‘I pulled it again and….Nothing. I was still there. I sank to the ground and choked on a load of tears and I shook my head. This couldn’t be happening.
“Hey… You know it’s illegal to let someone out of a gun shop with a loaded gun. I’m sorry Zaferenna Seraraw. But I know that’s not your real name because I’ve heard about you. And I’m sorry, Snow…. I’m sorry that I haven’t been there in the past to stop them from bullying you… I would have kicked their asses to hell and then back again.”
The man I had seen in the gun shop….. He had made sure I was ok. He cared enough… and for a 15 year old… that was enough for me.
“Hey… Snow, are you ok? Listen, we have to get you home. Where do you live?” He asked me kindly. I shook my head, fresh tears moving to my eyes. “You don’t have a home? I know you have a home; I just don’t know where it is.” He picked me up off the ground and I sobbed into his strong arms.
He was only my age but I could tell that, like me, he wasn’t from around here.
“I’m sorry…” I apologised quietly.
“So you do speak!” He exclaimed. He looked into my eyes and took the gun from my hands. He threw it away, in the dark. “You just choose not to?” He asked. I nod from his grip and sigh.
“I don’t speak in front of them. It would just fuel their anger towards me.” I felt the sudden joy of speaking aloud and wondered why I ever stopped. Then I remembered. We continued walking down the path that I pointed out.
“Why would they be angry with you?” He asked me. I looked at him.
“Because I….I never caught your name….” I hastily changed the subject. He looked back at me, realising what I was trying to. But being the nice person he was he didn’t push it.
“Ociel means sky in Latin….” I glanced into his eyes and was suddenly startled.
“What?” Ociel laughed. I shook my head.
“Your eyes- They’re sky blue… Ociel….That’s an amazing name. And I got stuck with Snow Winters.”
“Snow Winter? Winter is your last name? I thought your parents went by the name of Smith.” I nodded.
“But my real parents surname was Winter. I stuck by it… to remember them…” I bit my lip.
“What happened to them?” Ociel asked me gently. I sniffed and gazed into his sky blue eyes.
“My mother died of anorexia and overdose. She killed herself and it ruined my dad. He ended up killing himself and I was left alone. The hospital took me and I stayed there for a while before I was shipped off to a foster family in Ohio. It was too much there…. I should have stayed with my aunt, who lived next door to me but she refused to take me in… Then I moved foster families to Washington, when I was 11. They were mean and I don’t know if they meant to starve me, but they did.”
“11. 11 years old and already being treated so… That’s horrible.” I nodded at him.
“I was depressed. But I moved again, two years ago, to come here. This foster family of mine, that I live with make me want to vomit every time I step foot in the house. So I usually hang around in that alley you found me in and I sleep in the homeless shelter or check myself into a hospital to stay the night.” Ociel’s mouth dropped.
“Snow…. You are not going back to that house tonight. You are coming to stay with me and you can move to Hollywood with me. Once you turn 16, in a few months, then you can get your own house and drop out of school and get your own job.” I shook my head with grief.
“If I don’t come back at least once a week, to the house, they take one of my possessions and throw it out, or give it away.” My eyes widened in horror. Ociel put me down and I tested my bad leg. It seemed good again. “I haven’t been there in a week. What’s the time?” I asked him. I hit myself on the head and looked at his watch myself. It was five minutes till midnight. I almost screamed and looked at the street signs. We were only one street away from my house. I waved at him and ran as fast as I could.
Once I made it to my foster parent’s house, I took a minute to right myself. I opened the door quietly and made sure my hair was covering most of my face. It was. I pulled my jacket down over the scars which blanketed my wrists. I tiptoed up the stairs and into my small room. I grabbed my bag and shoved the few pairs of clothes I owned into it and also the necklace my mother gave me a week before she left me. My other pair of sneakers, three photos of me and my parents and a hair brush, cell phone and iPod went into the bag. I made sure my small bag of girl stuff went in the larger bag as well. There was no doubt that I would need it. I took my wallet out of my pocket and laughed at myself for putting it back in my pocket. There was nothing in there.
It was a silent laugh of course. One of my foster siblings creaked open my door. I turned slowly and my breath caught in my throat. Sabrina, the largest girl in the family had my dad’s notebook. She held a lighter in one hand and gestured for me to give her my bag. I didn’t know what to do.
“Where do you think you’re going, Snow?” I thought of about ten different comebacks but I didn’t speak. I never spoke in front of her. “I found this book here. It has some…. different….things in it that I had never read before. If you don’t give me that bag so I can see what is in it, then this notebook of your dad’s is going to burn the house down.”
I bit my lip as she held the lighter close to the book. My mind went haywire and I adjusted my bag on my shoulder.
I ran towards her and Sabrina was caught off guard. I took the lighter and lit it. Seeing the flame gave me pleasure.
“Looks like the house will burn down then.”
I dropped the lighter to the ground and ran.
The lighter exploded near the food on the table next to her and I screamed as she began to burn. She screamed. No one else was home and I took a jacket from the stand and wrapped it around my head, covering my mouth. I heard her screams and smelt the sweltering flesh burning. I staggered out the open door and saw Ociel with a phone to his ear, his eyes blazing with the fire behind me.
As soon as he saw me he dropped the phone and sprinted to me. He enveloped me in a hug and I was confused.
What was going on with this guy, who I barely knew? And why did he care so much for me? It didn’t matter then, but I made a mental note to ask him.
“Snow, thank god you’re alright. Was there anyone else in the house?” I nodded.
“My foster sister, Sabrina,” I played with different scenarios in my head. “She had a lighter and she threatened to burn my hand if I didn’t give her- I mean if I didn’t let her take my pictures and burn them. I pushed past her and she must have dropped the lighter… but I was outside by the time she- burned up- Oh my god…she’s go-ne” I hiccupped. I let the tears flow.
The tears weren’t for Sabrina though, they were for me. I was crying because of me.
We settled things with the police and by the time the rest of the family came back and saw, and heard…. I was on a bus with Ociel, riding to his house.
I fell asleep after asking him various questions and after he asked me various things. There was one thing I remember asking before I collapsed into the dark though.
“Do I have to go back there?” I asked, pleading. Ociel smiled gently down at me and I knew the answer straight away.
Ociel put his arm around me and I snuggled into him. It was nice to feel loved, even if I didn’t really know him.
“Of course, Snow, I would never make you stay there.”