Enma by Alex Hughes - HTML preview
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“Sam, get the door.”
The orphan was quick to comply.
Above the door, there was a wooden sign that read: KINDER ROSE ORPHANAGE, in cursive lettering.
Sam swung open said door to meet quite a surprise.
Knelt at the doorstep was a pale, raven-haired woman, an unconscious child limp in her trembling arms. They were both dripping with rain and blood.
It was then that Sam gave a frightened shriek. Not at the blood-he was accustomed to that-but there were strange, dark things, nearly invisible in the night, sprouting from either side of the woman’s back. They drooped wearily at her sides. It took him a moment to realize they were wings.
A social worker, Lora, was at his side in a heartbeat. A shout escaped her as well.
“Sam, go inside.” She ordered.
He didn’t move. He could only gape at the dying angel bleeding at the steps.
She didn’t press him.
“Please…” the angel wheezed. She inched closer painfully.
The social worker gasped and took a step back. Sam came forward.
“Sam.” Lora cautioned, holding his shoulder. He gave her a defiant look, but stayed put.
“Please…” the angel said again, this time lifting herself sluggishly to her feet. She held the child before Sam. “Help him, I beg you.” Red oozed from her mouth.
Sam looked at the small boy she held. He was pale and raven-haired just like the angel. Rain spattered his cherubic face.
“He is an orphan.”
At this, Sam shrugged Lora’s hand off his shoulder and stepped into the rain. He reached out, wrapping the boy in his arms.
The angel pressed her forehead to the child’s, a motion that seemed to relax her and calm her heart, love in her mismatched eyes.
Before Sam could ask the little one’s name, the dark angel had gone, leaving nothing but stray black feathers and the pool of blood which stained the welcome mat.
Twelve Years Later
Orphenn stood in his place around the fire that smelled of the corroding garbage that it burned. The smoke carried the stench with it as it barreled upward out of the metal trash can. Orphenn stared blankly into it, flames mirrored in his red and blue eyes.
He was with a new group today, and he was withdrawn and silent. Not that it mattered-he never spoke to the old group either. And whatever group he joined, there was never anything different. Homeless bums gathered around a garbage fire for warmth. Nothing more about it.
To Orphenn, living on the streets was much more predictable than others made it seem. True, New York alleys were cold and cruel, but what else was new? Also true, Orphenn was probably one of the youngest hobos in the park. But he didn’t mind. No one else did much either. Others like him mainly worried about themselves. Though Orphenn seemed to be accustomed to a world without kindness.
He stuffed his hands into his trench coat pockets. He loved his trench coat. It was filthy brown and torn, but it was warm.
The others were talking. The one called Smitty, who wore a flannel coat and a beanie, began questioning the others in the circle.
“Hey, uh, Maria,” he beckoned to a severely underdressed, middle-aged woman with a fuming cigarette held between two fingers. “What’re you planning?”
“Buzz off.” She rasped.
Smitty insisted. “No, come on, I mean, what’re ‘ya waitin’ for? When ‘ya gonna get yer life goin’ again?”
She softened. “Just waiting for a miracle, Smitty. Ain’t we all?”
“What ‘bout you, R.J.? What you waitin’ for?” Smitty asked a dark-skinned man across from him, who looked sullen and distraught. His plump lips quivered. R.J. responded slowly, in a tone that resembled weary excitement.
“I’m waiting. I’m waiting for my princess.”
An awkward silence followed, with nothing but the crackling of the fire between them.
Listening to these people, Orphenn realized that every one of them were waiting. And that’s all they would ever do.
Smitty again broke the silence. “Hey, you. Quiet Guy.” He called. “Yeah, you, Silent Bob.”
Orphenn’s attention was lifted from the fire and he gazed through his long, lank hair at Smitty.
“What ‘bout you, huh? What you waitin’ for?”
Orphenn shook his head. “Nothing.”
“Nothing? No hopes? No dreams? No love? Don’t got no one? Ain’t waitin’ on nothing?”
Again, he shook his head.
“Not even a miracle?” Maria chimed.
“Oh, come on now, Silent Bob.” Said R.J. “Everybody needs somethin’.”
With one last shake of his head, Orphenn turned and left, erasing those words form his mind.
It was dark.
A voice said.
I need you to sleep.
Why? He said. Defiant, as always.
You will see, soon enough.
It was a feathery whisper in the darkness. He thought what the heck, and continued to dream.
A face appeared. Fine lips, pale skin, and big blue eyes. It was a woman, her hair as black as the abyss around her.
What is your name? She asked.
What’s it to you?
It’s taken a very long time to find you.
How do you know I’m who you’re looking for?
You had just the right dreams. I know who you are.
Now that he thought about it, she looked eerily familiar. He hated to admit to himself that he was frightened by it.
My name is Orphenn. He relented.
She laughed. She only laughed.
Why are you laughing? Orphenn began to panic. Why does everyone laugh?
Her face became puzzled, and then faded back into the darkness, and was gone.
“Why is she laughing. . .”
The last images to dissipate were the woman’s raging eyes.
“Why are you laughing?!” He shot awake.
He was back in the alley, where he slept with the stray cats every night, cold brick and cement, tin garbage cans and dumpsters.
He looked out to the street. There was a strange woman there, laughing at him.
“Who’s laughing?” She sniggered.
He must have shouted in his sleep.