Thanks to those of you who reviewed for this chapter!
British Invasion 2009
xXLet the Flames beginxX
(Chapter Edited on – 7/8/11)
I'm pretty sure that if you manage to get through the first few chapters that you'll be pleasantly surprised with the things I've thought up in later chapters. So please, just take the time to actually read past (at least) chapters three and four.
I'm currently in the process of rereading and fixing all the grammar or spelling mistakes I might have made from before. Just remember, I don't have a beta reading over the chapters so every mistake you see is all on me and I'm trying to fix that.
This is the only disclaimer you will see throughout the whole story because, well, I DON'T OWN NEWSIES! Never have and never will! I don't get any profit from this Fanfiction other then the reviews that you've all sent in. The characters that you don't recognize are mine, the characters that you do recognize, though, it should be pretty obvious that I don't own them.
Chapter One - Stealing Away
The one thing I can vividly remember about that night were the screams. The terrifying screeches and the disgusting grunts coming from the next room. My sister was asleep on the mattress next to me, her face showing discomfort and her body twisting into an uncomfortable position. Her dreams usually kept her up at night. The nightmares that took over made her wake in the middle of the night screaming for 'him' to stay away. She was only five years old. Me, being ten, wasn't much older, but I knew what was happening in our parents bedroom. I wish I didn't know what happened on the other side of those paper thin walls. I ran my fingers through Misty's thin blond hair and kissed her forehead as she made a sound of distress.
There was a loud bang and I jumped as heavy footsteps stomped down the hallway and paused in front of our bedroom door. I froze, silently waiting as the person breathing haggardly stood on the other side of the door. The floorboards creaked and I pulled my younger sibling into a tight embrace, my eyes closing in relief as the person standing outside continued down the hallway after a few brief moments. I could hear the door to the apartment open and then slam shut. I glanced out the window into the darkness and then gently laid Misty back down onto the mattress. I pulled the sheets up over her tiny body and got up to open the door.
After looking both ways down the dark hall I tiptoed from behind the door and closed it softly. I winced with every creak the floor made beneath my feet; it was as if any sound could have him racing back through the front entrance. I barely tapped on the paint chipped door that lead to the bedroom he and my mother shared, my fingers running over the rough wood as I nudged it open.
The sight that greeted me would haunt me for the rest of my life. She lay on the floor barely clothed and sobbing as she tried to stand up. Her long silky hair was no longer perfect and now lay in a disarray and was knotted throughout her whole head. Bruises painted her body, as if it had been a previously blank canvas that was now painted on. I could see hand shaped masses resting on her upper arms as the sleeves of her nightdress rose. My strong mother had finally broken.
I immediately crossed the floor to her and she looked up as she heard the smack of my bare feet flying towards her. Both her eyes were surrounded by black and blue, and her left one was almost closed completely shut. The tears continued down her beaten cheeks and I grimaced as I saw that her nose was bleeding profusely.
She couldn't answer. Instead, she grabbed a hold of my shoulders and pulled me into a tight hug. Her fingers grasped the back of my nightgown and I held onto my mother's body with the same fierceness she did with mine. I gasped quietly, holding back tears as her fingers dug into the fresh injuries that I had also gained earlier in the day. She quickly held me at arms length and smiled the saddest smile I had ever seen grace her lips.
"I'm sorry, Madeline. I'm so sorry I couldn't save you today."
A tear escaped my eye and traveled down my cheek. "It's not your fault, Mama. It's mine, I talked back."
My mother shushed me. "It's not your fault, Maddie. It's never your fault. You did nothing wrong, and you remember that."
It wasn't my mother's wrongdoing either when her husband came home two weeks later to no supper on the table. Misty was sick with a fever and mother had been taking care of her all day. She'd had no time to make dinner for any of us.
Robert Filly was a cruel and sadistic man. When my mother had first met him, he was the most kindest man our family had ever met next to my real father. He took my mother out to eat and treated her with the utmost respect. He always brought toys and treats for Misty and I whenever he came to visit. Everything was all happiness and smiles until three months after my mother married him. He became violent. It started small with tiny slaps on the arm or hands when something wasn't done right. Those small hits turned into punches that could crush the bones in a person's cheek. Those slaps turned into pushes that rammed sharp table corners and other objects into someones ribs.
When mother didn't have dinner ready that night, Robert stumbled to the bedroom the three of us were currently staying in. The door smashed open and the large man stood with a feral look in his glazed eyes. His slightly drunken state made him walk in a tipsy stride as he hauled himself from the door jam and into the room. My mother stood quickly from Misty's bedside and pushed me behind her.
