I watched hopelessly as my parents started to fight again. Dad had come home late again and the stench of liquor radiated off of him. His body quivered with rage as he walked into the kitchen and saw Mom with the neighbor guy across the street. Our neighbor was just helping Mom move the furniture around and she was getting him a cold beer. That is, one of Dad's nice, cold beers. He started whooping and hollering about how she was a good for nothing whore and that was were I left the kitchen.
I had had enough of my parents' antics. Every night I could hear the same thing from within my room. I heard such various phrases such as "You dirty rotten whore" and "Good for nothing drunk" and many others on that level of slurred drunken speech. I had no idea how they could stand to be in the same room with each other. It just didn't seem humanly possible for two people to hate each other so much but still live together.
I sighed quietly as I heard the neighbor guy get thrown out of the house and Dad and Mom cursing at each other. I was right: the same old sayings again. I slowly got up from my bed, threw on a pair of ratty sneakers, and pulled my gray sweatshirt over my overalls. I needed to get out of the house and a walk sounded good right about then. I slowly climbed out of my window, since I knew the living room was a war zone, and started to walk down the street.
I let out a sigh of frustration as I headed in no particular direction. It was very brisk out, the signs of autumn hanging in the air. I recognized a few people that nearly ran me over but not many. Most of them were faceless souls that wandered around in a daze, wondering what their niche in life really was. I felt some sort of pity towards them because I could relate to them. My life was probably just as bad as theirs.
The motion around me melted into a blur as I continued my walk. All I could really focus on was the beauty of the world. A slight breeze brought my attention to the phenomenon around me. The trees were taking on their autumn leaves as summer slowly turned to fall. The changing colors were truly the art of Nature. There were many shades and hues of red, orange, and yellow. My favorite ones were the yellow-orange leaves. The color just gave off a soothing glow. It almost made me forget about my life as it was. It was peaceful and very calming to my aggressive and antagonized soul.
My little heaven was ruined quickly as geese flew overhead. They were on their long journey South for the winter. The call of their voices reminded me of my parents squawking at each other in the living room. I really wished that they would fly over more quickly. The geese soon disappeared and I was left alone to my walk again.
I continued to drag my feet from place to place when I finally noticed that it was starting to get harder to see in front of me. The sun was slowly setting and my only real source of heat was disappearing. My sweater wasn't doing much good keeping me warm since the thick fabric had been reduced to a thin layer of fuzz. Dad wasted all of his paychecks on beer and hard liquor. It was even a surprise that I even got clothing at all. My body shivered in response to the cold wind and I quickly got goose bumps all over my body. I rubbed my arms, hoping to produce some heat, but to no avail. I only got colder.
I quickly found myself at the huge park on the other side of town. Its beaten paths and bayside view was something that often dragged me there. Tonight was no exception. I walked down my favorite path that ran along side of the bay. The wind was colder but the sight was spectacular. The moon was starting to rise above where the water met the sky and shown brightly. There wasn't a cloud in the sky and the show above me was greatly appreciated.
The stars glowed their soft hues and twinkled as I looked at every last one of them. I picked out my favorite constellations Draco and the Big Dipper. I could barely see the Seven Sisters but I could make out the small clump of stars. The North Star shone the brightest in the sky. I found a bench along side the path and sat down, gazing up at the sky.
"Beautiful night, isn't it?"
I looked up to see a young man standing on the other side of bench. His piercing green eyes stared into my pale blue eyes. His face was a little weathered, his skin tanned by the sun. He was dressed in a long, brown overcoat, the ones that I always saw in old movies. He tipped up his hat and gave me a smile. It was a pleasant smile. I couldn't help but smile back. "Good evening, young lady. Do you mind if I sit down for a while. I've had a very long journey and I'd like to take a rest." I nodded my head in response and looked back up at the stars.
"Yes, it is."
"It is what?"
"A lovely night."
The man laughed softly as he realized that I was answering his question. His smile grew bigger and his green eyes seemed to dance in the moonlight. "I'm sorry there, Miss. I have a tendency to forget things quickly." He offered me a piece of bubble gum and I accepted it. "So, what's a pretty little miss like you doing out here at a cold place like this?"
"Trying to forget."
I looked back out at the water and the sky as the man gave an acknowledging "Oh." He started to untie his shoes and slipped them off, putting them on the side of the bench. He wiggled his toes and stretched his legs out, giving an exaggerated groan. "I take it you're one of those runaways, then."
"No, sir. Just taking a walk to clear my head."
Another "Oh." came from the man. I looked at him from the corner of my eye. He was busy digging through a beat up duffle bag that was draped across one of his shoulders. He threw various objects out of his bag such as whoopee cushions, rubber chickens, and a partially eaten turkey sandwich that looked like it had been in that bag for years. I gave a little giggle as he finally dragged out two bottles of Pepsi, the object of his search. "There they are! Want a drink?"
I accepted and gave him thanks as I drank my Pepsi slowly, savoring the taste. It had been a long time since I had had one. The man smiled again and drank his Pepsi as well. He let out a satisfied "Ah." and put his Pepsi on the ground. He stretched his arms and yawned, placing his hands behind his head.
"Are you some kind of traveling performer?"
"Nope. Just like to collect things."
"And a rubber chicken is quite a prize I guess," I stated as I let out a little laugh. The man looked at me quizzically with a mock look of horror on his face.
