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Conquering Nightmares of the Past

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The rain poured on him as he stood on the dull grass, like the sky was weeping along with everyone else.


The sky had no right to be weeping, it just gained one of the brightest stars in the universe.


Phil thought with misery about how beautiful the coffin suspended over a six-foot-deep hole was, though nothing could compare to the beauty within.


A beauty that would never shine in the light of day again.


Kristin was so incredible. She had so much love to give and so much kindness in her heart. She, out of everyone, didn't deserve to be lost so soon.


Phil looked up from the coffin at all the people gathered to mourn her devastating loss. As he scanned the crowd his saddened gaze fell on Sapnap. Bad and Skeppy had fostered him 6 years ago and adopted him 2 years after that. They looked so happy, even with such saddened expressions.


Kristin had wanted that. Always going on about how much she wanted kids and gushing to Phil about how perfect and incredible their children would be. She had always wanted to foster, saying she wanted to give a lost child a loving forever.


She never got the chance.


Phil wanted kids too but he didn't know how he was supposed to look into the pure and innocent eyes of a perfect little kid and not see Kristin staring back at him. How was he supposed to fulfill her greatest aspiration without thinking about her all of the time?


Phil didn't know if he could handle it.


His black suit was soaked with freezing cold water but he couldn't find it in himself to care as he looked back at the glossy cedarwood coffin and mourned the devastating loss of the amazing woman inside.


The warm tears falling down his cheeks were a strong contrast to the freezing rain dripping from his hair. The rain would do his hair some good, he hadn't washed it in a week. He couldn't find the energy to.


His mind wandered back to fostering and if he would be able to do it alone. Maybe one day he would. Maybe one day he would be able to grow the family that Kristin always wanted.


For now, though, Phil just wanted to grieve.











A hand slammed over the button on the dark green alarm clock on Phil's bedside table. The beeping being replaced with a groan, he rolled over to hug his wife, only to be greeted with an empty, cold space where she should be.


He sighed in sadness. What a wonderful start to the day.


As much as Phil wanted to lay in bed in darkness all day, he had to work. He lay there for a few seconds more before forcing himself out of the comfort and warmth of his bed and into the harsh realities of his day.


He considered making pancakes, but the thought of cooking only brought up memories of loving mornings with sleepy hugs and loving conversations over warm meals.


He reached into one of the top cabinets and grabbed some cereal, not bothered to look at the label to find out which one it was. Pouring the balls of sugar into a ball, his mind drifted to Kristin. She was all he could think about. He really missed her.


He needed a distraction, something to take his mind from the heart-wrenching grief of losing his soulmate but everything in his life just seemed so monotonous. There was nothing to think about.


Just wake up, eat a shitty breakfast, work for more hours than he probably should, then sleep. He needed something in his life. Someone to keep him company. Someone to love.


As he finished his train of thought and focused back into reality, he stared disappointedly at his bowl of dry cereal, not bothered to grab the milk. He took the bowl back to his office to work when he noticed an email from-





Well if that wasn't a punch in the gut.


He was missing Kristin so much and now this is thrown in his face.


Or maybe this was a-


Maybe this was actually a good idea. He had so much love in his heart that had no one to go to and these kids needed a family to love them. It was the perfect match.


Phil had already done all the training and reading and everything to prepare with Kristin. Yeah, it would be hard raising a kid without his wife when having kids was what Kristin wanted to do with her future but Phil has no doubt that she would have wanted him to do this.


3 months ago Phil was nowhere near in the right mindset to have another life to care for, he could barely care for himself. Now, though, he's in a much better place mentally. He's still grieving, but he's okay. Most of all, he's lonely. He needs someone else, and these kids need someone too.


Could he really do this?


He could think more about this later. Right now, he has work to do.







Phil heard the knock right as he finished making the coffee. He walked over to the door and opened it, revealing his best friend since seventh grade.


"Hey, Phil."


"Hey, guys." Sam and Puffy sat on the couch as Phil and Bad brought over the coffee.


"So why'd you call us over, Phil? Not that I don't love hearing from you, of course." Puffy said, taking a sip from her cup.


"I actually wanted your guy's advice on something." As he began thinking about why he invited everyone, the happiness from seeing his friends was quickly replaced by nerves. Not that he was scared they wouldn't be happy and supportive, just that the topic itself was really scary.


