Her feet were hurting from walking all day in the cold snow. It was just getting dark outside, the warm lights from nearby houses made the cold street look like a warm blanket, come to hug her better. If she focused on the soft orange glow illuminating the night she could almost feel the soft touch of a mother’s hand to her skin, the playful nudge of a sibling’s punch to her arm, or the proud smile of a loving father as he scooped her into his arms.
Almost, but not quite. The pain in her feet was too strong and too blistered for her to fool herself. She was alone, with no family left and no friends to keep her company.
She made her way through the lit streets, their light welcoming visitors and inviting them to stay for a while, until she reached the filthy alley beyond. The same alley which had been her home for the past four months. The same alley which would likely always be her home, now, unless she died of hunger or the freezing cold first. Looking at her feet now and feeling her stomach begging for food she hoped it was the latter.
She pulled her arms around her legs and drew them in tight. A hot tear rolled down her cheek, spreading the first warmth in months on her face.
In the distance, excited barking echoed. She loved dogs, but her parents had never allowed her one. They hadn’t allowed her anything, had blamed her for everything. When they had blamed her for her brother’s death, too, she had walked out one night and hadn’t returned. Her feet had carried her far, across the countryside as well as through cities, until she was finally sure that no one would recognise her. Just in case her parents were looking for her after all. By the lack of posters or overheard snippets of conversations she knew that no one was searching.
The barking grew louder, soon followed by sudden bursts of panting. Moments later a young Rottweiler – barely older than a puppy – burst into her alley, his tail wagging and his eyes fixated on her. He invited her to play, and began whining when she didn’t respond.
“Angel! Get back here, right now!”
The voice didn’t sound all that angry, she thought. It was worried, and distant. Angel didn’t leave her side, and rubbed his head against her waist, trying to get under her arm.
“There you are! What were you- Oh, shit! Mike, there’s a girl here! I think she needs an ambulance!”
More footsteps; arms around her waist.
“Shit! Hang on.”
Soft arms, like those of her mother, scooped her up and held her close. It was the best comfort she had received since she had run away.
“Stay with me, sweetheart. Help is coming.”
She wanted to believe it. But when had that ever been true?
All of my 10-Minute stories are improvised, unplanned, and unedited apart from spelling and grammar mistakes. The idea is to kick-start the dreaded Monday with a short, creative exercise without thinking about it, and simply writing for the sake of writing.
For all other 10-Minute shorts, take a look here.