With Sam faithfully by her side as always, Camille placed her hand as carefully as possible on the cool wooden banister that ran up the stairwell, away from her. For an instant that seemed like an eon, her wild seven year old imagination ran away from her. It told her that this was a steep, winding path lined with thorns and thistles. It wound its way through a shadow-laden wood that was devoid of any sound. To reach safety, she had to make it through.
She knew it wasn’t true, but the chilling thought remained, regardless. With her free arm, Camille hugged Sam close to her. He was scared too. He might not know that the frightening exaggerations of one's imagination in the dead of night were not real.
“Don’t be afraid, Sam,” she whispered to him. He didn’t respond, and she wasn’t sure that he’d heard her. Giving him one quick squeeze with her elbow, Camille began tiptoeing up the lightless staircase.
Be brave, little one
Make a wish for each sad little tear
Hold your head up when no one is near
Someone’s waiting for you
“Shhh, Sam! We can’t wake anyone,” She reminded him in the same ghost-of-a-voice whisper. Sam said nothing.
They reached the silent landing at the top of the stairwell. The long hallway was only inhabited by blue shadows chasing blue shadows by the slivers of moonlight peeking beneath doors. The shadows had never harmed her before, but still, she couldn’t help but be wary.
Glued together as best friends should be, they crept past the boys’ rooms, and then the first girl’s room in turn. The last door was their room that they shared with three other girls. These were the nice girls who had given Camille the bed in the corner, the warmest spot in the room.
Don’t cry, little one
There’ll be a smile where a frown used to be
You’ll be part of the love that you see
Someone’s waiting for you
Guiding the painted wooden door shut behind her, Camille had to take extra care that it shut, clicking into place as silently as she could manage.
“It’s okay, Sam. Nobody heard us,” she assured him. He was worried, but he said nothing. His reflective, sad eyes spoke all the words he did not.
Sam did not like living in the children’s home, she knew. Sure, there were friends here, friends to laugh with and make believe with. Those were happy days, they were numerous, and he loved them. But still, some of the children, they liked to tease and make fun of him. She knew this, and it made her angry. It was only some of the other children who said these things. But they were enough to turn a happy day horrible. They liked to give nasty little reminders, like how they were not found in a dumpster. How they had been dropped off at the home in swaddling clothes with flowers and a lovingly sealed envelope. How they had not been abandoned, naked and still slimy from birth in the middle of the night. “Abandoned for dead,” they liked to say.
“It’s not true, Sam,” she promised him. Don’t listen to them. I’m here to be your friend. I won’t let them get to you. Her thoughts reached out to him.
It was impossible to say what brought those atrocities to mind. Camille had stolen out of bed and down the stairs to quench the scratching thirst that had woken her. It was against the rules to leave bed at night without a grown up to watch you. Perhaps these nightmares that flew in her thoughts while she was awake, the jeering faces and cutting words, was some ethereal punishment?
Always keep a little prayer in your pocket
And you’re sure to see the light
Soon there’ll be joy and happiness
And your little world will be bright
Camille climbed into bed, and tucked Sam in next to her. His floppy ears tickled her nose, and so she tucked him into the crook of her arm. Settling in, she began stroking his ear that used to be soft, but had worn think and ratty over the years. Her fingers found the tear in the seam where his cotton insides were poking out. The anxiety from the short sojourn down to the kitchen had taken its toll. Camille had begun to drift off to sleep before she even knew it.
Someday, she wouldn’t have to carry Sam with her. The loyal dog full of cotton and heart was a true friend to her. He took all the trouble she couldn’t comprehend and made it his own. And then he let her take care of him and his foreign troubles. It was what she needed to survive and grow, and he was happy to take it as his burden.
One day, maybe not so far in the future, Camille could look back and see the lesson of love that silent Sam had taught her without speaking a word. It is the same lesson that all childhood friends, the ones with cotton and heart on the inside, teach. A lesson of friendship and sacrifice and family, taught in a way that should not be teachable. And yet, it is.
Just one of the quietly amazing things in life.
Have faith, little one
‘Til your hopes and your wishes come true
You must try to be brave, little one
Someone’s waiting to love you
If any of you have seen Disney's The Rescuers, that's where inspiration for this story and the lyrics came from. This is the first piece I've written in months, apologies if it seems a bit rusty. Nonetheless, written for you. And the flash fiction contest =P I hope you enjoyed.
Edited by Eponine, Oct 22 2012 - 08:39 PM.