Storms in Africa

Sixteen year old Danny Rose does not want to move to Ethiopia. He does not want to leave behind the only home he's ever known. And he most certainly does not want to deal with other people's problems. Since his father died last year, Danny has had enough issues of his own to handle.

But what Danny does not expect is to find a caring group of people who instantly make him feel at home. With the help of a rambuncious ten year old, a lot of Disney classics and some emotional wit of his very own, can Danny save the day and get the girl? Or will storms in Africa come too late?


1. Chapter 1

"Danny, wake up! We're here! We're in Ethiopia!"

My eyes snapped open. Wincing from the sudden flash of bright light, I looked at my mother. She was hastily gathering our things, shoving them into random bags. I blearily shook my head in order to wake myself up and started to help her. She shot me a wide grin.
"I'm so excited!" she squealed.
"Aren't you?"
"Yeah." i said unenthusiastically.
"Come on, Danny! Get excited! This is the start of our new life!"
I nodded once and then muttered to myself.
"Yeah, but our old life wasn't so bad."
"Hey, I heard that, young man! And the children here need our help." my mom reprimanded.
"I know."

I pulled down the screen on the window and looked out at the strange land that was to be my new home. It stretched out before me, an endless safari that went as far as the eye could see. I sighed quietly and turned away from the window. This was infinitely different from New York City.  What was I doing in Ethopia, you ask? Well, it's a long story, but basically my mom simply needed to get away from New York.  You're probably wondering why anyone would ever want to leave the greatest city on earth. In normal circumstances, most likely no one would want to. But these weren't normal circumstances. My father had died of lung cancer a year ago. After that, my mom sank into depression. I'll never forget coming home from school on that fateful day, September 15, to find my mom curled up in a ball on the floor of our apartment. I immediately flew to her side, already knowing what had happened, but wanting, no,needing, to hear it confirmed. i had asked her what was wrong, but she didn't respond, silent tears running down her face. Eventually, the full magnitude of my loss sank in and I started to cry and screaming, shaking her and begging her to talk to me. And she didn't. I still don't know if she couldn't or wouldn't. I love my mom, but I don't think i can ever fully forgive her for that. 

After that, things got worse. It got to the point that I hid all knives and cleaning supplies in the house and was afraid to leave her alone. I'd come home, heart in my throat, terrified I would find my dead mother. I couldn't lose another parent. So when my mom got offered a jod as a pediatric surgeon in Ethiopia and accepted it, I swallowed my myraid protests and compliantly packed my bags. This job had breathed new life into her, and I was willing to do anything to make her smile again. Despite my new location, my heart was stil in New York but my mother couldn't stay there. She saw my father on every street corner. It's where they first meet and fell in love, got married and had a baby. It's where he got diagnosed, underwent treatment and ultimately lost his life. There were too many memories, and every single one was too painful for my frail mother to bear. As for me, of course I missed my dad: with an ache so strong it hurt. Some days, I didn't want to get out of bed, I missed him so much. But I couldn't let my mom see me like that. I was the man of the house now. I had responsibilities to take care of her. 

The plane landed and we got off. After a stressful half hour of scrambled searching for our suitcases, we made it out of the airport and headed for our new home, an orphanage twenty miles out of the city. My mom would commute every day between the hospital and the orphange and we would reside there. I gave my best New York taxi whislte and we hopped into the waiting vehicle. 
"This is amazing!" my mom gushed as we drove. 
I silently nodded my agreement. We passed a lone elephant on the road and it trumpeted at us. 
" Holy cow!" I gasped, jumping so high that I walloped my skull off the top of the taxi. My mom burst out laughing and giddily squeezed my hand.
"You can't see that in New York!"
"At Central Park Zoo, maybe." I muttered to myself. Thankfully, she didn't hear, and we rode in silence from that point on. 

We reached the orphanage and while my mom paid the driver, I went around to the trunk and got our bags. turning around, I felt the stare of about a million children. We looked at each other in silence for a few seconds, just taking each other in, until I said,
"Hi there. I'm Danny."
Suddenly, one girl gave a shrill, high whistle and I jumped, startled. What was going on? The girl who whistled walked up to me and let loose a string of words I didn't understand. I knew that people in Ethiopia typically speak Amharic, but I most certainly did not know how to speak it. Great, I'm not the best talker to begin with, but add a language barrier, and I have no chance. I glanced at my mom for help. To my annoyance, it seemed like she was stuggling not to laugh. I mouthed, "Help me!", but she only shook her head.
"Danny, I'm going to go in now and get us settled. I want you to stay out here and get to know everyone a bit."
"But Mom!"
"Daniel?" she warned.
When my mom says my proper name like that, I generally tend to do what she tells me. This was no exception. I sighed and gave her the suitcase that held her belongings. I looked at her pleadingly and she shooed me away.
"Go on."

I know that my mother had some greater motive by making me talk to these people, probably a plan to make me more talkative and forcing me to come out of my normally unimpenetrable shell. But at that moment, I just felt punished for not bothering to properly learn the language of the country that I now live in. I turned back around and gave the children a small wave. 
"Uh-hi." I said lamely. 

Immediatly, I was swamped. Kids surrounded me on all sides, tugging at my clothes, my hair, holding onto my legs. If you have never experienced this, then you have never known true fear. They all talked at once, so even if I could actually understand what they were saying, I wouldn't be able to decipher it. The girl I mentioned earlier somehow climbed up on my back and clapped her hands to get everyone's attention. Whatever she said caused all the children to release me and turn ninety degrees. I stumbled and then fell over, exhaustion and panic causing me to just drop to the ground. I just laid there, trying to catch my breath. What had I gotten myself into? And what was going to happen to me now?
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