They finish off their lunch and start back on the route to her apartment. She finds that his reactions to the passersby are much more interesting as she decides this must be his first time in the city. He dares not stray into the crowd or tug on her hand to point out anything else he wants. His facial expressions of wide-eyed and open mouthed awe swivel left and right as he desperately tries to take in all the people and activity as they walk.

When they arrive to her apartment, he takes a moment to stare up at the building, tilting his head back to see the top. She ushers him into the lobby and heads for the elevator, and he obediently follows but clutches to her side when the elevator jerks before starting its climb.

Her flat is not far down the hall and when she opens the door, he instantly shoots out of her grasp and into the living room. Surprised by his excitement, she locks the door and takes off her coat and heels, depositing her purse on the counter of her kitchen to search for him. She catches the sight of his white coat laying, crumpled on the floor of her living room and decides to pick it up. She shakes out the coat so it doesn't wrinkle and recognizes that it's actually a lab coat. Confused as to why a kid would have only a lab coat on him, she follows the trail of her discarded flats in the hall leading to her room.

She finds him tucked on her bed, curled up with only her green scarf still tied around his neck. Her heart warms and she wonders if this is what motherhood feels like. She dispels the thought from her mind and scoops him in her arms, surprised by how light he is for a kid his age. Pulling back the sheets and comforter, she tucks him in, and just as she finishes tucking him in, he tosses around so his back faces her. She smiles as he lightly snores, unaware that he has just messed her careful tucking, so she lifts the blanket to tuck him in again.

At the sight of his back, she stops. From his shoulder blades to the bottom of his rib cage, two elongated bumps run down  his back from under the bandages. Hesitantly, she lifts a finger to stroke down the length of one, startled when he sighs. The bumps flex and twitch under the bandages when she moves her finger away. Sarah tears up at the thought of what the abusers did to this poor kid, appalled at what happened to create the bumps on his back. Carefully, she tucks the blankets and sheets around him again, patting his hair lightly before leaving him to sleep.

The End

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