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Waiting. The relentless ticking of the grandfather clock on the mantle droned on. The sun shone through the dirty windows, illuminating the countless particles of dust in the air.

Nine days have passed so far. Helen was still waiting. Waiting for the pain to numb, to dull, so that she could at least pretend to have a semblance of a normal life once more. They say that good things come to those who wait. Besides, going down out of the attic would mean noise, color and the simple shock of everyday life.

So Helen sat, the heavy carpet draped across her shoulders, the scent of dust and time woven into its thick fibers. Helen stared dejectedly at the wooden floor before her, without seeing any of it. Her mind was a broken record, playing back all of the things that she had desperately tried to forget.
She was an orphan now, at 15 years of age. Her stomach still churned sickeningly at the ever-present thought that was reality. Even staying here, at the orphanage, was not enough to make her accept that fact. In the time between sleep and consciousness, Helen would believe that she was back at home, with her mother and father. Awakening would only lead her to realize what a false hope that was. The rest of the day would be spent staring at the floor, the climax of her day being the toll of the grandfather clock at the stroke of noon.

The orphanage staff was careful with her. On the first day that she came, Helen was hysterical. She was screaming that she did not belong here, tears streaming down her face as the staff tried to reassure her. She did not listen to any of them, and even gave the nurse a black eye. The entire orphanage had watched the fiasco with fascination and fear, and the younger children became thoroughly terrified by her. The following day, numerous counselors had attempted to speak to her, telling her that they understood what she was going through, but Helen still refused to cooperate. She had ended up breaking a window in the headmaster’s office after attempting to throw a stapler at Mr. Wood himself. The counselors then gave up on her and decided that leaving her alone for now would be in everyone’s best interest.

Thus, Helen found herself sitting in the attic day after day, locked away from the world as she waited. Today was no different. Helen was waiting as patiently as ever, feeling as though she had cried herself dry. It was strange, how calm she was now. She never really considered herself to be patient, either. In the short span of 9 days, she had become someone unrecognizable from the girl who was bursting with life and fire.

Helen was counting the uneven black blemishes on the wooden floor when she heard the rustle of footsteps on the stairs leading to the attic. She knew that it was the maid with a meal for her. The door creaked open, but Helen made no move to respond. She simply continued to count the black spots on the floor.

A minute seemed to pass, but the maid had not laid the meal beside her yet. Helen was mildly surprised by this break in the pattern. She dismissed the matter and resumed her counting.

When someone in socked feet walked over and plopped on the floor beside her, Helen was caught off guard. She abruptly turned around, to see a boy around her age sitting next to her. He was fiddling with a hole in his worn jeans, and he seemed to have no intention of saying anything.

After the initial shock of seeing someone else other than the maid, Helen returned to her counting, without saying anything either. The two sat in a comfortable silence for perhaps 30 minutes. Afterwards, the boy got up and left, all the while never uttering a single word. Helen did not know what to make of the situation, but found herself thinking that perhaps he would visit again tomorrow.




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