and all of us here grieve for this families loss and send our prayers to the boy and his mother.

June 19, 2003

A little more than five years from the time the article was released a boy sat in the corner of a room full of kids. The boy, Matthew, a book on his lap that he would never read. It just sat there as he stared blankly at the words on the page. None of the other kids noticed him in the darkest corner of the common room. They never did. If it wasn't for the wardens he would have just stayed in his room; which he shared with three other boys, all younger than himself.

In the shadow of the room, his dark brown hair looked almost black. It was dirty and in a wild disarray from being neglected so long and in need of a trim. His bangs were already starting to fall down into his eyes, which were as green as a Christmas tree, as he bent over the book.

Five years ago Matthew had been a happy child. Always laughing. He could walk into a room and it was like people could feel the joy radiating out from him. But now . . . now he hardly ever smiled. When he walked into a room it either grew quite or nobody even noticed him come in. But Matthew never cared. He was glad that people gave him space. There was no one he wanted to talk to expect someone he never could. Not for some time now.

Caught up in his own mind, Matthew didn't see the young couple walk into the room at that time. The woman was short, just over 5'3'' while her husband was towered over her at 5'10.'' Both had extremely dark brown hair that looked almost black in the dim lighting, the man's cut down to a buzz while the woman's went down to the middle of her back. The dark eyes of the man matched his hair but the woman had those odd gray-blue eyes you so rarely see on people with dark hair.

The two were lead into the room, where all the kids were doing various things for their free hour before afternoon lessons started, by the nurse, whose name no one could seem to remember. The nurse was telling them a little about the children that were there, just routine things; names, ages, etc. While she was pointing out the individual children the woman noticed she had forgotten one.

"What about that boy there?" she said, nodding towards where Matthew sat on the far side of the room. The nurse followed her gaze and a sad look crossed over her face before she turned back to the couple.

"Cole. He just turned ten this past November. A very polite young man for his age, but I'm afraid he doesn't talk with people often. And with strangers even less. He's been with us for five years but he still hasn't gotten over losing his parents," she paused for a second before telling the two about that awful night five years ago. "There isn't much can tell you more about it. Nobody really knows what happened that night but the three who were there. Mrs. Andrews is dead and Cole obviously wasn't saying anything," the corners of her lips turned down slightly as she looked at the boy. "But I do know that it's going to take him awhile to get over it, if he ever does."

The woman looked up at her husband, frowning, and he gave her a small smile. He knew she would already be feeling sorry for the young man. Her heart was too good. She would feel guilty for someone even if she had no hand in why they are upset. That's just the way she was. And it was one of the reasons he adored her so much.

After that the nurse left the two alone so they could talk to the children if they wished. Matthew noticed them then. The couple walked further into the room over to where the younger children were playing. He watched as the woman knelt down next to a young girl, no more than six and smile at her. Of course, he thought as he shook his head. You see, in the years that Matthew had lived at the Home he noticed many things. One of them was that any people looking to adopt went to the little kids first. The younger the better. Partly, it was because they believe that the younger kids would be easier to take. But mostly it was because they knew, if not consciously, that the older the kid the more problems they had. Once you hit the double digits you were out of luck. There was more of a chance of pigs flying than getting adopted. Because they were the screwed up ones, the ones with the messed up past.

It wasn't normal for the parents to come into the common room often.

Matthew didn't even hear the footsteps coming towards him as he stared at the book. He didn't noticed the shadows that swept over him, proceeding the two figures they belonged to. "Cole?" The sudden sound of a woman's voice made him snap his head up, almost giving himself whiplash, and the book dropped from his hands. It was the woman he had seen talking to the girl just a few moments ago. Confusion spread across his face as he tried to figure out why they where their while he looked between her and her husband next to her.

The man was trying not to smile at Matthew's surprise but the woman had an apologetic expression on her face. Matthew stared at them both for a moment. None of the parents that came in ever talked to him. He'd never had a single adoption interview with any of the couples that came in and it honestly hadn't bothered him at all. But here they were, standing right in front of him.

"It's Matt," he said, trying to sound as polite as he could. His mother had always told him to be respectful of adults. Well, before she . . .

