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Within the pages of this book, I find my life. The issues that are discussed, the characters, the setting, the theme, all of it one way or another represent me, or someone that has made an impact in my life, or I have in theirs. The book touches on problems that I struggle with and more, but the whole point of the book is to either entertain the reader and send them upon a wild journey or allow them to realize that no matter what you struggle with you're not alone. It may seem like nothing more but a bunch of twists and turns, with relatable characters or not so relatable characters, but when broken down, the book itself is so much more. It's me, it's my struggles, my life, my family, my friends, it's just about everything. And for someone else, it may be more than just a book for them as well.
It never mattered how old you were, or how old you looked. If they wanted you they’d take you. They’d brag about how many they’ve taken. How many they’ve recruited like it was some kind of sick game. Every single one just wanted one thing: A family, a home, a friend, someone to trust. Or they suffered from the delusion they were a badass. Yeah, I saw that way too often. But the one that broke my heart the most, were those who just wanted a better life. These poor kids wanted a family, a good family… One that wouldn’t abuse or torture them. They weren’t always the best at making friends… Which made them easier targets. It got you off the streets in some ways and others not so much. Shoot, I was on the street just about all the time… It was either that or I was sleeping in a vacant lot, or on a friend’s doorstep. Life was tougher then, and it’s hardly any different now. It just seemed like another day, my parents were drunk and at my throat again. My “father” was the absolute worst.
“YOU LITTLE BITCH! WHAT MADE YOU THINK IT WAS A DAMN GOOD IDEA TO LET US WORRY LIKE THAT? HUH? ARE YOU GONNA F’ing ANSWER ME OR NOT?” He screamed in my face, keeping me pinned against the door, I struggled to not turn my face. The smell of alcohol on his breath was so strong, I wanted to gag. I stayed silent and took every word. It rolled off me like rain. The grossest part was when he’d get so deep in my face that he’d spray me with spit, to the point it too would roll off my face. But tonight was different. Much different. Within a split second of saying nothing, I was on the ground. Glass shattered as I didn’t even curl into a ball. I didn’t fight back as the glass bit at my skin. Soon he stopped with the beer bottles and moved onto anything blunt he could get his hands on. I had grown so numb to the pain… I’d lose myself into the darkness of my mind. Swimming amongst it trying to remember those I lost along the way. My parents were impossible to remember, so I went for something easier like the sweet pirate that took me in just years before. Rusty Everhart was his name. He was Irish, or so I thought. He had red hair and beautiful blue eyes. The more I thought about it, the more I remembered. He was 50% Irish and 50% German. Which explained more than he’d lead anyone to believe. His wife, on the other hand, was American. Beautiful beyond compare and one of a kind, just like me.
I had gotten so lost within the images that by the time my “father” decided he was done, he was yelling at me to get out. I scrambled to my feet and ran out the door, blood streamed from my head and face. It wasn’t the first time his ass decided he was gonna beat the shit out of me. I was in a different town now… Far, away from Danny, Cake, Snake Bite, Dice, and even Bear… Boy, I missed them so. If they could see me now, they’d break down my old man’s door and did to him what he did to me. I was the glue that held the gang together. But things were different. It was me that managed to get them all cleaned up and out of the business. Of course, I was the runt, even though I was older than Cake and better at getting off track than him.
After I ran away from my house, I followed the sidewalk, before slowing my pace to a slow jog that broke down into a walk. Drops of blood began to plop into my eye, making it sting, but rubbing my eye wouldn’t help. Pulling the sleeve of my old hoodie down over my hand, I clenched the end of it in my fist and wiped away the blood from the corner of my head. I was still bleeding pretty bad, but despite the blood, the bruises began to darken into swirling colors of black and blue. My eyes shifted from house to house, as I imagined who might live in each home. Being creative, I thought of people who were odd and unique like me. Living normal lives, amongst normal people… I stopped as I realized just how alone I really was. The damn gangs were finally off my back, at least for now. And to top it all off, the whole town was dead, except for a few drifters, the usual ones that wondered. With a quiet sigh, I walked around the block, before a cloud of cigarette smoke engulfed me. Shooing it away, I looked up to see a dark blue eyed man. He looked down at me as he returned the cigarette to his pale lips. Seeming to study me, he went to say something, but I didn’t have any intention of waiting. Out of all the people I had seen around town on an average day… There was something strange about the man with dark blue eyes. He had dark sandy blond hair, a pair of steel toe work boots, rough jeans, and a flannel shirt, it was a little longer than what I usually saw guys wear. I figured he either just got back from a bar or was heading home from a long night at work. But I slipped away before he had a chance to follow.
