It was a chilly winter night. As they slept in the park, the wind penetrated the bones of their bodies. They cuddled up to warm up. Jonathan, Jeffrey, Chasity, and Chrystal were brothers and sisters who had run away from home. They’d been living on the streets for a month, with no one noticing. Nobody seemed to care. Who would waste their time talking with filthy, smelling children dressed in rags?
Their story began on a stormy day. It had started as a bright morning, but had become gloomy, threatening a downpour. The rain fell; the wind became gusty, thunder rolled, and lightning flashed.
“Mom, we’re home!” the kids said as they tossed their backpacks on the floor. Because of the inclement weather, the district forced all schools to close. Before the storm hit, the school bus drove the student’s home.
The youngsters discovered their father, Dexter, seated on the sofa, waiting for them. He appeared sobbing.
“Dad? What’s the matter?” Jonathan asked.
Their father cried and hugged them. He told them, between sobbing, that their mother had died early that morning. They lost her after a long struggle with cancer. She was just thirty-five years old. The children knew their mother was ill, but they didn’t know she had cancer. They didn’t know what that meant, but if they had known about it, they could have looked it up. Maybe they could have done something about it. Perhaps they could have saved her. It was too late now, and the only thing they could do was cry.
It upset Dexter, and he didn’t know what to do. His wife, Martha, was always the family decision-maker. Dexter earned the money, but she handled the finances, budgeting, and school activities and chores for the children without complaint. He relied on her for everything.
They had a private service for relatives and close friends only. After the funeral, Dexter and his children drove home quietly. No one said anything. When they arrived home, Chrystal dashed into her parents’ bedroom, believing that all that had transpired that day had been a dream. She looked around the room and realized she was suddenly alone. She couldn’t believe her mother was really gone.
“Mom!” she screamed.
Jonathan, Jeffrey, and Chasity sobbed and comforted one another. Dexter was sitting in the living room, his face buried in his hands, his shoulders shaking, and he was crying. How would he spend the day without his wife? Dexter ran to his children and burst into tears.
It took a long time for Dexter and the children to recover from Martha’s death. After a year of mourning, Dexter felt it was time to start a new life somewhere else. When Nolan, Dexter’s college roommate, gave him a job in Bridgeport, Connecticut, he and his children: Jonathan, the oldest of the brood, were twelve, Jeffrey was eleven, Chasity was ten, and Chrystal was eight, moved there. Dexter was the executive chef at an upscale country club in Toledo, Ohio, but he needed a fresh start. As a result, he accepted a job as a supervisor at a textile mill.
Moving was stressful for the kids. They rented a small two-bedroom apartment on the second floor of an old building. They had a small kitchen with a little eating space, a living room, and only one bathroom. Dexter said it was only temporary, but his children were not pleased. The only upside of their relocation was that they made new friends in the neighborhood.
As Dexter entered the building, he was nervous. It was his first day at work. He was keen to make a good impression on his boss, Mr. Arlington. Nolan showed him around the office and introduced him to the staff. Everyone welcomed him with open arms. Dexter made his way around the warehouse, shaking hands with everyone, and introduced himself as their new boss.
Dexter and the kids eventually adjusted to their new life. Dexter had no vices. He had no desire for alcohol or cigarettes. Dexter would go to the grocery store as soon as the alarm went off, signifying the end of their shift. He enjoyed cooking nutritious meals for his children. The family soon came to appreciate their simple life in Connecticut and were as content as they could be. Anyone who knew them would agree that Dexter was a great father to his children. He was an inspiration.
After a few months, Dexter had earned the trust of his employees by treating them fairly. He would cover for someone who needed time off to care for a sick child, wife, or parents. They had a lot of respect for Dexter. They became happier workers, and as a result, they became more productive. However, Dexter’s popularity at work became an issue for one of his coworkers. Diego had always been envious of him and had competed with him ever since Dexter began working for the company. Diego expected a promotion, but they gave the job to Dexter instead. He despised him ever since.
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