by Little Morse
A run away girl finds herself in trouble when she realises leaving home was a bad idea.
The thick rubbish stench engulfed me within moments, mauling away at every small part of fresh air. As the rope around my ankles dug deep into my skin leaving a painful mark in its place, I freed myself of it with one brisk tug. It split in my hands so I discarded it away, adding to the garbage I was surrounded in. I looked down to where the tight rope once clasped my ankles tight together. My once flawless skin had transformed, from flesh with perfect complexion to some that had deep gashes and thin slices across it. My trousers torn, my sock soaked red with blood, I grasp on to the wall and lever my body up. Cold wind blows my long, dark hair into my eyes, hindering my progress of movement towards the open road. As I stumble through the rubbish, using the wall as my support, I can feel the pain in my head wound return. It begins to throb hard as I make my way out of the alleyway.
When I’ve finally reached the road, the high pitched screech of a wooden sign, for a telegram company rings in my ears. The ticking of a pocket watch, becomes louder and louder as the respectable business man pushes past me, knocking me off my feet. Luckily, I managed to regain my step before I hit the ground. The wind is colder now, than earlier and I realize that running away wasn’t the best of ideas. The bitter cold of the wind brushes past me and stings as it comes in contact with my skin. The quivering of my lip is unstoppable and I feel myself beginning to shiver. “I must find shelter!” I mutter under my breath.
I ran away from home, so I couldn’t go back there. I wouldn’t have wanted to anyway; I did leave for a reason. I needed to find shelter though because it was becoming unbearably cold, and I needed to attend to my head injury. I’ll tell you something, that was one journey I will never forget.
I left the shelter of a small shed, at about 10 o’clock this morning. It was a rough night. I had spent the whole day traveling with my bag on my back, eating packets of broken up crisps all day. It was all I could get from my warm house, besides a few chocolate bars. I was tired and hungry but the only shelter I could find was a small, shed outside someone’s home. It wasn’t ideal but it would shield me from the harsh weather for the night.
I woke up, my limbs aching from sleeping awkwardly against the side of the shed, and my eyes struggling to remain open. Even though I could have stayed there for longer, I knew that if I didn’t move quickly there was a chance I could be caught trespassing, and that was one thing I didn’t want to have to deal with. So I got up, collected my things together, and got ready to set off again.
I made my way out of the shed, being cautious not to knock anything that could make a loud enough noise, to disturb the people in the houses around me. I was expecting today to plan out similar to yesterday but unfortunately it didn’t. I left at 10 o’clock, just in time really. I heard voices from the adjacent house and scampered off as fast as my lethargic body could manage.
When I was around 300 metres away from the house, of whose shed I had slept in, I decided to take out my last chocolate bar. It was melted, crushed and extremely sticky but it still tasted delicious. So delicious that I felt myself drooling and wiped my chin before finishing the chocolate. I was less hungry after that but my stomach didn’t have the same feeling of satisfaction as it usually would, if I was eating at home. Ignoring any thought I had of home I trudged along the winding road until I had reached a slim pathway.
I didn’t really know in what direction I was going or where I wanted to end up but I did know one thing, that I was better off on my own, despite what my family back home would tell me. “You’re independent and sensible Ambrosia.” I reassured myself. Little did I know that later that day I’d be pulling myself out of a rubbish dump, with blood dripping down my leg.
I followed the slim path for a couple of hours, entertaining myself by playing with my small puzzle. It was one of the few belongings I wanted to take with me away from home. I don’t really know why I chose that one, after all I had many other precious belongings I could have taken with me but I guess everything else would remind me of home too much. Plus the puzzle I chose would keep me entertained, so I stick by my choice.
I was playing around with my little puzzle, wandering along the path when suddenly I heard a noise. It sounded like rustling of leaves, so I ignored it. That was the first mistake. The second followed shortly after. I carried on walking suppressing any suspicion I might have had about the noise. As I was walking the puzzle slipped out of my grip. I reached down to pick it up again when something cracked behind me. I shot around to see what it was but there was nothing there. I lent down once more to retrieve my puzzle when I heard it again. I grasped the puzzle and was about to spring to my feet, but I was too late. All I saw was a figure, dressed in some sort of suit, holding a bat that was swinging towards me and then… BLACK OUT!
I woke up, in a dark room. My head was hurting so I reached up to see why it was aching with pain so vigorously. As I tried to reach up I noticed my left hand was tied in some kind of rope, but my right hand was free to move around at its own will. As I reached up with my right arm and touched my head, I felt a cold substance. I brought my hand down to eye level and could just about deduce that the substance was blood. The pain from the injury on my head was enough to jog my memory about what had happened so I began to remember how I blacked out.
