Hello once again on this fine Friday. It’s nearing the 2 week mark and boy, am i loving this now. But, less on that, today’s been a long day, and I really don’t have the brain power to say more than that. Word count: 24,912. Here you go, chapter 13 of “Home For The Unwanted”.
“Ray!” Runner ran circles around the breath-deprived Ryan.
“Come and get me!”
“You know I can’t!” Ryan answered with barely a breath to spare. Runner and Ryan were playing a short game of tag outside the building. Sunflower was sitting at the entrance, fiddling away at a few beads she had on a necklace. Lorna watched from an open window on the second floor. The day was quite cold, but Lorna didn’t mind the cool winds caressing her face.
“Break! Let’s take a break!” Ryan nearly collapsed. Runner began laughing circles around Ryan. Even Sunflower who was working away on her necklace started giggling.
“Hey! Lorna!” Runner noticed Lorna watching from the window and called out to her with wide arms and energetic jumping. Ryan tried his best to jerk his head up towards the window and gave off a tired smile. Lorna couldn’t help but smile as well.
“Let’s play, Lorna!” Runner began yelling. Lorna didn’t have much plans, however, she didn’t really have any reason to refuse Runner’s request either. Unlike Ryan, Lorna had a decent constitution, and would fare more than a few minutes of running.
“Sure!” Lorna yelled back and began heading down the stairs. Lorna raced down the steps, creaking and banging on the old wood. At the base of the steps on the first floor, she noticed Walker quietly making his way across to the other hallway. Lorna had to pull the brakes and slowed her pace to a more manageable step as to not crash into Walker. Lorna noticed that Walker was engrossed in his own mind again; he was simply staring outside, not really looking at much, but swept up in his own fantasy. It reminded Lorna of Ryan, however, Lorna knew that Walker was still very much in tune with the reality that he was in, and thus reacted to the quiet steps of Lorna that crept up on him.
“Aw. Caught me?” Lorna said in a playfully questioning manner.
“I heard you a mile away. You know Hailstone is still sleeping, right?” Walker emphasized Hailstone’s name, and even more so the fact that she had probably been disturbed by Lorna’s loud descent.
“Don’t worry about Hailstone. She doesn’t have energy in the mornings!” Lorna proudly said.
“You are right. But she does have a mean morning glow.” Lorna couldn’t help but agree with Walker’s last statement, and prayed that Hailstone was still snug in her bed. However, her assumption had long been shattered, and Winter, who was nearby Hailstone as she woke up, would have to pay for it. In the off chance that she was wrong, Lorna apologized in advance to anyone who might have to face Hailstone’s morning wrath.
“What did you want?” Walker asked quietly as his eyes slowly narrowed from the outside.
“Just wanted to say hello. Hello.”
“You’re worried about something, aren’t you.”
“In your dreams!” Lorna rebutted with a bright smile on her face, which prompted Walker to turn and look straight into Lorna’s eyes. It only took a few moments for Walker to realize something and then looked back towards the window. His breathing slowed, and he walked over to the window sill to lean over it. His eyes were wistful, and his feet couldn’t stop swinging.
“I don’t know what’s bothering you. But I don’t think I can help you with it.” Walker was honest, which was due to his current standing on the topic. Walker understood many things; to stay away from strangers, as instructed by Lorna. And that if Lorna had a problem, it was probably due to her being hungry, or from the very ‘bad guys’ that she so wanted to stay away from. If Lorna was hungry, Walker wouldn’t have even been added into the equation. She would have just made something, Walker concluded.
“If it’s about Runner, then I can tell you that I warn him every time he goes out.” Walker’s tone shifted from quiet, to violently annoyed.
“I want to stay here with everyone too. It’s fun here. And I like everyone. I don’t want to lose you guys.” Walker spoke wistfully, and turned from the windowsill to face Lorna, who was listening quietly with tired eyes. Those were the eyes that Walker seldom saw, but Walker could guess as to what emotion Lorna was feeling from them. It was a feeling that Walker understood as strange, and uncharacteristic to Lorna.
“Wait, are you actually hungry?” Walker thought for a second that the problem could actually have resulted from her stomach. This caused Lorna to smile, and laugh at Walker’s remark. Walker was confused by the notion, but was glad to see Lorna’s spirits back to normal.
“I’m not hungry. But thank you. Thank you.”
“Whatever you say. I’m not going to yell at you or anything, but… I know you can beat those bad guys. You’ll protect everybody. I trust you.”
“Yeah. Yeah.” Lorna said as she reached over and grabbed Walker into a hug. She then began swinging Walker back and forth as she lifted him into the air.
“Lorna!” Lorna ignored Walker’s panicked cries and continued to laugh and spin.
“Lorna?” As the spinning slowed, and as Lorna placed Walker back down, Walker noticed her expression lower.
“Yeah. Yeah.” Lorna repeated.
“I’ll try my best,” Lorna said to herself. Lorna wanted to reaffirm her position, and she wanted to reaffirm the safety of the norm that she worked hard on. However, Lorna knew that she couldn’t uphold that norm for very long. Lorna knew that her past would come to creep up on that norm and break it away. Lorna knew, but she didn’t know how to alleviate her troubles. That much was too much for Lorna alone. She wasn’t well equipped, but she was well trusted. And that much was enough for Lorna. After all those years of stringing people along, Lorna saw this norm as a cheap reprieve.
