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In the Dark Alley

01/29/2013

The alley held shadows, too many to distinguish person from thing, until one of the forms moved.  A tiny shape scurried from each large silhouette to the next, making no sound as it neared the dead end of the narrow garbage lined passage.  A light came on two stories above the street and the thing moving froze in the luminescence.  A female face turned up towards the offending brightness and after determining that it was not due to anything in the alley, looked back to the street.down the dark alley 001

The young girl sneaking through the blackened alley held a package made of cloth.  She remained rooted in the spot the light had caught her, and did not begin moving again until the light blinked out.  ‘Probably someone going to the bathroom’ she thought, ‘I need to finish this and get home before they realize I’m gone.’  She stayed still for a moment longer in the darkness, allowing her eyes to readjust.  The package she held rustled slightly and she was reminded of the reason she was in this part of town.

Shaking her head, she started walking again, putting one foot completely down carefully before shifting her weight.  She did not want to step on a cat, or kick any glass bottles, or anything that would attract attention her way.  She hoped to simply do what she needed to do, and then get out of the area and back home without being caught at any stages.

Her bag was already packed and hidden underneath the hedges in front of the house her parents had insisted she come back to.  Warm well-intentioned invitations had been replaced with rules and dictator-ish attitudes.  Her loving family had turned into wardens of a prison, and she needed to escape and flex her wings to fly away to another life.

She refused to live under their rules only because she had been tossed to the curb and left alone.  She had fallen for their scheme, and knew the only way out was the path she was taking.  She knew it would haunt her forever, but she had never wanted this.  She wanted to live her own life, and not be tied down to any responsibilities.  The list of things she needed to do once she set out was long, but she knew she’d never get any of them done until this first step was taken no matter how difficult it seemed.

Reaching the end of the alley, she leaned against the huge metal trash bin and stared through the chain links of the fence that blocked off the opposite street.  Listening for any sound, watching for any movement she waited.  Both of the lids on the bin were closed and she silently swore at the luck of it.  She knew the lid would clang when she opened it, or at the very least, the hinges would squeal.  Setting the cloth package she carried on the ground, she tested the lid closest to her.  Raising it an inch, she winced at the beginning of a rusty creak and she let it back down gently.  She moved to the far lid and lifted it up to see if it had the same result.

The grating noise was considerably less and she lifted it up until it hit a catch and stayed up.  It trembled slightly when she let go but it stayed put and she relaxed.  Bending over to retrieve the cloth, she heard a noise almost as if feet were scurrying away from her.  She froze in place, half bent over with her hands reaching out for the material on the ground.  Her eyes were squeezed tightly shut as she waited for someone to challenge her presence in the alley by the trash bin.

When no other sound came to her ears, she finished her motion of picking up the bundle of cloth and stood straight.  She again stayed still barely breathing while she took stock of the situation.  Struggling to hear around the rush of blood in her head and the voice in her mind telling her to stop what she was doing, she faced the trash bin.  Steadying her swaying body with one hand holding the edge of the bin, she clutched the tiny bundle close to her chest and bowed her head over it.

She began to whisper into the cloth, “Please don’t hate me.  I’m doing the only thing I know how to do, run away.  I’m not fit for you, and you are better off not knowing anything about this world.  Maybe someday in another life, you can tell me why this was wrong or right.  I love you little one, but not enough to change my own life for you.”

Trying hard to ignore the tears that were falling onto the bundle, she stepped onto the grip the trucks used to pick up the bin and hoisted up.  Leaning into the dumpster as far as she could, she let the bundle drop into the murky bottom with the trash.  The soft plop it made when it hit made her gasp aloud, and she thought, ‘I’m damned for this.’

Letting go of the bin and stepping down to the ground again, she stood where she landed.  Her breathing was coming in ragged short gulps of air, and she turned her back to the bin and headed back to the shadows to make her escape into her new life.

After she had collected her bag from the hedge, she headed to the bus station to start step two of her journey.  All along the walk, tears flowed down her face, and her heart dropped lower and lower until it settled under her stomach.  Her breaths were coming in loud hiccupping wet gulps of sorrow, and she started running before she changed her mind and went back to her parent’s house.

Twenty minutes later, she stood outside the bus station holding a ticket in her hand and waiting for the bus to motor her away from the life she never asked for.  She had to continually force her brain to think about the road ahead and not the inky darkness of stinky metal and scurrying feet of rodents.  She tamped down the thoughts of a rustling bundle of cloth struggling for movement and warmth.  She ignored the ache in her heart that told her the bundle needed her more than she needed her new life.

The bus stopped at the station and let three passengers on.  They took seats away from each other, none of them noticing the discarded travel bag standing by the door of the station.  Exhaust pumping the air

full of waste, the bus chugged away from the station, none of the people on board paying attention to the small form that ran in the opposite direction as the bus was heading.

In a dark alleyway, a bundle of cloth is picked out of a pile of garbage by trembling hands.  It is hugged closely to a warm body and the baby inside the cloth sighs contentedly and falls asleep.  Later that night, a young girl boards a bus, holding only a small tattered travel bag and a bundle of cloth.  A man sitting three seats away asks her where she’s headed.

“To a new life.”  Is all she answers, and then she leans back and holds the bundle tight, knowing that in the end she had done the right thing.

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From → Shorts

One Comment
  1. I love the drawing!! Is there going to be something for every story? There should be, even if its just a pic from the Internet. (If you download pics from the web, turn them into b&w. They’ll look better posted with stories that way.)
    It’s so detailed. Very very good work!
    You should think of adding a little post script – with ‘drawing title’ drawn by ‘guys name’
    Or, include that info on the picture edit page, so it will show up itty bitty right under the pic.

    Love it!

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