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Lost Inside

Caleb Barnes

As Caleb Barnes crossed yet another street at two o’clock in the frost covered morning, his stomach gave a dangerous lurch. How long has it been since he’s tasted an ounce of food, or a drop of clean water? His unbelievably thin body was in no way intentional as some people these days would like theirs to look.

If he knew where he was, then maybe he would have a chance at finding a shelter or a soup kitchen. They always supplied food, though minimal, it was still something warm down his throat that would sustain him for at least two more days. He never liked this about himself, the fact that he always wished for more food; it was selfish thinking, as his mother would always say. Unlike what pretty much everyone out there in the world thinks, Caleb's parents were not abusive alcoholics or drug abusers, they were what you would call 'loving'. Well, loving to everyone but him anyway.

Caleb was the mistake, the child who was never supposed to be. His parents had already had his four perfect sisters; they never wanted anything to do with him. He was too short, too skinny, cried too much and couldn't ride a bicycle. His father, who had always wanted a boy, had been personally insulted when Caleb came out and ruined his chances of having a son who played football or hockey or any other ‘manly’ sport.

Luck was for everyone in his family (but him), for just one year after Caleb was born, another boy was born into the family, Jetson. He was everything the family wished for and Caleb was quickly forgotten, a shadow of his younger brother. Jetson was taller, stronger, faster and played football...he even learned how to ride a bicycle. Caleb's parents were so involved in their second son's life that they never realized how brilliant their first son was. By the time Caleb was three, he was reading, he knew vocabulary his family only wished they knew, yet none of that matter when it came to the Barnes.

Caleb shuddered as he made his way down the unfamiliar streets; he never liked thinking about his family, about those who rejected him, but sometimes the thoughts forced their way in and there was no getting out from his mind until he relived his entire life up till now. The cold air whipped around his almost sunken face; the cold would be brutal this year, no doubt, seeing as it was almost freezing in September. The jacket he'd gotten from the Goodwill would not be doing much good this year, unfortunately.

Clinging his nearly empty rucksack and small yaam bag closer, Caleb crept into the dark alleyway, searching the vicinity for any unwanted guests; people loved to pick on him because he was so small. Although it's been about three years since Caleb lost his home, he was still afraid of the dark, especially in these areas. He had been trying to head to Manhattan - he had heard rumors that homeless shelters and aid workers were almost on every street - but was afraid to ask anyone for help; they would look down at him, as if he were dirt. He's still a human being, though if he doesn't get food soon, he won't be for much longer.

 Once again, Caleb's insides churned, pleading to be satisfied; just a small loaf of bread would be enough...anything would be enough.
Curling up on the dirty ground behind the dumpster on some forgotten street, Caleb yet again, cried himself to a dreamless sleep.


He woke up with a stiff neck, a sore back and spider crawling up his leg. The bustling streets of New York were awake, not that they were ever asleep. A loud car horn was what had woken up the small eighteen year old. Rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, Caleb set out for yet another painful day.

Nothing would change in his life and he would return to yet another small, dark alley at one in the morning to go to sleep. When would his life change?

Caleb could remember the exact date and time that his parents had decided that they had had enough of having a 'worthless' son.

They had told him that he was headed to his aunt's for two weeks and that he should pack light, seeing as she 'loved buying things for family'. Caleb trusted his parents and did as he was told, but when the time came, his aunt's car wasn't waiting to pick him up for two weeks of fun.

He had asked where his aunt was and his father finally told him that she would not come. His father had looked him straight in the eye and told him that he would no longer be welcome into the house until he was a 'man'. Until he no longer depended on them and was able to get a girlfriend and a perhaps even a steady job that wasn’t anywhere in the vicinity of books (because in their eyes, that was the true testament of man). He had not understood fully until his mother handed him a bag of sandwiches and bottled water and slammed the door on his face. He'd knocked, they didn't answer.

Caleb got over his fear of heights that day when he was forced to climb up the flower ladder of their house to try to get back into his room. He had found - with a broken heart - that his parents had bolted the windows shut; he was not allowed back.

After two weeks of being alone on the streets, Caleb had decided that he had had enough.

'I can always force myself to play sports and I can pay a girl to be my girlfriend for a little bit.' He'd thought. 'My parents will love me again and I can finish school to be able to get a job to move out on my own.'

Little did he know...there wouldn't be a family waiting when he came back.

The sun was blinding and the cold was biting; hopefully it wouldn't snow for a while. There were always homeless shelters in New York, why couldn't he find one? His stomach continued to lurch uncomfortably, causing Caleb to sometimes stop in the middle of the sidewalk and curl on himself, clutching the barely there flab of skin.

No one bothered to pay attention to the obviously hurt young boy, barely hanging on, on the side of the road. No one bothered to care anymore; what's the life of another homeless child? Everyone knows the stereotypes. The homeless are only homeless because they've done no good in their lives. Because they threw away their education and families for drugs and alcohol. Why bother look into the life of one of them, to find out that he had no choice; to find out that this was not the life he ever wanted. He didn't volunteer to be here; didn't do drugs, has never tasted alcohol. Not one cigarette has ever graced his lips, not even in the times were a de-stressor was all he ever wished for.

But who cares, right?

♠ ♠ ♠
I know I promised that the chapters would be longer and they will, just after chapter 3 or 4!!! I promise.

Thanks to pixiewayro and FraserLaser3 for the comments and thanks to all of the readers and subscribers.

- C