"Everything alright, Phil?" Bad voiced showed clear concern, good at picking up his friend's emotions after spending two decades with them. Sam and Puffy both showed faces of concern as well.


"Everything's fine"  Except missing Kristin  went unsaid "I just got an email yesterday that prompted some thoughts and I thought you guys would be able to help me figure them out."


"Well, what was the email about?" Sam's tone was always so patient, so calming and exactly what Phil needed to work up the courage to talk.


"It was a notification of approval to foster. I think I want to do it, but I can't stop thinking about Kristin." Everyone sat in silence for a moment, Phil waiting for them to react and the others all thinking about what to say.


"I think you should do it. I know you really miss Kristin, but you would be such an amazing father. You would be giving a kid such a happy life and being able to create the family you and Kristin always wanted. I think it would be hard, but the final result would be so worth it." Puffy always knew just what to say. Sometimes, even after knowing her for 20 years, he was still shocked by how amazing she was at phrasing things perfectly.


"I agree with Puff. You would be such a great dad, this opportunity is just too perfect to pass up. Plus I'm sure you're quite lonely at the moment, and I know that alone is not a reason to foster, but you would be such a kind and caring father and I think it could really help you to have someone in your life to care for." Bad brought up a point that Phil had considered before. Normally, he always thinks so much about other people, he struggles to remember to think of himself as well.


Yesterday, though, he thought of himself quite a bit after seeing the email and thinking over if fostering would be a good thing for him, and he felt kind of guilty about that. He was glad Bad brought it up as well to reassure him that it was okay to think of himself even if the situation affects someone else more than him.


"There are actually quite a few younger kids in group homes around here, you could probably get one in your placement within a month or so." Phil was silent for a long moment, considering what to say next. He knew what he was thinking about it, he just didn't quite know how to phrase it.


"I was uh- I was actually thinking of fostering an older kid. I just think I would be better at dealing with an older kid. I dunno, I'm not sure." He had thought a lot about this last night. Not only would he be better at handling an older kid, but there are so many kids who age out of the system because people want to foster younger kids, Phil can't help but want to help at least one of them out.


"Really? God, that's awesome. I really shouldn't tell you this, but there's this kid leaving his current placement next week who I know you would love. He's so much like you were as a kid once you get through his shell. I think you guys would be perfect. It's obviously your decision, but I could send you his file to look at?" Sam sounded unsure at the end, like he felt like he was pressuring Phil into something, but everyone in the room knew Sam would never do that intentionally. He was way too kind.


Though what he said really was doing a good job at convincing Phil. I mean, it's just a file. What's the harm?


"Sure, I'll take a look at it."


"Awesome! Call me when you make up your mind. Here-" Sam grabbed a small piece of paper and pen from his pocket, quickly scribbling something down and handing it to Phil. "This is my work number. Call me on this when you make a decision." Sam gave a gentle smile as he finished talking, clearly happy for his friend.


After a few more hours of conversation, Puffy, Bad and Sam left, waving Phil a happy goodbye as they left, happy that their friend was getting better after losing Kristin and making a family for himself.


Bad got in his car and drove away while Sam and Puffy walked back together as they loved quite close to each other and Phil.


"Did you give Phil that kids file just because you know Phil won't be able to say no once he sees the kids face?" Puffy asked, knowing her friend well.


"He needs this just as much as the kid does." Was Sam's knowing reply


"You've got a point there."


And with that, they walked home in happy silence.



Name: Wilbur Soot


Age: 11

DOB: 14/9/2003

Height: 5'0

Mental disorders: Anorexia Nervosa, MDD, GAD
Currently prescribed to take 20mg Fluoxetine (PROZAC) daily

Biological Parents: Mr Oliver Soot & Mrs Annabelle Soot

Biological Parents Address: 19 Glairwood Rd, Edinburgh

Last Placement: Mr & Mrs E-Girl

Last Placement Address: 704 Canders Ln, London

Reason for Admission to the Foster Program: Biological parents didn't have the resources to care for him

Details of Placement: Wilbur was placed with the E-Girls on April 20, 2014. It is the fifth placement he has been in since entering the system at age 5. Wilbur seemed happy with the E-Girls and they seemed happy keeping him until they decided to send him back to the system for unspecified reasons.

