And I'm a goddamn coward,
But then again, so are you,
And the lion's roar, the lion's roar,
Has me evading and hollering for you,
And I never really knew what to do.
-First Aid Kit's The Lion's Roar
I found him.
I finally found him.
Nearly six years since I had seen him, and I finally found him.
I looked for him, everywhere.
But I was always too late.
I was in the factory when a newsie ran in, handing out papers to anyone who would take them.
We all tried to tell him we couldn't pay, but he didn't listen, yelling to everyone to go to the rally, support the newsies.
So I went.
I was at the head of the crowd that ran for the strike against Pulitzer, but I wasn't striking. I had a different goal in mind.
I tried to tell them that I had to get up there, to find him, but they wouldn't let me, and when it was all over, he rode away, and I knew I'd never see him again.
A week later, I got work of a newsie, the leader of Manhattan.
So I went to the Manhattan Lodging House.
The boys were loitering around outside in the heat, because I supposed it was too warm inside. A few held papes, some had bottles, others were counting money or playing cards.
I went up to one, a boy with a red shirt.
"I'm looking for someone," I began, when the boy next to him looked me over and said,
"So'm I, doll, an' I'd like it ta be you." The boy in red elbowed him and looked up at me. I could see the cards he held in his hand. Not a bad player.
"Who ya lookin' foah?" He asked. "We've all kinds o' folk round here."
"You'll know this boy," I said. I clasped my pocketbook in front of me, conscious of my prim blue flowered dress in this drab place. "His name is Francis Sullivan."
Every boy near us quieted. I looked around, my curls bouncing.
The boy who had insulted me stood. He had buck teeth, and a cap turned backwards.
I took a step back as newsboys closed in around me.
"What do a goil like you want wit' Cowboy?" Another boy asked.
"I don't want anything to do with a cowboy," I said. My curls bounced as I looked around me. I just knew that my heels were now caked in mud. "I'm looking for Francis Sullivan. I have to find him."
"Well, he's taken," Another voice said, and I whirled to find a boy with an eyepatch glaring at him. "An' 'e wouldn't fall fer no rich goil, neidah."
"No," I protested. "You don't understand. My name is Mabel and I—" But someone cut me off, a voice coming from the entrance to the lodging house.
A boy stood there, about seventeen, with a bandana and a waistcoat. He leaned in the doorway, eyes peering at me.
The boys reacted like soldiers who have gone through this routine before. They abandoned me, leaving to huddle behind and around Francis, who stepped down from the doorway, to come closer. Some of the younger boys huddled in front of him, and the older ones peered at me from behind and next to Francis.
"She says 'er name's Mabel," A boy called out.
I glared in the direction of the voice. I gripped my purse, conscious of my muddy heels, my lipstick stained lips, my blue flowered dress, my hat with a rose in it. I didn't belong around here, with the boys who sold papers for a penny each. "That's right," I said, with an upper class accent. I looked at Francis. "I've been looking for you," I was so scared, and I knew I was a coward. I hadn't seen him in forever, and I was scared of what he would think of me.
"What for?" He asked. "I ain't gonna go out wit' you," Francis told me.
"No, Francis, you've got it all wrong!" I told him. "don't you remember me?"
Francis cocked his head to peer at me. A few other newsies followed suit, and one bonked heads with another, but I was too scared to laugh. My dark brown curls were wet at the roots from sweat, and I tossed my head a bit to push them back.
Francis shook his head, and his hair flopped. "Can't 'membah you'se at all."
"So go away," a newsie called.
"No, Francis!" I cried. I started forward, and the newsies tensed, so I stopped. "Francis, you have to remember me! It's been a long time, and we've both changed, but you just have to remember me!"
Francis shook his head, and turned away.
"No," I muttered under my breath. "No,"
But Francis just walked to the lodging house. The newsboys glared at me, forming a shield between me and Francis.
"No!" I yelled, and charged. "No, Francis, no!" The boys caught me and pushed me away. I just ran back in. "Francis Sullivan, get back here now!" I screamed. The boys pushed me away, and I fell into a puddle of mud. I scrambled to my feet, soaked through and filthy, my hat on the ground. "Francis Sullivan, you bastard, I'm your sister!" I yelled as he disappeared into the lodging house. "Get your ass out here!" I stormed for the lodging house door, kicking my heels off as I went. I kicked two boys who got in my way, and I slapped another across the face. I still clutched my purse in my left hand. "Francis James Sullivan, please listen to me!" I yelled at him.
I ran up the stairs, following the footsteps of my brother. Boys on the stairs, and an old man at a desk looked up, staring at me. I ignored them.
"Listen to me!" I yelled finally, furiously, in a deserted room. Francis stopped. He turned, and glared at me. I shut the door behind me.
"What?" Francis demanded. "You're nuts," He told me. "I don't got a sister called Mabel."
I turned from shutting the door, tucking my curls behind my ears. "Six years ago, your father was sent to jail for killing a man." Francis glared at me. "Your mother died of pneumonia. You were eleven, and your sister was ten." As Francis opened his mouth, and I came closer and held up a hand for him to stop. "You ran, and left her alone. You stole food and got stuck in the refuge. So you weren't there when our Great-Aunt Brunhilde heard our parents died."
Newsies stormed through the door. Someone yelled, "Grab 'er! Getter outta heah!"
"She took me away, Francis, and gave me a new name!" I yelled at him as newsboys grabbed me. "She took me away, and gave me a home, and helped me look for you! But you weren't there, Francis, because you forgot all about your sister, for six whole years, you bastard!" I fought the newsies. "Don't touch me!" I yelled at them. "Let me go!"
They dragged me out the door, down the stairs. It only took three of them, because I wasn't that big for a girl about to turn sixteen in a month. As they pulled me out the door, I yelled back at Francis. "Her name was Alana Sullivan, Francis! You forgot about her!"
They tossed me into the street, again, and I was soaked in mud, again.
I grabbed my muddy shoes, my hat, and my purse.
I was a coward, I knew. So was Francis, but that wasn't the point.
I made my way back home, to one of the richest households in New York.