The cold seeped through her clothes, like icy fingers it stole the heat from her hands and feet. The sky was wide open tonight Holly could see the moon as clear as the hole in her tights, her naked knee trembled with cold. A strange blue glow covered the field she crossed to get towards the main road. She worried they would find her if she went onto the main road into town but the dark was too dark tonight she wanted the amber glow of the street lights. At least on the main road she might feel warmer. At the edge of the field she looked down the alleyway. In the distance she could see the amber street lamp, between her and the lamp there was a dark passage. Even in the daytime Holly hated the alleyway the path was uneven the bushes reached out and along the trees bent over and down, the lack of light in the place meant the branches and vines were bare and would grab at you, clawing at your eyes like jealous creatures.Holly trembled, mist was walking up the field to her bluely white in the winter moon. She could hide on the play park, crawl up into the slide but would be very cold. She would have to stay there all night too as the mist would never let her leave. Holly unfolded her arms took a deep breath and ran. She fixed her eyes solely on the amber light, her legs, arms and nose were numb from the cold her eyes were stinging from the rush of air. Holly tripped and stumbled, still holding her breath she shot out of the alleyway and hugged the lamppost, lungs burning she walked on towards town. Holly wanted the safety of lights and people but wanted to be alone away from them all.
Late night café, takeaways and taxi ranks lines the street as she walked no one even noticed Holly she walked behind a large lady and tried to look like she belonged. Late night bar fight spill out on to the street, Holly kept close to the wall she moved quickly before they came, she didn’t want them to find her. Out o the way again Holly’s heartbeats settled to a more normal speed, but she didn’t know where she should go now. The cold had got to her legs and arms her whole body felt damp. A light gently blinked away in the corner of her vision. Slowly she walked towards it, the subway under that massive road was odd. The way into town had changed, most people drove in, some used the nice new bridge or the tram. Now it was the homeless and the secretive artist that used this hole in desperation.
Holly walked down the long ramp and turned to look in the tunnel. The end nearest was lit by one lamp its dull 60-watt bulb flickered calmly. Down on the floor lay a bundle of sleeping bag and blankets next to it a dog. A shopping trolley also housed a dog with a black lady rocking it like a cradle. Holly was going to walk back up the ramp when the lady with black skin, black clothes, dark eyes and musty smells spoke to her. “What you doing here little one?” Holly didn’t answer, “your mama be looking for you again” Holly shrugged her shoulders, she didn’t care, her mother didn’t care. “ You’d better huddle up with us”, she pulled out a brown blanket from next to the dog she was babying, “here wrap up little’en your dithering wit cold; lie here, its smelly but I got loads of card and paper under that so it’ll be warm” a hideous dirty camp mat lay next to the colourful wall under it was cardboard boxes flattened out and in between them were newspapers. Holly sat and looked at the wall, even in the faded dark of the tunnel she could see the many designs and colours, names and symbols. She couldn’t read covered the subway walls, angry faces rude body language spoke of the hurt so many of these understood people felt. Holly felt pity and hate for them, some had messages of pain others were wrong and hateful.
Holly’s eyes began to close and her body slowly warmed its tired limbs and cold fingers and toes. The old lady snoring comfortable her old dreams played away in her mind. Holly woke t the little dog sniffing at her leg. She sat up to look at him, he looked at her and ran off into the dark of the tunnel. Holly could hear him sniffing and whining at something. “What have you found?” she asked the dog, “His name is Ben” came a voice, Holly half though she’d dreamt it. “Is someone there?”, “Why are you a no one as well” relayed the voice. “Who’s there?” holly called into the darkness “Who’s out there?” replied the voice, Holly wasn’t sure but the voice sounded young, she hoped that it was just a lost child and not a street kid. “I’m holly who are you?” she answered politely as she could “Jet” replied the voice, “What are you doing down here Holly?” asked Jet, “keeping away from them” Holly was agitated at the question, she didn’t want to talk about it “is it just you in there?” asked Jet, “yes”, “good come this way a bit, there is just Ben and me in here we won’t hurt you.” Holly walked into the darkness as inky black surrounded her, “I can’t see at all added Holly. At that moment she felt a little cold hand in her own, “found you” called Jet, Ben gave a joyous little bark. “Where’s your mom?” asked Holly who was unnerved by such darkness, “never had one, where’s yours?”, “ gone too” she answered sadly “you live here too “asked Jet “not really, I have them, I’m made to stay with them I come out looking for my mom, she sometimes be in town”, “ how long have you been on the streets”, “ not long, its colder than thought is all”, “it doesn’t bother me, I never had a real friend before” Holly gripped Jets hand, she smiled to herself to the darkness, Holly and Jet talked and played for two whole hours, trying to play tag in the dark was the most exciting game Holly had ever played, they played until Holly could move no more. “You tired?” asked Jet “I don’t want to be” said Holly sadly “you can rest, we’ll watch you Ben’s a great watch dog and I can see good in the dark.” Holly yawned “thank you Jet, I’ll see you in the morning?”, “yep, rest now” Holly pulled the blanket up to her chin and rolled into it until it was tightly around her frame. “Thanks for playing with me, I’ve not had a real friend before, I’ll miss you” said Jet smoothing Holly’s hair, Holly couldn’t keep her eyes open “me neither” she yawned.
At early dawn Holly woke with a fright, some man was shaking her leg. “Get off!” she yelled, “ are you Holly?”, “what do you want? Go away!” the man eyed her with a frown then spoke into his radio. “This is PC Collins, I’ve found the little missing girl, call the mom” Holly stood outraged “SHE’S NOT MY MOM!” she yelled and stormed off, “hey just listen here; your foster have been worried sick, Mr Lewis has been out all night. I know because I’ve driven past him more than four times. You can’t run off. Look if you keep running than they will have to take you out of the Lewis and to somewhere with locks and doors, maybe even bars on the windows. If you ask a street child they would tell you, your better off in the warm at the very least.” Holly began to cry. “ I have to find my mom” she sobbed “not on your own though petal” added the police constable “can Jet come with us?” asked Holly the thought having struck her, she ran back into the tunnel and looked for Jet, Ben bounced along with her. Holly stared at the picture of a girl not much bigger than she was, the picture was of Jet pulling a wagon full of guns and knives an innocent smile on her face. Overhead fighter jets were depicted dropping bombs, the message read only, “Life is innocent until the guilty say otherwise” Holly didn’t understand.
More short stories and poems can now be found on Sera’s blog https://firstname.lastname@example.org