When Aaron reconnected with his long-lost friend, Kyle, he also formed a bond with his daughter, Hope. Unfortunately, Kyle succumbed to his vices, and Aaron had to take in his friend’s little girl. Then he discovered the shocking truth of Kyle’s actions and how dark his past was.
“Kyle, is that you?” Aaron asked when he saw his old childhood pal, Kyle, picking up one of the girls in his class. Kyle stared at him in surprise, raising his eyebrows. But then he smiled slowly and approached his friend for a huge hug. Aaron couldn’t believe such a coincidence.
After earning his degree in Education from Skidmore College, Aaron and his girlfriend Stephanie moved to Manhattan to pursue their careers. Luckily, he got a job at The Academy of St. Joseph, teaching primary school kids. It was his dream job.
Kyle died, and Aaron took Hope to see him every once in a while. | Source: Shutterstock
Eventually, he and Stephanie got married and settled into their lives. Aaron never imagined he would run into Kyle in school. The fact that he was a father was even more surprising. Kyle didn’t have the best track record.
Kyle's parents died when he was 18, and it hit his friend pretty hard. He started drifting away from Aaron, although he tried to support him. Aaron’s parents also tried to help out, but it was no use. Kyle didn’t want their help. Instead, he started hanging out with a horrible crowd, dropped out of university, and disappeared from his friend’s life.
Aaron didn’t know what to do. He was a broke college kid with no resources, so finding Kyle became almost impossible. Most days, he believed Kyle had moved to New York for work. At least, that’s what he hoped. Although Aaron never forgot his friend, he was forced to move on. And now, Kyle was right there.
“Hey, man. It’s so nice to see you,” Kyle said, giving Aaron a few pats on his back and letting go. He looked down at the floor and placed his hands in his pockets. “So, what are you doing here?”
Aaron greeted his friend with a huge smile. | Source: Pexels
“Oh, I’m a teacher here. You came to pick up Hope, right? She’s amazing — one of the best in my class for sure. You must be so proud,” Aaron explained, smiling at his friend and pointing at Hope, who was still talking to a few of her friends.
“Yeah, Hope is amazing. She’s my whole world. And yes, she’s the smartest in the world. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to send her here, man,” Kyle said, looking towards his kid and grinning sheepishly. “I like to think I turned my life around. But I still don’t make enough money for such a place. Hope is here on the scholarship program.”
“Well, that’s fantastic!” Aaron replied enthusiastically. “Hey, how about we catch up? Let’s grab a few beers or something soon. You have to meet my wife Stephanie. She loves kids too. I’m sure she and Hope will get along.”
Kyle nodded and called Hope over. “That sounds great. I have to go now. I have a night shift, and I have to take Hope home. Call me whenever,” his friend said and left with his daughter.
Kyle's past was stil a huge mystery. | Source: Pexels
Aaron and Kyle reconnected immediately. It was as if no time had passed at all, and they returned to the easy friendship they always had. However, Stephanie and Hope were in the picture, so their outings were primarily family-friendly.
Soon enough, everyone loved each other dearly, and Hope was glad to have a close bond with her teacher. She was such a curious girl at only nine years old. Aaron was sure she would get into every Ivy League college at some point.
The only issue was that no matter how many times Aaron asked, Kyle never talked about his past and what happened after he dropped out of college. It was a complete mystery. Aaron let it go for now, but he hoped that Kyle would eventually confide in him because there was something strange in his friend.
He was not the same Kyle. Even when he was grieving for his parents, Aaron could recognize the little kid he had always known. But things were different now. Kyle also didn’t talk about Hope and how he became a father. Aaron didn’t want to ask too much too soon and risk Kyle disappearing again. He thought he was respecting his friend’s boundaries.
Hope called him one night asking for help. | Source: Pexels
I’ll get to the bottom of it soon enough, Aaron thought while musing about Kyle’s attitude and what possibly happened all those years. Unfortunately, Aaron would never discover his queries.
One night, Hope called him directly. “Mr. Hastings, please, come over. I don’t know what to do. Should I call 911?” the little girl said on the phone.
“911? Hope, what’s going on? Are you hurt?” Aaron asked, concerned, as he donned his jacket and grabbed his car keys.
“Dad is not moving. I… I don’t know what’s happening,” Hope said in a trembling voice.
“Don’t worry, kid. I’ll be there soon. I’m already in my car,” Aaron assured and rushed to Kyle’s house. But the scene waiting for him was too horrible for words. It would haunt him for a long time, and Aaron wished Hope had never seen it.