Arching a brow, he looked back in the direction I had taken off in. The smell of blood and cigarette smoke still fresh in the air. With a quiet sigh, he took the cigarette from his lips. “Takes one look at me and runs, huh, that's a new one.” He mumbled to himself with a faint chuckle. Returning the cigarette to his lips, he jammed his fists into the pockets of his jeans. The wind rustled the cold. Coming upon my foster home, he could hear my “parents” yelling. My supposed father was screaming on and on about how if I ever showed my face again he’d disfigure it. The man who was in his late to early twenties eyed the house, as he listened. Putting two and two together he shook his head, ‘Damn, it’s no wonder why that girl looked at me and ran…’ biting the end of his cigarette he stopped in his tracks. Frowning slightly he debated on whether or not to go and look for me. Wanting to explain that he meant no harm and that he wanted to apologize for blowing a cloud of smoke in my face, maybe if I wasn’t so damn short, it would’ve never happened. He chuckled to himself at the sarcasm, but he knew better to say that to a girl who's already been through heck. A frown returned to his face as he’d rub the back of his neck, his calloused hands leaving behind shallow scratches. Perhaps it would be a little weird, to follow such a young girl just to apologize for something so stupid. But, maybe it would make a difference in my night. Shrugging, he’d head back the way he came. After entering town, he glanced around at the small businesses and the local bar. His cigarette was becoming much shorter now. With another exhale of smoke, he began to look into every alleyway as he passed. Soon, he’d find me sitting against the wall, hugging my knees to my chest as I stared at the floor beneath me. There was nothing around to protect me from the elements. All I had was the clothes upon my back and a small piece of chalk that I was using to draw doodles on the ground before me. The man tilted his head and seemed to crack a small grin as he watched me. “... You’re quite the little artist.” He said softly watching as I flinched and pulled out my six-inch switchblade which was equipped with a jet black handle. “Hey, whoa now, I’m not gonna hurt you… Shoot, I heard that jackass yelling, it’s no damn wonder why you ran when you saw me. You probably thought I was gonna throw you back in with him, eh? “ His voice was a little gruff, but he seemed to also possess a small southern accent. One that had been fading away for a while. He slowly crouched down watching as I began to leave the wall. “I’ve had my fair share of dealing with rats... “ The man watched me quietly, despite his hardened and stone-like face, there was a sense of kindness in his eyes as if he felt bad for what had been done to me. “ Seems like it. I assume your father’s one then huh? “ I kept the switchblade out in front of me as I watched his every move. “H-He’s not my father… And that lady is not my mother.” My grip was tightening upon the handle as the man stood, towering over me at six foot five, he slowly walked over to me and offered me a hand. Not seeming to be intimidated by the blade or the damage that could be done by it, if used correctly. “You’re an orphan,” he began, now studying my swollen and bruised face. “It’s no wonder why you prefer it out here rather than in there. I don’t blame you. I always felt like one too, my parents loved me, but they never knew how to connect with me. I was always different than my siblings…” He narrowed his eyes slightly before tilting his head. “Boy, he really did a number on you kid.” I looked down at his hand before I went to take a step back and nearly fell. The man quickly caught me in his arms and set me back on my feet before I even had a chance to panic. I lost my breath, as I could feel the coldness of his hands through my hoodie. I slowly slipped the blade into my sleeve. “...I could’ve caught myself.” I mumbled before taking a step back again, this time I managed to keep my balance.
“Well, why’d you lose your balance in the first place?” The man asked as he stopped tilting his head, his eyes locked onto mine. I knew he was studying their strange color and icy stare. A stare so cold and emotionless it could send chills down anyone’s spine, except for his. He couldn’t feel it. And yet I knew it. No human had eyes as dark as his, or paws so deathly cold you could feel it radiate through your clothing as if you were standing in a blizzard. “Maybe if you were beaten for hours on end, nearly every day… You’d be a little off balance too.” I grumbled embarrassed by the fact I nearly fell back. What I said wasn’t a lie, but I also wasn’t about to tell a stranger about a wound I had suffered from a war I fought as a young child. It would raise too many questions. ‘How old are you?’ ‘What are you?’ ‘Are you really as old as you say you are? You look younger, but you're much too mature to be a ten year old.’ I took another step back as I dodged the man’s eyes that began to become glass. Blinking he noticed my discomfort and crossed his arms. “I’m sorry for staring, it’s not often, that I come across such a tough young girl with electric blue eyes.” He smiled faintly trying to get a smile out of me, knowing all too well of the rough night I had. But I ignored him. I had every right to, even if I was super polite most of the time.
But between the pain in my side and knee, I wasn’t really up for company. “They’re not always this bright.” I shifted my gaze to the ground as the blade retracted into the knife. Keeping my hands hidden I eventually looked back up at him. The man shifted his weight and stopped crossing his arms. “Oh yeah? How come?” I raised my eyebrows before lowering them again in almost a sarcastic manner. “Because humans don’t have neon blue eyes dummy. No one’s got eyes like you either, come on. You’re not as different as me even in some ways.” The man thought about what I said for a moment before nodding. “Alright, fair enough. You be careful now, it’s getting late so I better head home, you need your rest as well as I do. I wish you luck little one.”