The woman cut off his thought before they could go any further. "I'm sorry, the nurse told us it was Cole," She bit her lip anxiously as she said it, like she was afraid she had offended him in some way. The man's eyebrows just creased in confusion as he looked down at Matt.

Matthew was the only one unfazed by his words and he sighed. Yes, the nurses would have told them that. He thought silently to himself. They always called him Cole when he wasn't around to hear it, he knew that much. No matter how many times he told them that it wasn't his name. Technically, it was. It's what his mother had named him at least. But ever since that night he hated to be called by anything but his mother's maiden name. He'd been using it any way because social services thought it would be better for him not to carry his father's name. It would have drawn too much attention to him if anyone ever found out.

But it didn't really matter. He would just keep correcting people until they caught on. Matthew looked up at the two and smiled half-heartedly. "No, it's okay. My name's Cole, I just prefer Matt. The nurses don't really get it."

She smiled and the man finally spoke in a voice with a heavy country accent. "You mind if we sit down, son? We'd like to talk to you." Matt shrugged and nodded to the two chairs near him. The two of them sat down and the rest, as they say, it history.

About a month later, Matt had all his stuff moved out of the Home he had spent five years of his life in and was headed to a new one with people that actually wanted to be his parents.

During that month he had learned a lot about the people that he soon would be living with. Their names were Christina and James Marx. A few years ago Christina found out she couldn't have children but she still wanted them, so the two applied for adoption. After waiting over a year to get approved they were finally able to. A few months earlier they had adopted two small boys, twins, whose parents had died in a car accident. Collin and Cody were six now but they'd be turning seven next month.

Also, it turned out that they had seen Matt the couple times as they visited the orphanage and he had been sitting in the same place each time. They had asked the counselors about him and got his story. When Matt had heard this he was almost stunned. His past was something that should have thrown off someone from adopting him for sure. Not many want to deal with the emotional baggage of something like that. Which just made them all the more different from anyone else he had ever met.

The two weren't upset that they had to adopt in order to have kids. They were actually glad that they were able to give kids a second chance at having a family. Which baffled Matthew to no end. Christina was just happy that she would finally have the big family she always wanted and James was happy to see the light back in her eyes again. It had been a rough couple years since they found out Christina wouldn't be able to have a child of her own.

Once Matthew was completely moved in the days seemed to start to go by more quickly that before. It took him a few days to get used to the Marx's house from the time he got there. The house was bigger than any Matt had ever seen, not that he'd seen a lot of houses. It was out in the country part of town, close to the edge of the county line. There were three stories to it. The outside looked like something you would imagine a southern landowner from the eighteenth century would have. All of the outside was made of wood and painted off-white, except for the shutters which were painted a tan-brown color, and a small porch wrapped itself three fourths of the way around the house.

James' father left it to him after he and his wife had passed away. The inside was simple but big. On the bottom floor there was a living room, kitchen, game room, and James' office since he worked from home. Christina and James' bedroom along with Collin and Cody's rooms, which had an adjoining bathroom, was on the second floor. Matthew was alone on the top floor. He had his own bedroom and bathroom and the only other rooms up there were used mainly for storage.

After getting used to the change from being in the Home with four kids to a room to being in the house with his own room everything went as smoothly as was possible. The Marx's finished up the adoption paper work and on July 17 they had legally adopted him. When he first heard it he could hardly believe the words. It was something he had never expected to actually happen. But it did.

A few days later they celebrated the twin's seventh birthday together. The first time Matt had seen the two of them he thought he was seeing doubles. Which was stupid because he knew they looked alike from what Christina and James had said, but still. Both of them had light brown hair that was spiked and hazel brown eyes. The only differences were that Collin was about an inch taller and Cody had a small scar on his forehead from the car crash.

The five of them had a good time. They went bowling at a small bowling alley a little ways from the house and then spent some time in the arcade that was attached to it. Even Matt had a good time, though he wasn't used to doing things like that. He was actually starting to think that things could be better here with the Marx. Maybe he wouldn't always feel lost. Maybe this is where he belonged after all.