August 4th, 2009
I want to make the next big discovery like Albert Einstein.
I want to man the first mission to Mars.
Those were the two dreams I had while I was in a children’s home in Ukraine. I was seven. I wanted to fly a rocket ship with NASA. I wanted to make the next big discovery like Albert Einstein. I wanted both of those dreams so bad. I’d lay in my bed at night shivering, wondering how I would ever get there if I didn’t have parents. I didn’t know if I would ever make it out of the children’s home after watching some of the older children go years without finding a home. It made me sad but a tiny part of me kept my dream alive as the months went on. I would flick on my flashlight, having an Autobots symbol taped to the lens, and signal out to Optimus Prime to come and rescue me. I knew if he could find me then I would be able to start my dream. The dream was just beginning to fade and my hopes were becoming lost after six months. The bigger kids kept telling me I would never become as smart as Albert Einstein or make it to Mars.
There was an anonymous donation made by a company (I think it was my Dad but he won’t admit it.) A week later the head lady (who I would later find out her name was Sophia) said they were going to have a party because of it. All the kids got to put an idea in the jar and they would pick what the theme would be. It would be kept a secret until the day of the party. For a week, I couldn’t keep my fingers crossed (and all my other limbs by the way) enough. I looked like a pretzel while I was laying in my bed at night. I wanted them to pick my idea. Transformers. It would be awesome.
The week went by and we were all lined up next to the wall. I bounced on my toes with excitement. When the head lady opened the doors we all went tearing into the small room. My eyes went wide when I saw all the red, blue, and black streamers dangling from the ceiling. There were little gift bags with candy in them set around on the tables. I ran. When I saw there was an Optimus Prime one, I went to the next. My eyes started to widen when I saw Ironhide. I zipped around the tables, seeing Bumble Bee and Ratchet, even Skids and Jazz. They had picked mine! I remember throwing my fist up in the air and squealing really loudly. I rushed over to where they had the cake and I stared at it. It had Bumble Bee stenciled on it.
I pulled out my tiny flashlight and started to flash the Autobots symbol all over the ceiling. The head lady came up to me with a smile and asked me to sit down with the other kids. In my excitement, I ran back to the table and picked a seat with Bumble Bee for the candy bag. My feet were swinging wildly. I was trying to contain my anxiousness. I still couldn’t believe they picked my idea! The workers gave us each a piece of cake and I couldn’t help but gobble it down. We didn’t get cake very often or anything sweet. It was a real treat for all of us.
When the head lady said she had a surprise for us, I thought I was going to pass out. My forehead actually met the table and I had to take in gulps of air to stop it from happening. The kid next to me kept shaking my shoulder and asking if I was okay. I was. I was just really excited. My head turned when I heard one of the other workers set something down next to and rubbed my back. I could see her smiling and give me a wink. As I lifted my head, I looked around the room to see each kid had a small present wrapped in Transformers paper. Mine was only a small rectangle that had a yellow ribbon on it. It was like an early Christmas! I unwrapped it quickly, hearing the other kids tearing into the paper as well. I had gotten a deck of UNO cards. Everyone had gotten something different, a card game to keep them occupied while we were waiting for new parents. The head lady said everything came from America. What she didn’t tell us was we should expect a couple to show up a few days later with even more presents for everyone. And the winner of the idea for the party was going to get something special from them.
So, I waited and waited and waited. I played with my UNO cards, flashed my Autobots symbol, went to school and kept on studying. I needed good grades if I was going to be like Albert Einstein and maybe fly to Mars. I was walking back from my classroom to my dorm area when I looked out the window. It was raining really hard and the thunder was booming, making the walls shake and glass rattle. A car pulled up. I stopped for a second, feeling the boy behind me bump into me, when I saw an umbrella pop up from the car and a woman stepped out. A hand came out of nowhere, grabbing onto the umbrella, and out filed a man. It was raining too hard for me to see what they looked like clearly. I had a feeling run through my body as I was pushed from behind. I kept moving and didn’t think of the feeling again.
Later in the day, the head lady asked us all to come into the room where we had the party again. I made sure I had my flashlight in case the power went out from the thunderstorm. We took our places at the cleared out tables. The room was back to having dirty colored walls and stains on the ceiling from when the roof would leak. My eyes wandered around, looking at all the other kids. Some looked anxious, a few looking curious because this had never happened before. I felt like we were being corralled like horses.
I kept my eyes on the two new people who were standing next to the head lady. They both had really big smiles on their faces. They had to be the man and woman from the car I saw earlier. The woman was skinny with long brown hair, her eyes were a brownish color, and her nose was small. Her eyebrows looked like they had been plucked. She was wearing a pair of ripped jeans with a t-shirt that looked like it had a logo on it. It said KISS. She didn’t look like she had any makeup on. And she wore a pair of silvery colored shoes. The man next to her looked like he could be a mad scientist. His short brown hair was sticking up everywhere and he had thick rimmed glasses sitting on his nose. His shirt had thick red, white, and blue stripes. He looked like he went to the gym a lot too. He was big. He wore a pair of nice jeans. His trainers looked like they had been used a lot. They looked out-of-place for each other, but I did look at their hands to see if they were married. She had two rings on, one had a bright green stone that looked to be set in silver and a band. My eyes darted to his hand. He had a silver one on as well. I could only think they were married but I didn’t know for sure.
