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  • Writer's pictureGina A. Jones

The Colors of Ash-Chapter One

My eyes focus on the board in front of me. I’m in my last class of the day—science. I feel sleepy, and I’m trying to pay attention. Mr. Rodrick’s monotone voice doesn’t help. They could sell his voice to one of those sleeping apps. You know, the ones that provide white noise for those who can’t sleep without some background noise. I feel like I’m in that movie, Ferris Bueller’s day off. Bueller. Bueller. It’s Ben Stein torturing.

My phone vibrates inside the pocket of my jeans, bringing me back to the living. Thank God! I was about comatose listening to the mating rituals of the horny toad.

I look up at the clock and see I still have thirty minutes left until class is dismissed. Probably my foster mom, wanting me to stop by the store to pick something up.

I slump back into my chair and continue to listen to Mr. Rodrick. Stay open eyes. Stay open. I should probably not stay up so late. Binge-watching Netflix is addicting. It’s a good thing my foster parents don’t mind. They’re pretty cool about keeping out of my business. Sometimes, I don’t even notice them around.

I’ve been with the Smiths for two years. Before that, I was with the Halls for two years. And before that, the Rowe’s for two years. Two years seems to be the max for me. I’m sure if I were younger, they would keep me around longer. It’s amazing how some people treat foster kids like fashion. ‘I would like a blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy with fair skin—around three. Make sure he’s cute and most of all, toilet trained.’ This, I overheard one day while sitting close enough to my social worker’s door. The lady sounded like she was ordering a puppy.

And then there are the ones who do it only for the money. The more foster kids they house, the more money they get. I’ve been in those, too. Try sharing a room with five other girls. Especially when it’s that time of the month. I remember the lady of the house asking for more money for girls. Because a large portion was spent on pads and tampons.

Luckily, I have six more months left with the Smiths. Though I’m already eighteen, almost nineteen. And that’s because my real mother never put me in school. I was seven or eight before I started kindergarten.

I remember the day when a lady from the county came and told my mother that someone had reported her for not sending me to school. Of course, she said I was home-schooled. Anyone could tell that by looking at her—the woman who birthed me probably hadn’t read a book in her life. Let alone have the capability to home-school.

I don’t remember much about my real mother, other than the fact that being a mother wasn’t really her thing. It was just something she became stuck with once her live-in boyfriend of the month would hit the road. Nine months later, my sister Shelley was born. I was already in foster care then and had never met my baby sister. I was told she was adopted into a nice family. Even though she was a baby, I kind of resented her for that. She had the qualifications to be adopted—a brand-new baby. And I’m sure, Shelley is not even her name anymore. I only know from the last visit I had with my mother. She was telling me goodbye. She had finally found her soul mate—again. And they were heading to Colorado to start a business. Growing pot. She tried to make it sound professional and glamorous. But growing weed is growing weed.

I often think about the sister I have and try to find information about her. However, the state says until she turns eighteen, I’m not allowed to have any information about her. I’ve often thought about doing one of those DNA tests on the internet. But unless she knows she’s adopted and done one herself, I still won’t find her.

The bell rings and Mr. Rodrick acts like he’s shocked. For the last fifty minutes, we’ve all been enjoying ourselves. The screeching of chairs wakes up the rest of my senses, and I grab my books, and purse and head out the door.

“Have a great weekend,” Mr. Rodrick says, still in that monotone voice of his.

I’m at my locker when I remember to check my phone. Pulling it out of my pocket, I see Sasha’s name—my social worker. It’s not time for a social visit. I wonder what’s up.

Scrolling to my voicemail, I then listen to her message.

“Hey, Cinder. This is Sasha. Um…give me a call when you get out of class. Bye.”

Her voice sounds like there’s something behind it. Like she has bad news for me. Did something happen to my foster parents? No, someone would have notified the school. Whatever it is, has me worried.

I pull out the books I’ll need for my weekend homework, grab my jacket, backpack, and start walking down the hall. When I’m outside, I return her call.

“Hi, Cinder. How was school today?” I’m sure that is not why she’s calling. It’s just an in to…we have a problem.

“School was fine. What’s the real issue, Sasha?” In other words, cut to the chase. She should know, nothing shocks me anymore. But still, social workers all act like we are delicate China. When in fact we’re all damaged goods.

“I think it’s best if you come downtown to my office. We can talk there.”

It must be bad. “What’d I do this time?” I say, rolling my eyes, ready to accept some form of punishment for being poor.

“Oh, it’s nothing you did. Everything is good there.”

“Then why can’t you tell me on the phone? Are the Smiths mad at me? Has something happened to them?”

“I tell you what. Meet me at the coffee shop. We’ll have a latte and talk.”

Coffee and talk? “Okay,” I say, ending the call. I already know it’s bad news. And covering it up with an expensive latte only reassures my intuition that it’s really bad.

