The Princess and the Tin ManMature

A homeless man takes in a lost little girl after watching her mothers death, and loosing her father to the War on Terror.

Manhattan winter is always brutal even if no snow falls. The puddles that used to splash working men in their faces when taxis zoomed on by where frozen, and cracked like glass by passing tires. Noses where red and pigeons stayed put with their feathers frosted at the tips. The homeless outside would comfort themselves by thanking God there was no snow that stayed on the ground for long, they were positive they were the lucky ones, unlike the rest of the world who had to push their way through winter white. The December air was exceedingly cold the morning Abigail Worth woke to find that a package was waiting for her on the small white table in her kitchen. She asked her mother, who was quietly washing some silverware what it was. “It’s for you, love.“ Her voice was faint but as clean as the first flakes of snow in a Connecticut field. She walked to it, with her slippers brushing the blue tiles on the floor. It was soft, stamped many times, and wrapped in string and brown paper. She could barely get herself to sit; the chair was too high for her. “It’s funny,“ Abigail’s mother said. “The post office usually takes care of packages better.“ She laughed. “It’s from Iraq.“ Abigail paused as she read the beaten label, her heart was pounding, and it always had every time she read the single letter “I“, hoping it would lead somewhere. “Then it must be from your Father.“ Her little hands rapidly tore apart the paper, which was easy because of all the roughness it went through. Underneath was wrapped in more paper. Obviously whatever was under there needed to be extra protected. Abigail became excited on how wrapped up it was, guessing it was something extra special from Daddy. The paper was gone then, and little Abby lifted a white, blue eyed teddy bear into her arms. His fur was soft and he smelled of sand and plane fuel. The smile obviously re-sewn from a frown poked at her heart the most. About to cry, she hugged the little bear tight, who was waiting so long to meet her. She wanted Daddy to see her with his gift.

The train tunnels under Grand Central where warm in the winter, and excruciating in the summer. That was where Ripley slept in the cold December. Sometimes in between the concrete walls, flooded with sometimes orange light and sometimes pure darkness, sometimes he slept on the platform when no trains where coming in an area of track. His part time home was filed with trash and the clacking and whistling of sleek trains. People saw him sometimes, and mistook him for a large animal. When they did see him, they knew no matter how old the train got or even if it spontaneously burst into flames, it would always be in better shape than Ripley was. His little wire haired dog kept having close calls with speeding trains. Little, scruffy, and mischievous Harvey. Who ate dead mice and trash scattered across abandoned track. Ripley ate no better...he lived no better and was treated like a dog sometimes when the drunk, teenage passengers where bored...and had rocks. He shifted his red and fading eyes to Harvey every morning and knew he was his only friend. He slept the same morning on the platform, under his jacket with Harvey cradled in one of his frail arms. The underground was lighten amber and still, no trains had come yet, and the clack of pipes and haunting moans where the only noises about. He wished he could go back to sleep when a silver train with a blue stripe noisily pulled up, cause there were so many things left to dream about. The train hissed faintly, the screeching of the brakes masked it. He stayed where he was, but he hoped no one would think he was a pile of trash and step on him. The doors slid open and not many people exited. Quite a few people tripped on their way out. A small gang of teenagers were practically falling all over themselves, and had a strong scent of pot and house wine. They were mostly young men, early twenties, just like Ripley, only he didn’t have a beautiful and laughing woman on his arm. The tallest in a red hat stumbled over him, and then turned. Ripley didn’t shift his diseased eyes, but Harvey dug himself out from under the jacket to see the wasted click. The man in a red hat chuckled to his friends, whispering for them to “watch this“. He struggled to take his leather wallet out of his tight pocket, and almost falls backwards when he finally gets it. He took out a perfect, crisp dollar bill smudged with blue ink and waved it in front of poor Ripley’s weathering face. He abruptly tried to grab it while it was swiftly taken away from him. The gang laughed at his expense, and Ripley shook his head while staring at the bill, the bill that could get him something warm and clean to eat. The man’s face was red with amusement as he waved it again, as were his friends behind him as the homeless and starving young man hopelessly grasped at the air and dived for the small amount of money. Harvey stood back with shy and worried eyes. “Come on,“ they smirked. “Come on, don’t you want it?“ A man holding a bottle of whiskey finally burst out laughing and almost falling over. “Please.“ Ripley’s husky and cracking voice pleaded. “Have a heart please.“ Harvey barked as a train with a red streak slowly made its way toward the other side of the platform, right when the tall man let go of the bill, it swayed in the train-made breeze. “Oops.“ He said sarcastically as Ripley dove for it. It gently glided down to the tracks like a feather on a windy day, but was shredded by train’s wheels before it even touched the ground.

