Every day, Jack would look out the window of his room and watch the trains. He also saw something not that common every day. Each day, a man would pass by Jack’s building, get out of his car, and stare for hours at one of Jack’s windows. Jack had three windows in his room. Jack would look out of the opposite window that the man was staring at and watch the man. Jack thought this was a very odd action to perform. But, the man still did it.
Jack had foster parents. He used to live with his grandmother because his parents died in a car crash, but there was a tragic fire in the building that Jack and his grandmother lived in. Only Jack had a chance to escape it.
Jack did not like his foster-parents. They were very mean to him. Every time Jack did not eat his dinner, they would send him to his room and not even say, “Goodnight”. Those nights, Jack was very hungry.
Since he didn’t like his foster parents, this caused him to run away.
Jack’s foster parents’ names were Bob and Claire. Bob and Claire made a lot of money. They let Jack go to school by himself because they had to leave for work very early in the morning. Jack did not like his school. Kids were mean to him and called him names. And his teacher was mean. Jack refused to go to school. He would not get good grades because the rare times he went to school, he did rubbish. Not because he did not know the answers, but because he didn’t want to answer them. Jack was actually very smart. He skipped a grade because he was so smart. He was only ten and in sixth grade.
One day, Jack decided to run away from his foster parents. He made the decision to use all his saved money for a bus trip to San Francisco, California.
It was July 13th when Jack was waiting in the line to the bus for a trip to California. When he stepped on the bus, he felt glory to be free.
The bus was going up a bumpy hill, and Jack was going up and down. He was hungry. He forgot to bring extra money to stop and eat food. While everybody went outside and ate food, Jack had to stay inside the bus and not eat food at all. Even the bus driver was outside. Fortunately, he had packed a sandwich and applesauce in a zip-lock for the trip.
He said, “Wow! Aren’t I smart?” He started to eat his sandwich. It was a ham, cheese, and mayonnaise sandwich. When he finished his sandwich, he ate the applesauce with a spoon. When everybody came back in the bus, the bus finally moved. He fell asleep in the bus because of the good meal.
The next morning, an old lady woke him up. She said, “Little boy! Move! The bus is in danger!”
Jack said, “Wait, my stuff!”
The old lady said, “Your stuff doesn’t matter right now. We’re all gonna die!”
Jack replied, “Yes, it does. I have my special teddy bear in there.”
The old lady answered, “There’s an earthquake coming near!!!” The old lady stopped talking and picked up Jack and his suitcase out of the bus and jumped over a small crack. The bus had fallen in a big crack. She walked quickly to where all the other people were.
Jack said, “Holy cow! There’s been an earthquake and I didn’t know! Why didn’t anybody tell me?”
The old lady said, “Mhhm-hmm.”
Jack saw that there was a whole bunch of wood and sticks on the ground. And not too far away in the distance, everybody could see a hardware store. They spent at least fifteen minutes walking to the hardware store. No one really talked while they were walking. They did not talk because of the situation that they were in. After the old lady saved him, Jack thought they were friends. He was only talking to her.
Everybody asked Jack, “Why are we walking there?”
Jack answered, “Because we could build a wagon to carry everybody to San Francisco. And if no one cooperates, then I will do it all by myself. And you guys will stay here.”
Everybody said, “Ok! We will help.”
This wagon had a hole in it so people could steer with their feet. It was something very old-fashioned, but nobody cared. All everybody wanted to do was get to San Francisco. It took two hours to get to San Francisco.
When they got there, they were all very excited, especially Jack. Jack walked to his grandfather’s apartment at 1950 Val Street Apartment 1B. There were three people who wore beautiful clothes sitting outside his grandfather’s apartment. They were some of the richest people in the apartment. These people recognized Jack as the grandson of the owner of the building, which was Jack’s grandfather, John.
Jack said, “Excuse me,” to those people. They moved quickly. Jack said, “Thank you”. They replied, “You’re welcome.”
Jack did not have to go up any stairs because his Grandpa’s apartment was on the first floor.
He knocked on the door, excited. His grandfather answered the door and said, “Oh… my grandson. Long time no see.”
Jack said, “Grandpa!” and hugged him.
His grandfather asked, “What are you doing here, Jack?”
Jack answered, “Um… I came here to visit. Like you said, long time no see.”
“Oh. I have had no one visit me here. I’m very happy you came to visit.” Jack knew why no one visited his grandfather. It was because he was always grumpy, or he always looked grumpy.
Two days later, Jack and John were watching the news. There were two adults on the news saying that their foster child ran away. And then there was a picture of Jack. John looked at Jack.
“Is that you?” he asked.
Jack replied, “Um… maybe. Actually! No! That’s my twin brother.” (wink, wink).
John said, “Twin brother? Your mom was my daughter. She would have told me if she had two kids.”
Jack knew he was lying but he did not want to go back to New York. And from the stories that his mom used to tell him about his grandfather, he did not want to deal with him. When Jack’s mother went to her friend’s house after school without asking permission, she got in trouble, and was grounded for a week. She tried to talk to him about it, but he was very stubborn and would not listen.
That night, John packed Jack’s things and put them in his car. In the morning, when Jack woke up, John gave him breakfast and told him to get in the car. Jack realized that John was driving out of town.
“What are you doing?” asked Jack.
“I am bringing you to your foster parents,” answered John.
“What? But they’re mean to me! Do you want me to suffer? Or be happy here with you?”
“I want you to be happy with your foster parents. Why would you run away? Now everybody is going to think I stole you, but you, instead of being a responsible ten-year-old, wasted all your saved money to get here on a bus. That was a very dumb thing to do.”
Jack said, “I know it was. But I will never be happy with them. So I do not know what you’re talking about.”
After arguing for the whole ride to New York, they finally got there. John carried Jack out of the car, because Jack refused to get out. John told Jack to stay right there on the sidewalk while John grabbed his suitcase. But Jack did not cooperate. He went back in the car and held on to the seat because John tried to pull him out. After an hour or two, Jack finally got persuaded out of the car. He went up the stairs to Claire and Bob, his foster parents’ house. John knocked on the door just like when Jack knocked on his door in California and lied to him.
When Claire opened the door, she said, “Jack!” and hugged him and kissed him. “Why did you run away?”
Jack answered, “Because you guys were mean to me.”
Claire and Bob both were saying, “We’re sorry. We’ll never be mean again.”
Jack said, “It’s fine. It’s just that I want my mom and dad back.”
That night, they all watched a movie, except for John, because he had to go back home to his job. Claire and Bob let Jack have popcorn and pizza. They had a mini-party. Jack decided to never disobey or leave Claire and Bob again. And he always thought that his mom and dad were happy for him, that he had a family to love and take care of him.