In Search of Home by Ayush Agarwal

a lonely child in search of home

Billy Young, a 13-year-old boy, was walking back to his home in the Light Inn where he lived in the basement. He hated it there; the concrete walls were eerie and there were no lights at all. He had to bring a torch. The basement is also where the owners threw out all the old robots. He had been living there since his parents had died in a horrific plane crash; he could remember the wreckage vividly as the police let him see. There was fire everywhere, and the second half of the plane was nowhere to be seen. He had cried for days on end for his parents until the landowners of his parents’ house kicked him out for not paying rent.

He had to live on the street in Neo Babylon until he found a job in Light Inn which paid meager and made him work hard but at least they gave him a place to live and charged minimum rent. Neo Babylon was the city of the future, with the newest innovation in tech being made there. But for Billy, it was a city of crime, when he had been living on the streets he had been mugged more than 20 times. But in the inn he was safe. Every day in the basement he would shift through the junk, his fingers would get slippery with oil, but he never found something good, so he would just go to sleep.

He murmured to himself, “Am I ever going to get an actual nice home?”

He was about to go get food for himself when the manager of the inn said, “Billy, you need to pay your rent or else I can’t let you stay here.”

Then he got a call from Neo Babylon Police Station on his old smartwatch, the only useful thing he found in the junkyard which he got fixed with the help of a repairman who works in a small shop a few meters away. Billy just forgot about the call because of hunger pangs and went to buy some food.

On the way, he got stopped by the police robot who said mechanically, “If you do not pay your rent in the next ten days, you will be removed.”

When he was eating a hotdog from a street vendor, he could not stop thinking about how he was going to get the money to pay his rent. All of a sudden a fishy-looking person came up to him and said, “I heard you talking about needing money, I can loan you some if you pay it back in small parts.”

Billy said, “I will think about it.” And the fishy man gave him his number.

When he went back to the inn’s basement, he could not stop thinking about two things at that point of time. “If I take the loan, then I will not be able to pay it back. It’s better to pay my rent I must try to get one more job, so I can get the money to pay the rent,” He sighed at the thought that he was only thirteen, it was illegal for him to work and no one would take him.

That night he was shifting through the junk when his eyes lit up with a thought, “What if I could sell the old robot parts in here for money.” So he started selling them stealthily to the repairman, and while doing that he was able to pay his rent and make some extra money. He started getting more and more sales, so much that he was running out of supply.

One day, as Billy was getting ready to meet the repairman, the manager blocked his way and thundered, “Billy, I know you have been selling old robot parts, and you cannot do that because that is the motel’s property. This is how you repay someone who shelters you. I have to put you back out on the street. Perhaps that is the place where you belong.”

The staff of the inn forced him out. He had neither a job nor enough money, only as much to get him food for the next 3 days. But then he remembered the fishy man and thought of calling him up and taking his money so he could find a place to live. He introspected,  “No, because it is bad to take loans.”

a lonely boy sitting on a bench
Upset Billy Young (Image by Pixabay)

He kicked a trash can and screamed in the lonely street for being a homeless person. A homeless man was kind enough to share his ragged shelter with Billy. He even kept some extra food for Billy when a big restaurant worker would distribute the leftovers at 1 am. Soon, he started trying to find a job that would take him with no experience even if he was underage.

A few weeks later, he found a job at a hovercar assembly factory, where he would get 500 dollars a month. But on the first day, he got fired for cutting the conveyor belt and not assembling the cars properly. At last, he had no choice but to call the fishy man.

Billy called the man and said, “I need 10k dollars.”

The man replied, “I was just tricking you, I will give you no money.”

Now Billy knew there was nothing he could do except go into foster care. As he was still a minor, they allowed him in foster care. He liked nobody in foster care and decided to go to another city, Mesopotamia. The foster care people helped him find a foster home in that city. It was a quieter city than Neo Babylon. Though not as big as Neo Babylon, Billy liked it a lot because it was full of nice people, not muggers. But he still did not like the foster homes.

He flitted from one foster home to another till he found some people whom he liked, they were the best foster parents so far. Billy did not care for the burnt marks on their faces. He was told by the Foster Care Agency, “They are good people but children are afraid of the way they look and come back the very same day. We will not disclose your name to them because they have been through a lot and lost their only child. We are putting you there for five days, they will call you ‘Marc’ just as they called the other children who went there. You can address them as Mr Lucas and Mrs Shelly.”

To Billy, they did everything perfectly just like his own parents. And they looked like his parents too. He had a feeling that they were his parents—Mr Lucas always gave tips at restaurants, Mrs Shelly baked plum cake just as his mother used to. “My parents died in a plane crash,” Billy kept saying this to himself lest he would get attached and go through the grief again. He liked it there a lot. One day Mr Lucas let him use his credit card. It read ‘Martin Young’, the same name as his father’s. Billy told him, “Even my father’s name was Martin Young.” Mr Lucas asked his real name and Billy said, “Billy Young!”

He hugged him and said, “You are my son.”

“What!” A dish slipped out of Mrs Shelly’s hand. She ran towards him and held him, “You are so tall and lean and sad.”

one part of airplane is lying at a distant place
Airplane wreckage of Billy Young’s parents (Image by Pixabay)

It turned out that Billy’s parents had not died, they were in the other half of the airplane which fell in Mesopotamia. To get the best medical treatment for the third-degree burn they suffered, they were rushed to Tesla Babylon, the most high-tech city on planet Earth. After recovering, they tried to find Billy but could not and so settled in the quiet city of Mesopotamia where they could live peacefully. But they could not come to terms with the loss of their only son, and so applied for adoption.

Finally, Billy’s search for an actual nice home ended.

Here is the bio of the young writer:

My name is Ayush and I live in Monterey, California. I was born here and am now 12 years old. I go to the International School of Monterey. It is for kindergarten to eighth graders. But me, I am in sixth, going to be a seventh grader. Some interests that I have are photography, bird watching and science. I have had a very good childhood up till now because of my two parents who have taught me a lot of what I know. They are also the ones who encouraged me to try my hand at mountain bikingone of my favorite sports. I love mountain biking because of the adrenaline and just how good it feels to be out in nature, and biking is also really fun on its own. My parents also helped me make my motto ‘to always say what you want to say because the worst thing they can say is no’. I aspire to be a doctor because I want to help people live and be with their families, and that motivates me to become a doctor.

Ayush Agarwal has written this story under the mentorship of the best English teacher in Guwahati, Sneha Goel.

She is a British Council–certified IELTS trainer and Scholastic India–mentored short story writer. She is a published author, poet and diarist. Her reviews, blogs, poems, stories and thoughts are appreciated by writers of international repute. Apart from writing, she is passionate about teaching English to children. She teaches English grammar, literature, creative writing, academic writing, story writing, poetry writing and Spoken English to students from class 1 up to grown-ups. To know more about the best English teacher in Guwahati and the services provided by her institute, Young Story Weavers, click here.

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