I've learned several things over the past few hours. One of those things was this: I didn’t know much of anything. Lots of questions have come to mind during my time away from home. How was I supposed to survive without money? Why did everyone treat me like I was meaningless? And why were boys so annoying? None of these have been answered.
The boy brushing past my shoulder as he ran from the overweight baker was the very same boy who had gotten me into this mess. He was always running from someone, and that should have been the first sign that something was wrong. This time though, he wasn't the only one running.
“Come on!” he yells in my ear, grabbing my hand and pulling me away from the large man. His face was bright red and smoke puffed out of his ears as his short legs carried him toward us at a speed that should have been impossible for him.
Turning from the cherry tomato, I follow the boy as he drags me along. We squeeze between clumps of people, causing angry muttering to follow in our wake. Then we come across a dark skinned woman in a large skirt. She was stooped over, looking at a fruit stand covered in bright colors of all kinds, her skirt blocking our path in the crowded street. Pulling up short, I glance around, hoping for some other escape route. Finding none, I huff and turn to the boy.
“What is wrong with you?” I hiss at him angrily, not wanting to draw attention to ourselves. I jerk my hand out of his grasp and he turns to look at me.
“What’s wrong with you?” he returns, grabbing my arm again. Then he spins toward the woman and pulls me into her skirt behind him. I scream and cover my eyes with my free hand, but the woman’s scream drowns me out. We plow through the fabrics and come out the other side, wails of horror left behind us. Opening my eyes and looking back at the scene we had created, I see the large baker trying to squeeze past the frazzled woman. I watch as she smacks him with her bag. His face grows redder and he rubs his face, tears glistening in his eyes.
I hear the boy laugh in front of me and I turn back to face him. “That guy’s just a big baby,” he tells me. “We’ve got nothing to worry about.”
I glare at him and speed up, dragging him behind me now. Turning sharply into a dark alley, I skid to a halt and let go, sending him sprawling onto the dirt floor. He looks up and asks, “What was that for?”
I bend down and pick up the loaf of bread that had fallen out of his grasp. “No. What was this for?”
“Food.” He stands up, grinning widely as he dusts off his trousers.
I roll my eyes. What a stupid boy. “I know that,” I inform him. “Why did you steal it?”
“Why are you asking such dumb questions? I wanted to eat it, so I took it.” His face was no longer smiling. Instead, he looked confused and annoyed.
I was more annoyed. “That man was trying to kill us!”
“No he wasn’t.” He grabs the loaf out of my hand and takes a large bite. His mouth full he says, “He was only going to throw us behind bars.”
“And that’s somehow better?”
“Uh, yeah.” He holds his snack out to me. “Want some? It’s not the best one in town, but it’s still good.”
“I’m not hungry,” I tell him. No way was I going to eat stolen bread that had fallen on the ground. Mother and Father had taught me better than that.
My stomach growled loudly, echoing in the dark space. The boy smirked at me and waved the bread in the air, the scent making my mouth water.
“Fine.” I snatched the bread out of his hands and bit into the crunchy loaf. The inside was warm and soft, completely contrasting with the outer shell. Its flavor fills my mouth and the warmth lines my stomach.
“It’s not that good.” I look up and see the boy grinning his stupid grin at me again. When I glare at him, he merely asks, “What did you say your name was?”
“Ida.” I hand him his bread and wipe my mouth on my sleeve before I realize what I’m doing. I look down at the now greasy sleeve and frown. This dress was made for that kind of thing anyway.
“Cool,” I hear the boy say. Looking up at him, I can’t help but give a small smile. He grins again and tells me, “My name’s Ernest.”
“There you are!”
We both turn towards the voice and find the large baker standing over us, his face redder than before.
“Still think there’s nothing to worry about?” I ask, inwardly cursing the deranged boy and his antics. Taking a cautious step, I slowly back away from the panting man who was now the color of a beat.
“I may have underestimated him,” Ernest responds, following my lead and slowly backing away too. I look over and almost scoff at him.
But the apron-wearing beat demands my full attention. He draws closer steadily, arms outstretched, smiling wickedly. “You won’t be bothering me any more,” he says, more to himself than to us. Trapped in the closed-off alley, there was nowhere for us to run.
Author Notes: That was a snippet of something bigger I’m working on. Hope you enjoyed reading!