Abigail took a walk with her mother and her new bear down a very Christmas themed street, crowded with many people in ski jackets, and every corner had a Salvation Army bell ringing. “Did you name your bear, yet?“ Mother asked Abby. She was keeping it warm inside her coat. “I don’t know, what would Daddy name him?“ An image of helicopters landing, and one crashing in the desert flashed in her head. “Something ridiculous, probably.“ She laughed to herself, but in her heart she cried. She didn’t want to think about her husband at all those days... the image of him in uniform was too clear when she did. Her and Abby walked a few blocks, and stopped only once to stare at the giant Christmas tree, perched high above the ice rink and speckled with many vivid and twinkling lights. She held up her bear higher, as if he could see it. “Mama, you haven’t given me my allowance in a month.“ She remembered suddenly, turning her little dark haired head to her mother. Knowing it was a mistake to take your full wallet out in the middle of a New York street, she pulled it out and sort of hid it slightly in her sleeve. She pulled two fives out of her wallet and quickly handed them to Abigail. “Don’t lose them, okay?“ She said as Abby tucked the bills into her coat pocket. She pulled her along the streets to the post office, just for the sake of hope for checks or invitations to banquets through the mail. Abigail never really received any letters anymore, from Daddy mostly, she noticed. Yet she was certain he was alright from the Iraqi bear he sent. Mother opened a little mail box in the wall, painted with a few little numbers that Abby never memorized. The box was filled with a few envelopes, mostly magazines and bills, but there was one dusty and yellowing unopened letter, also from Iraq. Abby was quite exited what daddy had to say, something about the bear probably. Mother’s eyes lit up, but her mouth stayed still as her spiny fingers opened the envelope. She began to read, “Dear Worth Family,“ she quoted to letter and scratched her nose. “This letter was supposed to arrive with the recent package.“ Her face turned quizzical as she looked down towards little Abby, who was staring up at her with eyes as bright as any five year olds would be. “I am so sorry to say that...“ her voice trailed off, but her mouth read the words silently. “What does it say, Mama?“ Abby pulled at her sleeve, but her mother ignored her as she kept reading the letter. “Mama?“ Then her mother slowly lifted her head from the paper, her eyes shimmering with soon to come tears. She quietly let out a quaky gasp as she dropped the letter to the floor. Her hands trembled. “Mama, are you alright?“ Mother struggled to hold back her tears, trying so terribly not to collapse on the floor, bawling. She slowly glared down at her daughter, and broke down. It was almost as if she was shouting. Abigail’s little heart raced, she felt doom in the air. “Mama, did Daddy get hurt?“ She didn’t answer and people around the post office stared at her with judging expressions. “I can’t live without him.“ Where the last words from her mama she heard as she bolted out the glass door. “Mama, wait for me!“ Abby shouted as she tried terribly hard to run after her. “Wait!“ Mother kept running, as if trying to get away from her. Abby thought it must have been true when she ran into the street into traffic, she was slightly bumped by some taxi cars and a van, she seemed angered then and shouted “Hit me, damn it!“ Her words echoed and people stopped from strolling on the sidewalks. “She’s mad.“ One elderly man said. “She’s trying to kill herself!“ Said another. “Mama!“ Abigail cried and stamped up and down a part of the side walk. “Come back, there’s a bus coming!“ Abigail didn’t understand why she was trying to get hit by the passing cars, but that bus did come soon enough...