The stench of the room was potent, and disgusting but as I attempted to turn my head away and tuck my legs into my body I discovered that it wasn’t just my hand that was fastened tight with rope but my ankles as well. I struggled against the tight knot, willing it to snap, allowing me to move but it remained tight. The struggling of my ankles against the rope had caused it to dig deep into my skin. The pain of the rope brought me back to my senses and I began to process the shapes I could see around me. I could just about see a small wooden chair in the corner of the room with the help of a small slit of light creeping in through a boarded window. The thought of not escaping these bonds frightened me and I began to panic.
My breathing picked up as I felt my chest become tighter with every breath. My palms began to sweat as I persevered to free myself of the bonds that clasped my hand and ankles tightly together. I felt my eyes become heavy while the pain in head grew to an almost insufferable amount. I became more manic as time passed, wandering why I was in a dark, dingy, boarded up room, with my ankles and hand unable to move around as I needed them.
While I was panicking, I thought I could hear the shuffling of feet. I immediately diverted my attention to the muffled sounds I could pick up, through my aching ears and covered my mouth with my free hand, so that my heavy breathing would become less audible. Although the quiet sounds were difficult to make out, I knew something wasn’t right, I could feel it.
A chill ran down my spine causing me to shake uncontrollably. My mind began to race through thoughts of not escaping these bonds and being held here for years with an inevitable end awaiting me. I had to relieve myself of these bonds and quickly before anything else unexpected happened.
The shuffling of feet became louder as if someone was closing in on me. I began to frantically search the area for anything sharp that could cut the rope around my hand. Using the thin slither of light that crept in through the window, I managed to find a small shard of glass to my left. Struggling, I stretched my right arm across my body to retrieve the shard. My fingers could just brush the side of the glass, so I stretched further using any energy I had, to try and grasp it. After all that seemed like my only chance.
My hand clenched the glass tightly, even though it started to cut my hand. I began to cut through the rope with the glass. The shuffling was so close now it felt like the sound was coming from right next to me. This made me cut away at the rope faster and more frantically.
I had cut through the rope on my hand when the old door opposite me swung open with a high pitched creak. I used the wall and my now free hand, to help me to my feet. A silhouette of a tall figure in a suit, stood in the door way. My heart was thumping so fast I thought it was about to explode. I fell on to my hands and knees with my ankles still tied, as the figure made his way towards me.
I crawled as fast as I could towards a gap in the crumbling wall I had noticed earlier. I turned my head as I did this and saw the figure running towards me. My breathing picked up dramatically as I saw who it was. I squeezed my small meagre body through the gap, sucking in as I did so. I was half way through when the man had reached me. He clasped on tight to my arm as I was squirming through the wall. His grasp was strong. I struggled against him but it had little effect.
I used all the strength I could conjure up, to punch the man hard in his arm, where I noticed a small scratch. The impact of my hit, and the pain of his existing wound, caused him to release me and yelp out in pain. I used this small amount of time as an opportunity to escape the dingy house.
Unfortunately, the room I was in was about 6 foot off the ground, so I fell out of the gap, falling into a rubbish dump. Lucky it was there really, even though it stank, it broke my fall, so I guess I owe it my life. So that’s how I ended up in the rubbish dump, stumbling through the town into another alley.
Leaning against the wall, I slumped down to the floor, grazing the palm of my hand as I did so. It didn’t matter to me anymore. My mind was too busy trying to piece all of the events together, that I began to ignore all of the excruciating pain I was in. In many ways it was a good thing that I was forgetting about the pain, but in others it was the worst thing that could have happened. For if I was forgetting about the pain it may be because I’m losing the sensitivity across my body or that I’ve lost too much blood, which is alarming, and distressing news.
Admittedly it could have been worse. I could still be stuck in that dim room staring at monotonous walls, with that poor excuse for a human being lurking around the place. Just thinking about it, makes my skin begin to crawl. Images of the man’s crooked smile, on that worn face and strong body build plays in my mind, as it replays the event back. Reliving the moment brings me, suddenly, back into the world.
Remaining slouched against the wall like the hopeless young girl I am, I brush the blood dipped hair away from my face. It is only then that I realise my bag is missing. Coming to the conclusion that it’s probably in the possession of my kidnapper, I try to drag my injured body from the ground, on to my feet. I soon realise how weak I really am. I managed to stand with the help of the wall, but when I take my hand off of the wall, I go weak at the knees. Resulting in my collapsing back onto the ground, with an abrupt smack.
