Amazing Kids! Magazine

A New Life

By Kate Arnold

 

From her parents’ penthouse apartment, Victoria watched with fascination the throngs of people scurrying around like a colony of ants. From a young age, Victoria was surrounded by pink bows, frilly dresses, and precious jewelry. Living in one of the richest cities in New York, Lenox Hill, Victoria never felt bashful bragging to friends in high school about her elegant townhouse along the East River. Many of the other students at Lenox Hill High School admired her while others considered her a snobbish bully. Dressed in the latest designer clothes and coiffed perfectly, Victoria stepped haughtily out of her limousine. The less privileged students watched enviously from afar while her sycophant friends crowded around her as if to win her favor by any means. When Victoria’s world suddenly disintegrates, she learns the most precious values in life.

“Mrs. and Mr. Lockwood, I’m afraid I might have to suspend your daughter from our school for a week,” the principal, Dr. Sherman, stated.

“Excuse me!” Mrs. Lockwood exclaimed.

“Now, dear,” Mr. Lockwood said as he timidly placed his hand on his wife’s shoulder.

“Was it such a big deal that my daughter said a few rude things in an email she sent to one of her peers?” asked Mrs. Lockwood naively. “That’s the way teens act nowadays.”

“If the parents are threatening to sue the school for such bad behavior, then yes, Mrs. Lockwood,” Dr. Sherman responded.

“Let’s just settle this now. I’ll write you a check for your troubles and the feelings of the poor, pitiful little tramp that she insulted. Would $5,000 be enough to forget about this incident?” Mrs. Lockwood offered impatiently.

In the meantime, Victoria was sitting right beside her parents, mindlessly fidgeting with her mood ring. Bored with this conversation, Victoria sighed audibly, anxious for this to be ended with a check.

“I’m sorry, Mrs. Lockwood, but we can’t accept any more bribes. Your daughter has not taken any responsibility for her actions or shown any remorse. Effective now, your daughter is suspended for a week,” Dr. Sherman stated.

After a week, Victoria’s parents called her into the library where they discussed a change that could affect her whole life significantly.

“Victoria, dear, you are going to a new school, a boarding school, where you will fix that unacceptable behavior of yours,” Mrs. Lockwood stated firmly.

“Excuse me, Mother, what in world are you talking about?” Victoria questioned in disbelief.

“Honey, we can’t tolerate these scandalous behaviors anymore; you are making the Lockwood family look like savages across the neighborhood. Our friends are doctors, lawyers, businessmen, and ambassadors; we won’t be invited to any more parties once they hear about your actions. You’re ruining our reputation!” Mr. Lockwood exclaimed.

This is an outrage! All they care about is their own high-class life! They don’t care about me; they want to get rid of me. Parties and money are all they care about—staying up high in the food chain. Well, fine! Why do I need them anyway? They can just throw me out and forget about me! Sign me off with a check! Victoria thought as her parents lectured her to boredom.

After her parents stopped rambling on, Victoria stood up. She brushed off her dress and, without a single word, haughtily walked out as if nothing had ever happened.

Eventually, Victoria was sent to Emma Willard’s Boarding School for Troublesome Girls. Unfortunately, boarding school did not meet Victoria’s expectations. She couldn’t wear her own clothes; she had no maids or butlers and no specially prepared meals. She soon accommodated to her new life. She intimidated other school girls to carry her books, smuggle in feather pillows or other luxuries, do her homework, or steal food from the teachers’ lounge. She modified the school’s uniform by ripping her skirts and tying ribbons around her waist, and from the sewing classes she took, she sewed fancy stitches to her shirts. When Victoria was sent to her dormitory, she managed to crawl out the window and make her way to a nearby party. Around midnight, Victoria returned to her dormitory. She changed into her nightgown and snuggled back into her bed as if nothing had happened.

Before daylight, Victoria was awakened by someone who was shaking her and calling her name.

“Victoria! Victoria, wake up!” yelled the counselor.

“It’s too early. Why are you disturbing my beauty rest? Go away!” Victoria grumbled.

“The headmaster needs to speak with you; it’s urgent,” responded the counselor.

Victoria sullenly climbed out of her bed. She got dressed and dragged herself to the headmaster’s office.

“You wanted to speak with me?” Victoria asked.

“Yes, Victoria…I have some upsetting news,” the headmaster said with a heavy heart.

“Oh, are my parents not visiting this weekend?” Victoria sarcastically responded. “Why would they anyway?”

“No, Victoria, I’m afraid your parents are never visiting you again,” she explained. “Your parents were killed in an auto accident.”

“Is this some type of sick joke? You’re lying!” Victoria screamed.

“Now, Victoria, please calm down; I know this is a hard time for you,” the headmaster said calmly.

“No! How dare you tell me such lies,” accused Victoria. “This can’t be happening!”

“We have taken the liberty to contact your closest relatives, but unfortunately, none of them are available to take you.”

“So, what do I do? Just stay and rot here!” Victoria hissed.

“Legally we can’t keep you here; we will be contacting the state, which will take you into foster care.”