Ripley followed the large crowd of people, keeping Harvey close to his heel. He squinted at the dim yellow light of the furnished and shining train station. It seemed empty when he arrived, but the crowed slowly moved in on it, and their voices became noises canceling out each other creating a loud mumble that could not be understood, growing stronger and stronger. He had been up there many times before, and had been kicked out just as many. He made his way to a few waste baskets in the corners, and garbage cans with wheel. He rummaged through them, looking for something to eat. Harvey helped too by stuffing his nose deep in the rubbish. All they found where plastic items, and rags, nothing that was even close to edible. What a sight I must be Ripley thought as many high class men and women strolled by him, whispering to one another about how disgraceful and disgusting he was. He heard a thousand times from everyone, but he was angry that he needed to hear it all the time.

Abigail cried and ran away from the sight, with her teddy bear tight in her arms. She was deathly afraid that the bus might turn around and head for her next. Her eyes blurred the colorful lights around her, and seemed to move past her at the speed of sound. The people walking the other way only added to the fearful and intense image. She never did know what the letter said.

Ripley sat down at a wooden bench in the main room of the picturesque train station. He studied the painted constellations on the ceiling while languidly stroking Harvey’s hardening and wire like hair. He wondered why there was no Scorpio painted on the emerald ceiling.

Abigail stopped running on the steps of Grand Central. As she skidded to a stop, she accidentally scared some pigeons. They scattered in all directions as they flew into the dark gray sky and the yellow and orange glow of windows. She collapsed on the front step of the station and cried like her mother did only moments ago. Where will I go now? She worried and held her bear tight. Then slowly Abby’s head lifted from the stuffed animal. She just stared at it for a while, its shiny blue button eyes, and its smile sewn especially for her from Daddy. She cried harder into the bears sandy fur. It is strange how looking at darling or happy sights when you are upset make you feel worse. Probably because of the heart’s desire to feel like smiling again.

Ripley eyed a few women in their fifties with a bottle of water and some hot bread they picked up from a quick lunch stand. I’m close enough to just go grab it, he thought. He was actually considering it, which was the crazy thing. Although he knew the risk of being caught by the security guards and maybe even getting beaten to death if he got cocky and tried to steal their belongings, too. He let his brain speak that time, and stood up and walked towards the door with Harvey, away from the two women. He looked back and embraced the knotted feeling in his stomach.

Abby tried to stop crying; trying to forget the fact she was all alone, and had no one to protect her. All she wanted was someone to guide her home as she walked up the steps into the station. It was warm, and open. She glimpsed at the flag hanging over the wondering heads of people trying to catch their train. As she looked again at the red white and blue she became weak at the knees, and if daddy could see it in Iraq... she remembered Mother’s crying then. She desperately tried to keep herself from tearing powerfully when she remembered the letter... she had a feeling he might be under the flag... She walked forward slowly, wiping escaping tear drops off her cheek with the bear’s ear. Abby saw an extraordinarily tall man in a black ski jacket with a wiry dog walking towards her, but not to her.

Ripley unzipped his jacket, although he knew how cold the outside was going to be. He walked slower when he saw a little girl holding a white teddy bear coming his way, with her hair dark and her eyes moist with tears. Harvey with his wet nose pointed high in the air saw her, too. Then trotted towards her.

