Alexander had lived his whole life as practically an orphan. First, he had been born illegitimate. Then, his father had left his family swaddled in debt. Then, his mother had died.
Then the hurricane had hit. Alexander and his brother James had been left homeless. They had scavenged on the streets. Then, a message had come. A family wanted to adopt James. They only wanted one child, however, so they couldn't take Alexander.
It was enough to make anyone insane. But Alexander wasn't insane. He was simply silent. He didn't talk at all to anyone, the shock was too great.
But that didn't stop his expression. Alexander had begun writing, on any scrap of paper he could find. He wrote about his life, the things he saw in the street, the hurricane. He had worked particularly hard on the hurricane piece. He had sent it to a newspaper he had seen in the streets, hoping against hope that it would be published. It was. That's when he had received a call that there was a family in the United States that would adopt him. He had been shocked. But not enough to speak again.
He had boarded the flight with a social worker from the island, but none of it had felt real.
George and Martha Washington. That's what he's been told their names were. He looks up at the faces that shine to greet him.
"Hello, Alexander!" greets Martha warmly.
"Welcome to the United States!" adds George.
"Bonjour, mon ami! Bienvenue à Etats-Unis!" chirps a third voice with a French accent, which comes from a teenager with floppy brown hair and a t-shirt with the French flag on it, who Alexander had not yet noticed. The French words surface in his head, from when his mother taught him to speak French, but they don't tumble out.
They seem so excited, but their faces fall when he doesn't reply. His social worker grabs their arms and steers them gently over to a corner, where they talk in hushed voices. Alexander knows his social worker is telling them about how he's a mute, and how to deal with him.
He stands quietly until they come back over. George and Martha have sympathetic looks on their faces,
which Alexander hates. The French kid, though, doesn't have pity on his face, he has a stoic look on his face, one that suggests to Alexander that this kid hasn't had an easy life either. The look in his eyes gives Alexander the impression that this kid has had similar circumstances, of poverty, of neglect. Alexander doesn't know how these thoughts come to his mind, but he just knows.
George and Martha seem to notice Alexander watching the kid, because their faces regain the light.
Martha addresses Alexander. "This is Lafayette, he came to us as part of a French exchange program." She turns to Alexander's social worker. "So sorry for not telling you about him, I just didn't want Alexander to feel overwhelmed."
"No problem. I'll just take note of that." Alexander's social worker says, scribbling on his clipboard. "Okay, well, I'll leave you to it." He says optimistically, knowing full well that Alexander is going to be a bother, since he's a mute. He walks away.
George looks puzzled that Alexander only has one suitcase, of which he still hasn't let go. Lafayette just shrugs at George, as though warning him not to say anything. George seems to understand, Alexander wonders if George has gone through the same thing with Lafayette.
"Well, Alexander, are you hungry?" Martha asks.
Alexander doesn't feel very hungry, maybe that's just because he's used to skipping meals due to a lack of food on the island. He shakes his head.
"Okay, well, we prepared food at home in case you're hungry later. I suppose if you're not hungry right now, we should start heading home." Martha remarks.
At these words, George and Lafayette start striding off toward the car, whispering to one another. Martha hangs back with Alexander. "I am so sorry about what happened to your family, and I know adjusting isn't easy. I realize that you might not want to talk, but I hope my family and I can give you that comfort again. I hope you will give us a chance to be your new family. I have an inkling that you speak French, and Lafayette will just love you. We read your essay, and we realized you have the spark, you just need the encouragement."
Alexander appreciates her speech, but knows it's empty words. He notices that she does not mention what happened to Lafayette.
He nods appreciatively, and she seems to relax. They make their way to the car, and climb in with Lafayette and George. Lafayette smiles and puts his arm around Alexander. Alexander doesn't move, but he stiffens. He's had some bad experiences with touching on the island. Although it's the smallest of motions, Lafayette notices and removes his arm slowly. Lafayette seems to notice the smallest things, leading Alexander to wonder again what happened to Lafayette.
When they get home, Martha sets to stirring a pot of what looks like soup. Alexander is shocked. He hasn't seen such large amounts of food in a long time. George joins her, smiling and putting his arms over her from behind. She smiles.
Alexander doesn't know what to do. He just stands there awkwardly as Lafayette climbs the stairs.
"Lafayette, darling, we are going to have dinner in about 10 minutes, so please come down at that time." Martha says.
She turns to face Alexander. "Alexander, why don't you go up to your room?"
She calls Lafayette. "Lafayette, could you please show Alexander to his room?"
"Oui, Maman!" comes the reply from the top of the stairs.
Lafayette bounds down the stairs, his hair bouncing, as he grabs Alexander's hand and pulls him up the stairs.
Alexander acquiesces, letting Lafayette pull him up the stairs.
Lafayette enters a room two doors down from the stairs. "Alexandre, nous avons préparé sa chambre pour toi."
He smacks himself on the head. "English, arrgh. I keep forgetting. We have prepared your room for you," he gestures around the room, to the few posters on the walls. "We didn't know what you'd like, so this is what we thought you'd like, you can change it if you want."
Alexander spots a whiteboard on the wall. He writes, "Je connais le français. Je comprends tes mots."
[I know French. I understand your words.]
Lafayette squeals. "Finally, someone I can talk to in my native language, besides John of course, but John doesn't live with us."
Alexander writes, "Qui est John?"
[Who is John?]
