Author note: I found it! Yay!!!! *happy dance* I knew I had a hardcopy somewhere. Anyway, I made the editing changes that I was attempting to do when I deleted the story. Yes, it is finished though.

Another Child

Sam stared straight ahead, ignoring her supposed 'family.' Her real family was gone her mother and now her brother, Josh...

The wind blew hail and ice into Sam's face. It stung her eyes yet she stared at the coffin without blinking. Her heart froze as a soft voice whispered her ear, "The clouds open up and weep crystal tears, It stings the patient ground, As the ground welcomes another child..." Josh's voice faded. Sam remembered the last night she was with Josh.

They were in the kitchen of their small one bedroom apartment. Josh was reading poems from their mother's favorite book. Sam was preparing hot tea for both of them. Josh claimed to have found a new poem in the book and was reading it to a skeptical Sam. "...Tears fall from a single onlooker's eyes, Others hide from the tears and angry wind, As they part with another child..."

There was more to it but Sam could not remember the last verse. Reality pulled her back as, suddenly, the coffin was lowered into the grave, signaling the end of the service. Sam left her overly proper relatives, after assuring them of her wellbeing. She took the subway home, relieved to be nameless and free of oppressive sympathy. Outside the apartment building, Mr. Jackson met Sam.

"Sam, how are you holding up?"

"Not so great Pete, could I give you the rent tomorrow? I haven't cashed my check."

"Of course, you've always been real good at paying on time. You shouldn't be alone tonight, you sure there's no family or friend you can stay with?"

"Yeah, but I'll be fine. Bye, Pete."

Sam walked up the stairs to the second floor. After she got the door unlocked, Sam bit her tongue to keep from fussing at josh for not chaining the door.

Sam locked and chained the door. She removed her wet coat and sat at the table. Dinner would be almost ready most days; it had been a long time since Sam had started dinner. She had not eaten dinner or much of anything else, since Josh had gone missing.

After staring at the cold, empty stove for what seemed like an eternity, Sam opened the refrigerator. Mrs. Meyers, Sam's neighbor, was the only one who had given Sam a casserole in a dish; her relatives had placed their casseroles in plastic Tupperware containers. They claimed they didn't want Sam to worry about returning them. Sam knew that wasn't the real reason, but was thankful as she dumped the casseroles and their containers into the trash. She turned the oven on and placed Mrs. Myers's dish in. Sam picked up the trash bag and went to throw it out, in the hall she ran into Mrs. Myers.

"Oh. Mrs. Myers, I want to thank you for the casserole."

"Your welcome dear, don't worry about returning the dish now. Josh was always such a helpful boy. He was too young for such a terrible thing to happen to him. Shouldn't you be staying with your family?"

"They aren't really my family; they are more like relatives..."

"I see, well, if you need anything just let me know."

"Sam tried to smile, but it was too difficult so she simply nodded her thanks.

On her way back inside, Sam recalled the poem she had heard during the funeral. She checked on the casserole. Its smell hurt her stomach, Sam was hungry but food tasted and smelled wrong. Sam sat down at the kitchen table and picked up a heavy, leather-bound book titled "A treasury of best loved poetry." She held the familiar book to her chest.

Her mother read aloud from it, every night before the divorce. Afterwards Sam sat at the kitchen table, reading aloud as Josh peered at the words and their mother made dinner. When their mother died it was Josh's turn to read as Sam finished dinner and straightened the kitchen. They were both dead now, Sam thought as she stared at the book which was a part of Sam's strongest memories.

The echoing of the poem in her mind caused Sam to open the worn pages and look for it. Before she got past the first few pages, the timer for the casserole brought her crashing back to reality. The meal had been started and was almost finished; she knew what to do now. Sam got out two plates, napkins, and spoons. She then turned on the old tea kettle to heat up water. Usually as the water heated, Sam would clean up after Josh. Josh was a good, but very messy cook. His favorite meal was macaroni and cheese; he always made it the night before Sam's payday.

Sam arrived home, expecting to hear the little alarm clock radio playing and Josh finishing the macaroni and cheese. He had not come home, two days later the police found his body in a dumpster. He was less than a block from home.

