b"A Day in the Life"/b

The room was dark and peaceful. A dying light came from the western horizon that was darkened with clouds. The soft patter of rain against the window was the only sound that could be heard.

The silence was suddenly shattered as the door to the room slammed open and a slouched, shadowed figure limped into the quarters and shut the door equally as loud. The figure stood in the room a few minutes, waiting for their eyes to adjust. It walked over to a small desk and switched on a small light upon it.

The light revealed a young girl about the age of nine, who was soaking wet, shivering and bore an expression as cheery as the stormy weather outside. She sat down behind her desk and looked out her darkened window.

The girl was none other than Helga Pataki, bully by day and tortured poet by night. After a few moments, she opened her desk drawer and pulled out a small book. Helga opened it up and turned to a black page into the well- worn book. With shaking hands, she began to write.

"iDear Diary/i," were the words she squiggled down on the page. She pulled back the pen and sucked on the tip. What exactly would she write? "iI knew the day would be bad right from the start for two reasons: 1. Olga had come home to visit last night. 2. It was a Saturday. How can I describe a day so horrible? Let me start at the beginning./i"

The tranquility of the early morning could almost bring peace to any tormented soul. There was nothing but quiet as I sat alone on the roof, only the occasional whisper of wind as my company. I enjoyed my solitude from the world, especially at times like these when I could be alone with my thoughts as it slept.

As I looked up into the sky, which slowly became touched with the light of the sun, I could not help but think of ihim/i. I looked down at the horizon and watched the sun's golden rays peek up over the tops of the buildings. Such a sight would be enough to inspire any poet. But not me.

There is only one in this twisted world that inspires me, one that my existence truly relies on. The only person who ever showed me compassion in a world that seemed to be turned against me. One who is named Arnold.

The boy with eyes so full of caring and concern, who's soft, sweet-smelling hair seemed to match the gold in the sunrise. The boy whose smile could brighten even the darkest of days, and bring warmth to the coldest of hearts.

I watch the sky turn from it's dark violet to a fiery red-gold. A few clouds speckled the horizon, and they seem to catch the colors and throw them back with three times the vibrancy. The same could be said for Arnold's enthusiasm and willing to help people. He could take the most dismayed of all souls and give the person hope, and a willingness to live and see what the next day would bring.

He'd done it to many a child and adult in this city, and doubtless he would do it to countless others who were in need of a shove in the right direction or a word of advice when all possibilities had seemed to be exhausted. He did it for me, though he didn't know it.

I began to hear a commotion in the house below me. Bob and Miriam must've gotten up early. My few moments of peace were over, and now I needed to face the rest of the dreary day. I got up and shivered against a sudden wind that had kicked up. It would be a chilly day. Rain would most likely fall.

As I left the rooftop and entered the attic of my house, I heard the soft notes of our piano downstairs, and the approving mutters of Big Bob and Miriam. Olga must've been a factor in their early rise. I went into my room and entered my closet, switching on the light and peeking behind the rack of clothing I kept in the little room. I saw before me my beloved shrine I had to Arnold, bane of my existence, the unknowing tormentor of my hopeless and tortured soul.

"Oh Arnold," I uttered to the shrine. "Atlas of my world, the angelic peacemaker to all those in need of help. How I long for the day you will finally realize that all my insults and harassment comes not from hate, but from undying love! How I wish that you would take me in your arms and confess your feelings of affection for me!"

I spent another hour or so in that closet, mumbling comments to a thing that couldn't answer back and releasing thoughts and feelings from my heart that flowed through my fingers and onto the page of the blank book before me.

After a long while, I stroked the shrine and heaved a deep sigh. Pining over it wouldn't do me any good. It would, however, get me away from Olga...

"Baby Sister?"

... If only for a short time.

The muffled call had come from inside my room but outside of my closet. I scowled and opened the door, hastily pushing back the clothes that concealed the shrine.

"What is it Olga?" I asked bitterly.

"Lunch is ready and on the table," Olga replied cheerily. Lunch? Had I really been in there ithat/i long?

