It was time for Vincent to grow up, they'd decided, as his mother sat knitting in their little two room apartment. He was nearing twelve now, she said, and his grandmother nodded in agreement. Vincent needed to learn how to do things on his own, and that included walking to and from places without having his older brother who actually... wasn't really his brother, walk with him to places such as the super market or the tiny store on fifth that Vincent often frequented. No, his mother reiterated, he didn't need an escort. He was a big boy now.
Her chair rocked diagonally back and forth in a jerky motion, but not because it was a rocking chair, rather because one of the legs was shorter than the rest and caused it to be off set. However, they couldn't afford a rocking chair much less a new chair that didn't wobble, so she was fine filling her tedious knitting time with a slightly uncomfortable rocking motion.
In this chair, between her fingers, was a make-shift jacket meant for Vincent to put his arms through and then tie in three different places along his front. There wasn't a hood but at least an extended collar to pull tighter around his neck for added warmth, and it was meant to extend past his waist a good three or four inches. He had decided he wanted to head out that day, so she was getting it ready to tell him the news that he would be going by himself.
Carefully, she threaded another piece of cheap yarn through loops meant to hold the ties, making it blue rather than the red, white, and green that had been tastefully put through the rest of the piece. Looking over her work she was proud of herself, pulling at it a bit and listening to the slight squeak of the fabric as it rubbed together. That squeak meant a bargain, yarn that was cheaply made with spun-too-tight wool and cotton. She smiled and set it aside, glancing towards the stairs for a moment. She could hear noise from the bedroom upstairs and it made her feel content to know her children were up, so she rocked back and forth, the clunk of the chair's short leg making a rhythmic pattern of sound against the old wooden floor.
Vincent, fresh at age twelve, sat on his sister's bed against the wall. It was the one closest to the window out of the three that were crammed into the room with two dressers and a closet so packed that the doors never closed, so that was where he often was. Marigold, named after the flower specifically, would sit on her brother's bed and knit the way her mother had taught her, making little nothings that she always ended up pulling out and redoing over and over. After all, without much yarn around the house, how could she actually make anything? All she could do was practice.
"Marigold, it's pouring outside." Vincent stated this into the stale air, wanting to open the window to let in some freshness but not wanting to get his sisters sheets wet.
It was true, however. It wasn't just raining, it was pouring. Sheets of harsh, cold rain hammered onto their roof and the streets below them. It wasn't enough that it was pouring but it was windy as well, allowing loud howls to push against the sides of buildings, whistling like lost wolves through alleyways and into any open crevice available. Vincent sighed. His mother had decided today was a wonderful day to go to the market and get the meat and cheese for dinner but what was worse, he didn't have anyone to brave it with him. He wasn't going to make his sister go, and Gregory was out somewhere doing other chores that his mother insisted were beneficial to building his character.
Even though Marigold was three years older than her youngest brother, she wasn't allowed to go out and run errands with him, and Vincent understood this entirely. His fragile little sister would catch a cold in the rain, and she was supposed to be able to cook, because his mother could not. Or at least, that's what she said. Instead, she stood over Marigold in the kitchen leaning against her cane and barking out orders on how to cook things, making sure that the young girl did everything right. Sometimes the children resented her... but they never said a word against her.
Marigold looked up to her little brother and smiled, her fingers still working even though she wasn't keeping an eye on her knitting. "Yes, it is. Be careful out there, okay?" She spoke gently to him, then looked back down to her hands.
Vincent sighed and nodded, standing up and telling his sister that he'd be back in a little bit. He knew that regardless of where Gregory was, he was going to be sent out because he was old enough now. He had heard his mother talking to his grandmother about it, and the words didn't go unheard. He was nervous now, walking the streets when he wouldn't be able to see the world more than a few inches in front of his face was nerve racking, but he didn't want to upset his mother. Upsetting her meant no dinner, and with as little as they ate anyway, he took what he could get.
He walked down the stairs and stated that he was ready to go to the market, puffing out his chest to show her that he wasn't upset about the rain. His mother beamed with pride and held up the knitted jacket she had made, telling him that it would be a bit warmer and that he would be fine walking only thirteen blocks to buy their food for the night. She handed him six coins, pulled the supposed jacket onto his body, tied it together with the blue threads, and then pushed him out the door onto the landing that lead down to the street. At that moment, it seemed as if the rain only started falling harder... and in only seconds he disappeared into the sheets of water.
Gregory did not like being out in the rain. He was like a feline in that aspect, recoiling from rain drops and trying to stay out of bad weather as much as he could. On this day however, he had been pushed out into it, forced to run down the seven steps that brought him right into the center of where he didn't want to be. Grumbling he pulled the hood of his rain jacket (bought with his own money, of course, or he'd have to deal with the wretched knitted sweaters that his mother insisted on making) up over his head and shoved his hands into his pockets.