The next thing I knew, Robert was pulling the older woman through the doorway and out into the hall. He dragged her kicking and yelling into the kitchen and Misty sat petrified with fear as our mother's panicked screams reached us. I left my little sister in the corner of the room screaming out, "Stay here!" and slammed the door shut behind me as I took off down the hall. Later in life I would remember the way my mother's fingernails scratched at the wood floor as she scrambled to get away. It was like nails on a chalkboard to my ears.
I would never forget Robert's furious face as he shoved me away from him when I tried to stop him from his actions. My body landed against the kitchen counter and the cut I received from my face greeting the hard surface above my eyebrow, bled into my left eye. I was knocked to the floor and kicked in the ribs before Robert turned back to my mother. I was barely conscious as I heard my mother shrieking for help. I was there for the whole thing. I watched as the man my mother called husband brutally raped her and then beat her until there was no life left in her eyes.
The woman who cradled me to sleep after a beating, the one who sang softly to us during the night, the one who loved and cared for my sister and I so much, was gone. That night was the last time I spoke. From that moment on I stayed silent through the abuse and molestation. Robert Filly took away my voice the night he murdered my beautiful and nurturing mother.
Weeks after Robert had disappeared into the night with her dead body, I finally decided that I'd had enough of his abuse. I was afraid that he would start in on Misty more than he already had and I could only do so much to protect her from him doing what he'd done to me. She didn't deserve any of the awful things that had been thrust onto me by that monster.
So, as I sat there in the corner of the room on the mattress we shared, I planned our escape. Misty's dreams were getting worse and now I, more often then I wanted, woke screaming in the middle of the night. I held onto my sister tightly as dishes crashed against walls. I rocked her back and forth while humming softly. The ruckus stopped and the force of the front door being slammed made the walls around us shudder.
Misty's tears soaked her blouse and she started sobbing loudly, no longer fearing the wrath that would have been brought down upon her from her loud cries if he'd been in the next room. Her breathing grew erratic and I tried calming her down as my own tears fell into her hair. I stood quickly and pulled her up with me when she cried louder from our loss of contact. I shuffled around our room and packed a bag with all the clothes and trinkets I could fit into it. My sister settled slightly and grabbed for the stuffed bunny rabbit that was given to her by our mother and father. I grasped her hand and tugged her behind me as we reached the kitchen. I glanced around at the mess on the floor and then dropped down onto my knees in front of the sink. I pulled the cupboard door open and reached far into the back. After pushing random bottles and jugs out of the way, I pulled out a jar that was almost filled to the brim with assorted coins.
I looked into my sobbing sisters eyes and smiled softly at her. She reached for me and I picked her up. I settled her onto my hip and then struggled with putting the bag onto my other shoulder. We stole away into the night, sticking to the shadows until we reached the train station. How Misty knew that I wanted tickets to New York was beyond me, but she knew. She must have remembered all those stories about our aunt who lived in New York, and how she and our mother used to live across from the Newsboy Lodging House in Manhattan. Because that's where we were currently heading. To get onto a contraption that we never had before, to go to a city we'd never been to, and to live with an aunt we'd never met. We were doing it, and we were going to be brave while riding that train.
I let my sister do all the talking. She was old enough to understand my need to be silent, she'd also been there to hear the unnerving screams. We comforted each other on the train ride, and both of us cried as we realized that our mother wouldn't be walking through the compartment door with a grin on her face, happy to be away from all the horror. As we got farther and farther away from California, it finally hit me. Hard. I knew I looked a mess, and the old crone sitting across from us took pity on me and handed me a handkerchief. I blew my nose into it and smiled softly as she looked revolted from the sound of it.
As the train rolled into one of New York's stations a few weeks later, my tears had stopped. My sister's did the same as we both recognized that our mother wasn't coming back to save us from being alone. We found our aunt's apartment with only slight trouble (we had to ask only one person where the Manhattan Lodging House was and immediately found our way) and it seemed that she had been expecting us to walk through her front door, having received a letter from our mother a couple months previously. When she learned that her sister wasn't returning to her by word of her niece, she immediately broke down and cradled us to her chest. The words of pain and hurt traveled from the mouth of my sister to the ear of my aunt and she gave me a worried look through her mourning tears. She told us that we were allowed to stay, and that we would never be turned away.
My aunt still lived across from the Newsboys Lodging House in the same apartment that her and my mother used to live in as small girls. Every morning those rowdy boys would be out on the streets making as much noise as possible and living like there was no tomorrow. They were just like my mother told us they would be from the stories she used to tell.
I was frightened of going outside, and whenever I managed the courage to venture from my aunt's apartment, I'd look over my shoulder every few minutes. I was continuously waiting for Robert's sausage-like fingers to reach out and grab me.
