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Safe and Sound

I can't fight for my life. I just can't. Those older than me have tried to teach me how to use a sword, a knife, a gun, a staff . . . . You get the point. I can't fight for my life, and that's that.


Unfortunately, the group I'm in needs fighters, to protect everyone. We call ourselves "Nick of Time," or NoT, because we rescue young children from the streets and abusive or neglective homes. As they grow older, they pitch in, helping where there needs to be help.


And of one of those areas is fighting. Almost everyone is a fighter. There are certain kids who can't fight, so they'll cook, or teach, or something like that.


All I have is a voice. And a knack for hiding. Oh, joy. In other words, even though NoT has rescued me from my alcoholic father and abusive mother, I can give to them nothing in return. I punch myself in the face trying to hit a target in front of me, I burn cereal, I go so far off track when I try to explain something, and I can make an infection out of a bump. Yeah, I'm that bad. Oh, I also trip up the stairs (can't be a messenger), sew clothes to chairs I'm not sitting on or near (can't be a seamstress), and hit the person across from me with a hammer when I'm trying to hit a nail (can't be a repairgirl.)


Wait, you must be asking, why do you need fighters? I'm glad I remembered. The government hates what we're doing because it's not "standard procedure." Technically, our living situations should be taken care of the government, but considering that they haven't done anything, NoT took it in their own hands. The government's been sending undercover agents, hired hitmen, and all that sort of stuff. We need to defend ourselves because these guys don't care that they could kill one of us. And they've shown that they will kill us, even if it's not necessary.


Does that answer your question?


So, then, back to my story.


So, there I was, the super useless klutz, wandering around the shack we call our home. Everybody was busy doing something, so I was feeling pretty bored. Our top fighters had gone off to rescue a kid in a horrible situation. They were needed because it was guaranteed that not only would the kid's family put up a fight, but the government's henchmen would show up.


In my wanderings, a little girl, Mylith, came up to me with big, round eyes. She was rescued only two weeks ago and she was still on edge, not really used to the way of living around here. There were only two people she was comfortable being around and they were Sattarm, who had rescued her, and me, for a reason I'm still trying to figure out. She had come to me now because Sattarm had gone off to rescue the kid.


Sticking her fingers in her mouth, she said so quietly that I had to bend over to hear her, "Ith Thattarm comeen bak?"


It took me a second to translate what she said. I smiled at her and said, "Of course; they always come back." I had nearly forgotten that Sattarm hadn't been sent off on a mission until now after rescuing Mylith.


"When will he be back?" Mylith asked, finally taking her fingers out of her mouth. Her eyes were still round, and there was a trace of fear in them.


I hesitated. I wasn't quite sure when he'd be back.


A commotion answered her question. There were a couple of frantic shouts and someone calling for order as the situation was being handled.


I took off, my heart pounding, praying that no one had gotten hurt. They had just returned home, that's all.


Someone did get hurt. Sattarm got hurt. And hurt is an understatement.


"Stand back!" one of the girls tending him said. "Give him air!"


I turned to a kid who took on the role of doctor. "Is he going to be all right?" I demanded.


He looked at me gravely. "Just by glancing at him suggests that he's in danger of dying," he told me bluntly.


"He's going to die?" a whisper behind me asked as the kid hurried off.


I whipped around and saw Mylith standing there.


"He's going to die," she stated, her eyes filling with tears. "He's going to die." She gave a great gasp, her breath catching in her throat, making a choking sound.


"Shhh, Mylith, shhh," I said, quickly dropping to my knees and taking her into my arms. "Shhh . . . Mylith, shhh . . . ."


Mylith started sobbing into my chest. I did the one thing I could think of to help her. I sang.

"They came by earlier this day,

Didn't you hear?

Searching for a maiden fair,

On a sunny day clear.

Where, oh where, did she go?

They asked again, again

We've had long journey

A hard journey, it's been . . . ."



I sang Mylith to sleep, trying not to choke on my own tears. As night completely took over the land, I realized something about myself. Everyone else was too busy to be able to do what I could do. I realized that it wasn't just Mylith that I had done this with.

My voice, my "weakness," was a gift of comfort.




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