"Two more months," he whispered, as the dark kidnapped him once more.
He fell like a grain of sand through an hour glass, disappearing amongst memories and long forgotten faces and streets. Thin, icy finger secured around his shoulders and forced him relive this nightmare once more.
Knives flashing. A pair of people – a man with olive skin and woman with bright eyes – crumple to the concrete like leather bags. As warm blood pooled from their sides, he thought this nightmare got worse and worse each time he watched it.
He roamed the lonely avenues and picked from overflowing dumpsters. He lugged a tattered suitcase behind him as his cold, hungry feet drug his across the asphalt from home to home, alley to alley. His lips cracked jokes and his cheeks made room for smiles, but he knew with each grin or wise crack, he was only turning his problems into messages in bottles, and stuffing them deeper into his mind.
Faces flashed in and out of the crowd, a sepia sea of sorrow. People he stole from, people he couldn't help. But then – something more. A whip of brown hair, the shadow of a girlish figure, the tease of orange fabric. He ran through the ocean of monsters, going deeper and deeper, weaving a quilt of painful memories, but has he followed her, with each glimpse of her hand or reflection of her eye, things were suddenly not so desperate. Now, for reasons unbeknownst to him, the sea was no longer sepia, but a school of coral fish, the watercolors of a sunset, a field of dandelions. It was her, the girl of the wind. He wanted to touch her, reach out and feel the breeze on his cheeks, so close, but -
"Skooch? 'Ey, Skoochy? You okay?" A thin brown boy shook his shoulders.
"Yeah, 'm fine." He looked round. "Why am I on the floor?"
The brown boy failed to stifle a snicker. "Y'were 'avin a dream," he chuckled. "Mumblin' and all, an' then – thwump! - ya 'ell on th' floor!"
Skoochy rolled his eyes at the boy's titters, but sat up and thought. He was having a dream – of her. Something in his mind clicked.
Suddenly, two more months in the orphanage did not seem so bad.