Hello once again for day 2. You know, today was weird. I knew I wanted to get started on this thing the moment I got home, but somewhere along the way I got sidetracked and ended up dumping around 2 hours playing Frisbee (Yes, I love Frisbee) but hey, at least it was fun. I was able to clear my mind and writing this latest installment didn’t take nearly as long, or wasn’t as nearly as taxing as I thought it would be. It really helped in spite of everything else going on this week (work….) Moral of the story, always have time for a breather. But anyway, here you go, chapter 2 of “Home For The Unwanted”.
For the first time, something had intrigued Ryan. Much like his peers, he was very uncaring. Every step that Ryan had took felt heavier and heavier. The sound of dirt and leaves crunching beneath him was a calming change of pace. Ryan didn’t feel the need to tune out those natural sounds, and he even found himself growing quite fond of them. The brisk wind that blew across his face even felt comforting, and the smell of pine and wild flowers gave him something to smile at. Ryan had never felt this way before, perhaps he had vividly entered one of his fictitious stupors, he thought. But even that thought, couldn’t make him stop moving. Even that thought, couldn’t stir him back into his norm.
Ryan didn’t know how long he had been walking, but he knew for certain that he was completely alone now. Ryan had followed a trail of broken branches and leaves to track the boy that had ran from him, but even then, the trail seemed to shrink. The further he entered, the further it seemed he was from his natural life. This obvious revelation came off as outlandish to Ryan. However, Ryan pressed forward. Whether he knew why or why not, Ryan kept walking. Soon enough, his legs grew tired. His head began ringing, and he realized that his lack of physical activity had taken a toll on him. He was nearly panting when just before he was completely fine.
“Are you sure?” Without warning, a sound resounded within the woods. It was the voice of a young girl, the same voice that he had heard on the streets. Ryan stood still, and waited for a reply. If he could follow the voice, then surely he would be able to return the paper to its owner, he thought.
“Yeah! I dropped it back there. I can’t lose that, Lorna will kill me!” Suddenly, the sound of sprinting came closer and closer towards Ryan. A young boy pushed through the woods and before Ryan could react, had bumped straight into him, causing him to effectively yell out in distress as they both fell to the ground.
“Are you okay?” The voice of the girl called out.
“Yeah! I’m fine!” Ryan was still flabbergasted by the situation, and took a moment to process the turn of events.
“Runner! Are you hurt!?” The young girl had rushed into the scene and nearly crashed into Ryan. It took her a moment to catch her breath before speaking, “Don’t run off like that! It’s dangerous.”
“Come on. I’m fine, aren’t I?” The young girl gave the boy named Runner a hard stare. After a few moments, Runner had finally gave in and sighed.
“Fine, whatever. I don’t want Spear to yell at me again.”
“That’s not the problem…” The young girl began fidgeting and staring at the ground in front of her. Her light blue eyes traced the cracked branches, and her small fingers curled into a ball. Her soft gold hair was tied neatly behind her in a ponytail, and seemed to flutter with the wind. Runner looked at her with a questioning stare. His short brown hair was surprisingly kept despite his occasional heavy panting. His hands were covered in dirt, and his pants had become too tattered to distinguish.
“What’s wrong, Sunflower?” Ryan had quietly watched the conversation in complete awe. They were acting as if he was never there, and despite what his usual bantering may involve, this made him quite uncomfortable. Perhaps it was because they were young children, or perhaps it was because they had crashed into Ryan and had not apologized yet, but Ryan felt the need to intervene. Or perhaps it was because of the casual exchange that made Ryan felt unbearable. After all, he didn’t know anyone legally named Sunflower, or Runner. Ryan understood the concept of nicknames, but he never understood having one aside from slander.
“Uh…” Ryan was barely audible in the midst of their conversation.
“I just… don’t want to see you hurt,” Sunflower said softly.
“What?” Runner leaned in towards Sunflower.
“Just forget it!” Sunflower pouted and turned around in anger. Her face was bright red, and she left Runner with an increased curiosity. Runner scratched his head and thought about what he had said. After he had made the conclusion that it must be a girl issue and that he would never understand, he continued, “Well, let’s get back before Hailstone gets angry.”
“You just don’t want to get hit again.”
“You don’t understand! She’s scary! I don’t understand how you two can be sisters. You’re so…. not her.”
“What does that mean?” Sunflower began giggling at Runner’s description of her.
“Um…” Ryan tried to speak out, but couldn’t quite find the tone or volume to attract any attention. Just as Sunflower and Runner began heading back, Ryan cleared his throat and then said in a very static tone, “I’m still here.” His voice cracked near the end, but neither Sunflower or Runner caught it. However, they did turn their heads to inquire the person that had seemingly appeared.
“I was… over there…. and you bumped into me…. and –”
“Oh! Sorry! You were the guy on the road earlier right?” Ryan nodded his head obediently to Runner, not realizing the quaintness of his remark.
“What did you want, mister?” Ryan almost choked at Runner’s last word. The idea of being called mister when he wasn’t all that old felt odd, even to Ryan. Nevertheless, Ryan pulled out the card from his pockets and waved it in front of Runner.
“You dropped this.” Runner grabbed the paper without regard to Ryan and examined it. Once he had realized what it was, he began gleefully jumping up and down, “The card!” When his excitement had died down, he sighed and gave a breath of relief, “Thanks mister! If I lost this, Lorna really would kill me.”
“Come on, Runner. We have to go. Now.” Sunflower began tugging on the hem of Runner’s shirt with urgency. She looked dangerously at Ryan and didn’t seem to want to let him out of her sight, despite his feigned presence a few moments earlier.
“But he found our card, shouldn’t we bring him along?”
“You know what would happen if they found us, right? Spear told us all about it. Even Walker warned us about it. We have to go Runner.” Sunflower’s voice grew increasingly worried the more Ryan stuck around. Her eyes were dead set on Ryan, but her body trembled, and she could barely hold onto Runner.
“Think about it. If he read our card and followed us here. Wouldn’t we already be in trouble?” Runner never faltered, and kept his optimistic view points. His eyes gleamed in the shadow of the woods, and despite Sunflower’s warnings, he stood strong.
“Forget what Walker and Spear said. If I say he’s a good guy, then he’s a good guy!”
“Lorna won’t be happy if you bring him there you know. It was her that told Walker and Spear in the first place, and I think Winter might know as well. You’re going to be in a lot of trouble.”
“I don’t care about the bad guys Lorna keeps talking about. They won’t be able to take me away! I’ll fight them and win, like a real hero! Then we can all be together!” Runner put on the biggest smile he could along with a victory sign. Sunflower’s expression lowered, and for a brief moment, she felt relieved by Runner’s claim.
“If you’re so worried about Lorna, then why don’t we bring him there, and then let her decide?” Sunflower unlocked her eyes from Ryan and looked down on the ground. She thought about Runner’s suggestion, but before she could give him a logical answer, he grabbed her hand and began dragging her, “Come on, mister, follow us!”
“Hey!” Sunflower said to Runner’s sudden outburst. Runner didn’t seem to care about Sunflower’s protest, and continued to drag her along while Ryan followed quietly behind them.
“Jeez, at least say something before you grab my hand like that.” Sunflower said in an almost whisper like tone. Her face had grown red from Runner’s hand, and before she realized it, she had a small smile on her face. From behind, Ryan noticed but didn’t think much of it. To him, that was their norm, and their actions and reactions are all just part of a norm that he didn’t exist in. He was an outsider, but despite that, and before he could realize it, he had broke into their norm. And without knowing, his norm, had now slowly taken shape.