B2SpiritEnder ~ Maggie Michaud
In a small town by the woods of the National Forest, lies a lonely willow on a barren, desolate hill. A small orphanage, not nearly big enough to suffice, sits by the hill at the edge of town, sadly watching the empty streets as its namesake does on the top of the neighboring hill. The dark sky above pours its tears upon the world, dampening the once calm midnight. A flash of light tears open the dark sky, filling the sleeping world below with a bright white light, but only for a mere second. A loud roar follows almost instantly, encouraging the growing storm. A lonely figure runs hurriedly, holding a small shoebox to its chest. As the figure reaches the edge of the town at the base of the empty hill, it stops and walks over to the orphanage. Upon placing the box and a small note on the worn doormat that utters a warm welcome, the figure knocks three times loudly, whispers "I love you", to the box quietly, and flees into the dark woods standing malevolently in the night.
Seven years later, in the Lonely Willow: Home for Orphans, small, scrawny boy named Isaac sits in the corner of a dingy room, along with 14 other boys, all of whom are much larger than him. "Hey stupid!" A particularly tall and aggressive boy named Tom, strides confidently over to Isaac's corner, looks around at the unimpressive collection of toys and forms of entertainment, and proceeds to push Isaac onto the floor. The rest of the boys all come over to Isaac's assailant, sniggering. "Want to see Isaac fly?" Tom asks, with a clear hint at amusement.
"Why don't you go and.. and.. pick on someone your own size?" Isaac stammers fearfully. For a split second, Tom looks at his cronies, mock-considering Isaac's request. Then, with an evil grin, he turns back to face Isaac and responds with a venomous gleam in his eye, "Nah".
Isaac had always hated Tom and the others, he thinks to himself as he rubs the sore spot on his arm where he collided with the floor earlier in the day when he was thrown aggressively to the floor. He turns over under his worn blanket to find the only possession he truly owns and loves, a small stuffed duck he has had with him for as long as he can remember. Isaac slowly picks up his only companion and explains to his friend the duck, Quackers, just how much he wants to live outside of the orphanage, where he could explore the forest, make friends, fly in the fabled airplanes he only hears about, and lead a happy life. He slowly fingers the violet ribbon gingerly tied around Quackers' neck, and drifts off to sleep, dreaming about a life where he could have his own family, house, and life of adventure.
Isaac has always grown hopeful whenever potential parents came to visit the orphanage. He always meets them while holding Quackers, trying his best to look adorable. Today is no different. Isaac walks into the middle of the room, avoiding Tom and every other boy in the room, none of them seeming to care about adoption or Isaac. Countless parents come and go, and Isaac stays in his usual spot until the sun sets and the moon rises. Isaac calls it a day, and slowly climbs into his tiny bed.
Isaac lies in his corner, sobbing under his covers. "Why is it I never get adopted? Why does no one want me?" he whispers between sobs to Quackers, who regards him with a fixed expression of what Isaac believes is sympathy. The shrewd voice of the orphanage leader, Isabella, calls out softly to Isaac, "Isaac, there are some people who would like to meet you." Isaac slowly sits up, dries his tears, hugs onto Quackers, and gets out of bed to meet his visitors.
Isaac follows Isabella to a small room near the front of the building, where a young couple sit in chairs, waiting to meet Isaac. The man speaks up; "Why hello there, Isaac. My name is Richard, and I'm a pilot. This is my wife, Lily, she's a doctor. But I think that you should just call us Dad and Mom."
Richard and Lily are always kind parents from the day Isaac gets home. When he gets home to their house things seem bright for him. Lily and Richard give him a tour of his new house. He has his own room for the first time ever! It is filled with glorious toys and wonderful things that any child would want, but something is not right in Isaac's mind. He has always dreamed of the day some amazing people would finally adopt him, and he is very thankful that it was Richard and Lily that were the ones who chose him. But from the moment he got home he had an uneasy feeling in his stomach, maybe it was the doubt that it would happen again, that they would end up leaving him on the porch of the orphanage, just like his birth mother. This feeling lasts for a few days but once his life starts to become normal, he leaves that feeling behind. Now he is not afraid of anything, his parents love him and forever will.
Life goes on, after finally getting used to the swing of things, Isaac gets to go to school! Everyday is a new adventure with his amazing parents, exploring the forest and flying in the fabled airplanes that Richard works with, but his first time at school will be a whole new experience. He rarely leaves his new home since the day he got there, unless he knows his parents will be with him the whole time. He doesn't want to leave Lily and Richard's sight, but going to school sounds so fun! Lily and Richard both accompany him on the way to school and once they get there, the dreaded goodbye comes.
