4 years earlier
“You may go and explore the community. I have a guest coming over, and we do not want to be disturbed.” Jane said. She impassively surveyed the twins that were dropped off just a few minutes ago. “Well…what are you waiting for?” She motioned towards the door. The twins trudged outside and sat on the steps. Jane sighed and firmly shut the door. Click. The crisp autumn air soon made Tara start to shiver. “Come on. If we walk, then we’ll warm-up.” Theo said.
They scampered down the stairs. Tara turned back to look at the house. It was a brown brick, Victorian-era home. Although it was well-kept, it had a cold, lonely feeling. Its heavy-lidded eyes stared down on the twins. Tara shuddered. She jogged down the sidewalk to get away from it. The street was filled with similar houses, all in various states of disrepair. Junk filled the gutters. Tara sidestepped to avoid a broken glass bottle. The next few blocks were similar. “Let’s go back. There’s nothing to do here.” Tara said with disgust as the noxious smell of tobacco filled her nostrils. “We can’t. Jane doesn’t want us to bother her.” Theo shrugged and kicked at a cigarette butt.
Tara sighed. The cold gray day mirrored her mood. This was their fourth foster home. It was proof that nobody wanted them. Their second foster family had suddenly found out that they were expecting a child and decided that they no longer needed Tara and Theo. Their third foster family decided after a few weeks that they couldn’t manage fostering twins. They were an elderly couple and didn’t have the energy to keep up with two active children. So here they were, dumped on the next available person. “Nobody wants us.” Tara thought bitterly. “What’s so wrong with us? Why doesn’t anyone like us?”
She aimlessly wandered into an alleyway in between an overgrown lot and a dilapidated building.
Bow wow wow!!!
Tara jumped back as a large, ferocious boxer streaked towards her. She glanced at her brother before taking off at top speed. The dog followed, barking viciously. After a couple of twists and turns, the dog was still following. Tara’s lungs burned. Desperately, she rocketed toward a chain-link fence. She grabbed on and hoisted herself up, nearly falling into the yard behind. Theo quickly followed. The dog snapped and jumped to catch their feet.
“Go home, Nero!” A voice yelled. The dog suddenly looked up, whined, tucked its tail, and ran home. Tara’s rapid breaths slowed. The twins looked up to see their rescuer. A beam of sunlight broke through the clouds and illuminated the curly red hair of a freckled boy around 12 years old, sitting on the top of a wooden fence nearby. “Hullo!” He said, jumping down from his perch. “I see old Nero there has given you quite the scare. That’s one unfriendly dog.” “Thanks!” Theo grinned. “If you hadn’t told him to go home, he might have snapped off our legs.” The boy laughed. “His bark is worse than his bite. I’m Leo. Who are you guys? Are you new around these parts?” The twins gingerly climbed down the fence. Tara clasped her scraped hands. “Yeah. We just arrived today.” Theo said. “I’m Theo, and this is my sister Tara. We just moved in with our new foster mom a few blocks away.”
“Great. Now we’ve got some new kids. Perhaps I could show you around some time and introduce you to the gang.” Leo said. “Doesn’t seem like there’s much to see.” Tara blurted. Then she clapped her hand over her mouth. “Uhh…I mean….” Tara blushed. Leo chuckled. “It seems that way at first, but when you come to know this community, it’s actually a nice place. Well… I gotta go. My mom will soon be calling me for dinner. See you around.” He waved before jogging away. Tara and Theo slowly walked back ‘home’. “I guess living here won’t be too bad,” Theo said. Tara nodded and smiled.
Hmm. This community doesn’t seem too good. What do you think about Jane? And what about Leo? Will he be a good friend? Do you agree with Leo’s statement that “when you come to know this community, it’s actually a nice place”?