The walk from the front of his house to his job was twenty-two blocks, a walk that he hated to make even if the weather was nice. Even now, only a few cars made their way onto the roads; everyone else was smart enough to stay indoors. By the time he'd gotten to his job he was drenched and unhappy, cursing under his breath as water droplets dripped off his light brown hair. This was where he differed from the others.
Gregory was a boy of few words, quiet but protective. He had brown hair, brown eyes and tan skin, always standing out against the blond haired, green eyed family. Under his careful eye the children had learned to at least watch what they said instead of bursting out as their mother did, wanting to raise them better than he was. To a point he had succeeded, but there was only so much he could do with Marigold as she was the apple of her mother's eye, the one who would carry on the old woman's legacy when she had gone. This almost made Gregory bitter.
What really made him bitter however, was the front door of the factory where he worked. As if it wasn't bad enough that he was standing knee deep in water, it appeared that the inside of the factory was dealing with the same problems. On the dusty window, carefully placed on the inside so that everyone could read it were the words "Factory floor is flooded, thus we are closed. Please come back when it's stopped raining. Signed, Martin Hallows, Floor Manager." Frustration filled the boy and he turned on his heel, trudging back through the water.
Marigold finished the simple blanket she was knitting and sighed at it, putting it to the side and running her fingers through her hair. She crawled over to her bed and looked out of the window, seeing her brother in bright red walking down the street for a short distance, and then she saw him no longer. She shivered a bit, then turned from the window, just glad that she wasn't the one out there. Then she walked down the stairs to her mother, kneeling at the woman's feet. All her mother could talk about was how Vincent was to be home in an hour at most, and Gregory would be gone until dinner time. Or at least she thought he'd be gone until dinner time.
Once her mother was done speaking, Marigold was set to her chores, cleaning the kitchen and living room, making sure that both places were spotless. Then she had to clean her grandmother's room, making sure to wipe down the older woman's face with a warm cloth so that the spit that had dribbled out of the corner of her mouth wouldn't get on her pillow. The woman was incredibly frail with translucent skin... Marigold often traced the veins with her eyes, bouncing over age spots and then shivering at the thought of getting that old. It was a wonder her grandmother hadn't died by now, but she didn't complain. After all, she wasn't allowed to complain... that would result in getting the belt to the back of her legs at least five times.
It seemed to be a while, but finally she heard the door open and heard the familiar clunk of Gregory's boots. A small smile tugged at the corner of her lips and she stood up, walking out into the living room only to have the smile fade from her face at seeing the soaked and unhappy boy in front of her. It wasn't so much that she was disappointed to see him, because she wasn't. Rather Marigold didn't like the thought of him being upset, so she moved over to him, gingerly taking his jacket from him as he peeled it from his body. He did take a second to look down at the girl, giving her a small but fretful smile before walking to the stairs and up.
It seemed to be at least ten seconds, and then Gregory was stomping right back down the stairs, moving up to his mother. Marigold watched him as he spoke harshly to the woman, asking where Vincent was and then once he was told, asking why she hadn't waited until he was home to take the younger boy to the market. The rain hadn't let up even slightly, he yelled, and she wanted to send a young weak boy out into the freezing cold where shady people were waiting in the alleyways to demand for money. Marigold cringed, then looked up to the window behind her mother's head.
There wasn't much that Vincent could do out in the rain. He was walking but he didn't know where he was going. He couldn't see where he was going, and that didn't help when he needed to be home in an hour. The sweater around his body was getting heavy with water and the high collar irritated his cheeks. Fumbling with the blue strings, he tried to get it untied so that he could take the thing off, feeling too weighed down by it. He'd decided that it didn't make anything warmer and instead just made the chill harder to bear; His frame was already shaking violently from the intense cold.
With only six blocks left to go, he made it towards the market with the sweater slung over his arm. He knew his mother would get mad at him if he didn't at least come home with it, so he continued down the street, not feeling any warmer or colder being soaked to the bone. It wasn't until he was only three blocks away that something hit him. It wasn't an idea, no, it was a person... something. The sweater fell from his arm as he was dragged into an alley, the very place that Gregory had feared that Vincent would be taken. The young boy felt a sharp pain at his neck... and then he felt nothing.
Gregory was outraged. Of all the things that his adopted mother could say, this really threw him over the edge. Usually she just pushed him near it, but this time it felt like she was picking him up and tossing him like they were on top of a 500 foot cliff, and all she wanted to do was kill him. "What do you mean, he's a big boy? He's twelve! You didn't send me out until I was at least fifteen, and you're sending him out by himself?" Gregory yelled at her, and didn't even wait for a response. He yanked his jacket from Marigold's now wet arms and stormed out of the door, slamming it and disappearing just as Vincent had into the rain.
