A long episode about Amri
"In July 1999, when I was 19, I'd just started college. You know I worked at Barnes & Nobel, but I often visited an orphanarium. No particular reason at first, I just liked helping out, the people who worked barely paid any attention to the kids..."
I walked into the main playroom. It was huge, like an auditorium. It had a stage and several shelves containing toys and other things little kids liked to with. There was a total of thirty kids in the room. The entire orphanarium came to play and hang out. Children from infants to teenagers, all together in the one huge area.
Watching all the kids play reminded me of Gerard and I when we were little. Saturdays were spent reading comics and having pretend laser gun battles in out backyard. It made me smiled thinking that someday these kids would be having their own great families.
I stepped into the middle of the room, waving and saying 'hi' to the kids who knew me. When I heard a faint cry, I frowned. Walking over to the corner of the room, I saw a large crowd of 5-year-olds surrounding something.
Puzzled, I pushed my way through the riot and saw a boy, about 6, holding a purple guitar above his head. Below him was a little girl, 2, reaching up with little success to grab the guitar.
"Ha! You creepy little girl! Why don't you go back to wherever you came from?"
The boy looked up at me when I tapped his shoulder and I glared at him. Taking the guitar, I picked up the girl and walked my way through the opening the kids made for me. We went over to the other side of the room and I hopped onto the edge of the tall stage, sitting her on my lap, "You okay, sis?"
She nodded her head, wiping the tears away from her eyes. I set the little guitar next to me, "What's your name?"
She scratched her head, almost trying to remember, "Amri."
"My mommy and daddy left me without a last name. I'm just Amri."
She spoke exceptionally well for a girl of only 2. We had a long conversation. She told me about what people did to her. They often picked on her for no reason. Her big, beautiful blue eyes would well up with tears and she'd hide behind her curled mess of black and brownish hair. Apparently, no one knew where Amri came from. She just popped in out of nowhere one morning a few months back.
Over the next few days, I'd visit the same room. The huge walls towered over me and I would walk in and send the kids crowding Amri scattering away with one look. She became my favorite kid, the one I'd look after the most.
"And everyday, I'd go see her. To talk and play and to make sure she wasn't getting hurt. But of course, you can't trust watching will make everything better."
I'd just gotten off work on a bright Thursday morning. Gerard was out with my car, of course, so I made my way to the orphanaruim. I usually saw a few kids walking my way, but they were teenagers. Not 2-year-old girls running from 5-year-old bullies.
"STOP! LEAVE ME ALONE!"
Amri ran in my direction, not seeing me walking towards her. The kids behind her yelled and screamed and threw anything they picked up at her. Finally, a few feet away from me, she gave up and sat on the ground, covering her face. Her pant's leg was torn and the kids circled her. I ran up when I saw them start kicking her, hurting her. Shoving them out of the way, I grabbed Amri, picking her up and turning to the boys, "you are lucky you are so young. I'd kcik all your asses if you weren't 5."
Leaving them shocked I'd even saved her, I marched the rest of the way to the orphanarium. I entered the main office, setting Amri down in a chair and slamming my hand onto the counter, startling the secretary, "I'm adopting this little girl. Forms, now."
She quickly handed over the papers and I snatched them from her, sitting next to Amri on the chair.
She uncovered her face, the bruises and cuts paining to see, "What are those?"
I wiped away the tear stains left on her cheeks and ruffled her hair, "Adoption papers. I'm gonna take you from here and you'll be my daughter. You okay with that?"
She turned her head away from me, looking into the window at the large playroom where all the other kids were. It took her a moment, but she finally turned her head back, "Please do."
I smiled and picked the clipboard back up, signing all the forms and initialing everything.
When I finished, I slid the documents back to her and she gave the approval, I could take Amri home.
Alicia took my hand, "So Amri became Amri Way?"
"Yep, it felt like one of the greatest days of my life."
"What happened after that?"
I shrugged, "9/11. Gerard forming the band. I never left her alone, Amri always came with us, wherever we went. She'd sit quietly back stage and even if my stage fright drunk me up enough, I'd take care of her. She was four when we first hit it big. Amri was almost like our little mascot, she'd cheer from behind the curtain, watching me and her uncles play and have a good time."
Both Alicia and I sighed, laying back on the couch. She flicked a piece of hair out of her eyes, "So... did she get taken then?"
I shuddered. The memory still haunted me, "August 20, 2004."
"Ammy, sweetie, homework?"
She sighed when I poked my head into her room, "I'm goin', I'm goin'."
Pulling the worksheets out of her bag, I heard a knock at the door.
"You get started on that, I'll be in to help you in a minute."
I went over to the door, opening it. Two men in suits stood in the doorway. I stared a them, "Can I help you?"
"My name is Mr. Martin, this is Mr. Brown. We're from Social Services and we're here to pick up Amri Way."
I felt my heart stop, "You're... you're taking her away?"
"Didn't you get our letter explaining the situation last week? Something is wrong with your adoption papers and we must take her into our care."
The men pushed past me and into Amri's room, "Miss Way, could you please say goodbye to your father and come with us?"
"Why?" she sounded somewhat pissed. I knew she wouldn't leave without an answer.
"Because we're taking you to Social Services. You won't be seeing this man again."
I side-stepped in time to see her face go white. She'd never been with anyone but me, "Wha-what?"
"Yes, Miss Way. We're taking you with us. Mr. Way, please say goodbye."
Amri ran to me, wrapping her arms around me in a deathgrip, "NO! You can't take me away from me dad! He's the only one who I ever knew!!"
Mr. Martin grabbed her arm, pulling her off of me, "come now Miss Way. We have to be leaving now."
She tried reaching for me and I flung my arm out to get her, but Mr. Brown put his arm in front of me, "Mr. Way, I'm sorry, but we have to take her. It's the law."
Martin had already locked Amri in the backseat, her fists pounding and tears freely streaming onto her face. Mr. Brown and Mr. Martin has gotten into their car by the time I knew what was happening. They backed out of the driveway and I ran after them, trying to open the back door and pull Amri out. But it was too late. They three of them were already far down the street and out of sight when I stopped running. Something fell onto the asphalt and I raised my hand to my eyes. I didn't even realize I was bawling until then.
"Did you ever see her again?"
I rolled over to look at Alicia, "I think once, briefly. Before a show during a Black Parade concert with an older girl. I spent the rest of the show looking for any sign of her. And I didn't see her at all. She would have been... 9, I believe."
She looked down, stroking my hand with her thumb, "I'm so sorry, Mikey. I never knew..."
"I never told anyone. Gerard, Frank, Ray, and my parents were the only people who knew about Amri. I kept her a secret from the fans so they wouldn't freak out like they usually do."
Sighing, I stood, shaking my head, "Well, now you've heard my terrible tale. I'm gonna go take a nap and try to forget about what's happened. Goodnight."
And that, my friends, is the story of Amri.
Amber (the author)