He saw her sitting there. She could not see him though because he was well hidden by the bushes behind the bench. She was a pretty girl, he thought, with long, strawberry blonde hair and a sprinkle of freckles across her face. She hummed to herself while reading a book. He squinted his eyes to see the title, Little Women. Though he was fairly far away, he had better vision than most people. He had excellent vision, in fact. He knew more about her than anybody. He knew her thoughts, feelings, and emotions it seemed. Of course he knew easy things like where she lived, what her family life was like, and that she did very well in school. He was almost inside her head. Are you perhaps wondering the name of this mysterious person? Names are not important, but you may call him Derek. Dark Derek. He longed to reach out and touch her, to brush back her hair and tell her everything would be okay, to sweep her up into his arms in the most magical embrace, to wipe the tears that she cries for long hours at night when the house is quiet, to let her know he's there, that he'll always be there. He did not realize that he had rested his hand on her shoulder. He jerked it away. What was he thinking? Her hair rippled as she whipped her head around. Seeing that no one was there, she returned to her book. Derek couldn't help but notice that her delicate pale hand lightly touched her shoulder. They were so close, too close. He was the only one that saw the spark as she touched her shoulder, for his essence was still there, for that split second. Derek turned his head in shame. That could never happen again. She mustn't know the truth, yet. The sky was becoming dark, and she gathered up her book bag and began her walk home. She must hurry or- well, she didn't want to think what would happen. Derek made sure to stay his distance and hide in the shadows. He knew what might happen too, and that it did.

She squinted her eyes as tears streamed down her face. She clutched her arm in pain. "I'm sorry Daddy!" She pleaded. "What are you good for!!" He screamed, "You can't do anything right! You can't even come home before dark!" Derek was outside the window, wishing that he could help her. His fingers grazed the glass as he watched in pain as he hit her over, and over, and over. Her screams horrified him. "Espoir," Derek whispered. His free hand clutched into a hard fist. He wanted to pound on the glass, but he knew better. He walked around to the back of the house and took his place under her bedroom window. There was a trampled area from where he had sat watching her many times. She entered on cue and sat crossed legged on her bed. She reached her hand under her pillow. She pulled out a bottle of prescription pills. Derek gasped. It is too soon. Her hand shook and she gently placed them back under her pillow, and stood up. He turned away as she undressed and got ready for bed. Her pajamas were short sleeved and he was shocked at the ghastly bruises up and down her arms. He crossed his arms and laid back on the soft soil. He knew that nothing would happen tonight, so he could rest. The first few months were a hassle. He had to stay up watching her all night, trying to learn about her. He woke up to her alarm clock ringing. He jumped up. He would have to go with her to school. Weekdays were always interesting, unlike weekends when she mainly sat on her bed and thought. Within thirty minutes, she was out the door. Since it was daylight, he would have to let her out of his sight to follow her. He would just pray that nothing bad would happen to her while he wasn't watching her. All the way there, he could only think of how it was almost "time". He didn't have a plan yet. The only way he could stop her was to reveal himself, but that would be very dangerous and he'd have to handle the situation with preciseness. He ran and caught up with her when he heard the screeching of tires. He was relieved to find her still walking on the sidewalk, untouched. He stopped to let her go ahead. He had to be very careful with her. She didn't know how fragile her life was. School seemed always good for Espoir. She made excellent grades and had wonderful friends. She hid very well behind her mask of bubbly joy and smiling radiance. He had seen her real self though. "Hey Espoir!" One of her many friends greeted her, "What happened to your arm?" She almost crumbled, but she was good at covering up. "Um, I ran into my bookshelf last night." With that, she gently covered the greenish brown bruise with her hand. Why don't they notice the lies? They don't though. The five girls walked into the building together, giggling. He took his spot outside the window of her first period class. He proudly watched her hurriedly taking notes and answering questions at ease. School was her getaway. He found a jacket under a tree, and used that as a pillow to rest his head. The sun was warm and felt wonderful against his face. He was soon asleep. He slept a long time and was awoken by an object blocking the sun. He yawned and blinked open his eyes. Oh, no. Espoir was standing over him. He felt so exposed. He was panic stricken and blood drained from his face. "Excuse me," she said in a gentle voice, "I believe you are sitting on my jacket there." "Oh. Sorry. Here you go," He said, handing her the jacket. "What's your name?" He thought for a moment. Should he tell her? He wanted too, but he knew he shouldn't. "Derek." He replied. "I don't go to this school, so you probably don't know me." But I know you, he thought. "Oh. I'm Espoir," she said, "I know. It's dorky. it's French for hope." "Espoir," He repeated to himself. "Well, I better go!" with that, he dashed down the street. He wanted to keep talking to her, but one thing would lead to another. She held out her hand to stop him, but he was gone. She wanted to know him better. There was something so familiar about him, but she couldn't recall it. She realized she was dazed and would be late for class. She shook her head a few times before running into the building. That would never happen again. He wasn't even supposed to talk to her. To let her see him. He felt ashamed yet wanting her at the same time. He felt so drawn to her. After he thought for a long time, he stood up from the park bench where Espoir had sat the night before. Why couldn't he get his mind off of her? He decided to go get something to eat at the café down the street, just to have something to do. He went inside, placed his order, and found a table outside to sit.