This is a story that I started quite awhile ago. I worked on it rigorously for nearly five months and it's one of my stories that I'm most proud of. It's realistic fiction, so with that being said, please enjoy!
It all began on that night. Dark clouds smothered the light of the stars and street lamps cut through the damp air, illuminating small patches of rocky gravel and sidewalk. Other than the street lamps' glow, the streets were pitch black. The air was heavy and sullen like a graveyard's. But nothing that night, nothing, was darker than what happened in that alley. And maybe if I hadn't been walking home alone so late that night, things would have been different…
But I suppose I'm getting ahead of myself. My name is Kairi Mizu. I'm 17. I live in a small urban area called Kennon City. I don't have a mother and my father is almost never home. I dropped out of high school because it was too stressful, what with the everyday drama, the massive amounts of work, and the lack of any motivation to work hard anyway. I know I probably don't need to tell you that my tale isn't a happy one, because you can most likely guess that from what I've told you so far. And I also know what you're probably thinking right now. Yes, what happened that night was dark and horrifying and I wish I hadn't been there, it did happen in an alley, and yes, it even involved a boy. But I was not attacked and raped, because I bet that's what you were thinking. No, nothing like that. It didn't even start as a bad day, really. Well, I can't say any of my days are particularly good, but it was just an ordinary old Wednesday.
I woke up early like usual and went down the stairs of our apartment to the small kitchen. Much to my unsurprise, Father had already left for work. I opened the fridge and took out the carton of orange juice. I poured myself a small glass for breakfast and sipped it quietly as I gazed out the window at the sleeping city. I glanced down at my watch. 5:35. I still had a few hours before work. Just enough time for a nice walk. I washed my empty cup in the sink and then headed back up to my room to get dressed.
Kennon City isn't very warm. Even on the hottest of days, long sleeves won't kill you. In the morning, the air is particularly brisk and, more often than not, a low thick fog likes to settle itself in before the sun rises. That particular morning, I put on jeans, a purplish pink short-sleeve top, and a grey long-sleeve zip-up sweatshirt. I slipped on my usual purple tennis shoes and stepped outside. The air was actually cool and refreshing. As I inhaled, the familiar sharpness of the frigid sky rejuvenated my lungs. I locked the front door of the apartment and, placing the keys in my pocket, started to stroll through the town.
If you asked me, I would never say I liked Kennon City. But I suppose it's just the people I dislike. In the morning, when I walk through the streets before anyone is awake, before the sidewalks are lined with townsfolk and the shops filled with customers, it's quite an enjoyable place to be. I would venture to say I really like the area. But in its rush hour, Kennon City is the last spot I want to be found. It's noisy, it's crowded, and frankly, the people are rude jerks. I said I was putting it frankly.
So after my morning stroll, I proceeded to walk toward Brian's Grocery. That's where I work. It's really a small grocery store. I know working at the food mart is probably the most boring job you could think of, but I don't exactly have much to occupy my time with and munny is nice too. I know I said I hate the people in this city for the most part, but some of them are OK. Brian is one of those OK people. He's the owner of the store and he's pretty nice. He's only like 22 or something, but he really wanted to start a grocery store of his own for some reason. He really likes food. He's nice too. He isn't all self-centered and wrapped up in his own crap like most people around here. Hey, I'll admit, I mostly worry about myself. But if you don't take care of yourself, then who will? It's a tough world and there's no time to be worrying about how other people are gonna get by. So then why, that very night, did I stop to help that boy?
I had been working my shift when finally, lo and behold, sweet lunch break came. The next employee walked in and took their place at the counter. I was about to start walking home to fix myself a quick sandwich when my cell phone rang. When I picked up, Brian was on the other end.
"Yeah?" I answered.
"Sorry it's such short notice. Samantha just called in sick, she's got a nasty case of stomach flu or something. Would you be able to take the evening shift too? You would just have to come back after Greg's afternoon hours. I'd pay you extra."
"Oh, uh, of course," I replied, reluctant to have to work extra time but realizing I had nothing else to do. Besides, munny makes the worlds go round.
"Thanks so much, Kairi!" Brian said. "I'll see you on Friday with your paycheck!"
"Ok, bye Brian." I hung up. Sighing, I headed out of the store and went home. I made a turkey sandwich, then plopped down on the couch and flipped the TV on. There was nothing good on, really. The news, random history crap, lame soap operas. After channel surfing for nearly half an hour, I gave up and turned the TV off. Lying down on the couch, I settled in for a quick nap. When I woke up, I had slept longer than expected. It was nearly 5:00 already. I had to be at the shop in fifteen minutes! I sprung from my comfy place on the couch and dashed out the door.
After a busy evening at Brian's Grocery, the sun was starting to set in the west and the whole city was shutting down for the night. After all our customers had left and closing hours officially arrived, it was already dark out. I had never closed up shop before. I turned the lights off and locked the door to the building. I began to walk home, already feeling a sense of unrest in the air. It was overwhelmingly dark out. I snorted as I recalled Brian's words. Evening shift. I hardly call 5:15-9:30 an evening shift. Plus, there are always those people who linger around and hold up everything. I didn't really close the store and leave until nearly ten o' clock. Who grocery shops that late anyway? C'mon. Well, whatever, it can't be helped. As I was saying, I was walking home alone at night under a darkened, stormy sky. I was almost back to our apartment-like house when I heard a loud noise. It was like a bang, a loud thunk against the side of something metal. A dumpster maybe? The noise came from an alleyway. I froze in place. Without daring to look around the corner, I listened carefully. There was a quiet but gruff voice, one that sounded like it was angry but trying to keep anyone from hearing.
