I smile as I feel the cool air whipping through my hair, wrapping itself around my body and pushing its way past me as I sprint round the corner, only to be welcomed by a small alley way, ending in a metal fence. I feel adrenaline kicking through me as I realise that in one, maybe two minutes, they would catch me. I quickly thought of the consequences of them catching me, and in a split second decided I wouldn't let them. I ran at the fence, pulling my legs up to the metal and clambering up it. As I jumped from the top of the fence, I felt a searing pain down my arm, and I looked down at it, only to be welcomed by a large cut, running from my wrist to my elbow crease. I wiped the top layer of blood away with the sleeve of my jumper, which I had wrapped around my waist, and ran on, with only one glimpse back. Eventually I found a dark alleyway, which ended on my street. I stared down the alleyway, checking for signs of life. Deciding the street was clear, I ran on.
I pulled the rusting silver key out of my pocket and unlocked the door. Pulling the door open, I jumped inside and ran into my front room, looking out through the netted curtains. As my breathing slowed, I realised that my house was quiet, and unnaturally so. There were no sounds coming from upstairs, which meant one of two things; both Lucita and Mum were asleep or out, or something had happened. A million situations flooded into my brain, some including scenes of me pulling open the door to my mothers bedroom to see her passed out, an empty bottle of pills in her hand and a note in the other. I kicked myself for thinking this. Mum was seeing people now, people who could help her, people who are helping her. I still held my breath as I nudged open her bedroom door to find... nothing. Where was she? I racked my brains, trying to remember whether or not she had said something about going out, or taking Lucita to see Paul, but no such memories arose. "Mum..?" I called out uncertainly, wishing for her to call something back, even for her to yell at me. The house felt cold, in a way, and I ran over to the thermostat to turn up the temperature. I jumped as I heard a creak behind me and froze with my hand an inch away from the dial.
"Yes, it is quite cold here isn't it?" said a male voice behind me. I could feel adrenaline pumping through my body, as the voice drawled on, "but don't worry, you don't have to stay here."
Still facing the wall, I choked out the words, "Where are my family?" my voice shook and I noticed my outstretched hand was also shaking, causing the blood from the cut to run down the sides of my arm.
"Oh, don't worry, they're safe," said the voice. My heart beat quickened, who was this man, what was he doing here, and what had he done to my family? "Fiametta, isn't it?"
"My name is Fia," I said, confidently, a little anger showing through. I hated the name Fiametta, mainly because it was given to me by my father, a thoroughly Italian man, who had threatened my Mum plenty of times before kicking her and me out of the house when I was just two years old. "And where are they?" I said turning. I backed against the wall, as I saw a large fox staring into my eyes. "W-what are you?!" I spluttered, as distant memories of a fox flooded back, "I've seen you before, sensed you, I know it!" I remembered one easter holiday where I had felt the whole time like I was being followed, and once or twice had turned to see a fox slinking around a corner, or occasionally I would see the fox just slightly, a swish of a reddish-orange tail hiding behind a bin or a hedge.
"I am your spirit guardian, Fia, I've been watching you. My name is Kit, follow me." And with those words, the fox strutted away, towards the back door. I had a strange urge to follow him, I even felt like I trusted him, and the sense of trust brought with it a feeling of embarrassment for my early presumptions. I opened the door to the empty streer
"The fox Mummy! There's that fox" I had said, once or twice "I told you Mummy! A fox is in our garden!" I remembered Mum's annoyance at my sudden obsession with foxes, and how every time I had claimed to see the fox, she would look and see nothing. She had taken me to see psychiatrists and child specialists who had all asked exactly the same questions, all in a patronising voice "Did you really see a fox, Fiametta, or are you telling fibs?" they would say, and eventually they had managed to convince me that I was lying, that there was no fox. Yet here I was, walking with a fox. Not just any fox, a fox that could talk. Maybe I was imagining it, all of it, the quiet street, the seemingly sudden disappearance of all signs of life, the larger-than-average fox that was strolling along the pavement with me, stopping every now and again to look up into the sky.
"Here we are," said Kit, stopping suddenly outside a nice looking hotel. I remembered being here once or twice, while Mum was between boyfriends and between houses. The fox ran into the hotel and I followed suit. I entered the building to find him stood by the reception desk. I hesitated as I approached the desk, wondering whether to wait for the receptionist. "Just take a key," the fox said impatiently. I grabbed a random key and watched as the fox walked over to the kitchens. I walked up to the doorway and looked into the room, over the shoulder of some girl who seems to have frozen in the doorway, stood next to a deer. I look further over her and realise the reason she has frozen.
"Don't scream," said the wolf, obviously bored with having to say this. I didn't scream at all. I stood in the doorway with my mouth slightly open, before moving around the girl to join the other people in the room. I stared at the food on the table longingly, before realising I haven't eaten anything since breakfast, and now, going by the time on the clock, its 10pm. I silently pick up a piece of bread from the table, fully aware that all eyes in the room were focused on me and Kit. I slowly saunter over to a chair at the back of the room and pick slowly at the piece of bread, popping a piece into my mouth and chewing on it, before swallowing the bread and looking up at the people around the table, my eyes meeting all of theirs and ending with the boy at the end of the table, sat next to the wolf. I realise I have been holding his gaze for a little too long and drop it, returning to my bread. Maybe he noticed, maybe he didn't mind. Oh well, I thought, he's cute.