Walking the six blocks to the coffee shop, my mind is a mayhem of thoughts. But then I think maybe, she has news about my sister. That couldn’t be bad. Unless she’s…dead. This makes me furious. They wouldn’t tell me anything when she was alive. But they’ll tell me after she dies.

Ah, I need to get a grip. I guess it’s true what they say. When you don’t have the answers, your mind will fill in the gaps. And those gaps get filled with the darkest details. What does that say about mankind?

I'm at the coffee shop and ready for anything she’s gonna tell me. Almost.

Opening the door to the shop, I see her waving me over to a small table in the corner. She’s all smiles, her mask for delivering bad news. Walking over, I increase the size of my steps, wanting to get this over with.

“So, tell me. What’s going on?” I say, hanging my backpack across the back of the chair.

“Have a seat, Cinder. I’ve ordered you a caramel macchiato, sugar-free of course,” she says as a peace offering.

“Gee, thanks. The sugar would have been a bit too much,” I say with a roll of my eyes. She knows I’m joking. Sasha isn’t too much older than me—twenty-two. I’m sure this is her first job after graduating college. And I think this is why I get along with her so well. She’s not too far removed from those terrible teenage years. And, I think she mentioned once that she was in foster care, which is why she chose this career.

I take a seat and then wrap my hands around the paper cup. Picking it up and eyeing over the top, I say, “Spill it.”

She takes in a deep breath, thinking she’s preparing me for bad news when she’s preparing herself. “The Smiths have decided to move.”

My eyes move like a pendulum, back and forth discerning what this means. Like I’m too attached to my school and friends—lack of, that I might throw a fit about moving. “So, I’m used to not being in one place long. I’ve reached the two-year mark.”

She covers my hand with hers. “Without you.”

Now that could be a problem. But I act like it’s the last care in the world for me. “Okay, fine. Let them move. It’s not like we were a tight bunch. Hell, I hardly ever saw them.” And maybe this is why I was able to sneak in a boyfriend—or two. “So, what’s the problem? Find me a new set of foster parents.”

“The problem is, you’re aging out of the system. You’re no longer a minor.”

“Yes, but I still have school to finish. It’s not my fault my birth mother held me out for two years.”

“No, Cinder, it’s not.” I hate it when she talks to me in that voice. Like she’s talking to one of her much younger foster kids. “I’m searching hard to place you for a few more months.”

“You mean…I’m homeless? Starting today, I’m…homeless?” I also don’t like the look she’s giving me. Like I’m a sad, lost puppy. Where will I live? But isn’t that her job?

“You’re going to be nineteen soon. I could try placing you in a group home, or a shelter for girls.”

“And then what? Once I graduate school, find a nice bridge to live under?”

“Cinder, I know how you must feel. Remember, I was a foster child once.”

“Yeah, and how did that work out for you? Looks to me, pretty well. You must have had some great foster parents to keep you through college.”

“No, I didn’t,” she says with some skepticism, and then picks up her coffee, looking away. There’s something there. Something hidden.

“So, how long do I have?”

“They’ve asked for you not to come back.”

“What!” I slam my cup on the table, coffee sloshes over the sides. “You know, I may be poor and have no one, but I do have a few things that mean something to me. I can’t even go get my stuff?”

“I have your belongings in my possession.”

“Wow! I can’t believe this. Why not just dump my stuff on the school sidewalk? Let the whole world know, I’m homeless.”

“I know how you feel.”

“No, you don’t.”

“Cinder, I do. I’m taking you home with me. And…” She grabs her coffee cup, taking it to her mouth, “We’ll figure something out.”

“Great. Now, I’m a charity case.

The Colors of Ash © 2024 Gina A. Jones rights reserved under the International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, organizations, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

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9 commentaires

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angie jones
07 déc. 2023

Absolutely love it so far !!!

Gina A. Jones
Gina A. Jones
07 déc. 2023
En réponse à

🥰 Thank you.


05 déc. 2023
Noté 5 étoiles sur 5.

I'm intrigued already 🤔


04 déc. 2023
Noté 5 étoiles sur 5.

This chapter drew me in! I love Cinder already! Can hardly wait for the next chapter!

Gina A. Jones
Gina A. Jones
04 déc. 2023
En réponse à

Thank you. 😊


shannon Cheripka
04 déc. 2023
Noté 5 étoiles sur 5.

What a great start to the story. I am very intrigued.

Gina A. Jones
Gina A. Jones
04 déc. 2023
En réponse à

Thank you. It will be posted Wednesday morning. 😉


04 déc. 2023
Noté 5 étoiles sur 5.

Great start. Can’t wait until Wednesday 😊

Gina A. Jones
Gina A. Jones
04 déc. 2023
En réponse à

Thanks. Have coffee ready ☕️

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