Sorrow in the Shadows
The rain pored down in steady grey sheets, soaking any who dared to venture outside. Paper posters fluttered as they ripped off their nails from the wind. They were all over, situated at every beneficial location. A figure sitting on the wet ground, leaned against a rough stone wall, and raised his head tiredly. It did not matter now if he got wet, he could not feel a thing anymore. A powerful hand reached out, and pulled the hood covering his face down lower over his eyes. If someone had walked by they would have only seen a faint outline resting in the shadows.
Down the street crying could be heard over the roaring storm. A little girl wove back and forth along the cobblestones. Her tiny fists covered her eyes, and her long brown hair was plastered against her face. Her chubby cheeks were red from the cold, and her cloak was whipping behind her. Passing a low wall, she decided to hide behind it to escape some of the storm’s fury. Hunching over, she hugged her knees to her chest and rocked back and forth. Something stirred beside her, and her head whipped up in fright.
He watched with a distant curiosity, as the tiny child’s eyes widened. Then, without warning she started to wail again. He looked heavenwards, wondering when the child would decide to run. Any minute now, and he would see her wobbling down the street. A blast of wind twisted along the wall, blowing the dark hood off of his head. The girl looked up through her tears, and saw a young man with blond hair, and dark blue eyes. His gaze was cold, and a large white scar was prevalent along the underside of his chin.
Without thinking she crawled over to the unsuspecting figure, and clung to his chest like he was her lifeline in the raging sea. The young man was shocked, and speechless. The girl had shoved her head into the crook of his neck. He could feel her tears mixed with some rain soaking his black shirt, which was barely showing from underneath his cloak. She held onto him for what seemed an eternity to the young man.
She continued to cry, and the man set a powerful hand on her back. He did not know how to soothe people; his life and work had never dealt with anything related to it. Emotionless, and pitiless was the way he survived. Anyone else in his position would have gone crazy doing what he did. In a way perhaps he had gone mad, reeling in the power of his work. The power he felt at holding someone’s life in his own hands. The power of becoming a nameless shadow. But that had all changed a month ago, when one man saw his face. His controlling employer did not want someone who was known. It would make the jobs more risky, and so the only choice had been to leave. He had become a ghost, haunting the alleyways and remaining invisible.
The child’s crying had subdued, but she continued to hold onto him. Little sniffles could be heard once in a while, and she looked up at the man. Something fluttered inside of him, and the man was more than surprised although he did not show it. Could this be warmth he felt? He had not felt this way since he was very young. Emotions such as this were long forgotten. They had been buried with his thoughts of what could have been. Or so he thought.
“I‘m lost, I can’t find my house.” The little girl’s big dark blue eyes looked at him sorrowfully.
The man sighed tiredly, and ran his hands through his wet hair. He knew he was expected to answer. “I do not know where your home is.” He said it with finality, but the little girl did not notice.
“Can you help me?” she ventured hopefully.
Help? He could not help, he could only hurt. We’re all alone in this world little bird. You have fallen out of the nest, and now you have to make your way back. We can only help ourselves. The man started to shake his head ‘no’ to her question, but the flutter in his heart stopped him. Damn it… Instead his head nodded ‘yes’.
The little girl’s face broke into a smile, and rainwater ran down her chin. “It’s by a giant statue of a panther.”
The man knew that square, he remembered that statue from his youth. His heart ached painfully, and he felt longing once again wrap tight fingers around his heart. Memories of a carefree time floated teasingly in front of his face, always just out of reach. Sighing he studied the little girl. Her hopeful blue eyes, and dripping brown hair. He felt an odd sense of obligation to take her there. Words had never been his strong point. So nodding again he stood, and headed off in one direction. The wind blew harshly driving the rain into his back. The child followed quickly in his footsteps, and then ran to his side. The man felt something warm slip into his hand, and he looked down out of the corner of his eye. The girl had put her hand in his.
Many minutes passed by, as the peculiar pair walked swiftly down the empty streets. If anyone had seen them, they would have marvelled at how the blonde man seemed to float down the shadowed alleys, his movements liquid. Then they would have smiled at the little girl keeping step by his side, her feet going twice as fast as his. One would have seemed full of catlike grace, while the other a fluttery baby bird.
The man stopped at the opening to a large square. He felt the rainwater trickling down his back, and realized he had not drawn his hood up again. He went to lift his right hand, only to discover that it was still busy holding the tiny palm of the child. He gently let go, and was able to pull his hood once more over his dark blue eyes. The girl looked over the square and smiled, this was the right place.
She had been confused going down the narrow alleyways, but she recognized the statue in the centre, with its powerful presence. A large black panther, with it’s one paw raised. She could not see what was on the panther’s paw from this distance, but she knew it off by heart. On the huge paw sat a tiny colourful bird, it’s head cocked. The panther would look almost affectionately at the bird, which it could easily kill. It was the statue her square was known for.
A door across the opposite side of the cobblestones opened up. Warm yellow light shown out, and two people dressed for heavy rain left the building. “Jenna!” An adolescent boy, and a distraught middle aged woman cried out desperately.
Suddenly, the boy spotted two figures in the shadows. One was tall and had a dangerous aura; the other was tiny and had brown hair. Could it be his sister Jenna? He saw the girl say something to the man, who seemed to stoop low as if to hear better. What the girl did next froze the man; she leaned up and gave him a small kiss on the cheek. Then she waved, and started to run towards the woman and boy, her mother and brother.
“Jenna!” the family cried over and over again. Jenna swung into her Mum, and her brother nudged his mother in the direction where Jenna had come. All three looked at the tall powerful figure watching silently in the shadows. None of them could see the silent tears that rolled down his cheeks, mixing with the rain. The mother shivered at the sight of the shadowed man, and was thankful when he suddenly turned on his heel and left. As she watched him go an odd thought crossed her mind. His gait seemed familiar. Her child Jenna waved at the disappearing person, a smile on her face.
Walking back to the house, the mother paused by the door. A piece of paper fluttered on the wood by the frame, it’s ink was unaffected by the rain. She turned to her child. “Who was that man? What was his name?”
Jenna looked at her mother and replied, “I don’t know his name, but he is on that poster there.” Her finger pointed to the fluttering paper by the door. Her mother followed the finger and paled. She knew him, he was her first born. Eight years had past since he had left. She had never forgotten him, and had always wondered what had become of him. His gaze was cold and hard in the picture, and his lips set in a grim line. He looked much different from what she remembered. Tears instantly flooded her eyes once again as she stared at the paper. A young man with blonde hair, and stormy blue eyes looked back at her from the poster nailed onto the wall.
For Murder and Treason