Details of past placements: Wilbur's first placement-

Phil stopped reading. He wasn't sure why, he knew knowing what happened to the kid in the past would help him with raising Wilbur, but he couldn't bring himself to read on. It felt like an invasion of privacy.

Wilbur should have the right to tell his past to who he wants, not to have it handed around in a file for all to read. It just felt wrong.

Phil closed the folder, but not before taking one last look at the picture held to the page with a paper clip. It showed a young boy with fluffy, brown hair covered by a dull red beanie. The boy was wearing an oversized well-loved yellow sweater. He was smiling slightly, but it was obvious it was forced, his eyes only showed exhaustion.

There was no way Phil could say no now. His heart simply wouldn't allow it.



Phil watched his fingers pressing the buttons on the keypad of his phone, eyes occasionally darting over to the piece of paper Sam had given him with his work number. As he finished typing in the number, his pointer finger moved to hover over the call button. He hesitated, last-minute doubt dancing around his mind, but he had made up his mind. He wanted to do this.

He pressed the button, listening to the dial tone as it played, once, twice, thr-

"Hello, Sam Awedude speaking." It was always weird hearing Sam's professional voice. He was always so casual around Phil that sometimes he forgot Sam could be so formal.

"Hey, Sam."

"Phil! I've been waiting for you to call. Made up your mind?" He was trying to hide the excitement in his voice, but Phil had known this man for 20 years. He could hear it easily.


"…Well!? The suspense is killing me, man!" Every second Sam's voice got more and more eager. Phil was really glad he was giving good news.

"I'm ready for you to bring him by whenever"

"Yes! Oh, Phil, you have no idea how happy this makes me. Wil's a really good kid, you'll like him. God, you really made the right call here." Phil couldn't help but smile at how happy Sam was. He really loved his friends.

"I don't doubt it. It's nerve-wracking, but I'm really excited. I'm gonna be a dad, Sam!" He knew Kristin was smiling down on him from heaven right now.

"You are! I'm so- sorry, one second." Phil could hear the slight rustling of Sam moving the phone away from his ear.

"What's wrong, Georgie?" The voices were slightly muffled, but the words could still be made out clearly.

"I made you this." There was a small pause as Sam presumably looked at whatever George gave him.

"Baby, this is so sweet. I love it. Thank you!" The softness in Sam's voice made Phil's face morph into a smile. He was so happy his friend found a family that made him so happy. A part of him secretly hoped he could find that too.

"Hey, Phil. I should really go. Wilbur leaves his current placement this Thursday. I'll be back with him around 3, that work?"

"Sounds perfect. Thanks, Sam."

"All good. I'm really happy for you, man. See you Thursday."

"See ya." The end tone played in Phil's ear as he placed the phone down on the counter in front of him.

He was gonna be a dad.



Phil walked along the grassy land, eyes scanning over the square grey stones dug into the ground, some flat and some upright, each holding a dark and devastating story beneath them.

As he walked, his eyes locked on his destination and he sat facing the engraved stone.

"Hey, Kristen.


I've got big news to tell you. I'm gonna be a dad. I'm starting our family, just like you wanted.

I wish you were here to see it. You would've loved this kid. I haven't met him yet, but his picture is so adorable. He looks so perfect.

His name's Wilbur. Sam says he's been through a lot, I really hope I can help him. This would be so much easier with you here but don't worry, I've got this. I'm gonna be the best dad Wilbur could ever ask for.

I wish you could meet him with me. It doesn't even matter what his personality is like, I know you would've loved him anyway.


We'll never be a full family without you, but I promise we'll try. I'm gonna do this, Kristin. For you. I'm gonna make the happiest family ever so you can look down on us from heaven and smile.

I wish I could see your smile again.

I wish I could see you again.

I really fucking miss you, Kristin."

He turned around, leaning his back against the stone and looking into the sky. The clouds were covering the sun but it was still warm and bright. He would sit there for a few more hours, pretending the hard, cold surface behind him was his loving wife.

Tears slowly rolled down his cheeks as he sat thinking about his lost soulmate, his stolen light.

He was going to be a great dad. He was going to make Kristin proud.