Abby froze when the wire haired dog suddenly darted toward her, afraid that it would snarl and attack, but the frail and playful dog only sniffed her and wagged its tail wildly. “Harvey.“ Ripley grumbled and started speed walking towards them. Abigail stared straight into his wandering, blood shot eyes when he bent down; she heard his knee crack as he did. If one second was changed where a man behind them missed bumping into a woman, making her drop the heavy books she was carrying, Ripley would have never looked up out of surprise to see Abby’s young face, and Abigail would have never seen the great detail in the ashen irises of his eyes. She loved how his nose was so long and boney, although it suited his face well. How big his hands were, with his wrist bones bulging out of his skin. She was interested on how the circles under his eyes where almost as dark as his shortly cut, pitch black hair. Ripley never knew a little girl’s eyes could be so blue, and how clean her clothes and face were. He wondered how expensive the shiny black shoes tightly to her feet with lacey stockings were. He just saw her as another rich man’s daughter, until he realized she was all alone, and had an abandoned look on her face, just like him. He stood back up without even saying “hello“ or “sorry“; he just pulled Harvey back as if we were trying to get him away from a dead bird on the road. He wanted her out of his mind as soon as he went. Abigail however, was enchanted about how he towered over her, and saw him as the gentle giant in the last story book her Daddy ever read to her. She couldn’t help but follow him. Ripley shuddered when he came outside as a gust of frosty wind attacked him; he then zipped his coat again. He walked smoothly into the lanes of damp concrete, wet from the snow that never had a chance at life. Heartbroken Abigail followed him out, and prayed to God she found a friend. Her shoes tapped in sync with his, splashing a little bit of water here and there. A few times he picked up his pace, or twisted his neck and said “Go home, kid.“ Abby didn’t acknowledge him, she kept trying to follow him to wherever he intended to go, and they both weren’t sure where. “Kid, go home.“ He wheezed again. “But I don’t know where my house is.“ Small tears were forming in her eyes again when she remembered the tree in front of her apartment, and how her daddy said it was really the cities’ hand waving “hello“ to her when they first moved in. “Like I care, come on kid,“ his Brooklyn accent seemed especially thick that day. “Go home now-“He paused and quickly bent down to pick up a penny laying face up on the wet side walk, conveniently almost next to a cheap food stand. He left Abby standing with her heart cracked even deeper. “What can I get with this?“ He asked enthusiastically with the penny in his hand as Harvey barked with joy. The man grilling and accidentally blackening hot dogs said, “Are you joking?“ Ripley’s smile faded and he looked at the copper colored coin, and sneered,“ And to think I was gonna get something to eat, finally.“ He shook his head and walked towards a moderately dry bench. “Useless piece of crap.“ He mumbled while flipping the penny behind him. He sat down with Harvey scratching at his leg. They had both forgotten the little girl holding a white bear who desperately wanted a human being to comfort her. They didn’t know she had a fresh ten dollars in her pocket. “Here“ She stood in front of starving Ripley with a warm, steaming hot dog and an intolerably cold bottle of Canada Dry. She was disappointed she only had six dollars left in her pocket, but she looked on the bright side because she used the penny Ripley had thrown behind him to pay for the rest, the penny he had called “useless“. Ripley stared with wide eyes at the cheap meal, but he saw it as a feast. He grabbed it from her like a frightened animal, and gave a well sized piece of the bun to Harvey. He gobbled it up in almost seconds, and drank almost half of the ginger ale bottle. Abigail watched him slowly wipe his mouth with his sleeve, and began to walk away, like he wanted, she thought. She walked slowly, sad and alone once again, but stopped when Ripley’s hoarse voice chocked out. “Where do you think you’re goin’?“ He paced to her and placed a giant, now loving hand on her shoulder, Harvey nudged her bear.

They sat on the steps of the Metropolitan, and watched the canary colored taxis roll by, ignoring calls or picking someone freezing to death up. The world went by before them as the sky grew a dark, navy blue, and all the city’s lights where gleaming vibrantly. Ripley spoke to her often as Abigail stroked sleeping Harvey. She never told him about her parents, but Ripley did about his. He told how they were very wealthy, and how they wouldn’t let him work. He ran away from home and tried to get every decent job in town, but he was denied every single time he tried to apply, because of the sound his lungs used to make every time he inhaled. They said it made them quiver and sick to their stomach. He met a homeless woman in the underground of Grand Central, whom everyone called ugly. In his gray eyes, with his whites beginning to turn red, she was a beautiful and lonely lady who he could imagine in a white dress. “What was her name?“ Abby stopped petting Harvey for only a moment. “She didn’t have one.“ Ripley said, exhaling and watching the mist from his breath rise and disband in the air. “If she did have one, it would have to suit her smile.“ He said that they became friends quickly, and he started to live with her in the dark abyss of the train station. He grew to love her... that was when Ripley stopped telling the story. “What happened then?“ Abby tugged gently on the giant man’s sleeve. “I...“ his voice grew softer and quieter. “...I forget.“ He lied.

