Hello once again….. 5 days left till the 30th, till the end of the month. As you are about to read, the finale is upon us. How will Lorna and Ryan deal with the problems being faced? We’ll see. Will it be a happy ending? We’ll see. Has this been the most crazy and fun month I’ve ever had the pleasure to live through? Yes. A bold yes. A never ending yes. Word count: 53,981. Here you go, chapter 25 of “Home For The Unwanted”.
“Ray!” Runner called out towards Ryan, who was desperately trying to catch his breath. Ryan’s face was covered in red, and his legs were barely able to hold a stand. It took Ryan quite a while to catch his breath, and even then, he had to grab onto Runner to speak.
“Lorna!” Ryan paused. His breath had ran, and he needed another moment to speak again.
“Where is she?” Ryan felt like collapsing, his lungs wanted to give in, his legs were stinging, and he wanted to fall and seep into a deep sleep. Ryan wanted the world to stop, he wanted the crumbling to stop. He wanted his norm to last.
“Ray?” Sunflower appeared behind Runner. She looked frantic. Her eyes widened at the sight of Ryan, and her breathing began fluctuating. It was the first time Ryan had ever seen Sunflower in such a state. Usually she was more worried, more caring and more reserved, even if Runner was off doing dangerous things. What she was now, was jumbled, Ryan thought.
“Lorna said that the ‘bad guys’ are coming!” Ryan wasn’t surprised. He had a sense of it before Lorna had even finished. What Ryan didn’t understand was why Lorna had kept it to herself all this time. After all, Ryan didn’t believe that this problem had only became relevant now. There must have been some sort of build up, some sort of sign that told Lorna that the end was coming, and that sign was kept hidden from everyone else, Ryan concluded.
“Where is she?” Ryan asked again.
“She’s not here, she left!”Sunflower exclaimed. Ryan felt like screaming, but he held it in. Ryan knew that if Lorna had left, that she had a good reason for it. There was no way that Lorna would tell everyone about the impending danger and simply leave, Ryan thought. Lorna was still here, she was still with them, and she was still planning. Ryan didn’t know what Lorna had in mind, but he knew that she wouldn’t have just left like that.
“Where’s everyone else?” Ryan asked. Ryan had faith in Lorna, and placed his hope and his trust in her, much like she did. If Ryan couldn’t get his answers now, then he would simply have to wait.
“They’re all inside. Lorna told us not to leave unless we see ‘bad guys’,” Sunflower said.
“Then what about you two?”
“Lorna told us that if you showed up, that you had to leave and stay home. We came out to tell you that.”
“Lorna said that?” Sunflower and Runner both nodded their heads. Something wasn’t right, Ryan thought, the norm that he was in, the people and experiences that he had, they were all real. However, Lorna was telling Ryan to stay out of it. Lorna was telling Ryan that he didn’t need to be with his family, to be in his second home as it was on the verge of breaking. Lorna told Ryan that he wasn’t responsible, and that he shouldn’t be. Lorna was telling Ryan that she had it all under control; she didn’t. Lorna was just as lost and just as scared as Ryan. Lorna wasn’t doing any better, and the only thing Lorna wanted to do was to curl up and let the world around her fall apart. Lorna knew that Amanda was coming, she didn’t know when, and that made her even more scared. She had told the children to stay put until she came back. It didn’t matter to Lorna how long Amanda took to come to them, but all Lorna wanted was everyone to feel safe, and for everyone to know that things were going to be okay. Lorna wanted everyone to be together, and once the time had come, wanted everyone to move on with smiles on their faces. Lorna didn’t want anyone to regret the time they had spent. After all, she didn’t regret it, neither would Ryan. Lorna just wanted the whole world to crumble around her, and for her own norms to be enacted. She just wanted everything to make sense again.
“Shooter!” Lorna yelled as she ran for the bridge. Shooter often made rounds across the towns with underground orphanages that he was aware of. He didn’t want to arrive in those towns to listen to bad news, or to harbor bad news either. However, Shooter felt like he had an obligation.
“Lorna? Fancy seeing you here. Came to hang out with little old me?” Shooter had his sunglasses on despite the midday clouds that blanketed the riverside. His posture and casual tone had contrasted with the urgency of Lorna, and he could tell that something was wrong.
“Shooter. Bad news. Bad news.” Lorna was trying to catch her breath despite her good constitution. It was strange, Lorna thought. She grew tired, restless, from the situation at hand.
“You look like you’ve gone through hell.”
“Shooter. I want you to listen.”
“This town. Cadence. Mark it.” Shooter’s eyes had dropped. Through the vagueness of Lorna’s words, Shooter had fully understood the scope of the dilemma that Lorna had found herself in. The last thing he wanted to know, was that Lorna and her home was shutting down. The last thing he wanted to know was that the home he once resided in, the home that nurtured him to where he is now, was shutting down.
“Right now?” Shooter asked.
“No. I don’t know when. But it will happen.” Shooter sighed. Lorna couldn’t see Shooter’s eyes, but she knew that he was disappointed. Shooter and Lorna had both shared memories in that orphanage, so did Lorna and Ryan, and Ryan and the rest of the children. These were all precious memories.
“Stop! Stop.” Lorna looked down. Her eyes were on the verge of tears, but she knew that she couldn’t cry. Not now, at least not now, Lorna concluded.
“I have to go now.” Lorna turned around, but Shooter grabbed onto her arm before she could make much distance. Lorna turned around in a flurry with watery eyes, which made Shooter surprised. Lorna was suppressing her tears, and she was suppressing her screams, Shooter thought.
