Toby watched the shadow stretch from the swing set as the afternoon sun sunk. The nine-year-old's stomach rumbled, demanding a meal, but he wasn't quite ready to leave the haven he found in the neighborhood park. His eyes followed a couple that approached pushing a stroller that was not quite large enough for the toddler riding inside. A little girl followed some-what reluctantly, dragging her feet and looking at the ground. Toby saw the family often at the park, usually on an evening stroll. He often watched them and other families, fantasizing about being part. He knew the girl, Macy, from school. They'd never spoken because Toby was somewhat of an outcast. His worn clothing and unkempt appearance made him a target of bullying. The nice kids felt sorry for him but still Toby was generally avoided, so he was surprised when Macy sat down on the swing next to him.

"It's Toby, right?" she asked.

Toby was a little uncomfortable that a girl like Macy knew his name, so he just nodded.

"How come you're always here alone?"

"That your family?" Toby asked, ignoring her question. The girl's parents had begun playing with the toddler in the sand.

"'Course they are," said Macy.

"Is she nice?" Toby asked, referring to Macy's mother. "Does she look after you?"

"Sure she does, I guess," Macy replied. "At least before my brother came along. She likes my brother better because he came from my new dad. She likes my new dad a lot. They always hold hands and I see them kissing when they think nobody is looking. She wasn't like that with my old dad. All they did was yell at each other."

Toby was surprised. He often forgot there were other families who didn't stay together, like his. "Does your mother really like your brother more?"

"She says she loves us both the same, but since she likes my new dad more she acts like my brother is better 'cause he came from him. But sometimes she'll feel bad for ignoring me and take me to grown-up stores and buys me pretty things, so it's not so bad."

Macy's mother was ready to move on and finally seemed to notice her daughter was talking to Toby. She quickly ushered Macy to her side, as if Toby were an unsafe playmate. Macy reluctantly rose from the swing and followed her family away from the playground. She stole an apologetic glance back at Toby. He returned a melancholy smile, wondering if there really was no such thing as a storybook family.