"You know what Olga?" I said flatly. "I'm not hungry." Olga looked at me, concerned. She put her hands on her hips and said, "All right, but I'm not so sure a growing girl like yourself should skip lunch. It'll-"

"Yeah yeah Olga," I said, cutting her off and shoving her out the door. "Thanks for caring."

"Well that's what I'm supposed to do for my baby sister," Olga said, watching me walk down the stairs. After a short while she joined me at the bottom.

"Mom! Dad!" I yelled to my parents as they ate in the next room. "I'm going out!" "Eh, that's great Olga," Bob replied.

"I'm HELGA, Bob," I said for probably the millionth time in my lifetime. I reached for my jacket on the coat rack, only to discover that it was missing. "Miriam! Where's my COAT?"

"Huh? Oh, I'm sorry Helga," Miriam said from the breakfast table. "I used it last night, but I forgot it in the cart at the store when I was picking up groceries for Olga." I muttered under my breath as she continued. "There's another one you can use. I think it's by the door."

I looked down by my feet and saw the "jacket" she was referring to. I picked it up and examined it.

I was certain the thing I had in my hand was a jacket... at one time. The... jacket was torn and full of holes. It reeked of motor oil and smelled as if something dead had been wrapped in it and left to rot in the sun.

I quickly discarded the jacket and reached for a light sweatshirt. I tugged it over my head and opened the front door, walking out into the cold, unforgiving streets of the city armed with only my sharp wit and tongue.

It had gotten considerably colder in the last few hours; the wind blew soft, but was cold enough to sneak past my sweatshirt and wrap its chilly fingers around my body. I shivered in an attempt to shoo the cold away, but it still held strong. I crossed my arms and continued to shake as I wandered aimlessly through the city.

When I turned a corner, the soft wind began to blow with greater force. I looked up into the sky, which was now darkened with gray clouds that threatened what was sure to come: rain.

I passed the local theatre and decided that I'd see a movie. It was better than sulking in the streets, and it would at least get me out of the cold.

I bought my ticket and entered the theatre. I didn't bother to stop at the concession booth; I just went straight into the darkened room where I would gladly escape from reality, if only for a few hours.

The movie, however, did not allow me to escape. It was about a young woman, a tortured poet, whose only inspiration in life was another man who did not know of her deep feelings for him. Only he and her writing kept her from going insane. The man helped her get her writing published and then confesses unto her his adoration for her, and with that, they lived happily ever after.

But would there ever be a happily ever after for Arnold and I? Would our lives intertwine as I so wish them to and we too could live on our days in peace?

The weather had not improved when I stepped outside; it had gotten worse. The wind blew more fiercely and the clouds had darkened. I shivered and slipped into the ever-moving crowds on the sidewalk.

As I shuffle along with them I can't help but feel more alone in my life. It may seem ironic to many, but a city and crowds are a great place to be alone. I remember reading a quote Francis Bacon once said.

"A crowd is not company, and faces are but a gallery of pictures."

He could never be more right.

Yet as I walked along with the other people I did not find any relief from my sadness or the cold. I turned and went into an alley, where I could temporarily escape the chill of the wind and calm my shivering.

I could feel a slight sensation in my eardrums. I went closer to the building next to me and whatever I had heard could now be identified. It was music.

Music could sometimes heal the worst of wounds; wounds of the soul. It could soothe the most troubled of minds and take people away from the harsh realities around them. It could let them escape into a world where only beauty existed and fault was a thing of the past.

This music was not the calming type. It was haunting, but still had an air of beauty. The music portrayed a feeling of hopelessness and despair, a song which seemed to be a perfect theme for the day which had turned out to be less-than-perfect.

Little did I know that it was only going to get worse.

A soft growling noise to my left got my sharp attention. I soon discovered its source.

A dog stood crouched low before me, its muscles tense and ready to attack. I backed away slowly, but the dog did not accept my submissive action. It launched itself forward and snapped out at me. It managed to get my sweatshirt sleeve, but fortunately didn't grab my arm.

I quickly pulled my sweatshirt off and ran away while the dog tore it to shreds. I ran through a few more alleys before stopping, well aware of the rain that had begun to fall, haunted by the sorrowful music that only deepened my despair.