Taking a step back he headed back the way he came, glancing over his shoulder at the alleyway he left me in, he frowned. Something told him not to leave, but considering the circumstances, it seemed best to leave. Sighing he shook his head and pressed on. Heading onto the other side of town, he followed the sidewalk to a small two story house. The grass was nicely green, the driveway was in decent shape with a few cracks that occurred from old age, he looked up at his covered front porch. Heading up the steps he headed inside and took care of what he needed too before getting changed and hitting the hay.
I stayed standing long after the man had left. My hands were trembling slightly as they always did, but I couldn’t help but be on edge. I could hear my parents laughing and yelling about how they ran me out. They bragged about how I had nothing. Whatever little belongings I had they wanted to burn. And then the happiness snapped. My father began to scream about how if I set foot in his lawn or within his home again, he’d do more than beat me senseless. Rolling my eyes, I stopped listening. Leaving the invisible portal open within the closet that once served as my room, I headed out of the alleyway. I’d jam my fists into the pockets of my jeans, I knew better than to show people my knuckles. Robby opened the door of his little diner, as he let out the last customers. As he glanced up and saw me walking around aimlessly, he whistled to get my attention. “Hey, lone!” He called and waved at me. Glancing up at him I waved back. “Come’re, I got somethin’ for ya! Come now girly! I’m letting all the cold air in!” He chuckled as I ran down the sidewalk and headed into his diner. My old faded black converse squeaked across the checkered floors. Old vintage records and music album posters covered the walls. There were even old signs, and the old booths, and bar stools at the ice cream/soda bar. As Robby closed the door behind him, he flipped the sign to let others know he was done for the night. Wiping his hands upon his stained white apron, he headed over to the bar. “Come on short stack.” He grinned before scratching at the gray and white stubble on his chin. “I’mma coming. And quit calling me short, ya know I can’t help the fact I’m not six foot.” Robby laughed before shrugging. “Aw, kid, ya know I’m just messing with ya. I wouldn’t mess with ya if I didn’t care for one, and didn’t love ya either. You’re like the granddaughter I never had.” He flashed a smile at me as I climbed up onto the stool. Leaning forward I crossed my arms upon the counter. “What is it Rob?” Robby reached under the counter and pulled out a bottle of vanilla root beer. Throwing a bottle opened onto the white counter, he headed off into the kitchen.
Shoot, I knew all too well how to use one of those bad boys. Which is unusual for someone my age. As I popped the top of my ‘beer, Robby came around with a basket. Setting it down in front of me I eyed the golden brown grilled cheese, and crinkle cut fries. My heart sank, as frost began to cover the glass of the bottle of rootbeer in my hand. “I… Robby, I can’t just take this from you. At least not for free…” He looked at me quietly before he wet a rag and came around from the bar and sat beside me. “Of course you can. You don’t eat enough sweetheart. Heaven knows that supposed father of yours never gave you a scrap. Now that’s a man that could lose 50 pounds and never seem like it. With the amount of beer that guy drinks, he’d gain it back.” He smiled softly as I continued to look at the food before me. My stomach growled as he gently dabbed at the wounds on my face. “C’ mon, just eat a little bit. Ya can’t tell me you’re not hungry… You haven’t eaten in about a week. At least not an actual meal.” With a quiet sigh, I gave in and began to eat. Robby gently patted my back. “Someone’s gotta watch out for you. You’re more than welcome to stay here for the night, it’s supposed to storm tonight.” I nodded as I wanted to wolf down my food, but I knew better than to do that. Taking small sips of my rootbeer I glanced over at Robby. “That’s an order, isn’t it? You’re just sugar coating it.” Robby’s weathered face seemed to grow older. He was in his early sixties, but he didn’t look it. I always thought he looked younger, but that was me. “Well, ya caught me there. I just worry about ya lone. You’ve been putting up with that bastard for too long, ya absolutely refuse to go to the hospital, and I do know why, but still.” Robby got up and began to turn off lights, leaving the bar lit, he waited until I was finished eating. “I’ll stay,” I said. “But tomorrow, I’m out, it’s not right of me to live off your hard work.” Robby looked at me quietly before watching as I headed upstairs to my small bedroom. Robby had the addition added in just for me. Since his buddy was a contractor, the two of them made a deal, and Robby basically got the room for free in some ways. If you consider giving a man a free meal every time he visits as free and a good deal.
Robby took care of his restaurant before he’d head upstairs and close the door leading to the stairway. I didn’t bother to get changed, there was nothing wrong with the clothes I was wearing now. Laying back into my bed, I laid on my left side trying to relieve the pain in my right side. It took me a good five minutes to fall asleep. Robby snuck up the stairs, making his way into my room with a blanket he’d cover me up and make sure I was comfortable before he’d head to bed himself.