I'm just a little orphan, lost, hungry, and afraid. My hair is matted to my pale, gaunt face. I can barely see through the clumps of hardened grease, dirt, and dead skin flaking off my scalp. I stagger and sway from place to place, begging for the most meager of things. A carrot from the farmer, a moldy loaf of bread from the baker. A tattered, worn out shirt from the single mother, and a drink from the war hardened, scornful father. All gasped and turned away from my sickly, thin posture. All afraid of my bleeding, bitten knuckles rapidly scabbing. Afraid of my yellow, chipped teeth that poke through my dry, chapped lips. They turn away, horrified and disgusted, thanking god that they don't live like me.

But one small group of four rowdy, rich boys and one quiet, shy girl stepped towards me instead of away. They smiled perfect, straight white teeth and asked if I was able to see my ribs. Confused and not knowing what to say, I nodded, neck popping from the motion. One boy stepped even closer and grinned again. His stripe sweater was wrinkle free, dress pants smooth down his strong, athletic legs and shiny, polished loafers screamed to me that he was the leader. He beckoned the girl to his side as two boys grabbed my spindly arms. It hurt, like just by touching the limbs, the bones inside broke into pieces. The third boy grabbed at my rough sewn shirt that used to be a discarded potato sack from a ditch. The texture agitated my abdomen as the boy lifted it up my body to expose my rash, red skin to the cool wind.

The leader pointed at my bulging sides and snapped at the girl to touch my ribs and count out loud and if I have twelve ribs, he'd give me to her as a new friend. I started shaking in the grasp of the boys holding my arms captive the closer the girl got to me. She was stone faced as her little fingers tickled my sides, her meek voice counting up, higher and higher. I was scared. What if I didn't have the required twelve ribs? What would they do to me? As the girl counted out eleven, the fear has shaken me to the core of my very being. I was shivering, shaking, and whimpering as tears trickled down my sunken cheeks. I felt the fingers stop on the last rib and I've felt myself go cold.

The girl stepped back to the boy's side and nodded. His nasal voice was crisp as he ordered the boys to release me. I was pushed to the ground, the mud clogging my throat and nostrils. The girl hunkered down in front of me, her white and pink laced church skirt grazing the ground. The boys snickered as they left, telling us to enjoy our new friendship. I laid there, weeping in the filth that I live in. I was scared, but comforted for what felt like hours on end by the girl. Wherever her hand skimmed across my back, it felt like she was renewing a piece of me. The girl's parents eventually hunted us down, in that drowned field. They pulled her away and that was when what the boys said clicked into place. That girl, who touched me so gently when no one else would even look at me, was now my friend. The first friend I had in my entire life. My friend who was being taken away.

I pushed myself up on wobbly arms, palms pressing into the soggy earth. The mud rose between my callous fingers. My vision flickered in and out like a faulty cable connection. Her reluctant stride to keep up with her parents faded to gray. It was the last thing I saw before utter exhaustion claimed my mind and body for the rest of the horrid day. When I awoke to the next day's morning light, it was to her crouching at my side. Her stare was piercing through my soul, the shine of a black bruise punctuating her bright eyes. Seeing the bruises and lacerations patterned across her arms, legs, and face whip a white hot fury through my veins. I wept, wept for myself and the only friend I ever had, dressed in a little blue smock, and blue-purple and red lashed skin. Another feeling clutched at my heart, a vile but tantalizing emotion. No, it was an urge. An urge which gave me the strength to push myself up. I swiveled in place from the surge of energy. My friend reached out her little hand and led me past the farmer and the baker, who dropped their goods at seeing me, the wretched little orphan, walking side by side with a friend.

The single mother nearly lost her laundry to the breeze as we walked past and the mercenary father nearly shot his foot while polishing his antique Bess. Up a hill of wealth, the four rowdy boys from the day before stamped and hollered into our march. The leader asked where we were going as the other three whooped and skirmishes. My kind friend asked if they wanted to join us at her house. The urge nearly suffocated me as the leader's eyes went dark with a dangerous intent, smiling again as he said yes. We kept going farther and farther to a field of poppy and rye, up to the balcony of a little white house, a cross to greet us at the front door. My friend wasn't even able to knock before the hinges rung with the opening door. The woman's glare dropped as soon as she saw that my sweet friend wasn't alone, the smile proceeding was as fake as the frosting roses and tulips on the cakes in the caters window. My friend led me to a fresh brown couch in a forest green living room. On the table were a pile of bills and letters poking out of their vanilla envelopes. The shimmer of metal in sunlight drew my eyes to the sharp point of a small kitchen knife. The urge clutched at my heart again, making me choke to the concern of my friend. The father walked passed us without a look nor a word, an ax resting lazily across his broad shoulders. The woman asked if we wanted anything to drink, I drooled at the thought of having a refreshing beverage kiss my lips for the first time in my life.

But the leader slung his arm across my friend's shoulders, dipping them under the weight, and declined for all of us. He offered the boys to help with anything she needed done and she ordered the three boys to follow her up to the attic to help her finish cleaning. As the click clack of the woman's heels and the slams of the boys sneakers fade away, the leader wasted no time in pinning my friend to the couch. She didn't even flinch, placid as she was when she counted my ribs. The urge busted through my heart, expanded my chest, and crawled up and out of my throat in the form of a harsh, raspy scream. The plastic handles twist the skin of my palm and the boy's hair was soft in my other hand. No one raced downstairs to check the source my raging scream, nor the gurgling of blood spewing out of the boy's mouth, probably thinking it was my own brutal death. The blood splattered against her still form, the image strangely beautiful, the most beautiful thing I saw in fact.I wanted to see more of it, to paint a canvas with the scarlet liquid. The want to make my eyes sparkle brilliantly. My precious friend rolled off the couch and took my hand once more, just like as she guided me to her house. No, her prison. I would free her, free her by disposing the ones holding the key. She led me down the empty hall, past the window looking out for the working man, the chopping of wood filling the otherwise silent house. She led me all the way to the bottom of a rickety ladder, leading up to the attic trapdoor. With her pointing finger as my guide, I climbed up and up to the door. It lifted up so smoothly and without a sound, to the sight of the woman slapping a wound up and knotted belt against her thigh and the boys crying and begging on the corner.

I felt proud as I sneak as silent as a mouse behind the woman. The chill of a breath across the woman's bare back must have alerted her to the impending danger. She tried to run, but my lovely friend had graciously locked the trapdoor for me. She screamed and plead, her mascara smudging around her wide eyes. The racoon effect was so ridiculous that laughter bubbled up my throat and out my lips, the laughter croaked through the squish of the knife slashing through the woman like warm butter. It was to the screams of the boys and the eerie absence of the woman's shrill obscenities that my friend unlocked the bolt and the trapdoor rose up as silent as before. The boys ran and flailed all the way out of the house, without a whisper of thanks. My friend and I seemed to look at each other for a lifetime; I in silent comfort, her in thanks. It was I who held out my hand this time, and her little hand slid into mine like it belonged there.

The walls were like the baker, the farmer, the mother, and the father, shrinking away in fear. The pictures were the burning eyes of the woman, hateful even as a corpse. But the door was the gate to freedom, and each takes their own path to it. The man was gone, his ax laid innocently on the porch without a trace of use. But my friend wasn't concerned as she knew that nothing would happen to her if we ever come to meet face to face. I was her savior, her guardian angel, and the knife is my sword.

I'm just a little orphan, lost, hungry, and afraid, but I'm not alone. My only friend is with me, and I'm always with her.