Ravinia Eve

I hug my little 4 year old brother and step out into the cold air, walking along the cobblestone of the sidewalk on the cool street. It's winter in London, a dreadful night for anyone, really. My brother, Todd, sits on the windowsill watching me. He'll probably be there until I'm well on my way. I just have to pick up some bread for my father, but see it really hasn't been very safe here lately. I suppose 1842 has been a bad year for everyone, what with all the murders.

I walk passed the bakery and smell a foul stench of cooking meat pies. I always hated them when my mother made them , so I never tried the locals. A boy runs out onto the street, coughing and falls to his knees next to me. He's only my age, about 14. I recognize him as the salesboy for Pirelli's elixir. Bu he had long blonde hair then. I like him much better with his hair now, I guess. But why is he coughing so much? Why was he in Mrs Lovett's?

"Oh my! Are you okay?" I bend down and help him of his hands and we're both kneeling, looking into each others eyes. He drops something to his side and pushes it into a drain before I can see what it is.

"Yes. Er. Yes, ma'am. I'm fine." He tucks his hands in his coat pockets.

"Do you live there? Where's Mrs Lovett? What's that awful stench?" I ask as we stand. I adjust my scarf.

"I found my master pushing my mother- my friend, master… into an oven. Then he dropped dead from other injuries." The boy whispers. As if there's anyone else on the street. But a knot forms in my stomach at the thought.

"You saw that?" I ask. He nods. I take him in a hug and he smells of smoke and filth. He shakes in my embrace. "Do you have a place to stay?"

"I reckon they'll send me to the workhouse again and maybe I'll get another 'home'" He gives a slight smile. "I'm disposable to them though, may be dead by the end of the month if I'm lucky. Maybe the heavens got a plan for me though. I thought they did before." He stares down at the drain where he tossed that object earlier.

"The workhouse?"

"I'm an orphan. I worked for Pirelli before he died… mysteriously. But Mrs Lovett took me in, and I thought she was my gift from god. I promised I'd protect her. I promised nothing would harm her. I promi"

I cut him off before the tears already welling in his eyes flow down his pale cheeks. "It's fine. I promise you now. I'll keep you safe."

"You will? What's your name?"

"Ravinia," I smile to him, holding out my hand. He replies with a glum smile and a shake of my hand.