She had only been running for a few minutes, but it felt like hours to her. Her lungs were burning as she tried to push oxygen back inside her chest. Stupid asthma! She thought to herself. Where is that stupid inhaler? She bent down in the shadow of the tall building and fumbled with the inhaler that was strapped to her ankle inside a black Velcro pouch. After a few minutes she put the inhaler back and started running again. Her stomach growled for the third time that day and for the third time that day she considered stopping for food. It was tempting but the thought of getting caught and being sent back there was even more reason to keep running. I should've waited until after lunch to run. Dang it Acelen Grace Rogers! Now's not the time to be thinking about food! Now's the time to be thinking of a good way to stay hidden until school's over! Now's the time of thinking of a good excuse for being gone!
After a solid twenty minutes of running (and two inhaler breaks) she stopped and sat down in the shadow of yet another skyscraper. That was the good thing about New York, there's always plenty of places to hide. She brushed the blonde hair out of her blue eyes with her hand. It was just all so frustrating! Why did kids have to be so cruel? So what if she was stronger than the other girls and could lift heavier weights than they could? So what if she was a little bit of a tom boy? That doesn't mean they could call her "Big George." Or any of the other names/titles they had called her like "ugliest sixth grade boy," and "he/she." She did the best thing she could do; she walked away. If she gave them a reaction then that would be worse than going M.I.A at school. It was just to frustrating to handle. She looked left than right. All the people going past her were too wrapped up in their cell phones and tablets to notice that she was in the shadow of the buildings. So she did something she hadn't done in a long time- she cried.
She sat and cried for a good five minutes when she heard adults whispering.
"What do we do," one person (a man) had said.
"I don't know? I guess we start by finding out why she's here and not at school," another man replied.
"Who's going to do that," a lady had asked.
"Not me, I can't stand it when girls cry," the first man had said.
"I'm not doing it, guess that leaves you Steve," the lady had replied.
Moments later she felt something nudge her foot. She looked up and saw a very tall, strong looking man with blonde hair and crystal blue eyes. He reminded her of her a little, but she didn't want to think of how she resembled a man at the time. The kids at school did that for her.
He got down to her level and said, "Hey, kiddo. I'm Steve. Those are my friends Natasha," he gestured to the lady and she waved, "and Tony," he gestured to the other man who just nodded in her direction.
"Hi, I'm Acelen," she said weakly.
"That's a pretty name. So," she could tell that he was getting nervous now. "Why aren't you in school?" When she didn't answer he tried a different approach, "You know it's easier to talk to someone when you don't give a care about what they think?"
"Bullies," she mumbled.
He seemed to understand that subject pretty well. He looked so sorry for her and gently whispered, "What did they do?" After that she told him her story of how strong she was and that she was little bit of a tom boy and how the other kids made fun of her for it. She told him of all about the name calling, and the title she was given. She expected him to interrupt her and tell her what her mother said, but he just sat there and listened quietly and let her go on uninterrupted.
Though he sat there quietly and kept his face neutral, he was outraged by what he was hearing. How could children be so cruel? How could anyone call this child ugly? In fact she was very pretty. She had a button nose, long blonde hair pulled back into a ponytail, and crystal blue eyes. How could anyone call her "ugliest sixth grade boy," and mean it? He didn't know why, but he felt the need to protect her. The fact that she was hurting so badly made him mad enough to punch the wall. She reminded him of someone he knew …. But who?
Seeing her sit there looking up at him helped him put the pieces together. There was no way Emma had a daughter? The thought was… not that ridiculous. It had been twelve years, surely she would've told him by now.
"Acelen how old are you," he asked.
"Twelve," she replied. "Why?"
He cursed under his breath, "Who's you mom?"
"Who's your dad?"
"I don't know." He then pulled out his phone and silently prayed her phone number was still the same.
After two rings he got an answer, "Hello Emma Sky speaking, how may I help you?"
"Hey, Emma it's me Steve. I just met your daughter. You and I need to talk."
"Let me talk to her," she replied quickly. He then gingerly handed the phone to the youth, who after two minutes, handed it back.
"I still live at the same place, do you remember how to get there?"
He thought for a moment, "Yeah, I do."
"Good, bring her home, you and I can talk there. See you soon." Then she hung up.
"Looks like I'm your ride home," he said. She just nodded and followed him to his car.