The Girl with the Big Brown Eyes
Now enough about my past, though amazing as it sounds, let’s get on with the story. I was running at a full on sprint down the street. It was mostly desolate accept for a few pedestrians that didn’t give a crap about what I was doing. I skidded to a halt at a dark, creepy alleyway, sucked in a breath and crept through the narrow opening. I could feel my nose touch one of walls as I inched my way into the darkness. It was slimy and disgusting. I hate going through The Allies, but I had to cash in my loot as soon as possible. My customers don’t like to be kept waiting. Oh—The Allies are a system of passages that criminals take when they want to escape in a hurry. I’ve memorized all of them. Why? Because I’m amazing, that’s why.
I made it through the alleyway and ended up on another street. It looked exactly the same as the one I’d been on accept there were different buildings, and different people. That’s the thing about New York City, a lot of the streets look like clones of another street. I rounded a corner, my prize still grasped tightly in my hand. I was supposed to meet my customer at a place called The Black Sparrow. He had told me that it’d be on Crow’s Avenue, which I knew I was on right now. The one thing he didn’t tell me was where the hell it actually was. ‘An expert criminal, like you, will be able to find it,’ he had said. Yeah, that was complete baloney.
My eyes darted this way and that for anything black and sparrow-like. “Jesus Christ,” I hissed, after ten minutes of looking.I’m not one who is known for his patience. I mean—where was the damn place? I gritted my teeth and fiddled with my treasure which I had now stuck in my coat pocket. I must have not been paying attention, like I usually do when I’m frustrated, and collided with a girl, who was also, you guessed it, not paying attention.
“Crackers!” She gasped, as a ton of what I’m guessing was schoolwork, went flying in all directions. ‘Crackers?’ I thought, ‘what kind of person says crackers? We both stole glances at each other as we sat on the sidewalk, picking up paper after paper. The girl had really short hair—like boy short, something I’d never seen before. It was a really dark brown too, with tiny golden highlights weaved in. Her skin was pale, but didn’t have any freckles. She seemed tall, not as tall as me, but still pretty tall. Her, iris’ looked like little black marbles, darting frantically around the sidewalk in search of any more papers that might have escaped. She was young too, about fourteen or fifteen, but the dark circles under her eyes made her look way older.
“Schoolwork huh?” I asked, handing her the papers.She grinned, as if understanding what I’d meant by just those two, simple words. “Yeah, it’s hard keeping up with everything, you know?” She laughed, ruffling her hair. “Yeah,” I said, lying.
I’ve never even been to school.
I stood up and reached out a hand to the girl. She gladly took it and hoisted herself to her feet. I could see my blue eyes reflecting in her brown ones and I had to look away because I was staring too long. There was this strange feeling inside of me. Something I’d never felt before. Heat was rushing to my face. My skin was tingling with this weird, bubbly sensation. ‘Oh My God I think I’m going to explode,’ I thought, touching my cheeks.
Turns out I was just blushing.
“My names Paulina,” she said, clearing her throat. I looked back at her and noticed her cheeks weren’t red at all. I stared at her for a moment, unblinkingly. I'm usually such a smooth talker when it comes to ladies--well mobster ladies anyway. 'What should I say? I can't tell her my real name. I'm the most wanted criminal in NYC. Does she already know who I am? Don't be stupid Calvin. You're in a fricken disguise.' I came from my frantic thoughts to see Paulina, her big eyes beaming at me. "Oh--my names er...Jack," I lied. She let out a chuckle and folded her hands behind her back. "You look like you've just seen a ghost or something. Are you okay?" "Yeah, I'm fine," I said, a harshness in my voice.
No, I wasn't okay. I was confused, and felt like my stomach had a black hole in it--maybe it did. This girl--no It didn't matter she was a girl--this person I'd just met. I was jealous. Jealous she was happy, jealous she could walk down the street knowing she was Paulina, and not somebody hiding from the cops. I couldn't be judgmental though, maybe her parents were wackjobs, or her siblings were mean to her, but from the looks of it her life seemed perfect. Don't get me wrong, my life was pretty good too. I was infamous, got loads of money, all the girls I wanted, and all I had to do was steal stuff with out getting caught. It was just when I was around normal people that I realized all the flaws in my own life. Yeah I can do all these amazing things, but I couldn't have a family, I always had to wear a disguise--I think part of me just wanted to be a regular person. It would never be like that though. I was practically born into a life of crime. I was a thief, a criminal, a convict--and I could never be anything else. When a person accepts a life of crime they're accepting a life of running, stealing, and being shot at. It bugged me-- it bugged me that I, Calvin Cadwell, the most infamous criminal in New York City, the one that all mobsters feared, the one that could rob any bank, steal any artifact, got all the women he wanted--
couldn't steal this girl's life--her happiness.