"You didn't get it?" There was no reply. Then came another smash against what I was sure now was a dumpster. "I feed you and your little brat sister and you can't even steal one measly, little diamond?"
Now a timid girl's voice spoke. "We tried really hard, Ronin. We did. There was guards everywhere!"
"Shut up," the first voice bluntly ordered. "You and your brother would be begging on the streets for bread if it weren't for me. I oughta make you anyway. You don't do anything for us. You're just in the way. If it weren't for you, he probably would've gotten that diamond today-!"
"Leave her out of this," a second male voice suddenly spoke up. I wanted to get out of there, to run and not hear anymore and forget I had even come by there that night. But I couldn't leave. They might have heard me. I couldn't let them know someone had been listening in.
"Well, well, well," the first voice spoke again. "Look at big brother finally fighting back." There was a loud smack, a muffled grunt of pain, and a worried cry from the girl. "Roxas!"
"Shut up!" the first male hissed again. There were a few footsteps and the girl whimpered in fear.
"Leave her alone!" the second male's voice yelled. Then there was a commotion. All I could make out was a rapid shuffling of footsteps, then a series of loud buffets. I cringed as the noise of a body hitting the ground sounded. "You better bring me something of value soon or I'll make hunger the least of your worries," the first low voice warned. The girl broke into a soft cry. I felt tears of absolute horror well in my own eyes. Immediately, there were footsteps heading out of the alley. My terrified heart smashed against my ribcage as if it were trying to break out and run away. I frantically leapt up and ducked behind a garbage can, holding my breath for fear it was loud enough to be heard miles away.
A tall muscular man with a long, dark ponytail walked out of the alleyway. He had a cigarette sticking out of the side of his mouth and he looked like he was in his late twenties. He turned away from my hiding spot and started walking off in the other direction. Once he was out of sight, I slowly rose out from behind the trash can and passed in front of the entrance to the alley, heading toward home. Fear still gripped at my heart. Keep looking straight ahead, keep looking straight ahead, I instructed myself. But as I walked in front of the alleyway, I heard the girl's quiet sobbing and stopped. Keep looking straight ahead. Keep looking straight ahead. I wanted to keep walking, but I couldn't do it. Slowly and terrified of what I would find, I turned my head and looked into the darkness. There I saw the girl, hunched over, crying into her hands. She wore a plain white dress and she had soft, gentle blonde hair. I still, to this day, don't know what made me do it, but I began to walk slowly into the alley toward the girl. When she heard footsteps coming, she whipped around in fear, gazing up at me with tear-streaked eyes. A wave of sorrow cascaded over my heart. Then I glanced at the ground next to her and that's when my stomach flopped.
There, on the ground, was a body. I could only faintly make it out in the darkness, but it looked like a boy my age with spiked blonde hair. He had a white T-shirt and baggy brown pants on. His eyes were closed and a thick ooze of blood ran down his face, from his nose to a pool on his shirt. I held back vomit as my heart started picking up its pace again. The little girl looked up at me with the most pleading, innocent blue eyes I've ever seen. "You have to help my brother."
I stared at her for at least three seconds, not sure what I should do. I uneasily looked back at the boy on the ground, then back at the child. Knowing it was too late to just walk away, I stooped over and, taking one of the boy's hands, dragged his arm over my shoulder. I awkwardly hoisted him up, trying to support his weight. I grimaced and swallowed hard as the smell of blood wafted toward me. His eyes slowly opened halfway, but his body still hung weakly. I began to walk forward, dragging him more than anything else. He was heavy and he certainly wasn't holding himself up. His eyes gradually fell shut again. His little sister scurried up beside him, holding his limp hand the whole way home.
Once we finally got to my house and I struggled to unlock the door and keep the girl's brother up at the same time, I dragged him over to a wall and propped him sitting up against it. I praised the worlds that Father wasn't coming home tonight as I walked into my room and started looking through my drawers. I finally found an old black T-shirt of mine that I never wore anymore. I grabbed it and then took a blanket from my bed and went back out to the living room. I walked over to where the blonde boy was sitting by the wall, his sister right next to him. To my surprise, he had regained consciousness. He looked wearily up at me, seeming confused but too exhausted to care.
"Oh, um, you're up," I noted. "Here." I held the T-shirt out to him. He took it without showing any emotion at all. I went into the kitchen and grabbed a washcloth and bowl while he changed into the new, clean shirt. I filled the bowl with hot water, then carried it out into the living room. "Here," I said. "You might wanna clean up." I dipped the rag into the soothing water, then wrung it out and gave it to the boy. "Roxas, right?" I asked, remembering the girl yell his name in the alley. He didn't answer as he began to wipe the blood from his face. I gingerly picked up the bloody shirt from the ground and walked over to the trash. "I don't think this is gonna wash out…" I explained, dropping it in the bin.
"That's Roxas," the blonde girl answered for her older brother. "He takes good care of me. I'm Naminé."
"Well, nice to meet you, Naminé. I'm Kairi," I smiled, trying to seem genuinely happy, despite the dire circumstances. I spread the blanket out on the couch. "We don't have any extra beds. I'm sorry. I hope this will do." Roxas pulled himself up onto his feet and walked over. Then he looked over at me with his deep, pained eyes.
Then he weakly laid down as Naminé scurried in beside him, snuggling up into her brother's protective arms. They were both asleep within seconds. I sighed as I picked up the bowl and stained washcloth and went to the sink to clean up. What had I gotten myself into?
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