I closed one story so now I can start another, right? LOL. This prologue is dark, the rest of the story is going to be normal, it's just to establish why Edward is like he is. Warning, horrible father alert, murder.
"Don't forget to cry, boy," the father reminded his small son as he pushed him towards the door.
The child concentrated on the beating he had received just the night before, the scars and bruises still ached, he had cried most of the night. Surely he could muster up a few more tears.
"Cry, I said," the man growled and slapped the child across his head.
The tears flowed freely now.
"Good. Don't forget, check they are asleep before you unlock the door."
The small, scrawny boy knocked timidly and wiped away some of the steady flow.
"Why, where did you spring from? Are you lost?" the pretty lady asked, ushering him inside.
A man sat at the dining table, eating his dinner. It smelled delicious and it had been well over a day since the child had eaten, and then only what he could find in the trashcan in the city limits. His stomach growled loudly in hunger.
The lady knelt and wiped away his tears with her linen handkerchief, and smiled kindly at him, far more kindly than anyone else ever had in his entire life.
"Do you have a name, son?" the man asked.
"Shush now, he is starving, and lost, let me feed him at least then I think a nice hot bath would be in order. Now, eat up, lad, I hope you like chicken."
The boy grabbed the chicken drumstick like it was all that stood between him and starvation, and the rich brown gravy dripped down his chin. Mashed potatoes, corn, green beans, he had never experienced a bounty like this before.
He shuddered a little. If they could afford to eat this well, then they probably owned all sorts of things his father could steal and sell on.
As the child's plate emptied, the man at the table pushed his own chair back and patted his stomach. He was starting to get a bit of a paunch but no wonder, if the pretty lady always cooked this good.
"Now, it's time for some answers," the man said, not unkindly.
"You won't even wait and let him have desert?" the lady asked pleadingly.
"Enough's enough, woman. You can bathe him as soon as he answers my questions then we will consider if he has earned desert. Do you like apple pie with cream and ice cream, boy?"
The child's eyes opened wider. Cream and ice cream? Both together? Who ever heard of such a thing?
"I truly don't know, sir, I have never eaten cream or ice cream but it looks good," the boy answered.
"You have eaten apple pie though?" the lady asked.
"Yes Ma'am, the diner in Ann Street serves apple pie, I always look for the apple pie leftovers when I'm finding my dinner."
The lady looked shocked, and pained.
Nobody had ever cared where the child got his food supply from so he was mystified why she reacted so. It was a nice diner, nicer than the ones in the city proper where the chef would yell at him and tell him to F off and not come back in case he disturbed the important people dining inside the warmth, and hazily lit dining area.
No, the Ann Street diner was the best place to eat. The girl with the fuzzy hair even kept aside half eaten meals and put them in a box for him sometimes so he didn't have to dig through the potato peelings and spoiled fruit to find something worth eating. When she was on shift, she left the white Styrofoam container balancing on the corner of the skip.
Often there was apple pie crusts, though the diners always ate most of the fruit filling and the cream or ice cream, even that diner didn't serve both.
"What's your name, son?" the man asked again.
The child rubbed his eyes and tried to remember what name he was meant to use in this village. It changed all the time, it was important not to leave clues, his father had drummed into his tired and confused skull.
"Mike," he whispered.
"Well Mike, where do you live?" the man asked.
"Not here, we live in the city most of the time," he answered in a small frightened voice. He hated this part. The meals were always the pay off for him but remembering what he was supposed to say was often hard. He hoped the man wouldn't look into his eyes and see the lies there.
"Where are your parents?" the man persisted.
"My mother died, my father was supposed to come out and get me after he went to the drinking place and I think he might have forgot."
The couple exchanged glances.
"How did you get all the way out here? Why didn't you wait outside the bar?" the lady asked.
"There was a man, I didn't like him, he tried to make me get in his car. He smelled funny, like whiskey. My Dad likes whiskey, he smells like whiskey most nights," the child said. That was true, he had no fear they would think him lying now.
"Then how did you get out here?" she asked kindly.
"I walked, Ma'am," he answered.
"All this way? You must be exhausted. Come upstairs and have a nice warm bath and then we can find something to dress you in for bed and I will wash these clothes of yours, hopefully they will be dry by morning. My husband will take you into town to see the sheriff, and we will find that father of yours."
Or hopefully the sheriff will call in Social Services because clearly this child would do better in a foster home, not in the careless hands of the man unworthy to call himself father.
She washed his skin gently, hiding her shock and horror at seeing the scars, some so old to be thick and white lines, some fresh, still red, interlaced with bruises, purple, mauve, yellow, various sizes and ages.
He had clearly been beaten regularly, maybe since babyhood.
She clenched her jaw determinedly. The sheriff was a personal friend, maybe they could convince him to lock up the father or at least run him out of town, and they could give the child a home themselves. She was a foster mother, just since her own baby was born, she hadn't taken in any children needing her care.
That would change.
Her daughter would benefit from having an older brother.
She dried his skin gently but he never flinched, not even when she accidentally touched the worst of the fresh scars.
She pulled onto his body her smallest Tshirt that she had worn back in college before this new body of hers had developed, her waist thicker now since the pregnancy, of that she was convinced. And now the new pregnancy would add further inches. She smiled a secret smile.
The Tshirt hung to his knees and she smiled and kissed the now clean forehead.
"Come back downstairs and eat your apple pie then you can sleep up here in the guest room," she said kindly.
The apple pie was amazing, warm, he had never eaten it warm before, and it was not all crust like he was used to. Creamy tasty apples, cooked to perfection, just sweet enough to meld with the tang, and the cream and ice cream were amazing. He ate slowly, wanting the sensation of having food such as this in his mouth last as long as possible.
He doubted he would ever eat this well again, ever.