The street was desolate, and for the first time I realized the clouded sky, and the smell of smoke that hung low in the air. All the bad in the world was rushing at me like one big avalanche, and I couldn't stop it. When would it hit me? Bury me in a mound of darkness, suffocating me until I finally gave up struggling and died.
"Hey, Jack." The avalanche paused. "Jack, are you okay?" There was a voice, a small, quiet voice, but it was just enough to pull me from my thoughts and out into the real world. "Jack, you look really sick," it said. My eyes slowly fell and focused on Paulina, one of her hands was gently wrapped around mine. "You're so cold," she mumbled, not making eye contact. It felt nice, like a fire had just been lit inside me. I realized my hand was beginning to grip around hers and I jolted back. "What do you think you're doing?" I yelled, "what trick do you think you're pulling?"
Paulina jumped backwards, her eyes locked with mine. "I-I just thought--you were cold--that's all--I didn't mean to upset you." She was scared now. I could see the fear written all over her face. That's the way it should be--how it always will be. I'm the scary criminal and others will cower in fear. That's how I've made it through my life. That's how I've made it this far. You think being a sweet little, innocent child gets you anywhere? It doesn't.
I was walking toward her now, my fists clenched tightly together. 'This girl thinks she can get to me? Thinks she can make me better? She's a lunatic--insane.' My heart was aching with emotion. Was it anger, frustration, longing?
"Stop!" Paulina shrieked, her voice echoing off the buildings. "I'm scared. W-what are you doing?" She raised a fist in a feeble attempt to punch me, but I caught it. That's where we stood for a while. I didn't take my eyes off her, my hand wrapped around her wrist. "P-please," she cried. I saw a tear trickle down the side of her cheek, falling onto the pavement.
No--this wasn't right. She was just trying to help. She didn't know who I was. I was in a disguise--a different person. This wasn't right. I lowered her hand and pressed it against my cheek. I could see Paulina's cold breath in the air, and the way her eyes fixed upon mine in confusion. It felt so comforting, feeling her soft skin against my rough face. I felt her begin to pull away. "Just a little longer," I choked, wanting to keep her hand there forever.
After a moment I let go of her and let my limp hand fall to my side in defeat. "I'm so sorry," I sighed, my blue eyes looking into hers. She shook her head and a small grin formed on her face. "No, you don't have to be sorry," she said, "sometimes we fall apart. It's just part of being human." I felt a tear fall down my face and quickly wiped it off. "Yeah," was all I could muster at that point.
"Hey," Paulina said, her gentle voice ringing in my ears, "do you want to get some coffee tomorrow? I get off of school around this time, and there's a great place down the road." I froze. Was she really asking me to go somewhere with her? "No--I almost hurt you," I said, stepping away from her. "Oh come on," she laughed, "if you really wanted to hurt me you would've a while ago. I think I'll take my chances. Let's meet here at 3:00 and we'll walk there together. Okay?" My eyes widened and I let out a sigh. "Okay," I said with a slight smile. "Good," she said, her bright eyes gazing into mine.
We waved goodbye to each other and I watched her walk down the empty street until she was no more than a tiny speck in the distance. I don't know why I agreed to go with her to a coffee shop, or why she even asked me in the first place. We had just met--only exchanged a few words with one another, and half of them were me being angry at myself. What kind of crazy do you have to be to want to go somewhere with a complete stranger? And what kind of crazy was I for accepting her offer? Maybe this was for the best though. I did like her smile, and the way her short hair bobbed up and down when she talked, and how her eyes seemed to sparkle when she looked at me--n-never mind, scratch all of that.
Why did we bump into each other that day? I still haven't figured that part out. A criminal, and a sweet girl, talking together on the street. I know it's not very logical to think this, but maybe it was--