They walked along the night streets when they were sure the sun had fallen. Harvey lead them into the wealthier part of town, close to Time Square, where lights of all colors were moving and glowing intensely, showing the city that never sleeps how never even heard the word “rest“. Small crowds of people walked in slow strides, singing “Joy to the world“ and “Holy night“ all at once, making the “joyous“ Christmas songs just noise. “Why do all these songs have to be about Jesus all the time?“ Ripley stood on the curb for a minute with Abigail, watching snowflakes tinted by the lights melt when they hit the ground. “They just are, I guess.“ Abby brushed some of the snow of the bear’s ear. “A lot of people like it.“ “Hmph.“ He snuffed while emptying some of the dust out of his pockets. “Do they?“ That question echoed in her head, and she started to wonder if she was really fond of it... Ripley looked down at her, and was slightly bothered by the silence. “I’ll have a blue Christmas without you,“ He sang, his voice using many vibratos. He had the deepest voice when he sang, the deepest and smoothest that Abby had ever heard. “I’ll be so blue just thinking about you,“ he kicked some small pebbles into the road. “That’s so sad, though.“ Abby furrowed her brow. “But it’s pretty, see?“ He smiled when Abby quietly agreed with a soft “yah.“ He continued to sing. “Decorations of red on a green Christmas tree, come on, kid.“ He shook her shoulder slightly, knowing she knew the words as well as she knew her name. “Won’t mean a’re...not here with me...“ She took a breath before almost every word. Pleased, he bent down to her level while involuntarily cracking his back, and they sang together. “You’ll be doing alright with your Christmas of white, but I’ll have a blue, blue Christmas.“ He started to walk again, slowly, letting Abby catch up to him. He still sang as he walked, and Abby couldn’t help so much as to hum with him. She secretly loved it, after all her father did sing it to her before he was shipped to the dessert lands. That was the last day she saw snow fall and stick to the ground.

She then saw the undergrounds of Grand Central as they really were. Past the platforms, the beautiful, chrome colored trains, and the granite steps beyond them, she found a deserted waste land. The little light faded into the tunnels, and she was afraid to walk forward. She feared she had a good chance of getting swallowed by the obscurity. Harvey trotted without fear all over the working tracks and the abandoned ones, or better said as sniffing around his home. Abigail stood motionless as Harvey started circling around her, still at a frisky trot. “Don’t know ’bout you, but I’m gonna sleep.“ Ripley’s voice made an echo in the tunnels. Abby turned her neck and saw him getting comfortable in between one of the concrete arches. Abby didn’t want to sleep in concrete and dirt that night. “We’re sleeping here?“ “Yes, kid.“ “Why do I have to?“ Although she was growing more mature than other little girls in the city, her stubbornness she had never grown out of. Ripley nestled himself more as Harvey settled himself by his side. “You got someplace better?“ Then Abigail said nothing, and scowled at the dirty concrete she would have to rest against. They slept, or at least tried to before Abigail got startled by a speeding train. She jumped, dropping her bear on top of Harvey’s back. The train roared by with a series of clacks that made Ripley’s eyes slowly fluttered open. Abby was standing with a quivering hand to her lips. He tilted his head. “You know, if you don’t wanna sleep in the dust, you could sleep on top of me if you want.“ She hurried to him without hesitation, and lay on top of him like she used to do with her mother. “You’re not very heavy.“ He chuckled, wrapping his jacket around her. Abby stayed silent as she thought of her parents, how warm Ripley was, like her mother, and how his clothes smelled like sand, sweat, and ice, just like her father. For a minute, lying still in his arms, she thought she had found them, and buried her face in his chest to cry. He didn’t notice. She made no noise while she cried, but wiped away the tears a few times, making her sleeves rustle with his, and finally when her eyelids became heavy, and she gazed at a large blood spatter across the tracks and onto the tunnel wall before she fell fast asleep.