My back begins to ache with incredible intensity. It all becomes too much for me to handle. I feel my nose tingle like it does before I’m about to cry. One tear strolls down my face. By then it’s too late to supress my feelings any longer. Sobbing uncontrollably now, I scrunch my body into a tight ball. While I pitifully attempt to dry my eyes, I hide my face in between my knees. My throat soon becomes dry and I begin to feel dehydrated, ending the long sobbing.
Fully aware that my eyes will look red and bloodshot, I decide to find water, and a safe place where I can quench my thirst. As I lift up onto my feet, I wipe the remaining tears off of my cheek and calm myself, preparing for the world before me. My eyes raw and tired, my head still throbbing, my leg trying to heal unsuccessfully and my hand grazed and sliced to shreds, I begin to make way towards what I can only perceive to be a small market place.
People stop, staring, pointing; they don’t bother me, or ask how I am, so I carry on oblivious to anyone else. One young man, dressed in old, torn cloth, sits on a stool outside of the market. Smoking his pipe he seems entranced by my movement. I wander over towards the market place, getting closer to the man.
The smoke fills my nostrils even though I’m still 5 foot away. Through the cloud of smoke that now surrounds me, I see the man lower his pipe. “Oi you. Get ‘ere.” He tells me. Unsure of what to do I step slightly closer to him. “Now what’s up wid dat leg of yours ay?” I’m not quite sure what accent he has, but I know that he isn’t well spoken. I try to answer his question in the best possible way, but my mouth just doesn’t want to respond in the same way I hope for. Managing a small mumble I inform the man,
“I err… had my legs t..t..tied with rope.” The man’s expression shows he doesn’t quite understand my turn of phrase.
“You wat?” He spits back at me.
“My ankles, well, they were bonded together with rope.” Now having better control over my speech, I think he is beginning to understand.
“Ahh. So wat brings you ‘ere? Why da market?” At least he understands me now but his inquiry startles me. Why would he care? Why would it matter to him? Why does he concern himself with my problems when it seems he has plenty of his own? Questions remaining unanswered, I reply.
“Water, lost my bag and don’t have any food or drink on me.” His eyes widen as I say this.
“Oh, I ‘ave water if you’d like it..?” My eyes lighten up at his question, he sees my expression, smiles, and reaches into a small sack that’s next to him. As he brings his hand back out, I see a plastic bottle in his hand. Offering it to me, I accept his offer graciously. I gulp it down, it trickles down my sore throat soothing it, and quenching my thirst. The young man will never know how much I appreciate this gesture, for all I know he just saved me from dehydrating to my death.
“Thank you,” I murmur as I hand the bottle back to him.
“Eh, no worries luv, so er... how old is you?” He inquires while he places the bottle into his sack.
“17, and yourself?” His eyebrows raise up in surprise at my answer.
“Oh! A 17 year old girl wanderin’ the street, dat’s new. I is 19.” That took me by surprise. Looking at his face and clothing I assumed he was at least 25, it could be because of the dirt across his face that he looks older but even so, without the dirt I’d still guess about 22. This must register on my face as it seems he picks up on it.
“Surprised? Yer, I isn’t lookin’ great for me age.” My feet are beginning to ache so sit down on the gravel beside the man’s sack. Looking up to the man from the ground I see that he has dark circles under his eyes and I find myself wanting to ask many questions. I start with the simple ones like: “Where did you live?” “Where’s your family?” “How long have you been living on the streets?” Slowly moving onto the more complex queries such as: “How is it we are the ones that end up like this?”
After about what seems like an hour, I found out his name is Shane Tristick, his parents left him as a baby at an orphanage, which he ran from at the age of 11 because they were beating the kids with canes. He has been on the street ever since, relying on strangers to give him money but since he turned 16 he has been working as a cobbler. It doesn’t pay particularly well but it’s just enough to pay for food and drink. Recently he has been sleeping in an abandoned cottage on the outskirts of town.
I told him quite a deal about myself as well. Once I finished questioning him he asked “So dat’s it ‘bout me self really. Wat ‘bout you?” I genuinely think he was interested, so I told him about me.
My name is Ambrosia Saffron, I used to live in a large 3 bedroom house with my mum, dad, and sister but I ran away for reasons I don’t like to talk about. I’ve been on the street for 4 days now so I’m sort of new to it. In that 4 days I’ve slept under trees and in a few sheds, done a lot of walking, been attacked, hit over the head, had my legs tied, I’ve fallen out of a building, landed in rubbish, cried unstoppably and met Shane Tristick.
