|When Alin was born, his mother refused to touch him, unless it was absolutely necessary. She changed his diaper and fed him only doing what was required for him to live. She was so repulsed by him, that she lay him on a blanket, on the floor of their tenement apartment, just so she would never have to pick him up.
God in his infinite mercy was kind to her. Alin never cried, and she was relieved that she never had to comfort him. She had no comfort to give him. She was spent, finished, the day they ripped him from her womb in order to save her life. He would be her only child, for now she was barren.
Alin was a beautiful baby, thick wavy black hair and his eyes were blue, bluer than the sky, bluer than the ocean. Very few people in the world had eyes that blue. That’s why she knew her child was not human. In the past ten years she had heard of a few children being born that were just like Alin. The children were always very bright, walking at six months, conversational speaking by the age of one. They were all emotionally isolated and showed no interest in other people. Maybe it was because none of them had parents.
Alin was different he had a mother and from the moment he could recognize her as his mother, he watched her with an intense fascination, sensing her emotions almost as strongly as his own. As far as anyone knew, Alin’s mother was the only one who had actually lived through the birth of one of these children.
Alin was ten years old, he woke to find his mother, dead. She had finally succeeded in taking her life. It was inevitable, his mother had been unhappy for so long. I have to get out of here, Alin thought. On impulse he pulled the old photo album from under his mother’s bed. He had never dared to look inside it before. A thick layer of dust covered the photo album which he blew off and opened the album. It was filled with the photos of people he had never seen, a life he had never known. Alin’s eyes grew wide with amazement, he stared down at the picture of his mother. She was smiling! She was beautiful! Alin had never imagined that his mother had ever been happy. In his entire life he had never seen her smile. But, there she was smiling, almost laughing, and she was pregnant. A man with a wide grin, stood beside her, his hand on her stomach and kissing her cheek. Looking at the date on the bottom of the picture, he knew that she was carrying him. Tears came unbidden to his eyes. He had never heard his mother’s laughter and now he never would.
“Mama!” Alin stifled a sob as pulled the picture from it’s sleeve, he held it tightly. His mother had been distant, but she had not been cruel. She never raised her voice or a hand against him. At first he believed it was because she was afraid him. But as he grew older, he knew that was not true. She was fiercely protective of him. She would never allow anyone in the neighborhood to tease or mistreat him.
Twice a year government officials came to her house to gather information about Alin, always trying to persuade her to give up custody. The other children, who were like Alin, quickly became wards of the state. The government to it’s chagrin had no legal authority to remove Alin from his home. But, by Alin‘s tenth birthday, the authorities were becoming even more aggressive and insistent. They made it clear that by Alin’s twelfth birthday he would be taken away for testing. His mother was outraged, her son would not be used as a guinea pig. In bitter frustration she spit in the officer’s face, screaming at the top of her lungs, as they restrained her. Now his mother had left him completely, utterly, alone. Alin stuffed a backpack full his belongings and gently placed the picture in the side pocket. Alin had heard the horror stories of children sent to the state sponsored orphanage, it was akin to a death sentence. He would take his chances on the streets of New York City. He dialed 911 and let the receiver fall to the ground, he would not be there when they arrived.
Alin found refuge in a small deli store basement, he was still small enough to squeeze through the broken window at the rear of the store. It wasn’t very warm, but there was plenty of canned food stored there. He always awoke early so that he would be out of the basement before the store’s morning deliveries were made. Alin roamed the streets all day, until the deli closed at four o’clock in the afternoon. He tried not to draw attention to himself. But that was difficult to do. His brilliant eyes caused him to be noticed wherever he went. It wasn’t until he lifted a pair of sunglasses from a street vendor, that he became just another street urchin.
He would often pretend that he was blind, so no one would ask him to remove his glasses. Alin’s favorite game to play at night in the store’s basement, was closing his eyes and imagining that he really was blind. He would create elaborate obstacle courses using boxes, jars and shelving, anything he could put his hands on. He had the uncanny ability of sensing where objects and walls were. Quickly he made his games more and more difficult, and always ended the game by putting all the items he used to build his obstacle course back on the shelves where they belong, all while blindfolded. Alin was curious to see how his newfound ability could be used on the streets. He resolved to try it the next day.
Waking early the next morning, he donned his sunglasses and began his experiment. The streets were empty in the predawn morning and Alin started off slowly. He gave himself the task of walking around the neighborhood, an area he was intimately familiar with. Alin navigated the block with complete ease, he could sense objects regardless of size, a building, trash can, a light post, even the slightest rise in the sidewalk. It was strange, he could sense objects better with his eyes closed than when they were open. Alin turned the corner, his eyes were still closed and his heart almost leapt out of his chest. A blue glowing figure was walking briskly towards him. Alin’s eyes flew open in astonishment. It was a man, a man in a business suit, clearly on his way to work. He walked right past Alin without so much as a glance. Alin quickly closed his eyes. Again the man became the glowing figure, almost like the negative of a photograph. Fear gripped Alin, and he began to tremble, opening his eyes he quickly ran back to the deli and slipped through the basement window. He practically fell on top of the deli store owner, who was taking inventory directly below the window, both of them yelled out in surprise.