She had no breakfast for the first time in her life, and Ripley just didn’t feel like going out to look. They walked endlessly again in the suburban town. All day they did, they had nothing else to do; they had nowhere else to go. They stopped to star at the beautiful, unique shaped Guggenheim museum, filled with all sorts of great artworks and treasures. Ripley pulled her onward; he found no point in staring if they couldn’t really see it for themselves. They walked in the seediest part of town with her. Filled with more homeless and trash. The only thing more common than those things were gentlemen’s clubs and prostitutes greeting them at every corner. For what little clothes they wore, they were very colorful and feathery, some wore hoop earrings. They stopped them all over the place, telling them their “best offers“, and although Abigail had no idea what they were talking about but she still shouted “Get a job!“ The only acknowledgement Ripley gave was a small kiss on the cheek to a woman who was ghastly beyond description. Some old clothes lines hung out from the buildings on that part of town. Many windows where dirty and boarded, but even in the most run down and abandoned buildings a dark shadow of a person still lingered inside of them, but a slowly dying shadow. The Empire State building never looked so beautiful that day, even when the clouds had the same shade of grey. The windows shined unnaturally, and looked over the city. Ground Zero was haunting, as always, with the area blocked by a chained fence and the two empty squares in the ground. It was almost as if the screams could still be heard, being carried by the wind and fluttering away into the light snow flakes. “They fell before I was born, I think.“ Abigail scratched her leg with her heal, and leaned her bear’s face into her shoulder. “Yeah.“ Ripley coughed and wheezed while saying it. “You’re lucky; everyone was pretty scared then.“ “How many people got hurt?“ “Hurt?“ Ripley turned from her slightly and shook his head. “What do you mean by hurt? The country was under attack, people died kid.“ He rubbed his neck and then stared down at Abby, who took his stern tone too seriously. She didn’t look at him. “Be happy,“ he inhaled. “That you weren’t caught in it.“ She looked back up at him, and imagined how tall the towers would be. With his joints snapping, like an old man’s, he bent down and sort of kneeled beside her. “The cloud of smoke might have made my lungs so bad...“ Abby turned and gasped.

For days it was the same thing, walking endlessly on the streets, sometimes Abby buying food for them with the remaining money she had. She gave a lot of it to Ripley, who was coughing more and more every day. His voice was becoming even rougher. It was like rubbing sand paper against the ear every time he spoke. He was not bothered by it, except that he couldn’t sing as they walked anymore, the once deep and beautiful notes just wouldn’t come out like they would. Sometimes Abby did it for him, and knew exactly what song he wanted to hear every time. She sang Let It Be for a while when they snuck into the skating rink under the giant Christmas tree. They had no skates, or graceful ability to glide on ice, but they tried to enjoy themselves as much as they could. They were both tinted by the small lights on the tree from above, and a bit of gold reflected onto their backs from the Rockefeller Center statue. Abby had to help Ripley move, he was falling and fidgeting all over the place, he eventually tried holding on to her hands. Many people skated past them with ease, on actual blades and some talent to use them; they even glared and laughed to themselves about how pathetic they were. But they didn’t care, they spun, clinging to each other and laughed, their breath turning to steam. Ripley, feeling his lungs collapse more within every day, forgot that all has an end. He smiled every second with her then. Abigail forgot then what had happened to her, and felt like she knew Ripley ever since she was born. Every time she looked in his eyes, she knew she didn’t need to go back home, she was already there, on the streets. Harvey was guarding the bear and waiting for them when they decided to go someplace warm. Ripley leaned slightly with his hand on her shoulder, still smiling. He sat down at one of the benches outside of Rockefeller Center. Abigail, with her bear in her arms again, sat with him, resting on his arm. She liked being against him, his long jacket and all. “You know what?“ she said. “Hmm?“ Ripley looked down towards her. “I love you, Ripley.“ She smiled and put herself under his arm, nuzzling her little face on her side. She heard him slowly gasp. “Abigail, are you sure?“ He bent down out of the bench to face her, his eyes about to flood over. “Yeah.“ she wrapped her arms around his neck, leaving her bear to sit. Ripley sighed. “The last time I said ’I love you’ was to the woman I was talking about days ago. Remember that, kid?“ He gently picked up her arms and placed them at her sides. “Well, I did.“ He sniffed. “And hated me just for saying that, she ran off but...“ he paused, and placed a distressed hand over his face. “A train was coming.“ Abby remembered the blood spatter on the tracks and on the tunnel wall from nights ago. She could only imagine what a sight that must have been, and to be left on the streets, alone again. “I’m sure, Ripley.“ She responded, and stared at him with the twinkle that was there when she looked upon her father long ago. He swallowed while staring at that twinkle, and let a tear escape from his own eye. He wrapped his arms around the little girl. “Love you too, kid.“ He said as he stared out into space. Abby felt the last dollar bill she had in her pocket crinkle. She parted herself from Ripley’s arms. “You want my last dollar?“ She pet Harvey as she walked by and then picked up her bear. “Naw.“ Ripley stood up with a dull smile. “I’m already the richest man in the world.“

