Foster: Superman Suitcase

Foster looked around Caleb’s office. The files were stacked high on Caleb’s desk with an old computer taking up way too much space. The desk looked heavy and by the indentations in the floor you could tell the desk had not been moved since it was put in place.

Caleb was trying to clear off his desk, but every time he moved one set of files another set of files would begin to fall. Foster smirked at him.

“Can I go to the bathroom please?” Foster asked. Foster did the classic knees shake and hands between his legs.

“Oh yeah of course. Um.. It’s” Caleb realized that in fact he had no idea where the bathroom was.

Foster rolled his eyes “I got it bro, I’ve been here plenty of times.” Before Caleb could protest, Foster bolted out of the office.

Foster rounded the corner of a long dingy hallway. The part of the building that Foster was in use to be the old courthouse. At one point the building probably was beautiful and full of life, now it was dusty and dingy. The new caseworkers were assigned offices in the basement of the courthouse. The offices were full of files and old computer. Of course when you are getting interviewed, they give you a tour of the new court house with new offices and new computers. What they wait and to tell you until you agree to take the job is that all new caseworkers are assigned to the “Dungeon” as the basement is described.

Foster had been in the Dungeon so many times that he knew the hallways better than most caseworkers. He knew where every pillar, side hallway and rusted water fountain was. Foster did have to go to the bathroom but it was not the reason why he bolted from the office. Foster knew that he was going to get moved, again. It wasn’t the moving that Foster cared about, he had done that over a dozen times, no there was something else, something irreplaceable, his Superman suitcase.

Everyone loves Superman because he’s fast, strong, he can fly and he can shoot lasers out of his eyes. Superman is arguably the greatest super hero of all time. Foster loved Superman for an entirely different reason. Superman was the ultimate orphan and found the greatest adoptive family. Superman represented what every kid in foster care hoped for, a loving family that takes you in and make you their own. To Foster, that was Superman. All the extra stuff was just a bonus.

When Foster was 7 years old he found himself in what he thought was a perfect foster home. The parents were named Bill and Callie. They had two kids of their own, a boy and a girl, 10 and 13 respectively. Bill Jr. was short and pudgy like his mom. His sister, Eve, was tall and graceful, taking after her father. Foster instantly gravitated toward Bill Sr. Foster was scrawny but he was quick and athletic for a 7yr old. Bill Sr. looked at Foster like he was the son that he was suppose to have, not like the stout pudgy son Bill Jr. was. It wasn’t that Bill Sr. did not love little Bill but little Bill just had no interest in sports and would rather play video games.

One Saturday night it was family movie night. Bill Sr. popped in an old movie that he called a classic. It was the original Superman movie starring Christopher Reeves. Bill Sr. and Callie sat on the couch. Bill Jr. was on a lazy boy playing his DS and paying little to no attention to the movie. Eve plopped down in front of the couch munching on popcorn. That was Eve’s superpowers, she could eat and eat and not gain a single pound. Foster was laying on the carpet just a few feet away from the television. As he watch Superman get rescued by the Kents he wanted nothing more than to become Superman, find a family and do good in the world.

Everyday for a month Foster begged and pleaded with Callie to watch Superman after school. Bill Sr. would come home and beam with pride knowing he had introduced such a classic to the boy. Bill Jr. became acutely aware of the favor that Foster was gaining from his father. As the month dragged on Bill Jr. started his own campaign to keep Foster from watching Superman. Junior would cry and yell that he wanted to watch anything but Superman. His mother would put on another show, as soon as she left the room, Bill Jr. would pull out his DS and zone out. If Foster tried to put on Superman, Bill Jr. would toss down his DS and let out a wail, causing his mom to rush into the room. Bill Jr. would point and accuse Foster of being mean and putting on the movie without permission.

The first few times Foster got into trouble. Then Callie started to get wise and notice the pattern. One time she stepped around the corner and watch the scene unfold. Seeing her son zone out on his DS and seeing Foster being forced to watch a show that he had no interest in. Then when Foster would even turn the channel, her son would let out a wail. After that Callie put a stop to the whole thing. She made a schedule and Foster could watch Superman once on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday’s.

This infuriated Bill Jr., not only did his dad show Foster so much favor but now his mom was siding with this kid. The whole thing came to a head one evening when Eve was suppose to be watching the boys. Bill Sr. and Callie had a dinner party to attend and had left Eve to get the boys to bed and make sure “the house didn’t burn down” as Bill Sr. put it.

