There was a blissful moment in her slumber. Angels softly singing to her. Whispering of love and warmth, of sunshine and rainbows, ponies and dolls. Mommy had taken her to see a pony once, it was at a farm that belonged to one of daddy's friends. Mommy said they couldn't go back to visit the pony again. It made no sense, the man had seemed so friendly. He gave her a dolly and fixed her a cold sodapop. The nice man even patted her on her shoulder and gave her a big kiss on the forehead. And if mommy didn't like him why did she go off to talk to him like she did for so long? Mommy was funny at times.
When the harsh knocks arose from the doorframe, the small child awoke with a most frightful start. Bad men. Bad man. She wanted to call out to mommy. To yell no don't do it. But the dream angel hadn't flitted away to the corner like she normally did. Instead the bright spot in the little girl's dreams stood fast, hushing the her little charge as if playing a game of hide-and-go-seek with the boys down the block.
She liked that game. She could hide for hours. Why would you hide from mommy? Mommy had said you should only ever hide from daddy, and that's only when he smelled bad like the landlord. Still, little Anna knew she could hide better than anyone if the angel wanted her to.
Hours seemed to pass in the dark room for the confused girl during that span of a few moments. Only once did the deep fear touch her, a shadow seemed to pass through the door, but the angel stood strong against the shadow, like how mommy always stood strong between her and daddy's friends.
When the shadow had pulled back through the door living only the dim fear of what had passed within the room the angel motioned Anna. Somewhere deep down the little girl knew it was time to go. Putting on her slippers, grabbing her thick winter's robe with the whistle the officer gave her in its pocket, and taking her trusty flashlight, Anna was ready for her adventure.
Going out the window and down the trellace was easy. Last summer her and Little Jim had did it on a lark, he fell and broke his arm. But not Anna, she knew that she had to test the wood before blindly trusting herself to it, just like everything else in her short life. Always test it before cutting loose
, that's what daddy always said and daddy was the smartest man in the world when he didn't smell like the landlord.
Only once going down did her slippers give the child trouble, and then the angel was close at hand to help her through it.
Once on the pavement, she didn't know where to go. Mommy would have known, but somewhere deep down Anna had begun to suspect she might not ever get to ask her mommy anything ever again.
The angel was close at hand though, and although the silent companion never spoke, it made plainly clear which way the little girl was to run. As Anna dashed along a soft white snow began to bathe the city in a blissful slumber. All the filth and grime born from the toils of men became covered in a downy blanket so that a child could be spared the squalor that men so easlly let themselves fall into. Nothing disturbed the stillness of the early morning save the steady slap of leather sandles on wet concrete and the heavy breathing brought on by the continued effort put forth by the child.
Never before had Anna seen the streets so empty. She liked it. Especially as the white flakes of renewal began to accumulate all around her. Mommy had said she missed snow, mommy would have liked this
Once in the distance the child could hear the rhythmic beat of a cane, but the angel was quick to turn her away from that side road. No she had to keep going. She had to get to the bridge. Anna could see it in her mind. The angel was taking her someplace safe. Taking her to a place she would never be hurt again. The angel was her friend.Maybe I could live with the angel.
Anna had always enjoyed such fancy notions, but now maybe, just maybe, it could come true. Angels were never hurt. They never felt cold the way Anna had been feeling for some time now during her mad adventure through the city.
Taking a short cut through a narrow alley Anna knew she was getting closer to the bridge. She could sit down when she got there. Maybe she could even fly.
The metal door was thrown open, crashing hard into the building's brick. The sudden noise caused Anna to trip over the hem of her robe and take a tumble into the hard wet pavement.
A big man came out from the abrupt opening. He stank worse than the landlord thought Anna.
The big man, drunk from all the holiday spirits he had been buying and still not satisfied after the Christmas whores he had endulged in, staggered forwards a few more steps and eyed the girlchild sprawled out in the night before him. Soft blonde hair, the smell of innocence. The harsh man was beginning to allow his thoughts to go down the very darkest parts of his soul.
Anna had seen that look only a few times before in a man's face, and each time mommy had been there to shove her out of the room. This time she was with an angel, and the angel couldn't touch her. Could take the bad man away.
With two more steps the drunkard wobbled towards his gift from heaven. His sadistic, drug inspired choice, damning him to the hottest fires of hell even before getting to act on the evils his lust had inspired him to.
Scrambling to her feet, Anna knew she had to run. Had to run harder and faster than she ever had before. The angel always just a half-step ahead encouraging the frightened little girl to not look back to keep going.
Somewhere back over her shoulder she heard a man shout out something she didn't quite understand and then two firecrackers went off, each louder than any she had ever heard on the fourth of July. Anna never looked back. She had to get to the bridge.
Rounding the corner and taking across the open road Anna could see the rusting metal arches, the sidewalk rails, she had made it.
Stopping short of the sidewalk. Anna began to lose faith in her angel. The angel was wanting her to fly. Anna thought the medicine mommy gave her must be all used up like when the coughs came back last year. She was no longer so sure she could fly.
Standing still, lost in trying to puzzle out what the angel was wanting, Anna didn't hear the engine or see the headlights until the car had swung onto the bridge.