Sam sat back down and the table and read aloud the poems. Her voice was rough and quiet. As she read the pain lessened slightly. In her heart, Sam was holding a baby Josh while her mother finished dinner. The tea kettles sharp, piercing whistle tore away the temporary peace. Two mugs were placed on the table. One mug held hot water, the other held hot tea. The second cup comforted Sam, but tea was too expensive to waste.

In the winter, Josh would eat then run off to take a shower. Sam had to hurry and fill the sink with hot water, soapy water. After his shower, Sam rinsed the dishes she had just washed. Josh dried the dishes and Sam went to get ready for bed. They moved quickly because water and electricity were both expensive. The thermostat was set to a low temperature the moment Josh was dry. They went to bed early, wrapped up under layers of clothes and blankets. In the summer, Sam got the shower at night. The jobs flipped and at night they laid on top of the covers wish that it was cooler. They were happy though.

Sam spooned the tuna casserole out of the dish and onto her plate. After taking a few bites, she pushed the plate away. Sam remembered that she loved Mrs. Meyers's tuna casserole, but today it tasted terrible. An old conversation interrupted Sam's thoughts.

~~~~~
"Don't throw away perfectly good food, Josh. What would Mom say if she saw that?"

"Probably that I shouldn't eat something that would make me sick."

"You need to eat, you love macaroni and cheese, remember?"

"It tastes wrong, I can't eat it."

"What will you eat?"

"Nothing tonight." ~~~~~

Sam thought Josh didn't like the way she cooked, but now she realized she was feeling the same way he did. After their mother died, Sam didn't have time to mourn. She had to get a job and start providing for Josh and herself.

Sam picked the book up and began to look through it. The pages and the words on them brought Sam a sense of relief. They wouldn't die, they wouldn't leave her. As she read each one searching for the last one her brother had read to her, she heard echoes of their voices. Some had been read by all three of them, others by just two. In her mind the voices melded into one.

A thumping sound, her upstairs neighbors 'rounding' up the kids for bed and the kid's loud protests, brought Sam back to reality. She stood up slowly, picking up her dish and raking it into the trash. After filling the sink with water; she placed her plate, cup, and spoon into it. The water felt hotter than normal, it pierced the coldness in her hands and made them tingle. Josh wasn't in the shower yet, usually she would have to go fuss at him to hurry up. Soon the dishes were washed and rinsed. Sam stared down, looking blankly at the suds as the swirled down the drain.

As the leftover bubbles popped in the sink; a fresh wave of tears hit Sam. The tears ran down her cheeks and one splattered, like a single drop of rain, on the metal sink. Sam turned the lights off out of habit, as she fled to the bedroom with its two beds. The tears clouded her vision as she stumbled into one of the beds. Her mind was numb, her thoughts only demanding to know why. Why couldn't he still be alive? Why did she have to be punished? Why was she left alone? Why couldn't SHE be happy? Why did he die? Why not her?

Sam fell asleep demanding to know why and the next morning when she woke up, she looked out the little window. The rain had cleared up during the night. Sam found the irony painful. He was gone and the day after he's in the ground, everywhere else there is happiness. Josh was already forgotten.

Somewhere, Sam felt a tug of reasoning. A single thought that the world didn't revolve around Josh and that he wasn't forgotten, emerged. The reasoning was lost in the emptiness Sam felt. It seemed as though there was nothing in her, except a very hungry stomach. Her body was alive and full of energy, but her mind and heart were exhausted.

Sam stretched in bed. She stood up slowly, rubbing her temples when she realized that the dull ache wasn't just her imagination. Curiosity caused her too look over at the tiny desk which held all of Josh's homework, art, and stories. He had been talented, like their mother. Sam's desk was on the other side it held paper work and bills. On the top of a stack of papers, was something neatly written in cursive. The title was large and boldly done in regular, black pen. Sam read 'Another Child' and felt her heart freeze. He had written it? Why hadn't he told her?

Her hand shaking slightly, Sam read the poem:

"The clouds open up and weep crystal tears,
It stings the patient ground,
As the ground welcomes another child.

Tears fall from a single onlooker's eyes,
Others hide from the tears and angry wind,
As they part with another child.

Gates of silver open up to a heaven,
Voices sweet and kind sing,
A song of welcome to another child."

Another's note... again: Please tell me what you think of it. Feel free to point out stupid mistakes. I've searched and found a few but some MAY have slipped through. I'm so relieved I found the hard copy. Now I must go to class.