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I don't wanna die. I'm afraid," I thought as I leaned out the second-story window of the dormitory.

I balanced myself on my waist as I hung out the window. Slowly, I rocked back and forth. If I leaned a little too far forward, I would grab hold of the window frame on each side to stop myself from falling right out the building.

Every day was a sad day where I lived. It had been that way ever since I came to the Children's Home Society Orphanage two years ago, when I was 6 years old. We would go to school and then we would come back home. Then we would rake pine straw, and clean floors and toilets. Then we went to eat and then off to bed.

No matter how hard I tried, I always felt scared and unhappy inside - always afraid I was going to make a bad mistake, always afraid that once again, I would be locked in the closet by the television room without food or water.

"You gonna be hurt real bad, if you fall out the window. And if I die, I won't be able to be a fireman or a pirate when I grown up," I thought.

I was scared and I knew I did not want to die, but I just didn't want to feel that bad feeling inside me any more.

"It's my birthday today and I get a white cake," I said aloud. "What kids you gonna give some cake too?"

I pointed my finger as though I was pointing at who would get a slice of the cake. The cake we really got on our birthday was small and round. It never had any candles or decoration. There were some 60 children who ate in the dining room. The cake was sliced by the matron and then it was up to the birthday child to decide who got a slice, as well as who did not. That was the problem with birthdays.

There were always looks of hope and anticipation on the kidsí faces as the birthday child walked around the dining room with a piece of cake in hand. Each and every young eye opened wide hoping with all their might that they might be the one selected to have a piece of the sweet treat.

"OH GOD!" I said as I slipped forward almost falling out the window.

I grabbed onto both sides of the window, but still found myself out of balance. Most of my weight was pulling me forward and out the window toward the ground.

"That's real scary," I said aloud as I pulled myself back in the window.

My little heart was beating 90 miles per hour and I was shaking all over. I stepped down onto the floor and stood breathing in and out as fast as I could.

"I almost really died. Dying's real scary like," I said as I wiped my mouth on my T-shirt.

My temples were still pounding and my head began to ache. I ran down to the far bathroom and washed my face in the sink with cold water. Then I brushed my teeth with my finger and soap.

"LINE UP FOR SUPPER!" yelled the house parent.

I walked down the stairway and out onto the front porch. The boys were now lining up two abreast. When everyone was in line, we started marching to the dining room to eat our supper of eggplant, boiled okra and powered milk.

After supper was over, my cake was brought out of the kitchen and placed on the table. While all the kids sang happy birthday to me, I just stood looking down at the floor. The cake was then cut into small thin slices. I was handed the plates one at a time. I walked to the back of the dining room and started giving the cake to some of the bigger boys - the ones who might beat me up, if they did not get a piece of cake. Soon all the cake was gone, except for the one piece that had been cut for me. I picked up the small plate, carried it over to Elaine Smith and sat it down in front of her.

"Thank you, Roger," she said.

I smiled at her, but said not a word. We were forbidden under any circumstances to ever talk to a girl. Giving her my cake was my way of letting her know that I liked her very much. I felt real good inside after seeing her smile at me that way.

"I think she likes me too," I thought as I walked back to my assigned seat in the dining room.

Yes, my 8th birthday was just one of many times I had thought about hurting myself with suicide, but that birthday was not going to be the day. For the first time in my life, I experienced a brand new feeling - a special thought that let me know good feelings can come from someone who likes you. That smile was one of the best presents I ever received on my birthday. In spite of all the bad things at the orphanage, that smile made my live worth living.

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