“This Isn’t Goodbye Forever, Only For Now” by Josie Mayo

Written by plumtree

Topics: 2021-22 School Year, Complete Archive (2012-2020)

At the moment, I’m half sure that I live in a fairy tale. Objects swirl into view and blur out again as my eyes adjust to the lighting around me. I sit up in bed, dizzy and fighting the temptation to close my eyes and lie back down. Instead, I frown, deciding that I must face reality, and step onto the old, worn carpet framing my bedroom floor. From the foot of my bed, I hear a light purr.

“Come on, Fidem,” I whisper gently as I rub the belly of my sleepy calico. How I love to replay the day that I found her over and over again in my head. There she was, sitting in a wrecked cardboard box on the sidewalk near the bus stop by my foster house. Wrapped in a raggedy blanket, she looked up at me with eyes that bore straight down into my heart. I just knew I had to keep her as mine. When I took her back to the house, my foster mother, Sarah, asked me if I would be able to take care of her. Now, thinking back on this moment, I roll my eyes at the thought of what she said to me.

“Alexia, don’t you think that it might be too big of a responsibility for you to take care of this kitten?” she smirked. “After all, you’re only a foster kid. I wouldn’t want to offend you, but you’ll be moving around a lot as you don’t have a family of your own, and I for one certainly don’t want to be stuck watching this sad ball of fur when you’re gone.”

Her words left my insides spinning. Sarah isn’t what I would call a generous foster mother. I mean, so far she hasn’t forced me into a basement to sleep or done anything to hurt me physically but, she also hasn’t offered me affection. And she hasn’t ever been kind to me when I make one mistake. The truth is, I’m pretty sure that Sarah only fosters kids like me for the money. She probably uses a lot of that state budget as cash for her enjoyment, especially as she fosters five of us. Ironic that she thinks I can’t take care of a cat when I have four biological siblings that I look after.  With nearly every foster family we’ve been to, I’ve been left in charge of my siblings.  My younger sister Sadie is only a baby. She’s never even met my biological father. He left before she was born in the hospital, leaving my birth mother with five young kids. That’s probably part of the reason that we’re abandoned now. My sister Ellie is two. She and my three year old brother Peyton are always together. They’re the mischievous ones in our family, and it gets us into trouble with our foster families. My other sister is Presley. She’s eight, which is two years younger than me, but we still look identical. Our short brown hair and blue eyes are unique from the rest of our siblings. In fact, Presley and I are so similar that we even both battle with anxiety. We used to go to a therapist about it, but Sarah says that the state budget doesn’t cover mental health services anymore.

“Hey, Alexia? You up?” whispered Presley from her spot staring out the dusty window.

“Sure I’m up. You wouldn’t see me if I wasn’t!” I joked, tiptoeing over to join Presley.

“Do you really think that Sarah is going to make us move again?” Presley asked quietly, stress easily noticed in her voice. My anxiety clenched tight at my stomach, but I didn’t care. I had to be there for my sister. “I don’t know, Presley. But I wouldn’t worry about it either. The adults working in the foster care system always make sure that we have somewhere to stay,” I answered. “I know,” Presley mumbled, “but I wish we were with a family who actually cared about us.”

All I could do was nod.


The social worker stared empathetically at me from across the desk. “You know this isn’t the ideal situation, but Sarah expressed that she will not be able to foster children anymore and it’s difficult to place all five of you in the same home,” she quietly stated.  “I know, it’s just…” I hurriedly try to explain. She cut me off before I could plead anymore. “I’m sorry, Alexia, but it’s not a possibility anymore. We’ve confirmed your new living situation, and you need to be moved immediately,” the social worker said firmly.

I stared down at my feet and tried to hold back any tears from dripping down my face.

“I understand, ma’am,”  I answered, losing all hope that our family could stick together.

“Good. Now, if we could just go out to the hallway, I’ll be able to let you know of your new families and we’ll check to make sure that you have all your belongings,” she responded swiftly.

As I stepped out of the empty office space, my eyes met Presley’s from her spot crouched on a chair in the waiting room. I walked over, my eyes staring blankly ahead. Tears started rolling down Presley’s cheeks. “They’re separating us, aren’t they?” she whispered, giving into the sadness and emptiness that had been waiting for us all day long.