The head lady clapped her hands to get our attention and my eyes went to her. But I kept wanting to look back at the other two standing next to her. They were perfect together. I remember how everything went that day because it would be the happiest I had ever been in my life. It went like this:
“Attention everyone.” We all stared at her. “I would like to introduce Dale and Wren McCarty. They made the trip all the way from America to see how you liked your gifts.” Everyone started talking at once and yelling over one another trying to get their attention. “Settle down.” Her clapped again. This was who gave us the money for the party…I stared at them again and settled down in my seat. I couldn’t help it. The workers filed into the room with cardboard boxes overflowing with more gifts. The chairs were scraping on the floor before I could count to three. I moved as quickly as I could with the other kids to huddle around them. There were big gifts, small gifts, round gifts. “We wanted to make sure everyone had things they could play with.” His voice boomed over the screaming and squealing from all of us. This was even better than any Christmas I ever had before or even a birthday. I could feel my cheeks starting to hurt from the smile on my face. “Everyone deserves to have fun.”
All I kept thinking was, “Holy Cow!” in my head as I tried to move around the boxes to see everything. “These people are so awesome!”
“Single file children, single file.” There was another clap. So, I moved right along with everyone else into a line, waiting to get my next present. My back turned to the couple and I bounced on my toes even more. We were getting more presents. I felt a hand on my shoulder and looked up to see one of the workers looking down at me with a smile on her face. “Kiel, you need to come with me.” My hopes were smashed into a million pieces as I nodded and frowned up at her. “But…”
“It’s okay. You’ll get your presents, I promise.”
I followed behind her and tried not to cry. I wanted to cry so bad. Everyone else was going to enjoy getting presents. My hand slipped into my pocket and out of nervousness, I started clicking my flashlight on and off. I hoped I wasn’t in any trouble. We stopped in front of the two people and I dared to take a peek up at them. They both had smiles on their faces. They looked happy.
“I’m Wren,” the lady said, squatting down so she could see me. I nodded. I tried not to peek back over my shoulder when I heard someone yell how much they had wanted a football. “We have something a little more special for you, Kiel.” Then the man squatted down and gave me a wink. “We guessed you liked Transformers because you won the theme for the party,” he said. I kept clicking my flashlight on and off, nodding when I heard him. I felt the hand on my shoulder again and tried to keep from crying. I wanted to be with the other kids. I was pulled back a few steps and then a huge box with my name on it got placed in front of me. “These are for you.”
Instantly my cheeks were back to hurting from smiling as I looked at the box. There were Transformers figurines, coloring books of Superman and Transformers, a pack of 120 crayons, a few books. I leaned over, stopped clicking my flashlight, and pulled out the Bumble Bee one. It was still in the package. I wanted to pull it out and fly him around the room, but set him back in the cardboard box.
I couldn’t help what happened next. I stumbled over the box and almost knocked Wren and Dale over as I launched myself at them. My arms wrapped around their necks and I tried to squeeze them as best as I could. It was tight to me. They both laughed in my ears. I didn’t know what to say to them. I was really happy. But I used my manners as I stepped back. “Thank you.”
They had become my favorite people in the world in less than a minute…
They stayed for a few days, visiting everyone, and talking with all the kids. I made sure to talk to them every time they walked in the door. I wanted them to remember me. I carried around the coloring book and crayons in my bag for school. During recess I would color instead of playing with the other kids. I flew Bumble Bee around my dorm area, weaving in and out from around the beds. I couldn’t keep my mind off them with every toy I played with.That feeling I had looking out the window had returned. I couldn’t name it.
I got pulled into the office by the head lady on my way back from recess. I thought I was in trouble for flying my figurine around the dorm and being too loud. I thought the couple had left but they were sitting there in front of her desk looking really serious. They all did. Then Dale started smiling and Wren started too. Sophia nodded at me to take a seat next to Wren. I did, very slowly. I still thought I was in trouble. I couldn’t look at them so I looked at the name plate on the desk.
“Kiel…” My head moved slowly and my eyes turned up to see Sophia’s face. “I wanted to talk to you about something.” She stopped talking and I stopped breathing. I knew I was going to be in trouble. Maybe it was for how I threw my whole body at Dale and Wren the day I got my presents. I could feel my lips turn into a frown and I remember sighing, letting my shoulders hunch over. “Dale and Wren want to see if you would like to go home with them.”
Welcome to the happiest moment of my life…I might get parents!
I did get them as parents eventually, after a lot of Skype calls with me, the judge saying yes to them adopting me, and an airplane ride halfway across the world.
Now I sit on my huge queen sized bed, six years later, with a mural of the universe on my bedroom walls, Albert Einstein quotes painted between the orbits of the planets, a mini rocket ship from my trip to NASA space camp, and a pencil in my hand writing a journal to tell everyone about my first year as a chemistry and physics student.
I’m worried I’ll be stumbling through physics and walking out of chemistry class without blowing too many holes in the table. Hopefully with my parents, family, and best friend Whiz, I won’t destroy anything too bad.
Kiel A. McCarty