I'm living a life I never wanted.

It’s been a little over a month. I’m starting to like it here. This place is just different. The other guys I live with are cool and the food is pretty good. They made chicken enchiladas the other day, and those were awesome. I wonder if they remembered me saying I liked those. Tonight we have a pizza party with Optimist Club. They’re bringing a cake to celebrate everyone’s birthday in January, and since mine is January 16, I get a present, a new football and a journal. I felt a bit weird opening up the gifts and didn’t really know what to say. I just can’t believe I’m celebrating my birthday here.

My favorite birthday was a few years ago, when I turned 10…

I was home from school. My teacher gave me a birthday card and the other kids sang Happy Birthday to me at lunchtime. Things have been pretty easy at home the last couple of nights, but I don’t know if Mom knows today is my birthday. As I come in the door, I see Mom is home, but her new boyfriend isn’t. Thank God! I can’t stand that creep. He hasn’t come around for a couple of days. Mom’s a little out of it, but not that bad. I’ve seen worse, so I was happy that she was at least there. She has a present for me on the table. I’m a little surprised, but really excited because she remembered. She tells me to open it, so I do. It’s a few things from the Dollar Store—a Hot Wheels car, some pencils and some pretty cool sunglasses. I took my car to go play in the hallway. Mom is telling me she loved me and talking about the day I was born. She always starts to cry when she talks about that. Five minutes later, she goes back into her bedroom for the rest of the night. I play with my car until I decide it’s time to go to bed. It was the first birthday she remembered since I can remember.                      

My brother gave me a present the last time I saw him, too. He gave me a cool book with stories and other stuff in it. I miss my brother so much. I thought I would see him around Christmas, but I wrote him a letter a month ago and haven’t heard from him yet. He has his own new family, and a new girlfriend I think. I’m still here in this stupid place.

How many more birthdays am I going to have to celebrate? I want to just have cake and ice cream with my mom, brother and friends from school. I always thought it would be cool to have my birthday party at a bowling alley. I don’t know if that will ever happen. I know the birthday I had with my mom wasn’t perfect, but it was better because I was with her. I can tell my staff is trying hard to make me happy, but all I can think about is how I wish I could go back in time and start all over. I’m just getting older in a life I don’t want to be living.