Bill Jr. and Foster shared a room and were playing with action figures as Eve was talking on the phone with a friend in her room. Of course none of action figures were Foster’s but he was allowed to play with them anyways. Bill Jr. always made Foster play with the broken ones or ones that he didn’t want.

As Bill Jr. crashed his Lizard man into the broken Spider-Man that Foster was holding he yell “Take that you evil doer!”

“He’s not evil! Your guy is the evil one!” Foster retorted back.

“Shut-up Foster. My toys, my rules.” said Bill Jr. as he glared at Foster.

“Miss Callie said it’s not nice to say shut up” Foster said matter of factly.

“You leave my mom out of this” Bill Jr. yelled as he stood up and pushed Foster down. Foster got up pushed Bill Jr. back. As Bill Jr. stumbled backwards he tripped on a pair of shoes his mother had told him to pick up earlier. Bill Jr. fell back loosing his balance, as Foster tried to catch him, Bill Jr. turned and landed on his hand and wrist. The crack was audible as Bill Jr. landed with a thud.

Bill Jr. let out a scream that Foster was pretty certain could be heard across the street and next door. Eve ran into the room looking borderline translucent. With tears streaming down the his face, Bill Jr. crafted a lie that involved Foster bullying him for his toys and then shoving him onto the floor. Foster stood there stunned into silence. The next few hours were a whirlwind.

Bill Sr. and Callie came home after receiving a frantic phone call from Eve. Callie gathered up Bill Jr. and drove him to the hospital. Foster was closed in his room. He heard the house phone ring. Muffled voice seeped under the door. Bill Sr. somberly walked through the door a few minutes later. Sitting on his son’s bed he rubbed his face as he stalled the talk that was impending. Foster knew. He knew in the pit of his stomach what was about to happen.

“Foster” Bill Sr. struggled to begin “Foster, we umm need to talk.” Bill Sr. looked down knowing that if he looked at Foster he would fall apart. “I’m going to have to call your case worker. I just don’t think that it’s best if you stay here. Bill Jr. is getting bigger and he’ll need his own space soon.”

“I’m sorry” were the only words that Foster could manage.

That night Foster slept on the couch downstairs. Bill Sr. and Callie let him watch Superman that night. Bill left the next morning really early and returned with a big bag. Foster was still asleep when Bill Sr. came home. Foster was woken up as Callie quickly made him some toast and gave him grapes for breakfast. Later, Callie took Eve and Bill Jr. to get brunch. Callie gave Foster a hug and Eve hugged him as well. Bill Jr. stood at the door and simply waved with his free hand.

After the rest of the family left, Bill Sr. appeared with a small Superman suitcase.

“Here Foster. This is yours. Something to keep your stuff in.” Bill Sr. said as he helped put some of Foster’s clothes in the suitcase.

Foster stood in silence.

The caseworker showed up to pick him up. Foster gave Bill Sr. a hug and said thank you. Bill Sr. struggled to keep back some tears. Then Foster walked out the door. At the last minute Bill Sr. ran to the living room and came back with the Superman DVD. He slipped it into Foster’s bag right before Foster got into the car.

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Joey is ten days away.

Joey is ten days away. Just ten days away from graduating middle school and moving on into high school.

Man, 9th grade, I can’t believe it Joey thought to himself. Things are going to be different in high school. I’m going to do things. Other kids, they’re going to know who I am. 9th grade, I can’t wait.

Joey stood all of five foot even and weighed less than a hundred pounds. To look at Joey, nothing stood out. He didn’t have a feature about him that stood out at all. In fact, if it wasn’t for the daily attendance record that his home room teacher had to do each day, you might never know that Joey ever existed.

School wasn’t the only place that Joey barely existed. Joey’s dad worked in sales and was gone for days at a time. Joey’s grandmother stayed at home with him while his father was away. The problem was that grandma loved to sip on some dark liquor that would quickly make her pass out for an entire day. More and more Joey would come home to find his granny sleeping in her recliner in the corner.

Ten days! ten days! Joey thought over and over to himself as sat through history class. He glanced at the clock and watched as time ticked away. Soon, in about 17 minutes and 28, 27, 26 seconds… there will only be nine days! Joey’s mind wondered off thinking about how things were going to be different. He would join a sports team! Grow another two feet and be the star of the basketball team! Lead the team to the state championship and then, and then, and then the other kids would finally know who he was! Or better yet, he would become a genius over the summer! He would win every spelling bee, every academic competition, and solve equations his teachers couldn’t! Then, and then, and then the other kids would know who he was. Suddenly the bell rang. A smile slipped over Joey’s lips, nine days.