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?


2. Chapter 2

Jane!” The children cried, all sprinting toward her. If I was this girl, I would have turned tail and run the other direction, but she actually welcoming them. Sashaying her way through the children, touching a shoulder here, ruffling hair there, she came to stop next to me. “Hello.” She said warmly. “I assume that you’re Danny?” I nodded dumbly, taking in her wild cascades of brown hair, bright blue eyes, and pale skin, brought together by a red dress that shouldn’t have worked, but somehow did. I recovered my voice and offered her my hand to shake. “And you are?”     Before she could answer, the same child from earlier bounded up. “She’s Jane!” she exclaimed, wrapping her arms around Jane’s waist. Jane looked at me, grinning and bowing her head. “Guilty as charged.” I grinned too and peered behind Jane.  “And who are you?”  "Naomi!” I nodded thoughtfully. “And, Naomi, why, may I ask, did you pretend you couldn’t understand my English?” Naomi only laughed and ran away. I watched her as she ran. That girl ran with a certain fluidity and grace combined with strength that I’d never seen before. I remember from watching the Olympics that many female runners came from Ethiopia. Who knew where her talent could take her? I sighed and Jane laughed. “Did Naomi give a piercing whistle?” she asked, tilting her head. “Yes. Does that have any significance?” “It means that they’re about to play a trick. And you were the victim, I’m afraid to say.” I blushed embarrassedly and looked down. Jane straightened my collar firmly and smiled.     “Let me guess, they mobbed you?” “Yeah.” I muttered, rubbing the back of my neck. “It happens to every newbie that comes here. Consider yourself initiated.” I nodded, still blushing. Jane turned around and gathered the children to her. “Everyone, I want you all to apologize to Danny.” “We’re sorry, Danny.’ They chorused. “Danny is going to live here with us.” Jane explained. “So let’s not make him terrified of us, okay?” They all nodded and ran away, disappearing into the moderately sized house behind us. Jane glanced at me and put her hand on my wrist. “Let’s go in. God only knows what those kids could get up to if they’re left alone for more than five minutes.” She smiled a brilliant white smile at me, and my heart did flips. Great, I’ve been here for less than ten minutes and I’m already head over heels. Jane and I headed in and found the children in desperate need to amusement. Two kids were fist-fighting on the floor, one girl was bawling her eyes out, and the levels of noise gave me the makings of a pounding head ache. Luckily,    Jane took charge. She intervened on the fighting, and stopped the girl crying. I was starting to feel useless, so I went to a cabinet and pulled out a random DVD that would hopefully divert them for an hour or two. I glanced at the case I had pulled out and laughed out loud. Tarzan. Well, that’s fitting. Weary travelers from far away arrive in Africa. I stuck it into the single DVD player the orphanage possessed and rounded the kids up. Jane shot me a grateful look and threw herself down in a chair beside me. “Thank you.” She said softly. “I’ve been entertaining all day. I wouldn’t say no to a minute to myself.” As the movie played, Jane and I chatted quietly. “So, you’re from New York, right?” she asked. “Yep. Born and raised.” I replied. Our conversation was interrupted by the arrival of my mom, Mrs. Gibson, the director of the orphanage, and a little boy. “Danny,” My mom started. “This is Ata, Naomi’s twin brother.” “ATA!” Naomi squealed, scrambling up and over to him. She flung her arms around him, but he stayed limp in her embrace. “Hello, Naomi.” Ata murmured. Naomi’s grin faded and she released the      “We’re watching Tarzan. Do you want to watch too?” Ata grinned, showing dimples. He clearly liked the film. “Yeah!” Naomi jumped up on my lap and Ata walked over to Jane, looking shyly up at her. “Come here, little guy.” She said tenderly, patting her lap. Ata smiled and clambered up on Jane’s knees. I shot Jane a questioning look from behind Naomi’s head and she mouthed “Later.” The movie ended and Jane announced that it was time for bed. All the children rose up in protest, but Jane quieted them with a Grade-A school teacher look. Ata gently tapped her shoulder, looking mischievous. “But Jane.” He cajoled. “I’m afraid of the lion. Will you sing?” Jane blushed hotly and hurriedly shook her head. “Ata, I don’t know-“ “Please Jane?” he asked, looking earnestly up at her. The other kids took on the call, beseeching Jane to sing them a lullaby. Jane’s eyes softened and she groaned. There was no way she could resist them for much longer. “Oh, alright!” she said finally.        Everyone cheered and settled themselves in a circle around Jane. She cleared her throat and began to clap to give herself a beat. They all took in on and then Jane started, “In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight. In the jungle, the quiet jungle, the lion sleeps tonight.” I grinned and Jane caught my eye. She reddened but, to her everlasting credit, kept going. “Near the village, the peaceful village, the lion sleeps tonight. Near the village, the quiet village, the lion sleeps tonight.” Jane stooped down and picked Ata up, rocking him back and forth. Obviously the last verse was meant specifically for him. “Hush my darling; don’t fear my darling, the lion sleeps tonight. Hush my darling; don’t fear my darling, the lion sleeps tonight.” Jane’s voice faded away and she looked lovingly down at Ata. She held him close for a few seconds and then gently placed him down. “Alright everyone. There are no lions. They’re all fast asleep. And so should we be!”     Twenty hectic minutes later, Jane grabbed my arm and pulled me into the kitchen. “Okay, Danny, listen closely, because I’m only saying this once.” Jane said. She took a deep breath and then began,   “Ata- He has A.I.D.S. Before he and Naomi made it here, they lived on the streets, all by themselves. Ata got sick, and I mean really, really sick. In desperation, Naomi brought him to a doctor.” Jane swallowed and shut her eyes, strengthening her resolve. “Who wasn’t very reliable. But Naomi would have no way of knowing that. She was only eight at the time. She was just trying to save her brother’s life. Poor Ata got a few shots from an unsterilized needle and the game was up for him.” A single tear trailed down Jane’s cheek and I silently handed her a handkerchief. She mustered a watery smile. “I know Naomi blames herself, but isn’t her fault.” The conviction and determination in her voice made me understand that Jane would defend this opinion to the death and that anyone who dared cross her would feel her wrath. I patted Jane’s shoulder swiftly and she shot me a slightly shocked, confused look. I hastily removed my hand. “Sorry.” I muttered. “No, it’s fine. It’s just- Usually I’m the one doling out all the comfort. It’s nice to be on the receiving end of it for once. Thanks Danny.” I nodded to her and hurried off to my room, trying to quell my thumping heart. I’d actually never had a major crush, but there is always a first time for everything. 
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