He called 911 immediately and then dialed Stephanie’s number. She needed to come and pick up Hope so she wouldn’t witness anymore. Several minutes later, his wife arrived and took the girl home.
“Are you this man’s guardian?” an officer, Lt. Marins, asked him.
“Yeah, I’m his friend. He doesn’t have any other family,” Aaron revealed.
A police officer asked Aaron questions about Kyle. | Source: Pexels
“This is clearly a case of an overdose. Do you know anything about Mr. Richards' drug use?” Lt. Marins continued his questioning with a stern tone.
“I didn’t even know he was addicted, sir. We recently started talking again after years of hearing nothing from him. I’m surprised, but at the same time, I feel like I should’ve known,” Aaron explained, running his hands through his hair in frustration.
“There’s nothing you can do in cases like this,” the officer continued, hitching his belt up a bit and turning to leave. “Oh, wait a second. Are you taking the little girl home with you?”
Aaron nodded, and the officer explained that a woman from social services would probably visit them soon to assess the situation. “You’ll be able to come into the house for her things in a few days. We just need some time to investigate, as it is a drug case, but it doesn’t look like he was a seller, so it’ll be quick. Thank you for your time and sorry for your loss,” the officer finished and left.
The house was barricaded, and Aaron stood on the front lawn, not knowing what to do. But he couldn’t leave his wife alone with the scared little girl at home, so Aaron left, intending to return a few days later when the dust settled.
Walking into Kyle's room was the hardest part. | Source: Pexels
When the social worker came to their house, Stephanie immediately offered to keep Hope. They had grown attached in such a short time that Aaron was not surprised at all. Luckily, the lady agreed but reminded them to get the kid’s paperwork and have everything in order soon.
Aaron returned to Kyle’s house and saw that all the police paraphernalia was gone. He assumed it meant that he was cleared to go inside and check things out. He didn’t want to go in and be reminded of his friend’s passing, but Hope needed her clothes, and he wanted to find the paperwork they needed to adopt her.
Walking into his friend’s room was the hardest part, so Aaron started searching around as quickly as possible. He was not having any luck until he found a big box under Kyle’s bed.
Aaron pulled it out and opened the latch easily. A letter addressed to him sat on top.
Aaron pulled a box from underneath Kyle's bed. | Source: Pexels
If you’re reading this letter, it means that I finally did it. I’m sorry, my friend. I’m so sorry. Please, take care of Hope. She means the world to me, but I can’t live like this anymore. It’s hard to explain, but my life has not been easy. I disappeared from your life for a reason: I didn’t want to drag you into it.
Hope is not my real daughter. When I dropped out of college, I started working for some horrible people and did things I regret every single day. But then a woman named Elizabeth appeared in my life. She was pregnant, and we fell in love quickly. We ran away from those people and decided to turn our lives around.
Elizabeth picked our baby’s name. ‘Hope’ was supposed to be our new life and our dream of becoming better people. But she died at the hospital. She died and I was once again alone. I didn’t know what to do, but I had Hope. I thought I was making it work. I’ve worked hard for years, trying to hide my depression, addiction, vices, and problems. Everything.
Hope was everything. But I can’t do it anymore. I can’t. You don’t know how sorry I am. I ask you to please care for Hope or find a good family for her. She’s going to change the world. She deserves great people in her life. I’m not one. Please, do me this favor.
Thank you. Goodbye.”
Aaron couldn't contain his pain. | Source: Pexels
Aaron couldn’t stop sobbing. He knelt on the floor with one hand covering his hands and the other still holding the letter as pain ripped through him. It was not an accident. His friend did it on purpose.
After a few minutes, Aaron wiped his tears and looked inside the box. Everything Hope could need was inside, including her birth certificate and a bank account with Kyle’s last savings. It was not much, but Aaron would keep it for Hope’s future. The house was a rental, so he might be able to get the deposit back too.
Aaron grabbed the whole thing and left. He didn’t pack any of Hope’s things. This was enough. He and his wife would buy her everything else.
Stephanie was heartbroken when Aaron told her the truth of Kyle’s passing. But they decided to get her into therapy and wouldn’t tell her anything until she was old enough to handle it.
They raised Hope with all the love in the world. | Source: Pexels
It took some time, but Hope thrived with them, and they loved her dearly. Aaron blamed himself for years for not looking more closely at his friend or asking him more questions about his life. Alas, he couldn’t do anything and started going to therapy as well.
He and Stephanie kept the memory of Kyle alive for Hope’s sake. They visited his grave several times a year. But most importantly, they raised her with all the love in the world.
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