Large drops of water were falling from the sky, landing on my cheeks and caressing them as if to try and comfort me. I didn't wipe them away, but started to walk again.

I stopped myself short and wondered; where would I go? I didn't want to go back to my house. There was nothing for me there... only my shrine, my uncaring older sister and negligent parents. I ran my fingers through dampened hair and shivered spastically as I stepped out onto the sidewalk. Still unsure of where to go, I stepped out onto the street. I placed my foot wrong and my ankle twisted beneath me and I fell face-first into a puddle of rainwater that had gathered by the curb. At the sound of taunting laughter I managed to turn over and sit up, only to see Harold on the other side of the street, pointing and laughing at my accident.

"Hah hah Helga!" He shouted as he walked past. "You tripped and fell in a puddle! You're so stupid and ugly, you can't even walk right!"

I did not bother to reply. I only watched him walk away, laughing at my clumsiness and not even bothering to help me up. I laid back down on the street, thankful for the sobbing skies. They hid the tears that slowly fell from my eyes and down my already soaked cheeks. I could suddenly hear the music again, haunting my ears with the painful notes arranged to create a feeling of unending sorrow. How utterly appropriate.

Now I had only the ghostly music and rain for my company. I silently begged the rain to take me away as I lay on the soaking wet ground, hoping the end was near, rather than banished to live an endless life of loneliness.

* * *

"I think she's coming to."

The soft voice prompted me to open my eyes. Not everything came into focus. I could pick out certain shapes. I saw a young boy standing by my side, with his hand resting on my own.

"Hello, Helga," the boy said in a low hum that seemed to soothe my entire being. I looked up at him and squinted slightly. I couldn't make out any facial features.

No matter. Simply his presence was enough to satisfy me.

"Are you an angel?" I asked softly. The boy chuckled and sat down by my side.

"Hardly," he said with his calming voice. "Though there are some who would argue that. What makes you think I'm an angel?"

"You're so. soothing. So calm. You bring peace to my tormented soul," Helga muttered, slightly dazed still but meant every word.

"I see," was the reply.

Everything started to come into focus. I soon was able to identify my angelic companion.

"iArnold?/i" I said, suddenly sitting up. Arnold smiled gently and nodded. I looked around and noticed that I was in his boardinghouse. His grandfather stood in the doorway. His grandpa watched for a moment, and then left. "I thought I was out in the street. How did I get here?"

"You collapsed in front of the boardinghouse," Arnold said. "I was walking home and I saw you in the street and I brought you in."

"Arnold..." I couldn't speak.

"It's all right," Arnold nodded understandingly. "You would've done the same for me."

I couldn't help but smile at his unfathomable kindness.

* * *

Helga closed her diary and thought back to the events of that day. Though the majority of it was bad, the last hours of the day more than made up for it.

She smiled to herself and re-opened her book.

"iHe views the world as it should be seen, Void of any hatred or lies, But only sees the world full of opportunity and possibilities, With his large and innocent eyes./i"

As Helga sat on the rooftop for the second time that day, she couldn't help but wonder; iwould/i there ever be a happy ending to her story? Would fate ever fall in her favor?

She looked up into the sky that was now becoming clear of the clouds. Stars began to shine on the black mat of the heavens and watch her wonder what would become of her life.

She slowly began to mutter the first few lines of a poem.

"iO twinkling stars! Distant, shining, beautiful stars! Could there be meaning in your merry twinkle? Orion, Pegasus, and Taurus, All watch everything I say and do, Every dilemma, Every tragedy./i"

They seemed to smile and tell her what she already knew.

Tomorrow would be a new day. The possibilities of what could happen with the rising of the sun were endless. Only time could narrow them down.

Helga began to hear the haunting music again. Yet, instead of repeating endlessly, it began to move into a happier, more peaceful melody. After a few moments, it softened and stopped. She closed her eyes and heaved a deep sigh.

The song was finally finished, at last leaving Helga with nothing but the quiet sounds of the night. Once again she sat alone on her roof, with the occasional whisper of wind as her only companion. A pang of loneliness struck her aching heart as she was haunted endlessly not by the once sorrowful music...

But by silence.