“Come back here thief!” A bumbling shopkeeper rushed through the streets, chasing after a darting figure. There was a bouncy laugh as the figure rushed through the crowd.
“It’s just an apple. You wouldn’t mind lending it to a hungry child in dire need for food, would you?” The figure sang, somersaulting behind a crate with a silent snicker. The shopkeeper rushed by, not seeing the hidden shadow of the thief behind the crate.
This thief, was the notorious Sparrow.
Seventeen and growing, the short lithe girl was well known in the city for being the only thief that the guard had been unable to catch. They had long given up on her and most people just hoped that one day, she would leave this city to wreak havoc on another. Unfortunately, this one day did not seem to have happened yet.
Sparrow took out one of the glossy red apples and cleaned it with her shirt before taking a large bite out of it. It tasted crisp and sweet, something she had not had the luxury to taste in a while.
“Did you get me an apple?” A little boy popped out from behind her and almost threw the teenager into a frightened fit.
“Don’t scare me like that again.” She scolded, glaring at the grimy little boy whose hair, which was once blond, was now as black as soot. He stuck his tongue out at her.
“I’m hungry.” He complained, his big watery blue eyes staring deep into her purple ones. Sparrow smirked.
“Here.” She tossed him an apple. “Thank the fat grocer down the street.”
“The ugly one?” Those blue eyes opened wide. “He deserves it.”
Of course he did. Only a few days ago, the same man had beaten the boy for being dirty. For being dirty! Sparrow couldn’t think of a meaner excuse to kick someone out.
She leaned against the crate and took a bite out of her apple.
“Jacob, you’re going to have to learn to fend for yourself, you know.” She glanced over at the boy, who really was famished, devouring his apple completely in a matter of moments. Seeing his still hungry eyes, she toss her unfinished apple to him as well.
“Why?” He finally said, wiping his mouth on his grimy shirt. “I have you. We have you.”
“I’m not always going to be here.” She took out a small dagger that she had hidden up her boot and began polishing. Jacob squinted at her.
“You’re not going away are you?” There was a hint of anxiousness in his voice and Sparrow could understand. She was the only person who protected the homeless orphans within the city and without her, the kids would lose a strong leader. Sparrow sighed, shrugging the guilt off.
“You know how much the city hates me. It won’t be long before they’ll send in government troops just to get rid of me. I can’t overthrow an entire army.”
“But... but what are we going to do without you?” Jacob sounded a tad upset, the fear already shaking in his voice.
“Well, you’ll figure it out. You can’t always rely on me.” She leaned forward and grabbed the boy by his shoulders, staring deep into his eyes. “You have to learn to be strong. To stand up for yourself. And whatever you do, you have to believe in yourself.”
Jacob nodded, but tears already began to well up in his eyes.
“Are you really leaving then?” He whispered. Sparrow smiled sadly.
“Yup. Tonight.” She wiped the tears from his eyes. “I’ll miss you guys.”
Suddenly Jacob reached up and threw his arms around her, hugging her tightly.
“I’ll miss you too.”
She departed in the silence of the night, the children bidding her farewell. Jacob stood at the front of the crowd, head held high as the new leader of the orphans. She could tell he was struggling to keep the tears back.
She ducked her head down and hid her tears as she ran off into the night.