• My breath came in ragged short breaths as I sprinted swiftly down the street. The sky was slowly beginning to lighten as the sun began to gingerly peek out from behind its silver blanket. As the dark sky turned pale the crescent moon dissolved into the distance until it could be seen no more. In my mind the only thing that mattered was running and never stopping. Sweat poured heavily into my crying eyes, only to mix with my fresh salty tears. The image of Snake, my friend for years, lying still and cold on the hard pavement was still pristine in my mind. And now I ran not from the cops who would soon discover me but from that picture, hoping it would stay with the body.

    Every so often my eyes would flicker to an approaching alleyway. And every time I would peer cautiously down it only to discover that it beheld no safe harbor for me.

    I didn't know how long I had been fleeing but I finally reached a point where my legs would no longer support my icy figure and I fell to my knees on a sidewalk that was blanketed by snow. I sat there for a minute considering the possibility of a cold suicidal death on the walkway then dissuaded myself and dragged my frozen limbs to the nearest ally. Once there I stumbled to the back and tumbled helplessly to the ground. My eyes closed in unwillingness and I hurtled into unconsciousness.

    "Is he dead?"

    "I think so."

    "No he's not!"

    "If he's not dead then why are you three still just staring at him! Help the poor guy!"

    My eyes shot open when I heard the unfamiliar voices. I sat upright and realized I couldn't feel my limbs. All was black around me and I figured I couldn't still be in the ally since the graceful snowflakes would reflect the dim light of the ice covered street lamps. I peered forward trying to make my eyes adjust faster so I could distinguish the source of the new voices. I started to glimpse my rescuers and I witnessed the smallest form of the bunch move behind the tallest. Suddenly someone struck a match and the reflection of the puny light danced across the surface of my eyes. Soon after light was restored I discovered I was in a small cave and that there were five anxious faces staring at me intently. I returned the glances with surprise and curiosity and began to wonder how I got here. Three short and thin young boys looked bewildered while the smallest boy, the one that had hid behind the tallest, looked frightened, blue eyes wide complimenting two flushed chubby cheeks. Next to the four boys stood the most beautiful women I had ever seen. She crouched over me in worry, deep green eyes scanning me for injury or maybe flaws. Her petite form was erect and a bony spine was pressed tightly against the wall. I realized how small the cave was and how much room I was taking up by laying on the floor. I hurriedly pulled myself into a tight ball to give these kind people more space.

    "Be careful!"

    A beautiful melodious voice spoke and my gaze swept over the children and the girl. My eyes stopped as I reached her and I knew that only such a voice could come from her. The angel spoke again and she now had my full attention.

    "Are you hurt?"

    I was still absorbing this astonishing creature and could only nod my head dumbly. She released an audible sigh and there was obvious relief painted clearly on her face. Then the questions started up.

    "Who are you?"

    She spoke cautiously, eying my orange prison uniform and tattoos. I wanted to tell her my name but I hadn't used it in so long that the thought didn't register

    "Umm...uhh...Clarence! That's it! Clarence!

    I spoke it a second time in reassurance to myself then nodded in verification.


    She seemed a little more wary than earlier. I frowned in disapproval.

    "Don’t worry. I wouldn’t hurt you.”

    I tried gain her trust by flashing a crooked smile. She at first seemed unconvinced then as my personality began to set in the doubt faded from her bright green eyes and she took on the usual roll she played.

    "I'm sorry I haven't introduced you! This is Cooper"

    She pulled the toddler out from his position behind her and he stared with a blank expression at the big man who, even sitting down, towered over him.

    "Those three are Jake, William, and Paul.”

    She pointed a delicate and fair finger at the filthy children. The one called Paul returned my gaze with a warming smile, I immediately felt a little more comfortable around these strangers.

    The other two, Jake and William, wore untrustworthy expressions. William’s gaze scanned over me and when his dark eyes stared into mine I shivered at the obvious hate. Jake just shook his head at me while William continued to glower. I wondered how a small child, such as him, could express so much hatred at someone they hardly knew. I dug my confused eyes deeper into his and tried to pick out a more pleasant emotion hidden in those dark hazel depths but I found none but malice and mistrust. I was so sick of people taking one look at me and assume they knew every aspect of my life then just turn away in dislike. I wanted to reach out and smack this boy but I knew that this was hardly a fair treatment of someone who probably saved my life.

    "And I am Rose."

    My mind swirled back to reality and I stared in awe once again at the beautiful creature that enlightened my mood at her very prescense. The evidence was clear of how she had recieved her name. Her red locks billowed around her taught face like a sail and I knew immediatley that I was very much going to like Rose.