"Is anyone watching?"
"No!" Gauche whispered. "Just jump!"
Droite cast one last look around, taking in her surroundings - not out of sentimentality, but to be sure no one was there to see.. Then she got one foot onto the windowsill and shoved herself out.
Gauche caught her, more or less. He wasn't any older than she was, and not really up to the task, but at least managed to cushion her fall. She landed awkwardly but not painfully, and hauled herself to her feet, and then she and Gauche began hurrying down the street. They moved in tense silence, afraid that at any moment someone would come along to demand to know what two children were doing on the streets this late at night - or worse, demand that they give up the things in their bags.
But no one saw them. They were only two shadows flitting through the streets under a cloudy sky. They had spent all their lives running from those older and stronger than they were, and they knew all the hiding places that might shelter a child in need of refuge.
Just thinking about it made Droite set her jaw and walk a little faster. This was the end of it. This would be the last time they ran away.
They dodged around a noisy bar, slipped around the back of an all-night video store, and tiptoed past the grungy motel. A woman in cheap perfume and tall shiny boots watched them with flat eyes. Droite avoided looking at her, hating the reminder of what would be in store for her if she failed tonight.
They reached their destination at last: a bus station, where a few tired travelers were already piling their luggage into the bins. Gauche, who was better than Droite at fast-talking, showed their tickets and spun a story about a family emergency and being sent to see relatives out of town. Then, miraculously, Droite found herself sitting on a battered but comfortable bus seat, and the bus was beginning to move. She watched with her hands pressed flat against the windows as she watched the only home she'd ever known slip away.
"See? I told you we could do it," said Gauche, making himself comfortable in his seat.
She only shook her head at his bravado and turned away from the window. From within her bag, she took out a sheet of paper and spread it on her lap. It was a crumpled tourism brochure for Heartland City. Though was badly smudged now, she could still read most of the text. It spoke of a wonderful city, built by a man who loved children so much he'd placed a massive amusement park at the center of his city.
Droite smiled and stared out the window again, not looking at the last traces of her home, but instead already hoping for the first glimpse of her destination. She'd spent her life running away from people. Now, at last, she was running towards something.