Orphaned

Dark clouds gathered overhead as he made his way through the maze of alleys. Though his steps were hurried, he wasn’t quite running, for he wanted to be careful not to drop the basket he carried.

Not once did his grip loosen on the handle, not even when he nearly tripped over a cat searching for food.

Behind him, he heard a shout. No doubt it came from one of the bounty hunters that had been giving chase earlier before he had lost them.

He hid behind a rundown building and willed himself to calm his breathing.

Lightning flashed, thunder clapped and down came the rain, soaking his dark hair.

The sound of hoofbeats shook the ground for a moment. After they had faded, he peeked out, cautious. When he was certain the coast was clear, and none of the hunters had stayed behind in the shadows to surprise him, he left the alley and darted across the street.

The building he approached, with the sign whose fading letters read ‘Orphanage’, looked no better than the one he had hidden behind, but at least it wasn’t abandoned.

He set the basket down right next to the door. Inside the basket, a young infant of no more than five months of age looked up at him, her green eyes wide and curious.

Reaching into his coat pocket, he drew out a heart-shaped silver locket and held it out towards the infant. She reached up for it.

“It was your mother’s,” he told her. “The locket has hers and your father’s portrait in it, so you’ll know what they looked like.” He placed the locket in the folds of the blanket, and from his other pocket, pulled out a small music box. Opening it, a soft tune began to play. The infant smiled, as she did every time she heard the
music.

When it ended, he set the music box next to the other items, before tucking the blanket snugly around her. She reached out her tiny hand and grabbed his finger. He smiled, though it was bittersweet.

A sudden flash of lightning startled him, followed closely by one of the loudest
claps of thunder he’d ever heard. The infant whimpered.

“Shh, it’s alright, little one,” he said in an attempt to soothe her. Yet, how could it be, when he had to break the promise he’d made to his best friends to protect their child should something happen to them?

Familiar shouts echoed down the street.

Quickly, he stood and removed his coat. With one last look at the child, he draped it over the basket to further protect her from the cold and she started wailing. He gave two raps on the battered door and without waiting for it to open, forced himself to turn and run.


©H.S. Kylian 2018

(Critiques are welcome and appreciated!)

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