CHAPTER ONE A Relative of Foo The Birth of Leven Who can say for sure what constitutes the perfect birth? Perhaps a mother, while playing cards and sipping lemonade, might simply hiccup, pat her stomach, and there in her arms would be a beautiful child, already diapered and pink-cheeked, looking up at her and emitting a soft coo. That wouldn't be too bad. Or perhaps, while taking a nice ride up the coastline on a golden afternoon, a woman might tap her husband on the shoulder and say, "Look what I found." Together they would peer into the backseat and there would be their lovely newborn buckled in a car seat and sleeping blissfully. A person could argue that that scenario would be perfect to a lot of people. Well, Leven Thumps experienced nothing of the sort. He came into the world like a delivery that no one knew what to do with and nobody wanted to sign for. His father had passed away in a tragic car accident only a week before his arrival, sending his mother spiraling down into a deep pit of grief and mourning. Her only hope was in knowing that the husband she had lost would live on in the son she was about to give birth to. Two days before the delivery her health suddenly began to deteriorate. She couldn't stand, she couldn't sleep, and she found it difficult to even breathe. On October fifteenth, at 2:30 in the morning, Maria Thumps knew she was not long for this world. She called her neighbor, who came immediately and quickly drove Maria to the hospital. Maria had been inside the hospital for only five minutes when her son was born. The child had a head of thick dark hair and wise open eyes. The doctor placed the baby in her hands, and for the first time in a while Maria smiled. "Leven," she whispered. Maria's smile began to fade. Her face paled to a new shade of white. She clenched her eyes shut and began to struggle for breath. Her hands twitched and Leven rolled from her arms and into her lap. Every machine in the room with a voice immediately began to wail and frantically beep, and the lights suddenly dimmed. Doctors and nurses huddled over Maria, trying desperately to work a miracle. It was no use. A tall doctor picked up Leven and handed him to one of the attending nurses. She stepped quickly out of the room with the child, saving him from the scene and pulling him away from the last person on earth who would love him for some time. Two minutes later Maria Thumps closed her eyes, ceased her labored breathing, and passed away. Leven lay alone in the hospital nursery for days. Every morning at 10:00 and each afternoon at 3:15, a different nurse would come in, pick him up, and hold him for exactly four and a half minutes. Other than that he was touched only when being fed or changed. The hospital staff whispered about what to do with him, waiting for the state to decide, but the wheels of compassion were slow to get moving. Everyone was holding out hope that a kindly relative or family member might be found and the little orphan would be taken away and off their hands. The hospital was already short-staffed and money was hard to come by, thanks in part to a dozen or so recent malpractice law suits the administrators had been forced to settle. On the fourth day following Leven's birth, the prayers in his behalf were answered. Well, sort of. Contact had been made with a half sister of Leven's mom. Her name was Addy Graph, and at this very moment, she was on her way to the hospital from one state over and two states up. She arrived that evening, bringing with her a violent rainstorm that battered the hospital. Addy pulled up inSkye, Obert is the author of 'Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo', published 2006 under ISBN 9781416928065 and ISBN 1416928065.