The winter was growing on him. Daniel paused on his way to Miranda's. He breathed in deeply, taking in the fresh scent of pines. A deliciously warm smell drifted his way through an open window, and he sniffed it.
Wind buffeted him with tiny, sharp pieces of snow that stung at the touch as he resumed his walk to her house, his hands deep in his pockets. Daniel didn't really mind walking. He rather enjoyed experiencing life's simple pleasures like this. It was a great pastime.
Humming, he walked up to the door of a particular house, and rung the doorbell. Anna opened it anxiously.
"Quickly, quickly! Inside! We'll catch colds!" she said, as he hurried inside, blowing on his hands.
"We're getting tea made, Daniel, do you want a cuppa?" Anna said generously.
"Yes, please. The snow is at its most tough now, isn't it?"
"Definitely! But I'm guessing this is the last week for snow." The woman smiled and went to the kitchen. Daniel lead himself upstairs, towards the crafts room.
It was the fifth week he was teaching Miranda, and she had improved by far. They were already working on 'Twinkle, Twinkle,' and Miranda knew it almost flawlessly. Smiling unconsiously, Daniel opened the door.
"Miranda?" Daniel called, a little self consious. "Miranda?"
He retreated out of the room and headed back downstairs, slightly befuddled. In thought, he almost crashed, tea first, into Anna. "Whoops!" Anna cried. "I'm sorry," Daniel apologized, as he set the tray on a table, "But where is Miranda?"
"Miranda?" Anna had a quizzical look on her face."She's upstairs."
"She wasnt in the crafts room."
"Really? But -" Anna lightly ran up the stairs. "MIRANDA!" She yelled. "Miranda, honey!"
No response. Anna descended the stairs, and looked embarassed.
"I was pretty sure she was here... maybe she had ballet... but isn't that tommorow?Hmmmm..." Anna started pacing, muttering things which Daniel couldn't quite catch.
"How about you call me when you find her?" Daniel interrupted, feeling a twinge of amusement, for reasons unknown."I could come tommorow."
"Oh. Alright, shouldn't keep you waiting." Anna walked him out, still seeming befuddled. "I suppose she had some class or the other."
"I suppose," Daniel offered. He walked down the steps, with a slight shiver. "I'll wait for your call."
"Thank you, bye!" Anna chimed. He heard the door clang shut.
A strange smile crept onto his face. He had a feeling that Miranda had told her mother to move the date, but she had forgotten. Anna seemed very much that kind of person; the parent whose child is more responsible. But, Daniel mused, it also seemed like Anna sort of neglected her child. Daniel had observed that, past few times he came, Miranda had a personality through which he understood that she felt a bit... alone. Lonely.
Ofcourse, famous authors, poets artists, whoever had a creative soul, were normally lonely.
But it didn't mean Miranda had to be... did it?
Daniel stopped his musing when he reached the bus stop. He checked his watch; a bus was due in five minutes. He waited patiently for it, brushing his dark hair out of his eyes.
He really hated getting haircuts.
A scream pierced the air.
Daniel turned around, a little surprised. He was unsure whether it was a scream of pain or of joy. Both were common in snowy weather.
The he heard a sob, and Daniel quickly followed it, the thought of missing his bus in a distant place in his mind.
A little Chinese girl was lying on the road a few houses away. He sprinted there anxiously.
"Are you alright?" Daniel asked, kneeling next to her. She whimpered, and looked at him, with dark, damp eyes, filled with pain and fright.
"Did you fall? Are you hurt?" Daniel looked at her, keeping his tone soft. Then he stared at blood falling on her shirt.
The girl, following his gaze, looked down too, and started shreiking when she saw the blood. It was dripping of her chin. Daniel looked around, and spotted a bike underneath a tap, dripping wet. He followed the big wet mark to where the girl was sitting, and put two and two together.
The girl's sobs were getting louder, and Daniel whipped his head to her face. Tears were running down her smooth, clear skin, and Daniel could tell that her injury was serious, and might need stitches. Without thinking, Daniel scooped her up, and looked around, wondering which house was hers.
" Lian! Lian! What happened?" came a little girl's calling. Daniel looked towards the calling voice, and saw a dark-haired girl and Miranda, running their way.
"Lian!" the dark-haired girl called again, panting.
"What happened?" Miranda cried, looking upset.
"Listen, Miranda, listen; where is Lian's house?"
"Uhh, um,uhh..." Miranda spun around, hair flying. "That one!" she said finally, pointing to a house three houses down from Miranda's.
"Run towards it! Ring the bell! Hurry!" Daniel said forcefully, and Miranda seemed to understand. She raced towards it, her friend at her heels. Daniel himself began to walk there as fast as he could. He heard the bell being rung continuously, and saw a Chinese woman opening the door. He heard Miranda's sweet voice, now riddled with fright, say "Something's happened to Lian! She's been hurt!"
"What?" The woman cried. "Where is she?"
Miranda's friend pointed at Daniel."There! There, with Miranda's teacher!"
Daniel at once increased his pace, though the little bundle of warmth seemed to get heavier with every step. The woman ran towards him, and held out her arms. Daniel gently placed Lian in her arms, and the lady walked quickly in her house. The two girls surged inside behind her, and Miranda looked behind her shoulder anxiously.
"Come on!' she mouthed, and Daniel took that as his invitation inside.