“Who are you?” the deli store owner grabbed Alin by his arm as he slid to the floor. Alin struggled against the man’s firm grip.
“I said, who are you?” the man’s face was menacing. His fingers tightening around Alin’s small arm like a vice. Alin winced out in pain, instinctively he twisted towards the man and slipped out of his grip, then he pushed up with his knee right between the man’s leg. The man doubled over and slowly knelt to the floor in pain. Alin sprinted up the basement stairs, searching frantically for the front door. He collided into the deli owner’s wife, who shrieked as he pushed past her, heading towards the front of the store. He tugged hard at the front door, it was locked. Alin whirled around, his eyes darted about the deli looking for an escape. The owner was slowly walking up the stairs and his wife gingerly reached for him. They both stood there regarding Alin with bewilderment.
“Obviously, you’re not blind.” the owner said dryly. Alin studied the couple, the man was about forty-five, with salt and pepper hair and stood about six feet tall. His wife was slightly younger, just starting to show signs of middle age, she was as soft and round as her husband was thin and lean. The man put a protective arm around his wife’s shoulder. Slowly Alin removed his sunglasses, the owner’s wife gasped.
“He’s a blue autistic!” They called children like Alin blue autistic’s because, intellectually they were bright, but emotionally vacant.
“Where is your guardian?” the woman asked
“My mother is dead.” the words caught in Alin’s throat.
“We know your mother is dead.” the man said clearly irritated. “All BA’s are orphans. Not one poor woman has lived through the birth.” Alin eyed him coldly.
“My mother died three months ago.”
“You’re a liar.” the man said angrily and started towards Alin, his wife touched his arm and the man stopped. He looked at his wife. She gazed at him warmly, her face telling him the situation was under control. Alin could literally feel the love that she had for her husband and that her husband honored that love. The beauty of it touch Alin deeply and his eyes welled with tears.
“Oh you poor child.” the wife said, her face was kind. She thought Alin was crying over the loss of his mother.
“Jacob, I remember reading that one woman actually survived.” she said to her husband quietly.
“You’re too trusting, Lela.” Jacob pretended to be annoyed, in truth it was the trait he loved about her most. She preferred to take people and their words at face value. That’s not to say she was naďve, she could spot evil just as easily as good. Lela brushed past Jacob and knelt down beside Alin.
“Where have you been living since your mother passed?” Lela’s voice was soothing. Alin looked at her and then to Jacob, but he remained silent.
“He’s been living in our basement.” Jacob said, the thought of Alin in that cold, dark basement filled him with sadness.
“We have to call the authorities. He won’t make it on the streets.” Jacob said as he went to the phone.
“No!” Alin pleaded “Just let me go, I won’t come back here. I promise!” Alin was frantic. He gauged the distance between him and the basement door, wondering if he was fast enough to reach the window and climb out before Jacob could stop him. Lela softly took Alin’s hand in hers. Alin froze, no one had ever touched him so tenderly. Lela spoke quietly to her husband, but her eyes never left Alin’s face.
“We can’t call the authorities, you know as well as I, what those orphanages are like. He wouldn’t live through it. Even if he did, he’d be no use to society by the time the system got through with him. What is your name child?”
“Alin, my name is Alin.” The kindness of her touch was too much for him and he pulled his hand away.
“Lela, we can’t let him stay here, I know how much you love children. But, we can’t do this.” Jacob’s voice was insistent.
“We can’t just send him away Jacob. I won’t allow…” her voice trailed off, and she began to weep uncontrollably. Never in their fifteen years of marriage had Lela openly defied her husband. Jacob understood, this boy meant more to her, than he had guessed. He had prayed that she was finally at peace with the death of their son at the age of seven. That was five years ago, now it was clear she wasn’t. She would see this as God giving her another chance to be a mother. Jacob sighed, he rubbed his eyes and slowly slid his hand down until it rested under his chin.
“Okay Lela, How are we suppose to pull this off? No one would believe he is related to either one of us!” Lela pulled a tissue from her apron and wiped her eyes. She smiled wanly, surprised at her own outburst.
“We’re his foster parents.” she said it as easily as if it were fact.
“He’ll have to wear sunglasses whenever we’re in public. If anyone suspects he’s a BA , the authorities will be down here so fast, it will make our heads spin. Lela, Are you sure you want to do this?” Lela stood up and walked over to her husband, searching his eyes.
“Will you hate me if the authorities catch us? You know they’ll come down hard, especially on you.”
“You know me I like to live dangerously.” Jacob laughed, Lela didn’t.
“I’m serious Jacob, I don‘t want anything to come between us. You‘re my life.”
“And you’re my heart, and without it I can not live.” They had said these words to each other many times during their life together and it was truer today than the first time they said them.