“It’s been a long four days!” I inform Shane although I guess he would know.
“Too right. You been through a lot aint ya?” I nod in reply. His head turns to the sky. Following his gaze I notice that the sky is now a deep navy blue. We both know it’s going to be impossible to see soon. “We betta get movin’ if we wanna make da cottage before night fall. Assumin’ you wanna come wid me..?” The offer genuinely shocks me, so I can’t help but think it’s a joke.
“Seriously?” I begin. He nods as he stands up from the stool. “Yeah, I’d love to!” I say, possible sounding a little too pleased, but after the last few nights, company is a blessing. He grabs the sack from the ground hoisting it over his shoulder, offers me a hand and helps me up.
It’s a long walk to the cottage, but I find that time flies by rather quickly. Due to either; the fact I’m so incredibly tired, I couldn’t know the time if my life depended on it, or that Shane is so interesting. Despite his unfortunate situation he has done some amazing things. Turns out that when he was in the orphanage, he attempted to escape many times. However, many of them failed, there was one in particular that stuck in his mind, and now it sticks in my mind as well.
It was summer, around evening when Shane decided to put his plan into action. He was only around 7 at the time. Although he had been working on it for a few days, he didn’t have the opportunity to put it into place. When the lamps were blown out, and their supervisors dismissed from duty, he began to prepare his route to freedom. By observing the halls the night before, he was able to know the position of the guards surveying the area, giving him an advantage. Using a pebble he had in his pocket, he threw it across the hall. It landed over the other side of the hall way creating the perfect distraction. As he had expected the guard turned his attention to the pebble. Wondering how it had got there and who had caused it to appear, the guard began to search the area for the culprit. Using this as his opportunity he slid across the wooden floor, concealing himself in the cupboard.
He sat there for a few moments catching his breath, when something grabbed his arm. He began to panic, for he could either stay in the cupboard with the thing grasping his arm, or go out into the hall, to only be greeted by the guard and the cruel punishment of the cane, smacking against his back. It was a decision to difficult to make in the seconds he was given. He turned to the small, muddy hand on his arm. A small face appeared through the cloth in the cupboard. “Hello,” said the child, in a squeaky voice, obviously struggling to get out the word. Shane realized that the small creature grasping his arm was indeed a small boy. “Can you help me?” The boy whispered. Shane and the boy sat there for a while.
Lloyd, the boy, was actually only 5 years old. He had been in the cupboard for just over a day, hiding from the rest of the world, his friends and his master. Shane observed Lloyd’s arm; scars, scabs and blood covered his flesh. A boy, of only 5. Beaten. His childhood stolen from him. Never to return. Shane couldn’t leave the poor boy there, completing his plan of escape, could he? No. So he decided to take Lloyd with him. Taking them both to their freedom, or so he thought.
Peering out from behind the cupboard door, Shane saw the guard slumped against the wall, fast asleep like a small baby. He crept out with Lloyd close by his side. Slowly passing the guard they made it to the door. It wasn’t locked, which was unusual, but Shane didn’t think anything of it. Lloyd ran through the door, bursting into the fresh chilly air, when the gravity of the situation hit Shane. The reason the door wasn’t locked, was because someone had left it open. Someone had left before them, leaving the door open by mistake. Just as Shane was screaming his warning to Lloyd, the man, sitting on the bench, rose to his feet. Lloyd caught a glimpse of the man and drove his feet faster towards his way out. There was no point in turning back; he would have been beaten for trying to escape. Shane, standing just outside in the open, not knowing what he could do, noticed the man running. The guard was attempting to stop Lloyd leaving. It was too late for Shane to escape but he knew what he should do. Shane charged towards the pursuer of Lloyd, ramming into the man’s side.
The man landed on his side, with Shane of top of him. As Shane turned to see if Lloyd had managed it out, to his freedom, he saw the wave goodbye, from Lloyd. The boy from the cupboard, escaped. When Shane saw Lloyd disappear, the guard under him seized Shane from his collar. Choking, he was thrown into a mud pit. Beaten for his disobedience, but although these beatings were unlike any other, he knew he had saved a boy’s life.
“Wow, what happened to Lloyd then?” I ask, as curiosity takes me over.
“I dunno, never saw him after dat.” He shrugs, looks down to the floor at his feet and sniffles. By the time he had finished telling me about his various escape plans, we were outside the abandoned cottage.
To be continued.....