As promised, Henry was back, just as the sun began to slowly move to the western horizon.
“Have you thought about it?” he asked in greeting, once again crouching down despite his suit.
As a matter of fact, I had thought about it. I sat in the corner of the sidewalk that I had deemed “mine” and thought about his offer from the moment he left till the moment he returned. Was it really worth it? I didn’t know this guy at all, he could be luring me into some sort of weird cult where they harvest teenage organs in exchange for riches.
Or he could genuinely be trying to fill my empty, growling stomach…
“Say I come with you,” I began to ask, “how long would I have till you kick me out?”
He smiled, a kind, but oddly mysterious smile. “Until you get you get back up on your feet,” he answered.
I stared at him, surprised. He laughed at my expression.
“I told you I want to help you. You’re only sixteen; you don’t deserve to spend the rest of your life on the streets. I’m willing to have you stay with me for as long as it takes you to get resettled with a job and hopefully through the rest of high school.”
I was stunned. This total stranger was offering me a restart at my life, no questions asked. My eyes narrowed – there had to be a catch. I voiced this thought out.
He gave me the mysterious smile once again before responding, “I promise you, there’s no catch. Just promise you’ll actually attempt to change your life.”
I couldn’t help but snort at that comment. I would have to be a huge idiot to not want to change my situation. Henry gave me a grin, as if he knew exactly what I was thinking.
It was too good to be true. I wasn’t a suspicious person by nature, but this – this was too good to be true. I just knew there had to be something else; there had to be a catch that Henry wasn’t telling me about.
I almost refused.
But my stomach growled once more, as if it knew was what I was about to do, and I paused, thinking. My gaze dropped down to the rag that was doubling as my blanket. If I refused, I would stay on this corner. I would be cold, hungry, and lonely.
But with Henry…he was offering a place to sleep, food, even a job to make money. He was offering me companionship and a restart to my horrible runaway attempt. I could actually make this work. I didn’t have to crawl back to my family and friends, humiliated.
I said yes.