It's been six years since we departed from California and I still haven't uttered a word. There was no speaking from my side of the conversation during dinner time, nor was there any discussion about my day while cleaning up the table. There was silent observation from me and chatty gossip from both Misty and aunt Sara every meal. I smiled at Misty's rendition of the rush lunch hour that day and handed Sara a clean bowl that needed to be put away.
With Misty still babbling away behind us, Sara turned to me and muttered quietly, "Just as long as she isn't out there on the streets selling herself away. It's doing her good to work down at Tibby's. You can tell, can't you?"
I gave a discreet nod and tuned back in to the speed talker behind us.
"-nd Marcus -I've told you about him haven't I?- turned just as some kid from Queens comes dashing through the aisle and they crashed into each other. Food flew everywhere and plates and glasses were broken. You shoulda seen Tibby's face, he was furious!"
"Oh, I bet," Sara said and then reached to put a plate on the top shelf. I rinsed the last few dishes, my aunt quickly drying them and putting them away, and then gestured Misty into the next room. I sat down on the sofa and she plopped herself down on the floor between my legs. I hummed softly as I went about my nightly routine of combing her dark blond hair and then braiding it into two plaits. While I did this, Misty watched aunt Sara gather up materials and start sewing together some items that had needed to get patched up at the factory, but hadn't, and were instead brought home.
I finished and tugged on Misty's braids to signal my success. She rose from the floor and gave Sara a kiss on the cheek, receiving one back and gathered a few articles of clothing from her and then hurried back over to me to accept a kiss on the forehead and to give me the pile of clothes she collected. I chose a skirt first and started sewing up a hole that was in the waistline seam. Misty said her goodnight's and then hesitated in the doorway to her room.
"Um...aunt Sara? Maddie?"
We both paused in our mending and looked up.
"What is it sweetheart?" asked Sara.
She hesitated once more and fiddled with her powder blue skirt, raising the hem higher then her ankles and then dropping it back to the floor. She did this one more time before answering aunt Sara. "Do you mind if a few people come over for supper tomorrow?"
The breath that was caught in my throat didn't want to come loose. Aunt Sara glanced over at me and I swallowed hard. I looked at Misty and tilted my head.
"Who'd be coming? Oh, just a couple little kids. Probably should have mentioned that first," she said this under her breath. "A few of them are even younger then me, so no need to worry, Mads."
I inhaled fresh air and then brushed a few loose strands of strawberry blond hair back from my face.
"There's nobody over the age of twelve...I think. Boots might be thirteen but I'm not sure. Snipeshooter's about twelve and a half, Twiggy near eleven and I think Patches is around eight."
I had heard her mention these names before and recognized them as being newsboys who lived across the street. Aunt Sara looked at me worriedly and I gazed down at the fabric in my lap. I gave a small nod.
Misty squeaked and then launched herself at me for a hug. "Don't you even worry about it, Maddie, they wouldn't hurt a fly. It'll be great, you'll see."
She got up from where she had landed on top of me and happily returned her walk to her room. When she closed the door, aunt Sara whispered, "You don't have to do this, Madeline, you know that don't you?"
I stared down at the stitching I was doing and dipped my head lower.
Sara sighed. "It'll be ok. And it'll be good for you too."
We both went back to our sewing and I tried to imagine what would happen once those boys stepped through the front doorway.
I never went outside of our apartment complex. I might borrow flour from the neighbor lady across the hall or go to the roof to hang up the laundry, but I never stepped foot off the stoop and into the street. I'd had a rough encounter with a couple of ruffians (Misty called them 'Scabbahs' with that exact pronunciation) and decided that I'd had enough of the outside world. If anyone were to break into the apartment I wouldn't have a clue what to do.
I was dressed in a white long sleeved shirt with the sleeves rolled up above my elbows and the hem tucked into the dark ankle length skirt resting against my waist. The gray trousers I was wearing underneath the skirt fell to my bare feet and the legs were folded up a few times so I wouldn't trip over them. Strands of hair fell loose from the messy bun I had recently put it in to make dinner. I was constantly reaching up to push them behind my ears. I stirred the simple stew I had made and then started cutting the loaf of bread into thin slices.
My fingers clenched around the top of the handle of the knife as I heard voices float through the walls in the outer hallway. My hands stopped their cutting motion and I froze when a key was heard being put into the lock on the front door and the doorknob was turned. It went silent and I anxiously waited for Misty to yell out her greeting. My toes curled and I gripped the counter with my free hand.
"Maddie! We're here!"
