Chapter One - The Bench

Zane walked out of his favorite book shop, happy with the books he had just bought. Running a hand through his brown hair, he started toward his apartment at a leisurely walk. He let his gaze wander around the quiet street, lingering on the window of a bakery displaying all kinds of goodies, on an old woman with three little puppies tumbling all over each other with euphoric squeals, and then, finally, on a girl sitting on a bench.

She was so skinny and delicate she looked as if she might blow away at the very first gust of wind. Her long black hair was thrown over her shoulder in a messy, curly mass. As if she could feel his eyes on her, she slowly turned her dark head and met his gaze, her large brown eyes not wavering once. Her face was white, her cheeks pink, and her lips parted slightly as if she had trouble breathing.

For a few minutes, they each remained still, just looking at each other, until the girl broke eye contact to cough into her slender hand. Zane started and looked away. She looked so helpless and sad on that bench all by herself, he wanted to go towards her and help her. In her eyes, he had seen despair, loneliness, fear and at the same time a fierce courage. At the same time, she probably did not want his company, and he might make her worse than she already was. Making up his mind when he saw her cough again, he crossed the street and went straight towards the old bench she was sitting on.

He sat down next to her, and removed his blue sweatshirt.

-"Here, you take it." he said as he held it towards her. She made no move, so he leaned over and put it on her thin, trembling shoulders.

He opened the bigger one of his two bags, and rummaging around the cheddar cheese, the bottle of juice, a can of soup and other groceries, he took out two shiny apples. Zane held out his hand, and let her chose which one she wanted.

Hesitantly, the girl reached over and took the smaller of the two apples. She waited until Zane had taken a bite of his, then nibbled at hers.

They sat in silence for a while, each biting their apple, and thinking their own thoughts. Zane noticed that every few minutes, she would cough softly into her hand, but said nothing about it.

They sat on the bench together, till the sun set, and the sky started darkening. The streets were getting busy with the after work shoppers, the couples going out to dinner, and the kids playing in the park. Zane stood up, stretched and picked up his brown grocery bag and his bag from the bookstore.

He looked down, and smiled at her encouragingly.

-"Good-bye." he said with another soft smile, and after waiting a moment for her to speak, he turned to go, when he heard her stir. He looked back at her.

-"Thank you." she whispered softly, barely loud enough for him to hear her, and smiled at him shyly. They kept their eye contact for an instant or two before Zane turned again and headed for his home. He was happy that he had stopped on the bench with her, and wondered if he would ever see this mysterious girl again.

A/N This is my first EVER story on fiction press! Woot! I intend to update often because I like this story, and I have lots of ideas for it. Please review and tell me what you think of it, please please pretty please review! With a cherry on top :-)

Thank you!