They were kicked out of Grand Central that night by the security guards who finally noticed Ripley’s condition and his dog. It was blistering cold that night, and they had nowhere else to go but the side of a building not too far away, and each other’s arms. It was a frustrating night; Ripley tried hopelessly to keep Harvey from running off. He eventually made him stay. Abigail had real trouble keeping warm, as did he. They had to wrap each other in different positions, and combine each other’s jackets, sometimes they huddled up next to Harvey, but he wouldn’t stand it. Her bear shifted, too. To the edge of the side walk, almost. But Ripley and Abigail stayed glued together, not knowing what would become of each other, and if they would remain with each other forever. Finally, they got into a position they wanted, leaning against the building, cradling Abigail in his arms. “Warm enough?“ Ripley asked. Abby didn’t answer; she was already asleep by then. He smiled and stared at the other building’s wall. “Love you, kid, ga’night.“

Abigail was awoken at dawn but the sound of intoxicated laughter and footsteps. She slowly opened her eyes, the tips of her eyelashes frosty, and saw her bear had disappeared. Her heart pounded and she escaped from the embrace of Ripley, who was wheezing. She rose and walked along the side walk about three buildings down, and saw a group of teenagers, a little younger than Ripley. The gang held a white teddy bear, laughing; the tallest man had a cigarette lighter in his hand along with a pack of Marlboros. The same gang that taunted Ripley with the dollar bill was again drunk out of their minds. The chuckled about absolutely nothing, and drank a large bottle of whisky wrapped in a paper bag. Abby cautiously approached them, “That’s my bear.“ She murmured as they saw her. The tall man smirked and looked at the bear, thinking the re-sewn smile was terribly done. “Hang on, let’s fix it for ya.“ He growled as he pulled the treads out, making them snap between his fingers. Horrified, Abby ran to him. “He doesn’t need fixing, just give him back!“ She grabbed at one of the young women’s coats. “The stitching is shit.“ Snarled a man in a black hat, as he grabbed at the arms, but the tall man pulled back and fell against some pipes; the arms ripped off and fell to the ground. “Stop!“ Abby squealed and started to cry like she never had before. When the gang finally realized they were getting a jolly out of it, they continued to mutilate her bear. Airy stuffing flew and landed in puddles, and the beautiful blue eyes rolled into the street and got caught in bus wheels. They cackled like idiots, as Abby looked away and cried, making an awful noise with her lungs. She didn’t want to watch the only thing left of Daddy be destroyed along with the rest of him. The bear, once new and with a loving, homemade face, was now just a hollow, muddy piece of cloth, thrown into a puddle to rot with the trash around it. Abby ran to the remains, and cried over it as a man in a grey, silver buttoned coat, grabbed the edge of her torn jacket with spinney, cold fingers. “This jacket needs fixing, too.“ He said with a hiccup. A sudden fist from above her didn’t give them a chance. She stood up and spun to see Ripley leaning on the building’s wall, with a look of pure rage in his eyes as he glared intensely on the man he hit. “Hey, it’s the guy who wanted our bill so bad.“ The tall man helped his friend up, and giggled looking at the once pathetic sight, with a wire-haired dog cowering at his side. He lost his mind when one of the women said smugly, “Wanna ’nother?