I couldn’t contain my emotions anymore. A heart wrenching pull started near my gut and worked its way up towards my stomach as I nodded slowly. I sank to the floor, burying my face in my hands, hoping that a few moments of lonely silence would cure the sharp pain in my mind and heart. I felt that the state of despair that I had just sank into was one that was irreversible. The social worker, who I only now noticed was wearing a nametag that said ‘Ms. Karina,’ motioned for us to stand up and wait by the door to the office building with her.

“We’d better get you children along to your new family assignments,” she said.

A knock sounded on the door to the office waiting room, and Ms. Karina opened it and gestured for an average looking woman to come inside. She was medium height, with curly orange hair, dark freckles, and a mix of bright green and hazel colored eyes.

“Hello!” The woman smiled, looking directly at us. “I’m Mrs. Anderson, but you can call me Andrea if you’d prefer.”  I made a mental note to roll my eyes when I had privacy later that night. This phony lady looked like she could belong on a soap detergent commercial.

“Children,” Ms. Karina said, “meet Mrs. Anderson. You know, she’s very kind and you’d be very lucky to have the opportunity to live with her.” At the word kind, she gave us that look that meant ‘behave yourselves and be nice because this is your last chance.’ I glared at my hands crossed on my chest. Ms. Karina spoke again, “Mrs. Anderson is already the mother of two 6-year-old boys, so she is very qualified to take care of you!” I rolled my eyes. Twice.

Ms. Karina ignored me and started to do formal introductions. “This is Saidie. She’s seven months old. And over here are these two little mischief makers. They seem to always stick together. This is Ellie, and she’s two, and then this is Peyton who is three. And, finally, the older two. There’s Presley, who’s eight, and Alexia, who’s ten would be the one who you’ve already met. Oh, and over there is the cat. The children simply couldn’t be separated from her- I think the name is Fidem.”

“Nice to meet you all.” Mrs. Anderson smiled widely.

Ms. Karina smiled at her. “We have another couple coming right now to meet the kids as well.” She opened the door again to welcome a sandy blond couple with matching tye-dye t-shirts. “Welcome in, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson.” The couple waved to us shyly. Suddenly, a phone rang, buzzing through the pocket of Mrs. Anderson’s jeans.  She quickly answered her phone and moved away to the back of the room. When she returned, she briefly spoke to Ms. Karina who said, “I don’t mean to speed up the process, but Mrs. Anderson must get going and I have other matters to attend to in a short while.”

“Oh, yes, of course,” Mr. Johnson nodded as he looked towards Mrs. Anderson.

“Presley, why don’t you go grab your things and head over to the Johnsons. Mr. Johnson, Saidie is over there in the car seat if you want to grab her. I think her luggage is already in Presley’s bag,” Ms. Karina instructed. Mrs. Anderson approached Ellie, Peyton, and I and motioned us toward her.

“Let’s go, kids. We need to be on the road so that we’re not late to get to the twins basketball game tonight,” she explained.  I rolled my eyes for the third time this afternoon. Great. I was stuck with this phony weirdo. I sighed and decided I would save my snarky thoughts for another time as I grabbed my belongings. I stared down at the small cat carrier and was glad for the fact that at least Fidem would be staying with me. That’s about when I realized something terrible. She said my name, yes, but not Presley’s. I turned in shock to look at my younger sister, and saw her dismal face as I watched her follow the Johnsons towards the door.

“Oh, Presley,” I whispered as I ran towards her to catch her before she left without me.  “I didn’t think that we would be separated!” she cried as she turned to look at me desperately.  My heart felt empty as I imagined a day without my best friend and sister.  “I don’t want to leave you,” Presley whispered sadly into my ear. Lily burst out crying, obviously noticing the somber mood. “Hush, don’t cry,” I said gently to her. She scooted closer to me.

We all huddled like that, together, for a long time.

Ms. Karina broke the silence, “Children, you really must go.” I made a brave face as I decided that I would be strong for our family. “I know that none of us are good at goodbyes. So, let’s not remember this moment as a goodbye forever. Let’s instead remember it as a goodbye for now. Because I’ll see you again soon. You’re always and forever my family.”



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