“Chocolate chip cookies!” Ryan had yelled out the password, which prompted Lorna to remember the reason as to why she ran down the stairs. She waved off Walker and ran back towards the door.
“There you are. We’d thought you gone missing,” Ryan said sarcastically, and ironically, as he was sure that he would be the only one to get lost in the building.
“Ready to play?” Lorna cleared her throat, and gave a deep breath before replying. Once she had calmed down, she jumped up and ran out the door with energy enough to wake the dead.
“Let’s go!” Lorna yelled as soon as she jumped out the door and onto the base of the steps.
“Not so energetic, please.” Ryan pleaded as he slowly followed her back out. Sunflower was still at the steps, fiddling away at the beads. She was grossly interested in them, but Ryan didn’t pay much heed to it. Ryan slowly found out things about the children at the building. Every day he spent with them, he would learn more, and more. His norm was always growing, and he would never be a day without knowing.
“Alright, let’s play–”
“Anything that doesn’t require me pumping my lungs.” Ryan was still nearly out of breath, and Runner gave it more thought before answering. Lorna slowly tuned out as her stomach began growling. She had barely ate when she got up, and she knew that her stomach wouldn’t let her go if she didn’t have a proper meal. Lorna began thinking of chocolate chip cookies; the same as the password, and subconsciously began walking back towards the building, disregarding the fact that there were steps to climb.
“Lorna?” Sunflower called just as Lorna tripped on the first step of the stairs and planted her face straight into the floor boards. Lorna snapped out of our hunger induced trance and cried out in pain as her mouth tasted wood.
“You alright, Lorna?” Ryan said in a playfully worrying manner.
“I only heard rumors, but, I guess it’s true.” Ryan stuck out his hands towards Lorna, who had flopped onto her back, and stared back at Ryan.
“I’m not okay. I’m starving here.” She grabbed Ryan’s hands and propped herself back up. Her stomach growled even louder, and her face slowly reddened.
“I need food!” Lorna cried.
“Alright, I’ll go get you some food. What do you want?”
“Cookies it is.” Ryan trudged his way up the stairs.
“I’ll come too!” Runner ran in front of Ryan and entered the building first. Sunflower, who was sitting at the steps the entire time, decided to get up and enter the building as well, “I’ll make sure Runner doesn’t take more than he can chew.” Although, much to Ryan’s unknowing, she herself was ready to take a mouthful of cookies back with her. Lorna was left behind with her growling stomach. The cold winds passed her face, and now that she was outside, it blew against her body. It didn’t cause her to shiver, but it didn’t stop her from thinking again. Lorna couldn’t stop thinking about the people she met, and the people she brought together. She was very happy, and at the same time, very scared. She didn’t want to lose anyone. But she knew she didn’t have the right to hold onto so much people.
“Lorna?” Lorna looked behind her to see Carrier at the doorway.
“Lorna!?” Carrier ran out towards Lorna in a frenzy as he noticed her contorted face. Lorna cursed herself for letting herself be so weak in front of Carrier. Lorna knew that Carrier would overreact, and knew that he would do anything in his way to help, but she also knew that her problems were her own. She couldn’t let someone else help her, she wouldn’t. Lorna gave Carrier a forced smile and said in the most joyful tone she could currently muster, “I was just hungry, don’t worry!”
“Lorna….” Lorna cleared her throat and once she was able to regain her posture, she put on her usual smile and spoke in her playful tone, “There’s nothing to be worried about!
“If you say so. Just….. Take care of yourself, okay? You have to be there for everybody.”
“I will. I’ll always be there, right?” Carrier nodded with a more relieved smile on his face. Lorna knew that Carrier looked up to Lorna. To Carrier, Lorna was a figure of strength and empathy, she was always there for people, and she always knew how to cheer people up. To see such a figure in despair, was greatly frightening to him.
“Hey! Runner! Not so fast!” Sunflower yelled out from the building as Runner came out with a cookie in his mouth and three more in his hands. Carrier had luckily been able to dodge him at the last second, but was left surprised as to what was going on.
“Here you go, Lorna!” Runner said, barely understandable with the cookie in his mouth. Lorna took one and smiled. She brought the cookie to her mouth, and bit down.
“It’s good.” Lorna felt like crying. But she knew she couldn’t. If she did, it would be the third time she would let the others be worried for her; and she couldn’t bring herself to it. Lorna knew that the norm that she had created was all a self absorbed shell. It was something Lorna had to do to escape. But she couldn’t just leave it at that. The orphanage had gone from just being a place for the unwanted, the unneeded and the unattended, to a warm comforting home. Lorna had never been so at home than here, she thought. This wasn’t just Lorna’s home, however, it was now her life. And these children weren’t just a part of her life to fill in the holes in her heart, but they were a part of her life almost as much as she is. Lorna couldn’t perfectly hide the fact that she was a torn machine; a broken marionette, trying to play with other puppets. However, what she could do, was lose her strings, and lose her gears to become a person that could help and bring others together. That’s what Lorna wanted to do. That’s what she had decided to do to amend for her being. And that’s what will keep Lorna smiling in the face of a storm, and in the face of the people she’s lovingly brought together.