"I love you with all my heart Isaac," Lily tells him while planting a kiss on his forehead as though she will never see him again.
"I as well love you, son," Richard tells him while hugging him with all his might.
After saying goodbye, Isaac is off to his first day of school. It is the average first day for every teacher to run around trying to figure out everything that is going on, but for the children it is like a whole new world opens up to them. Isaac makes new friends, not like the ones at the orphanage, but really amazing friends that he knows he will keep forever.
After the day is done, Isaac recalls that Lily and Richard told him that he would need to walk home and they would meet him there. The walk is wonderful after an amazing day at school, but when Isaac gets home, Lily and Richard are not there. At first it worries Isaac, but then he realizes that they probably just went up to the store to get dinner or something else important, and he just brushes it off. Isaac starts on his homework and loses track of time; when he checks the time it is an hour and a half after he got home. He is now very worried, as Lily and Richard are not answering their cell phones when he calls off the land line. They always answer him, why are they not answering now? He is pacing back and forth in front of the door hoping they will walk in any moment, when there is a peculiar knock on the door.
A man in a white uniform marked with the Red Cross is peeking in through the window by the door. "Isaac? Isaac are you in there? I must speak with you!" The man calls in a friendly and mysterious tone.
"What is it?" Isaac calls back, clearly worried.
"Your parents are in the hospital because of a car crash. I would like to take you to the hospital to see them."
"One moment please, sir!" Isaac runs upstairs, pulls out his small duffel bag with small airplanes on the front, puts Quackers, his pillow, his small blanket, a picture of him and his parents, and a small model of the plane his father flies, into his bag. "These always bring me the best of luck," he mutters to himself. Isaac gives his room a fleeting look as he pulls the door closed behind him. Isaac opens the front door, locks the house, and climbs into the doctor's car, which pulls out of the driveway slowly, as if it were giving Isaac one last good look of his true home.
The hospital stands tall, like a grey and green beacon against the night. Isaac hope that his parents are okay, and he interprets the soft glow from the many windows as comforting. The doctor leads Isaac through the main doors, past many hallways and rooms, until they arrive at a room filled with people. Isaac glances through the glass window to watch the scene. There is a man standing by two people on a large bed, shaking his head. Everyone in the room starts shedding tears, and burying their faces in their hands. Isaac is confused at first, but when the doctor who brought him here puts his hand on Isaac's shoulder, the truth dawns on him. My parents are gone. Isaac thinks to himself. Gone. Isaac feels his face start to heat up, like a jet engine before take off; hotter and hotter. Isaac knows that there is nothing he can do to bring his parents back. His whole life is in ruins, as the fantasy of his new life is shattered into thousands of shards that seem to pierce and tear his soul.
"Come on Isaac, let's take you back home to Lonely Willow." The shrewd but calm voice of Isabella calls out, bringing Isaac out of his silent state of shock.
Isaac stays rooted to the spot, as if held by an unseen force. Tears race down his burning cheeks, and drip onto his favorite shirt, given so lovingly to him by his mother and father for his first day of school. A small, choked sob escapes his lips, "But I don't want to go back. That wretched place is not my home. It will never be my home!" Isaac sobs, hugging Quackers, who once again is his only friend and family. Isabella grabs Isaac, who starts screaming, and carries him out the door and into her car. Isaac sobs quietly, thinking of his tormentors waiting for him. As they pull up to the orphanage, Isaac notices that the hill by the Lonely Willow is covered in dead grass. The hill had grown something for the first time in countless years, and it had grown when he was adopted. He remembers that his parents had called him their own little willow tree that lived on a hill of green and peace. All of the happiness Isaac had before the accident has left him, and his willow has lost its green serenity. Isabella walks over to Isaac and slowly talks to him in her comforting voice; "You know Isaac, I found it very peculiar that a man named Richard who looks very similar to you adopted you. The note I received the night you arrived said that your biological father's name was also Richard, and he had left your mother to be with your mother's sister; a woman named Lily."
Isaac is alone again. He has no parents, no friends, no home. As he takes a last look up at the hill before he enters the orphanage, he notices that leaves lay scattered around the base of the lonely willow at the top of the hill, gently rustling in the wind, almost as if had been crying.