When I was 8 years old, my life was changed forever. I can still recall the day clearly, can still hear the cold wind rattle the shutters and the rain rush noisely down the drainpipe. It was a usual day in London, England.
Well, usual for everyone but me.
It was visiting day at the orphange that had been my home since I was two. By now I was the oldest here, and I knew deep down inside that no one would ever take me. So while the younger girls put on their nicest dresses and tied bows in their hair in hopes of getting adopted, I hid underneath a table with my porcelain doll, Rose. William, my little brother, was downstairs with the other boys; he was six years old and cute. He still had a chance of getting adopted.
I hoped he didn't get adopted. I knew it was selfish, but I hoped it with all my heart. I couldn't survive without William.
I was whispering softly to Rose when footsteps sounded down the marble hallway. "Samantha?" called a voice that echoed off the walls.
Sliding further underneath the table, I was almost afraid to breathe. I didn't want to be found and lined up in front of prospective parents only to be rejected once again. The door opened, and Katherine, my favorite caretaker at the orphanage, peered underneath the tablecloth. "There you are! Come show your new parents how lovely you look."
I shook my head. But even as I did, something inside of me clicked. New parents?
"Come along now. Get your coat."
I pulled on my warm red coat as I hurried after Katherine, my boots pounding the tile floor. We passed dozens of doors, each leading to something different-the cafeteria where we ate all our meals, the art and music room, the playroom, the library, and dorm rooms. The hall opened up into a large sitting area, today filled to the brim with hopeful children.
"There they are!" Katherine exclaimed, pointing over my head. "There are your parents!"
Standing on tiptoe, I struggled to see over the crowds, but I was not looking for my adoptive parents. I was looking for William. Where was he? Was he being adopted, too?
I tugged on Katherine's sleeve. "Where is William? Where's my brother?"
Instead of answering my frantic questions, Katherine led me across the room where a couple sat on a couch. The man looked tall, even sitting down, with broad shoulders and close-cut hair, but he smiled at me and said in an American accent, "Are you Miss Samantha?"
I nodded, hugging Rose to my chest, and scanned the room for my brother.
The women rose to her feet and bent down to look at me. She had gentle brown eyes and curly hair that fell across her shoulders. "We are so excited to meet you," she said. "We really want you to be our daughter."
My anxiety began to melt away as her soft, almost musical voice flooded my ears. But something in the back of my brain was screaming, No! What are you doing? Go find William!
The cry split the air, and everyone turned as my little brother rushed toward me, tears streaking his freckled cheeks. "Samantha, no! Don't go!" he begged, burying his face into my coat.
I looked frantically from Katherine to my new parents. Why wouldn't they help me? Why wouldn't they say that my brother was coming with me?
Katherine helped me pack my few belongings into a small leather suitcase, and the whole time, William clung to me with his skinny arms. "Please!" he shouted for the hundreth time. "Katherine, please, don't let my sister go!"
I had to fight to keep from crying myself. "Can't he come with me?" I pleaded softly, looking up at Katherine.
She hugged me tightly. "I wish he could, Samantha!" she said sadly before bending down to look William in the eye. "Don't worry, William. Before long you will have your own family, just like your sister."
"My sister is my family!" he said fiercly.
The next morning William and I stood bravely in the icy rain, waiting for my new parents. Rose was tucked into my dress pocket, and Katherine had even braided her hair and tied it with tiny red ribbons. "We want your doll to look nice, too," she had told me.
As a small car approached the curb, I studied every detail of my brother, his scrubby hair, his big brown puppy-dog eyes that were now filled with sadness. "This isn't the last time we'll see each other," I firmly declared. "There is no need to say goodbye."
I turned somewhat mechanicaly and began walking toward the car while William screamed after me, "No! Don't go! Don't leave me!"
"I'll see you again!" I didn't look at him, not wanting him to see the tears in my eyes. "I'll get you back. I promise."
That was the last thing I said to him.
Now I have two older sisters, a sister exactly my age, two younger sisters, and two younger brothers. They all remind me of my brother, especially Justin, who is so much like William in both appearance and demeanor it hurts to look at him. Every night I lie in the darkness, listning to the heavy breathing of my sisters, and behind my closed eye lids I can see William's face so clearly it is hard to believe it has been two years since I've seen him. And I know I have to get him back. To me, it doesn't matter that I am living in Birmingham, Alabama, while William is in London, England. Somehow I have to get my brother back.