Foster houses are not foster homes

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The most important things Keith learned in life was that there were good and there were bad foster families. Some seemed nice at first, all smiles and happy introductions until the door closed and Keith was hidden from prying eyes. Some were mean off the bat, unenthusiastically lugging him back to their place only for the bonus paycheck from the government.

Of course, there were the rare few that were happy and genuinely enjoyed having Keith as a foster kid. But those hurt Keith the worst, because in the end they had all apologized profusely once it was Keith's time to leave. After the first few nice families, Keith had lost hope of them adopting him because he realized that there was a family before he got there, and weaving him into those complicated family ties was more trouble than it was worth.

The first foster house he had been sent to, close to two days after the death of his Father, was an overcrowded one. His young mind hadn't fully processed the death of his only remaining family member and what it entailed, so the drive there had felt like a haze he was trapped in but couldn't escape.

The car smelled sterile and the woman who had insisted he ride in the back seat instead of the passenger kept on adjusting the air vents from buring hot to chilling cold for the full duration of the four hour drive. She hadn't said a word. Keith wouldn't have responded if she talked to him anyways, he was too busy watching the rolling hills.

He didn't know when he would be able to come back home.

Maybe he would never make it back again.

Somehow, he was too numb to feel sad about that. He didn't know where he was going, no one had bothered to explain much to him, but he didn't necessarily care either. Without his dad, he was just some kid and there was nothing he could do about it.

Keith was jolted out of his daze when the driver's door slammed shut. He peered out the window to discover that the woman had pulled into the driveway of a one-story medium sized house. (she was slim, wearing a pencil skirt and dress shirt with her hair wrapped in a tight bun. She had seemed nice enough at first until she ignored his questions. Keith gave up on communicating with her if she was going to treat him like gum on the bottom of her fancy leather shoes.)

The house didn't look like anything special or familiar, but she walked up to it anyway, pasting on a fake smile and wrapping on the door. Soon enough, a woman had exited, and with a chill, Keith could tell that the two were one in the same, (though the new one looked a bit older. A bit cruler.) After a muted conversation between the two, the social worker turned and started walking in his direction before yanking open his door and leaning into his space.

"This is the Woman you will be staying with," she spoke to him, for the first time in a long while, "be respectful and on your best behavior, lest you be relocated. Do you understand?"

Keith nodded mutley, and after a few seconds of studying him, the woman nodded and pulled away. When she smiled, Keith could see pink lipstick on her teeth. "Wonderful, retrieve your bag, you will be staying the night and I will check in tomorrow to make sure everything is in order."

Keith shifted on the uncomfortable leather seat, slinging his backpack over his shoulder and stepping out into the driveway. He didn't have much valuables on him, which made it easier to get out of the social worker's way as she promptly slid into the driver's seat, slammed the door shut, and pulled out of the gravel driveway.

Keith hesitated a moment, eyeing the woman at the door, then observing the surrounding area. There was no neighborhood, (Keith had never lived in one of those anyway) and the lawn was in shambles, uncut and with weeds crawling up the house. The house itself looked rough, its faded yellow paint job chipping and roof shingles misplaced.

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