Help Yourself

This was written for a competition in school. The story we wrote had to be based on one of three proverbs, the one I chose being:

"If you need a helping hand you'll find one at the end of your arm"

I don't like it that much, but I thought I'd share it with you guys anyway :) Hope you'll enjoy it

It hadn't been his fault, really. The opportunity had just presented itself to him, in form of a window someone had forgotten to close. All he had done was accept it, even though he hadn't planned on doing it. What he had planned on doing was no big deal. Not really.

He had snuck in the garden to see if there were maybe a few pieces of clothing hanging to dry in the garden that he could use. The days were getting colder and the leaves had long since turned yellow and red and at night, he could hardly fall sleep anymore, cold in his old, far too small jacket. He had seen others die in the winter, freezing in empty streets and he refused to have the same fate.

Now, he was kneeling in front of the open cellar window. He was hesitating, fighting against his fear and consciousness.

The sky was dark above him, covered in grey storm clouds, chased by a cold, harsh wind that made him shiver. The windows, black and empty seemed like dead, lifeless eyes that were watching him, observing his every movement. Angrily, he pushed these stupid, pointless thoughts away. There was only one way to survive- to help yourself.

Still, his numb fingers were shaking not only from the cold when he pushed open the window- and froze when he caught his own reflection in the glass. He let out a startled cry that was quickly muffled by his hand flying in front of his mouth. Nervously, he looked around, fearing that someone had heard him. Of course, no one had. There was no one around, no need to panic, he told himself.

He turned towards his reflection again and a shaking hand rose to gingerly examine his face. He looked worse than he had thought- his lips were blue from the cold, and underneath blood clotted, dirty blond hair his left eye was swollen. He pushed his hair out of his face and revealed a deep gash on his forehead. He flinched when he touched it carefully and tried to remove a few strands of hair that were sticking to it. He stopped when it started bleeding again and let his hair fall back with a bitter smile.

"Well, thanks for the welcome home present, Dad…" he whispered as his voice suddenly sounded hoarse and his eyes were burning, his vision blurry. Angrily, he blinked away the tears that had somehow managed to sneak past the wall he had built around himself and tried to ignore the memories that resurfaced.

He had gone home- if you could call that place home- three days ago, looking for some money and his old but warm clothes. Like every time, the rooms had been dirty, smelling like alcohol, rotten food and bile. And like every time, his parents had been drunk. Still, he had hoped that maybe they would be asleep or too drunk to get up when he entered as quiet as possible. His mother had been, but his father would need a couple more drinks before falling into that state of oblivion. He was aggressive, angry at him for no apparent reason.

The boy had tried to disappear in his old room, but his father had blocked his way, yelling at him, his speech blurred and the words mixed up by alcohol. He had asked something, but it was impossible to understand anything with his mind drenched fear. A fist had collided with his face, and after he fell against a wall he had been dragged up and pushed back into it. He had screamed, and started kicking and struggling and finally his father had let go and he had run, still dizzy and lightheaded, trying to get as far away from that place as possible.

With grim determination, he pushed open the window.

Inside, it was warm. He simply stood there for a while, trying to regain the feeling in his fingers. Then, he started to explore the room he was in. It was a living room, with a television and a comfortable-looking red sofa. There were pictures on the wall, showing a happy family. A boy with dark hair, a couple years older than him, two parents and a young girl in a white dress. They all were smiling, in their perfect little world. He had to suppress the urge to throw the picture against a wall, to see the happiness on their faces scatter- even if it was just on a picture.

He turned towards the cupboards, going through them systematically but he had no luck- there was no money or anything that could be of use to him. He didn't want to take any expensive things, no jewelry or anything like that, they were hard to sell and those who did buy them where the kind of people that he rather stayed away from. He moved to the parents' bedroom, finally finding some money hidden underneath the warm pullovers and jeans. It wasn't as much as he had been hoping for, just a couple of 10 euro notes probably for emergencies.

Still, he hastily stuffed it into his pockets and was about to go towards the door when it opened. He froze; panic and fear washing over him like ice cold waves that took away any useful thoughts and ideas.

Frantically, he looked around for a place to hide but there was none except underneath the bed- and it was too late for that. His thoughts were racing, but they were jumbled and mixed up, and his brain did not come up with any idea. So he just stood there, petrified, unable to tear his eyes away from the opening door. The door opened and green eyes met with his that seemed almost as scared as he felt.

Green eyes met with his and seemed almost as scared as he felt after the door had been completely opened. It was the boy from the picture in the living room, wearing jeans and a sweater, his hair a mess and still looking sleepy. In his hands, he clutched a baseball bat, probably the best thing that came close to a weapon that had been within his reach.

"Wh-what are you..." he stammered, but the blond boy had already darted past him, trying to make it to the open window. He heard the other one curse, then footsteps, looking for him. His heart was beating fast, as if it wanted to tell the other boy where he was. Just a few more meters, then he would be outside. He tried to be as fast and quiet as possible as he made his way to the window, feeling the cold, fresh air on his face, almost like a greeting. He grabbed the windowsill, pulled himself up- and a hand grabbed his shirt and pulled him back into the room. He fell on the hard, wooden floor and cursed.

"Don't move!" the voice was deeper than his, now a curious mix between nervousness and determination. He pulled a cell phone out of his pocket, dialed a number and responded to the blonde's angry glares with something between indifference and guilt. He held the bat firmly in his hands.

"Hello? There is someone who broke into our house…" Then, he told them his address.

Half an hour later, he was sitting in a car with locked doors and a police officer occasional glancing at him through the rearview mirror while the other one kept his eyes stubbornly on the road. They had handcuffed his hands behind his back, but he had seen the pity in their eyes. He was nothing more than a street child that would be put in an orphanage. But he didn't care, sitting lifelessly in his seat, numb inside. All his life, he had always been able to at least help himself. Now, he couldn't. Now, his hands were tied.

And now review. Pretty, pretty please? Come on, I KNOW you want to. Please? I'm begging you here. Klick that button!

P.S. If you're wondering who won the competition: Two other girls and moi *happy dance* (first time I ever got called up during assembly... ) They were all from my class, so I'm not sure how many actually participated... or if that's coz all the lower grades have such a bad writing. Mhhh.