It was quiet in the bedroom of the orphanage. The girl could hear all the sounds that accompanied sleep. She had lain awake until she could hear no other sounds but. Then she slipped her bare feet out from under her meager rag blankets and placed them gently on the floor.
She got up and headed over to the window. It was small and she had to climb atop a cupboard to get to it, but she had done it so many times before that she could have done it in her sleep. She climbed up to the top of the cupboard and stared out at the night.
Sometimes, she thought she preferred the night to the day. There was something magic about the darkness and faint glimmers of light from the candles of night owls not wanting to give in to sleep just yet. If she was lucky and the night was clear, sometimes she would get a glimpse of a star or two in the inky black of night sky.
But what she really wanted was to see was the moon. She had seen it through the day sometimes, but other children had spoken of the moon at night. It sounded so magical. She longed to see it up there, lonely in the sky, like herself, except she did not shine.
She cried quietly to herself up there on the cupboard. Her little body aching with the sobs that she held in all day long. She didn’t understand why she was so unlovable, why she was not good enough for her own mother even. Wasn’t a mother meant to love you, no matter what?
She had once asked one of the sisters this question. The hideous woman had laughed in her face. ‘You’re thinking of dogs, girl,’ the sister had spat.
She hated this place. She didn’t know how she could hate something without knowing any different. But she was sure that there were better places out there in the world. There had to be. She saw the people on the street and a lot of them looked happy. So, there had to be happiness out there for her. Or maybe happiness was like sweets. There was only so much to go around and even then, only some can afford such luxury.
It was then, through the glassy fog of her tears, that she saw movement down on the street. She rubbed the tears out of her eyes with her tiny fists and peered down.
A dog, black as the hair on the girls head, padded quietly down the street. He stopped a moment, perhaps sensing that he was being watched, he looked around a few times and then disappeared into the shadows.
‘Running away from home,’ thought the girl.
And then it dawned on her. A spark in her mind. An idea.
She didn’t have to stay here in this filthy horrible place. She was not tied to the bed or chained up. If the sisters caught her she would be in trouble yes, but what if she didn’t get caught?
She immediately began planning. She would have to steal some food somehow and some water. But how could she? And in what would she carry it? And where would she go?
She looked to the sleeping children and then back outside. She looked down to her palms and saw a single wing stuck between her bandages. It shone with rainbows in the darkness.
The girl reached to the small window. Maybe a normal child would not be able to fit through, but she was small and fine. She popped open the window and it creaked in the silence.
The girl stopped to look at the children once more. One or two rolled over in their beds, stirred from the sudden noise. The girl listened carefully, but she heard no footsteps coming to see what the noise had been.
With the window open enough, the girl slipped out onto the cold shingles. She slowly rode them down to the edge and then carefully lowered herself as much as she could. Then she dropped.
As soon as she felt her feet hit the cobbles she was off.
The girl ran.
She ran without looking where she was going or without stopping. She ran until morning came and then she kept going. She did not stop when people called out to her or when she stumbled. She did not pause when she was out of breath or when her side hurt or when her feet began to bleed or when her tears clouded her vision.
She lost track of the days. Night and day came and went like the flicker of lightning bugs’ tails. On and off and on. She ran until she was completely lost and drained.
The girl ran until she collapsed. She lay down by a tree under the stars and stared up at the moon. A flame of happiness rekindled inside the girl, if it had ever been lit before at all. She felt older, bigger somehow, out in the world. She didn’t know how long she had run for, but she was free. And the exhaustion felt good as she allowed herself to slip into the unknown sleep of her new life, excited to wake in a new day, but sad to know that no one would miss her.
The girl awoke feeling weak, her body was sore all over. Any hope she had felt before was gone. The light burned brightly around her and she wished for darkness, for shadows. She couldn’t open her eyes more than a slit for the light hurt them so.
Her mouth was so dry it was as if her tongue was made of stone. It hurt to breathe. She lay there, mouth gapping, trying to get as much air into her lungs as possible.
She had no idea how long she had slept for. Never before had she felt so poorly. How different she felt now from when she had first fallen asleep.
She didn’t know much, but she knew that if she didn’t find water she would surely die.
She tried to open her eyes again, but all she saw was blinding whiteness. She tried to roll onto her belly and crawl, but her arms were weak.
She thought about calling out for help, but in her experience, people were not very helpful. Who would help a little orphan girl? And besides, she didn’t know where she was or even if there was anyone around to call out to.
Suddenly a shadow fell over her, a darkness in her vision. She tried again to open her eyes and before her she could see the outline of a giant black dog, its eyes glowing as if on fire.
Her eyes closed again. This was it. She was going to die, she just hoped it would be quick. She had to admit, there was a part of her that had wished for death. She did not want to go back to the orphanage. Death was a better option than going backward.
She drifted in and out of unconsciousness, coming awake every now and then by a muzzle nudging her or the gentle touch of a giant paw.
She felt as if she was being moved, dragged away. Maybe the giant beast with the flaming eyes was taking her away to eat her. But then she felt her face pressed against something warm and soft. Something entered the girl’s mouth and, at first, she tried to resist but then the hot sweet liquid flooded her mouth and she swallowed. Again and again she drank until she fell to sleep.
That concludes Chapter 2. Let me know your thoughts.
Merry Xmas and hugs