After several months of moving from one foster family to another, Victoria was finally placed with a foster family who lived on a farm in Salinas, which would soon change her life. Victoria had four other foster siblings with whom she had to share clothes, food, and a bedroom. Her life as a spoiled, selfish “princess” had soon become a thing of the past. One of her first chores on the farm was to care for the horse, Blackjack. As the months passed, she and Blackjack became inseparable. Every day, Victoria and Blackjack would ride to the Salinas River, where she would sit for hours contemplating her past. As time progressed, Victoria slowly drew away from the high-class life.

“Victoria, could you come here please?” requested Mrs. Cleaver.

“Yes, Mother, you called?” Victoria responded warmly.

“You know that Hank, the little boy who lives on the other farm, is autistic?” Mrs. Cleaver asked.

“Oh, yes, that sweet little boy who comes to greet Blackjack almost every day,” Victoria stated. “I let him ride Blackjack every once in a while.”

“Well, the family has been looking for a horse that Hank can get attached to, and I’m thinking about giving Blackjack to them,” Mrs. Cleaver explained.

“Oh…” Victoria said, disappointed. “Could they find another horse? Blackjack and I have bonded so much together. I don’t know what I would do without him.”

“Actually, Hank’s therapist has requested Blackjack because he really feels close to him,” clarified Mrs. Cleaver.

Victoria sat there dumbfounded; she didn’t know what to do. She felt as if her world was crumbling before her just like the same day when she had heard the news that her parents were dead. She contemplated, thinking long and hard with Mrs. Cleaver there standing beside her. Mrs. Cleaver kept saying something Victoria couldn’t understand.

“Victoria, are you all right, dear? Victoria!” Mrs. Cleaver started to holler.

Victoria’s mind was a blur. All she could see was herself, sitting in her old room. Isolated. She remembered that she was never happy although she had had the best clothes, jewelry, and other luxuries that the other teens in her school didn’t have. Now she dressed in hand-me-down clothes from her foster siblings. She had to do chores on the farm but always felt the love from her foster family. They were always there for her when she had problems at school or just felt down or lonely. At that moment, she realized she could make a difference in Hank’s life by giving him the horse. Victoria tearfully looked up at Mrs. Cleaver and nodded, clearly indicating that she agreed to hand over Blackjack to Hank.

“Mother, I have one favor to ask,” Victoria stated. “I would like to be the one who gives Blackjack to Hank.”

“Of course, you may,” Mrs. Cleaver responded. “When would you like to do this?”

“Tomorrow morning,” Victoria answered.

Soon the next day had arrived, and Victoria already knew what she had to do. She slowly trudged outside to the stables, staring fixedly at the ground. Once she finally arrived at Blackjack’s stall, she looked at him. Memories soon flowed through her head. The rides they had together to the river reminded her of how unhappy she had been before she had come to this farm. Blackjack made her so happy, and she knew that Hank would be, too. She wanted to share that feeling with other people, especially Hank. Victoria patted Blackjack and put his halter on. She led Blackjack outside of the stables and walked with him to Hank’s farm.

As she approached the ranch, she spotted Hank waiting there in the distance, jumping up and down, anxious to accept his new horse. Soon Victoria saw Hank running up to them with his arms outstretched, ready to give Blackjack a hug around his neck.

“Thank you! Thank you, Victoria!” Hank squealed excitedly.

“I’m glad he is going to have a good home with you, Hank,” Victoria said with a barely perceptible quiver in her voice.

“Oh, he will! We already have the stables and everything set up for him. Um…Victoria, are you crying?” Hank asked timidly.

“Oh, no, Hank, I’m not crying. I’m just overjoyed to see you so happy.”

As she handed Hank the rope, he suddenly hugged Victoria very tightly. Overwhelmed, Victoria didn’t really know what to do; she had never truly experienced a real hug before. So, she just copied Hank and wrapped her arms around him. Later, Hank thanked Victoria again and skipped away with his new friend. Victoria watched the little boy as he pranced away. She smiled. She felt that for once in her life she had done something right. Soon she began to sprint back home to her family ready go and get ready for supper.

Once she arrived, she washed her hands and set the dining table. Her mother was cooking dinner, and her siblings were finishing their last chores. Her father had just arrived back from his work and was sitting at the table reading the newspaper.

“Okay, everyone, dinner is ready!” Mrs. Cleaver announced, ringing the bell outside so that the children could hear.

In a sudden dash, all five children appeared at the table, ready to fill their empty stomachs. There were mashed potatoes, a garden salad, buttered corn on the cob, and a juicy chicken that Jack, her youngest sibling, was hungrily staring at.

“All right, everyone, go ahead and dig in!” Mrs. Cleaver instructed.

Everyone started grabbing bowls of food. Victoria just sat there waiting for the right time to grab a piece of chicken. Soon she saw that no one was guarding this morsel and in a mad dash grabbed a chicken leg. She placed it on her plate and was just about to take a bite when she saw Jack staring at the leg on her plate. She saw Jack had no food on his plate while everyone was too busy to worry about him. Victoria stood up holding her plate of chicken and approached Jack.

“Here, Jack,” Victoria said confidently.

As Jack looked at Victoria, a wide grin replaced his frown.

“Thank you, Victoria, thank you.”

Victoria stood there smiling as she scanned her foster parents and siblings. A warm feeling of gratitude and love flooded her thoughts and feelings. She knew with certainty that she was going to be just fine!

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