"It isn't?! Oh man! What have I been doing with my life?! Now what am I going to do with my collection of rubber chickens and other useless junk?!"
I started to laugh harder as the man's remark dripped with sarcasm. He soon started to laugh with me and it was a while before we both got a hold of ourselves. He and I let out a little sigh as we tried to muffle our laughter.
"So what's your name, kid?"
He nodded and smiled at me. "That's a beautiful name, Ania. As for me, the name's Blink."
I looked at the man quizzically. "Blink? Your name...is Blink?"
"Did I stutter?" He looked at me as if something were wrong.
"No. It just sounds weird."
"Well I happen to like it."
I gave a big smile as I turned my attention back to the sky. I found Orion's belt and soon identified all of the stars within that constellation. Orion was one another of my favorite constellations.
"You like the stars?" His question startled me. He looked at me with his piercing green eyes and all I could do was stare back.
"Um...yeah. I guess you could say that they're my only true friends. They listen when I have problems and they're always there for me. Kind of silly, come to think about it."
Blink put his hand on mine. "No it's not. You can believe anything that you want to. Nobody can stop your imagination so let it run wild." I tried to look down at the ground but he lifted my chin and offered me another one of his friendly smiles.
"Don't let your family get you down. I have a feeling that times are going to get better for you. In fact--" He paused. He looked like he was debating whether he should tell me something.
"In fact what? And how do you know about my family?"
Blink put on one of his big smiles and looked at me. "I just figured that you were one of those kids that came from a broken family. Sorry. Maybe I shouldn't assume anymore. But I'm right, aren't I?" I nodded slowly.
He turned his face to the sky. "Yeah, that's what I thought. I know how it feels, kid. I know how it feels. You can't wait to get out of there and live on your own, isn't that right?" I nodded again. "Well let me tell you this, it's not all you think it is. It's a big world out there, kid, and sometimes family is all you got. But like I said, it will get better. I can guarantee it."
Blink winked at me and grabbed his shoes from the side of the bench. He slipped them on slowly and started to tie them. The feeling of loneliness started to rise up inside of me again. My one and only human friend was leaving me alone to a horrible world of no love or warmth from the human heart. I let out a sigh and pulled my legs up to my chest, resting my feet on the bench.
I guessed that Blink sensed this from me as he stood up. "Don't worry, kid. I'm sure that you'll find another friend soon. Maybe this one will be like your stars: willing to listen and will always be there."
Blink rubbed my head and patted my shoulder as he started to walk down the path. Before he went around the corner, he stopped a looked back at me. He reached into his pocket and produced a small pendent. "Here's something to remember me by! If you ever feel lonely, just grab on to it and think of me. I'll hear you and before you now it, I'll be there to cheer you up!" He tossed it towards me and I caught just as he disappeared into the darkness. The pendent looked old, the brass worn. It had Blink engraved into it.
I didn't know how long I had sat there but I could tell it was getting late. I managed to get my frozen body off of the bench and started my long trek home. As I walked down one of the secluded paths, I started to get the feeling that I was being followed. Not many people walked down those paths at that time of night except for me so I started to worry a little.
Soon I was out of the park and onto the sidewalk again. The feeling never left me but every time I looked back to see if anybody was there, all I saw was darkness. I rubbed on the pendent inside of my pocket and started to wish that Blink were still there. I missed his carefree attitude and duffle bag filled with useless junk. Maybe he would come back through town sometime and I could see him again and thank him for his help.
The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end as I heard a whispery voice call my name. I whirled around to see who had spoken it but again, nobody was there. As I turned to walk forward, a black cat with some white markings rubbed up against my leg. It looked hungry as it yowled down by my ankles. I picked it up and started to stroke it gently. It started to purr almost immediately and put its head under my chin. I giggled at its antics.
"You all alone too?" The cat looked up at me and I gasped. Its eyes were piercing green in color and it blinked as if to answer my question. The cat meowed and started to purr again for attention but I was bewildered. "It couldn't be..." There was no way that it was possible. I shook my head at the idea that was forming in my head and continued to walk home.
As soon as I got inside, my parents rushed towards me. "Are you okay, honey? We were worried sick about you!" Mom exclaimed. Dad walked up behind Mom and put one of his arms around her shoulders. He looked like he had sobered up and it looked like both of them had been crying.
"I was about to go out and start looking for you," he said quietly. I was baffled for the second time that night. My parents weren't arguing and they were worried, about me. My eyes started to water as it finally sunk in. Blink had been right. Everything was going to turn out okay. But how did he know?
"What do you got there?" Dad pointed to the cat in my arms. Mom stepped over to scratch behind its ears. It closed its eyes and started to purr some more.
"A friend," I whispered. I stuck one of my hands in pocket out of nervous habit. My fingers wrapped around the pendent that Blink had tossed me before he left around that dark corner. I still couldn't believe the things running through my head.
"Does it have a name?" Mom asked curiously. I thought for a while longer before it finally clicked in my head. At first I didn't want to believe it but it just had to be true. If you ever feel lonely, just grab onto it and think of me. I'll hear you and before you know it, I'll be there to cheer you up. That was all that was running through my head. Blink's last words to me over and over again.
"Yeah," I said as I finally realized it was true. "His name is Blink." I could have sworn that I saw that cat smile as I said its name.