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Once the woman is finished bandaging my numerous wounds, I bolt upright from the bed, wincing. Before she can protest against my leaving again, I walk stiffly to the door.
“Thank you for your help ma’am, I’d best be off,” I say politely shifting my weight off my left leg as much as possible, for it was injured more than any other part of my body in the fall.
“Of course, miss, safe travels,” She nods curtly in my direction as I stagger my way out the door and maneuver my way through the small building out into the cool, wet air of New Orleans.
It reminds me of when Clarence and I first arrived here. It feels like it was an eternity ago, although it was only about seven weeks, back in early October.
We had just slipped off the ship that we had sneaked aboard, bound for the port of New Orleans. The rain drizzled over the rooftops and trickled down the roads into awaiting gutters. I remember Clarence’s voice in my mind: What a miserable looking place.
I chuckled at his comment, but thought back: I kind of like it, it’s…charming.
“If you say so little sis,” He said aloud.
I then grinned and took off down a picturesque lane lined with quaint buildings. I gazed in awe at the architecture, so much different from the styles in the many other places we’d been.
But I did not get to sight see for long, because Clarence tugged me into a gap between buildings and whispered harshly, “We need to focus Elle, we’re not here on vacation,”
“I know but, last we heard they were onto our trail in Seattle! That is practically on the other side of the country! There is no way they’ll find us anytime soon, so why can’t we enjoy ourselves for once? Forget about the others, about mom and dad, about everything?” I retorted in exasperation.
“Elle, you know why we can’t do that, it’s too risky! There’s no way we are letting our guard down.”
“No, enough is enough, nothing you say is going to change my mind. Now let’s find a place to settle for the night, it’ll be dark soon.”
I grumbled in defeat as I followed Clarence back out onto the street, and before long we had found a hotel.
After we got settled in, I thought to him: I wish we could stay, at least for a few weeks…
Clarence shot me a grim look: Don’t get comfortable, we won’t be staying long. It’s not worth
I recall this with a laugh, so much for that, somehow or another in there I must have managed to persuade him to stick around, since I am still here now.
Lost in thought I don’t notice until it is too late that I am walking straight into a newspaper stand.
“Oof!” I grunt as I hit my bad leg and some of the papers scatter onto the wet ground, water soaking them into nothing but a pile of mushiness.
“Hey!” A voice calls from beside me, “That was half of my supply!”
I turn in embarrassment to see that the voice belongs to a boy, about my age by the looks of it, maybe younger. His honey-blonde hair flopping over his face, unkempt and messy. He has his features twisted into a scowl, and arms crossed in front of his chest, which is covered by a loose-fitting white shirt and a ragged brown jacket. His hazel eyes cut into mine as he looks me over, and his scowl fades into a more apologetic look.
“I’m sorry miss, are you alright?” He asks concerned.
“Yes, I’m fine,” I stammer, “I am so sorry about that! I can pay for them if you’d like-”
“No worries miss, I probably wasn’t even going to be able to sell them anyways…no one ever reads the paper anymore,” He mutters with a sigh.
“Oh, well, I can buy one, if that would make you feel better.” I suggest, “How much?”
“Erm, a dollar, but you don’t have to-” He starts before I cut him off.
“Done, and keep the tip,” I extend a five dollar bill out to him with a small smile, “What’s your name?”
He goggles at the five-dollar bill in my hand, “Uh, Julian Tryce. Why?”
“No reason, but I like it,” I say.
“Thanks, may I have the privilege of your name as well miss?” He asks in a very gentlemanly way, tipping his tattered newsboy hat.
“Elizabeth,” I offer inclining my head slightly, “It is a pleasure to meet you,”
“Indeed,” Julian agrees with a grin, “If I may ask, where are you off to?”
“Oh, I um, I’m not sure,” I answer, slightly dazed from his staggering smile, “I’m looking for someone, my brother,”
“Your brother huh?”
“Yeah, he’s missing,” I admit in a small voice, biting my lip as I hold back the tears.
“I’m sorry,” Julian says as he notices my miserable attempts at hiding my emotions, “Hey now, don’t cry!”
In a blink he is by my side, guiding me under an awning and out of the rain.
“I’m sorry,” I say as the tears drip down my face, “I just, miss him so much,”
“I can understand that.” Julian says solemnly, “My father went missing when I was five, one day he was there with mom and I, and the next, gone without a trace.”
I shudder at the thought.
“Hey, maybe I can help you. Find your brother I mean,” He offers sincerely.
“Really? You’d do that?”
“Of course,” He replies with a smile that warms me from the inside out, dissolving the rest of my tears.
“Thank you,” I say softly, tucking a loose strand of hair behind my ear.
He wrings his hands together nervously, “No problem, I think I know someone who can help, if you want,”
“Perfect, follow me then,” He replies as he walks out into the street.
I follow close behind, a strange, but pleasant burning in my chest. At last, I have hope.
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