I sighed in relief and released my hold on the knife. I grimaced at the small amount of blood from the small blade biting into the skin on my pointer finger and wiped my hand on the folds of my skirt. The sound of footsteps found their way towards the kitchen and I once again pushed hair back behind my ears. I looked over my shoulder at Misty as she entered and gave a shy smile to the three small boys that followed in after her. I gestured towards the table with my head and my younger sibling pushed the silent boys towards their seats.
"You need any help, Mads?"
I nodded my head and reached into my skirt's pocket and pulled out a small tablet of paper and a short dull pencil. I wrote a few things down before stepping away from the counter and tossed it over to her. She caught it as I turned and I could hear small whispers as she ripped the page out of the book.
"Alright," she said with irritation. She got up from her seat and got up on the counter to reach the top cupboard shelves. I grabbed onto the back of her shirt and held her weight as she leaned backwards to open the door and then pulled bowls down.
"Is aunt Sara home yet?"
Once Misty had jumped safely back to the floor I held my arm out for the notebook and she immediately placed it in my hand.
No, she said she'd be late when she left this morning. She should be back by seven.
Misty nodded and set the bowls out in front of her friends. I carefully picked up the hot pot of stew and brought it over to the table. As I went back over to the counter to get the spoons and bread, Misty started introducing the boys.
"Maddie, this here is Snipeshooter, Patches and Boots. Twiggy couldn't come cause his parents said so. Said it was something to do with a family dinner."
Each of the boys removed their different colored hats and bowed their heads to me. I set the utensils and bread down on the table and reached for my notebook.
I'm very pleased to meet you.
And I was. As each of us sat down around the table and I began dishing out soup into their bowls, the conversation started. All three of those boys wanted my input on certain comments like, "Did ya 'ear about da Trolley Workers Strike? It's been all ovah da papahs." or "You'se nevah 'ad one a dem big apples from da corner market? I'se gonna hafta bring you'se one a those." and even "Ya know, you'se look like one a dem goils dat Skitts was datin. You'se evah 'eard of a kid named Skittery?"
The chatter was continuous and when aunt Sara opened the door and entered with her daily load of clothes to mend, I never even heard her. One moment I was chuckling at something Boots had complained about and the next I was looking at a very surprised Sara standing in the doorway watching us. I quickly stood up and went to the cupboard for another bowl and turned to see that Snipeshooter had gotten out of his chair and was sliding it over towards my aunt.
"'ere ya go's Ma'am. You'se can take my seat."
Sara held a hand to her chest. "Why thank you, young man, that's very kind of you."
Snipeshooter blushed and ruffled his hand through his dark curly hair. Boots and Patches laughed at the red on his cheeks and Misty giggled.
I shook my head at them and handed Sara the cracked bowl and let her serve herself to the stew and sliced bread. She caught my eye and grinned over at me. I smiled back and resisted telling Patches to stop tugging on his ear. It must have been a nervous habit because he had been doing it ever since he sat down at the table.
Later that evening I gathered up the dirty dishes and set them in the sink to soak. My bare feet barely made a sound as I went back and forth from the table to the counter.
I turned to look at Misty standing in the doorway. The three newsies were slouching behind her. I nodded my head to tell her I was listening and then went back to work.
"Do you need any help?" She asked quietly.
I turned around and leaned up against the edge of the counter, shaking my head.
The three boys grinned and Misty shifted to shrug her shoulders at them. "Guess your free to go, boys."
Each of them came over to say goodbye to me by shaking my hand. It looked like they had been resisting spitting into their palms as they did so. I nodded my reply to their goodbye's and then blew out a sigh of relief as they left the room. Misty came back after leading them out and leaned against the counter next to the sink and crossed her arms as she studied me.
"They were asking why you didn't talk."
I peeked over at her and wiped at my face with my arm to get soapy water off my cheek.
"I told them that is was none of their business other then that you don't talk much."
I smiled in amusement and she sheepishly looked up at me. "I didn't mean for that to be a joke, Mads."
I lifted a shoulder in reply and kept smiling down at the dirty water.
"You sure you don't want help? I'm here with two free hands, you know? I can be of great service once I get started."
I rolled my eyes and threw a dry dish towel at her. I raised my eyebrows at her as she groaned.
"I dried last time."
"Well it looks like your drying this time, too."
I swiveled around to see aunt Sara leaning against the doorway.
Misty mumbled under her breath and started drying a glass. Once she was finished she held the arm with the clear glassware in it up in the air. Sara made a sound of disbelief and crossed the floor to stand next to my sister.
"Yes. I'll do it Misty." Sara moved around the kitchen to put the dish my sister had recently held away.
Misty left the smug smile on her face as she did her job and I bumped my hip into her. She only glanced up at me before continuing on.