"Mon ami." Lafayette replies.
Alexander nods, placing his little suitcase on the bed. He has never seen such a large bed, it blows his mind. He goes back to the board. "Which side is yours?"
"Mon ami, this is your room." Lafayette says gently, at which Alexander gasps. He's never had a room all to himself before, he's had to share with at least 10 other boys, if he gets a room at all, all his life. "My room is across the hall, in the first room on the opposite side of the stairs." Lafayette adds.
"I know how you feel about all this. I had the same reaction when I first came here. I still do every day." Lafayette says, lowering his voice and his eyes as he says this.
Alex writes, "I was about to ask. You seem to catch all the issues I have. What happened in your life? The Washingtons don't speak French, so you're not their son. I hope you don't think I'm prying. You don't have to answer if you don't want to."
Lafayette smiles sadly. "I came here as part of a French exchange program, five years ago. To a different family, not the Washingtons. This family was abusive and used to yell at and hit their children. I had the same experience when I lived there. While I was in the United States, my parents were killed in a car accident, and I was left an orphan."
"Oh." Alexander writes.
Lafayette continues, "I went back to France, to resolve issues, but my uncle took me in. He was convinced that my absence caused the accident, and he used to routinely beat me. I ran away one night while he was drunk, and the French police took one look at my bruises and sent a request to America for a loving family to adopt me. The Washingtons jumped at the chance, and I've lived here with them for about three years. I couldn't ask for anyone better. I hope you can adjust to this too, I will help as much as I can. I notice all the little movements you make because I made those same movements at one time, and desperately wanted someone to notice. But no one ever did." He hangs his head.
Alexander winces. "I'm sorry. Can I unpack my stuff?" He asks politely in writing.
Lafayette goes back to his usual jovial self. "Oui, oui, mon ami! Tu veux de l'aide?"
[Yes, yes, my friend! You want some help?]
Alexander shakes his head. Even though Lafayette just told him the most painful thing about his whole life, Alexander still doesn't fully trust him. Alexander hates himself for thinking like that, but it's just his nature from living on the island, where people got cheated or killed for trusting others.
Once Lafayette goes downstairs, Alexander sits at his desk and puts his bag in the closet, knowing he is not going to need to unpack, he'll be kicked out so soon.
"Alexandre, viens, s'il te plaît!" Lafayette calls cheerfully up the stairs.
Alexander looks up from poking himself with the point of a compass. He looks down at his slightly red and bleeding skin. Realizing the Washingtons might throw him out for it, he pulls his threadbare sweater over himself, despite the sweltering August heat. He doesn't have any other long clothes. He can't afford them, and on the island, no one cared if he made himself bleed. They'd rather he be dead, so they could have one less homeless orphan wandering the streets.
He heads down the stairs, wanting his family to like him, for a chance, one he knows he doesn't have, to stay here permanently.
He enters the kitchen to see George, Martha, and Lafayette sitting at the kitchen table. Martha speaks first.
"Alexander, dear, why are you wearing a sweater when it is so hot?" She inquires, getting up and attempting to gently pull the sweater off of Alexander. Alexander grabs the sweater, moving his arms up and down his arms, as though indicating coldness.
"You're cold? But it's so hot! Well, maybe it was warmer on your island." Martha remarks.
Lafayette looks pointedly and sharply at Alexander, but does not say anything.
George interrupts, "Alexander, we did not have proper introductions, I think. My name is George, please call me that. This is my wife, Martha, please call her that. I think you already met Lafayette well enough, he is French, and he is our son."
At this, George looks to Lafayette with a knowing look, Alexander thinks George already knows that Lafayette told Alexander what happened to him. Lafayette nods slightly, confirming this idea.
"Please have a seat." George gestures to a chair. Alexander pulls out the chair and sits in it. George, Martha, and Lafayette resume their seats at the table.
"Alexandre, mon ami, nous avons une idée! Tu devrais venir avec moi à l'école! Tu peux regarder mes amis!" Lafayette announces excitedly.
[Alexander, my friend, we have an idea! You should come with me to school! You can see my friends!]
"School starts next week. Do you want to go there? I understand if you want to stay home for a week or two, since you just got here. You are so intelligent, it would be a waste for you to not go to school. Plus, you can make some friends, I'm sure Lafayette can introduce you to his." Martha asks.
George looks at Martha approvingly, and Lafayette nods, bouncing up and down excitedly a little bit.
Alexander nods. He goes to the board in the kitchen, a little puzzled about why all the rooms in the house have boards, little does he know that the Washingtons knew he was mute before he arrived here, and bought a bunch of boards to write on, knowing he was inclined to write.
He writes, "I would love to do that. I cannot wait to get a real education from someone other than my mother."
Martha smiles. "Well, now that the issue has been settled, let's have dinner!"
Bonjour, mes amis! That is the first chapter of a request for a certain Sam Parks, whose birthday is tomorrow. Please keep in mind that this fanfiction will be slightly angsty, so if it bothers you, please do not read. I do not know if any of you read "Dramatic Fluff" when I first published it. I had published some but written more angst, but now it is fluff. This story will be similar to that. We'll see what happens to Alexander. Also, I am going to change the name, I just needed a quick title. Please suggest a title in your review, or PM me! Please leave a review with any suggestions or anything! I love to read them!
P.S. I will be getting back to "The Time of Our Lives" next week, don't worry!