"Thank you, that was the best food I ever ate," he exclaimed honestly as he scraped the last morsels from his plate.
"You are very welcome, Mike. I think we have just enough leftover for you to eat for morning tea before you go see the sheriff," she said with a smile and a wink.
The child's face dropped, he knew there would be no morning snack, no visit to anyone. They would be long gone by then.
The lady took him upstairs and tucked the blankets around his small cold body.
"Goodnight, Mike, sleep well," she said quietly, kissing his cheek.
He lay in the darkness and held his fingers on the spot where she had kissed him.
Had anyone ever kissed him before? He didn't think so. Maybe his Momma had, but she had died long before he had formed any memories of her. Not her face, or her skin, or her voice,or her smell, he had nothing of her.
His father once said mid beating he reminded him too much of her, of the dead Momma, because he had her hair, and her eyes and her smile.
He tried to never smile again in front of the father, that was not difficult. The hair he hid under an old grey knitted cap that he had found on the road once, outside a schoolyard. There was nothing he could do about the eyes though.
The house settled and the boy lay in waiting, fear gripping his insides. Father was out there, waiting and he would not he happy if the boy didn't unlock the door and let him in. He feared for the couple that had taken him in. His father was not fussed whether he left them asleep or killed them if they awoke. Or sometimes even if they didn't wake, he would shoot them anyway.
'Mike' decided he had to do something. Nobody had ever given him apple pie warm, with cream and ice cream. Nobody had ever sighed over his battered body, or kissed him before. He would warn them, maybe the man had a gun and could shoot his father and end this now.
He snuck down the hallway and stopped in surprise at the gentle sounds of a baby babbling in her crib. He snuck into the room and looked between the bars. She was sweet, and smelt clean and like a flower almost.
Her eyes caught his and she smiled, and reached a hand out to touch him.
"Hello, baby, what's your name? You are lucky, having nice people for parents. I wish they were my parents," he told the small child and she grinned a toothless grin at him.
He picked up the pink pacifier and handed it to her and she took it and placed it in her mouth, sucking noisily.
He walked from the room, even more determined. HE would not be hurting this little flower of a baby.
He knocked timidly on the bedroom door. The man opened it. He was wearing blue and white striped pajamas, to this day he remembered the pajamas. He had never seen an adult in striped pajamas before. They looked new.
"Please sir, do you have a gun?" he asked hopefully.
"A gun? Why would you want to know that, boy?"
"He's out there, he sends me inside to unlock the door for him once everyone is asleep then he comes inside and robs everything you have worth taking, and sometimes..."
"Sometimes what, son?" the man asked as he crouched to squat at the boys eye level.
"Sometimes he does bad stuff. Shooting."
The man ruffled the child's hair.
"Well we will see about that. Call the sheriff, dear, it seems we have a burglar about to strike."
"Please don't tell him I told," the boy begged, reality hitting suddenly. This betrayal would earn him more than a few licks of the belt.
"Don't worry, you are safe with us," the man assured him.
The lady switched on the light and reached for the phone and as she dialled, the boy stiffened at the sound of breaking glass down below.
Daddy had gotten tired of waiting, maybe he knew what his son had done.
The child ran silently to the room the baby was in, and climbed into the crib. Silver catches sat at either end of one side and he flicked them and dropped the barrier. He climbed out and lifted the baby, taking care to grab the pink plastic pacifier.
Angry voices, yelling, screaming, shots.
He ran into the hallway and looked up, there it was. The string attached to the ladder than would give them access to the attic.
He lay the baby gently on the floor and grabbed the heavy chair covered in fabric and dragged it under the spot. The cord was just inches above his hands. He jumped and caught it by the very end and the ladder descended with a thump.
He pushed the chair back where it came from, leave no clues his father always said.
He lifted the baby and awkwardly climbed the thin treads of the ladder and lay the baby in the little boxed in space in front of the small attic window. Once there had been a lid to cover this storage area but it was long gone.
Carefully he placed the pacifier in her mouth and she played with the Tshirt he wore, pulling the fabric towards her mouth.
He moved back a little.
"I have to go. Please stay quiet. If you stay quiet he may not find you, and you don't want him to find you, baby." He kissed the top of her head, as the lady had kissed him when she had come back into the room when he had pretended to be asleep.
Down the ladder again, he pushed with all his might and the steps retreated back into the ceiling.
There was not a lot of noise now, someone was cursing under their breath, and metal clanked on metal.
He snuck down the stairs praying it would be the man and the nice lady, just upset they had killed his father.
"Where the hell were you, you little shit," his father bellowed, slapping his cheek."Get this lot out into the truck."
The child took the sack and made for the doorway, squinting his eyes so he would not see them as he stepped over their legs. The pretty lady was facedown, thank God, her arms around the man in the striped pajamas. His face was surprisingly calm, and he looked like he was just sleeping. Almost. The splashes of red across the front of the pajamas told another story, this was not a sleep he would awaken from.
The boy dragged the sack to the truck and heaved it into the tray. He wiped his brow and looked up at the tiny attic window and prayed the baby was asleep. Properly asleep, the kind of sleep you woke up from.
He saw the lights before he heard the wail of the siren.
He ran down the road as fast as his legs would carry him, waving frantically at the sheriff, he had to tell him to save the baby.
The shot rang out into the silent night and the child fell.
The sheriff called for back up and stopped, carefully alighting from his vehicle,kneeling behind the protection of the cruiser to check the child. Breathing, but so much blood.
"The baby, save the baby. He killed the lady and the man in the striped pajamas. I hid the baby in the attic," the boy gasped then silence settled once again and his body relaxed.
Blessed blackness took over, and he mouthed the words as he slid into the loving arms of oblivion.
"Save the baby."
As always, review if you want more, I am never afraid to remove anything nobody much likes.