“ He charged, and beat the two men silly, not having the heart to hit any woman. They hopelessly tried to fight back, trying to strangle Ripley or snap his neck, but he through them against the hard, cold walls surrounding them. Abby watched and stood back with Harvey in fear that she might get caught in the violence. “Ripley!“ She tried to shout over the punched and groans of pain. “Leave them alone!“ She wiped away her tears. Ripley gave one more tremendous hit to the jaw, and bent down to look in Abby’s eyes. “You alright, kid?“ He gently lifted up the wet cloth of the bear, and handed it to terrified, trembling Abigail. “No.“ she said with a lump in her throat. Ripley brushed back her now tattered hair from her yes, and gently kissed him on the forehead. “Come on, you’re gonna be alright.“ He said softly. “Wanna go to Rockefeller Center again?“ Where the last words she had ever heard him say, because the rest where earsplitting screams when he was hit over the side of the head with one of the pipes the tall man tripped on. Harvey, scared and confused, ran blindly out into the street, dodging all the vehicles that came his way, but he still never came back. The tall man hi Ripley over and over again, cussing as he did it. Abby screamed for him to stop, but she stopped herself as she heard many cracks from him as the pipe continued to strike poor Ripley. He was beaten until he was a motionless, bloody, and broken mess. The tall man trembled, his pupils’ small, his eyes wide. “What have you done?“ Cried one of the women as they ran off from the scene, their stomachs turning. Abigail felt as if she was going to vomit, looking upon Ripley, who was in no better shape than her bear. She knelt beside him, and touched his arm. “Ripley?“ Her voice shook. “Ripley, you’re okay, right?“ With the one ounce of life he had left, he slowly turned his head towards her, his face covered in blood, and one of his eyes punched in. “Come on.“ She tried to hold back her tears. “Let’s go to the skating rink, come on.“ She leaned on his chest, but suddenly got off when she felt a fragment of a broken rib shift under her. She shook, and couldn’t even imagine how much pain he was in. Her heart skipped a beat when she saw Ripley’s eyes closed. “Are you tired Ripley?“ She whimpered innocently. “Are you gonna go to sleep?“ Ripley turned his head towards her again, with a small smile on his face. His lips moved but no noise escaped, as he tried to say in a whisper, “Good night.“

Abby left him, and walked into the crowded and unfamiliar street. She was at the point where she couldn’t shed anymore tears. Her heart only ached, knowing that Mama would never get out of the ambulance, that Daddy would never come home, Harvey would never come back, she would never see her bear again, and Ripley would never wake up. She focused on what would never happen, and that no more arms were left to hold her. She thought it was funny how everyone says that loves lasts forever, when obviously it doesn’t. She never found out that the statement she heard was true. She walked with no place to go, she walked all the way to the Intrepid when the day was finally dark, the bottom of the boat shining with the reflection of the water. She sat under the giant and let herself cry as she listened to police cars and commotion of the city. It snowed, but still wouldn’t stick to the ground. As Abigail caught the flakes in her eyelashes, she looked to the sky past the bow of the boat. She sang, “I’ll have a blue Christmas without you, and all the blue snowflakes are falling,“ She sniffed and thought of Ripley. “You’ll be doing alright with your Christmas of white, but I’ll have a blue... blue... Christmas.“

The End

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