“Crying ruins your pretty face.”
“Shut up.” Lorna hit Shooter on the side with her free hand.
“I’m not crying,” Lorna added.
“I’m not crying,” Lorna repeated.
“I’m not crying,” Lorna concluded.
“Look–” Shooter paused, took off his sunglasses, and looked into Lorna’s eyes.
“I don’t know what you may have with your current kids,” Shooter considered his words. He let go of his grasp, and he looked into the river. It was dark, it was very dark, Shooter thought. The gray clouds that hung above his head and the bitter winds that blew across the riverside made Shooter sad.
“But if you want to get through this, you have to be calm,” Shooter spoke from his past experiences. Shooter had seen many homes come and go, many families come and go, and many memories fade at the blink of an eye. Shooter wrote it all. Shooter collected the memories and the experiences that these people had felt and gone through. Shooter didn’t want to do the same for Lorna. It would be hard for both of them, but he also knew that the business Lorna ran, came with such a cost.
“What the kids want most from a situation like yours, is assurance.” Shooter looked behind Lorna, to the grass fields that were swaying ever so slightly in the bitter winds.
“They want to know that everything is going to be alright, and they don’t want to see their guardian flustered. That’ll just scare them, and you don’t want that. You want everyone to feel connected, and you want everyone to get through it together. ” Shooter sighed.
“I’ve seen many things, many people, and many families. I’ll tell you this now, because you’re my friend, and because you’ve done so much for me. Seeing your family break apart is the worst feeling you can ever get, but seeing the person who brought the family together break apart, makes you want to burn the world.” Shooter had a bitter after taste in his mouth, and his expression turned sour. He was remembering things he would rather not, but he knew that if he were to ever relay the feelings he’s obtained on his travels, that he should be able to handle those emotions. He needed to stand by the memories he’s vowed to record, and stand by them with a smile.
“Losing your family like this shouldn’t be bitter. It’s a stepping stone, Lorna. I can’t say that for certain, but I know that for a person like you, Lorna, losing your family like this, is something you can do with a smile.”
“You don’t know anything, Shooter. You only know–”
“I only know what others know. I know that I can’t really speak for those that have to go through that kind of experience, but I’ve seen it. I’ve seen it Lorna, I’ve seen it so many times. I’ve been to so many places. I had to leave on my own, but, I’m not any different, right?” Lorna knew that Shooter had seen many orphanages. Lorna hadn’t personally taken a look at his notebooks, but she knew that he had enough of them to warrant a novel.
“You can tell me all about it later.”
“If you comply, they’ll probably just detain you for a few days.”
“But that’s not the worst of it.”
“They have the right to place those found in institutions. I…. don’t know much other than that. After all, once an underground orphanage has been busted, those that were in it usually never see me again.”
“Because once that happens, you’ve already moved on?”
“Yeah. Plus, with a person like you, I’m sure you can just convince them to let you out anyway.”
“Keeping a pretty face like yours all to themselves is a crime; word will get out quick.” Shooter smiled, and even Lorna couldn’t help but smile along with his banter. Lorna hadn’t been around when the issue of underground orphanages became a vital topic, so she didn’t know much about the procedures. The little information she was able to gather from Amanda didn’t tell her much either, but she could tell that it was more than just shutting down the orphanage and giving a new home to its kids. There was much more, and Lorna didn’t want to wait around and see what being caught entailed.
“So, come back.” Shooter grabbed his sunglasses and put them back on before finishing.
“Once this all blows over, come see me. I’d love to hear your story and I’ve love to record it.” Shooter took out a small note and a blue pen. With a few quick motions, he had scrawled something on the note and handed it to Lorna.
“May your history and family ever be trusted in my services, and may their story be kept safe in the memories of whomever may come across them.”
“Fancy lines you have.”
“It brings business,” Shooter said sarcastically.
“Now go. You have some place to be, right?” Lorna nodded, and turned towards the orphanage. She needed to go back and ensure that everyone there was safe, and that everyone wasn’t scared. She had an obligation to see to it that this process doesn’t end in tears. At least not bitter tears, Lorna thought. Lorna opened the note that Shooter had scrawled on, and read it. It made her smile, and at the same time, made her angry, sad even. Lorna had no right to grieve, nor did she have a right to talk to Shooter. What Lorna wanted to do went against everything she knew. It went against her norm, and it went against her ideals. What Lorna wanted to do would inevitably create a norm filled with misconstrued ideals. This would be the last mistake Lorna would make. Lorna hoped the best for the children, and hoped that they would respect her decision. What Lorna wanted to do was dangerous, and at the same time, was the only thing Lorna could think to do. It was why Lorna wanted Ryan to stay away from the orphanage, and to keep to his own norms, and to make his own home, and to make his own family. Lorna didn’t want Ryan to be involved anymore. He had done enough, and his presence was merely an oddity to her. He was an aberration, and Lorna wanted those who were unwanted in the home for the unwanted, to be wanted. Ryan had that chance. He had to fight his own battles. Lorna knew that. However, what Lorna didn’t know was that Ryan had already intertwined himself in the norms she had created. Ryan was just as involved as Lorna, and Ryan had his own responsibilities, and Ryan had his own ideals about the whole situation. Ryan was going to stay, and he was going to fight for what he held true. Ryan had changed, even more then Lorna could think of. Ryan was here to stay. Or at least, he would die trying.