Mercilessly he splashed through puddles, walking in anger with his fists clenched and his mind set on finding his little brother. As far as he knew, it had been way too long that his brother had been gone and he had to admit, on his way home from the factory he'd lingered a bit, not walking as fast as he could've and stopping at shop windows. But now he was eager to make sure the boy was okay and if anything, at least he could walk Vincent back with the knowledge that he wasn't sick or dying.
Each step closer to the market made him more nervous. There couldn't be that many people out today, not with the weather. Not as many people would be at the market at all, and so it would take an even shorter time to get the meat, cheese, milk, and bread needed for dinner. So why wasn't Vincent walking towards him this very second? Butterflies danced in his stomach and without even realizing it, Gregory had started to walk faster, ignoring the stinging cold that came with each fast water droplet that happened to fall into his eyes.
Looking down, he saw the slightest bit of pink. He found it odd that the water hadn't rushed all the color out of everything, and looking up, there was a shape in the distance. The sidewalk was completely cleared of people but perhaps someone had dropped some of their food in their rush home, and hadn't realized it because of how loud the roar of wind and rain was.
Gregory however, was wrong. Finally, he saw what he hadn't thought he'd ever see, an object that he'd been dreading to find in any shape or form in the state that it was. It was round, and it was blond. It had bright green eyes that were frozen open in fear, with lips as blue as the stone it was laying on. Gregory stared in shock. Slowly, anger boiled in his blood and he looked up, glancing around the street for who could have done this. Who would murder an innocent boy like this?
Finally, his eyes went to the alleyway. Ten feet away from the head laid the body, slumped against the wall of one of the many buildings lining the street. The sweater that Gregory wasn't even aware of was gone, as well as the six coins that had been held in Vincent's grip. For once, the 18 year old boy felt helpless, and the first bit of hot water touched his skin as tears streaked down his cheeks. Across the street was the police station, something he felt was completely morbid in itself. In this rain, the only thing that could be seen was the light coming from the lamp next to the door. But no one could make out a figure, and no one had seen anyone murder his little brother.
Marigold sat at the bottom of the stairs that lead up to the bedroom that her and her two other siblings shared, waiting for the boys to return. They wouldn't have dinner until they did, and she was starting to get worried. The look on her face only characterized how she was feeling and her mother, rocking in her broken chair, simply spoke over and over again that Vincent was going to be alright. Marigold however felt otherwise.
Second stretched into minutes, and soon there seemed to be too many minutes for her to bear. Right as she stood up to go to the door however, it burst open with blue jackets and a black rain coat in the middle. Gregory was back. Marigold blinked and moved to him, speaking carefully. "Gregory... Where's Vincent?" The boy walked past her without speaking, climbing up the steps to his room.
"Ma'am," One of the police officers of two that were there spoke to the woman in her chair. She had stopped rocking. "I'm afraid something terrible has happened... your son, Vincent, has been murdered..."
Marigold didn't stay to watch her mother's reaction. Instead, she ran up the stairs after Gregory, stopping in the doorway as he grabbed a bag and began shoving his things into it. Tears were more avid on his cheeks now, and his younger sister watched in horror as his movements threatened that he was leaving. She couldn't speak, trying to gather her thoughts. But then she moved over to him, grabbing his arm and making him stop. "I'm leaving," he said harshly, yanking his arm away from her.
"Let me come with you, Gregory. Don't leave me here..." She spoke, now realizing the tears that were sliding down her cheeks. She couldn't believe that Vincent was dead, but here being pushed into her face was the fact that Gregory was going to leave the house altogether and if what the officers had said was true, then she would be alone with a knitting and neglectful mother and a grandmother that refused to die.
The look on Gregory's face seemed to be one of denial. Part of him just wanted to leave Marigold there, he was so angry he just wanted to be by himself. But the words out of his mouth said otherwise. "You have five minutes."
Marigold seemed to brighten slightly, but not enough to stop crying. Looking towards the window, she saw the police walking up the street and disappearing into the now slowing rain. Then her mind went back into her house and she grabbed her one bag, stuffing it with clothes and the few things of Vincent's that she didn't want to leave behind in her mother's possession.
She decided that this must be their big break... often she and Gregory would stay up late at night speaking of how they wanted to leave, to pursue bigger things once she turned 18 and they were both old enough to get jobs to support Vincent. Of course they were going to take him with them... but now they couldn't. Now he was left to their mother's will, and there was nothing they could do and now, they had to get out.
Five minutes later, they were packed and Marigold had thrown on the rain jacket that Gregory had bought for her the week after he had gotten his own. Vincent's was going to be next... if only they had known of their mother's plans to send him out... but there was no time to dwell on it. Gregory walked calmly down the stairs followed by his little sister, disgust only crossing his features when he saw their mother in her chair. She was still rocking, she was still knitting. No tears even touched her eyes, and she seemed fine. "Where do you think you're going?"
Coldly the woman looked up to the two children, but more to Marigold. Marigold wasn't old enough to leave. Gregory so kindly explained that they were leaving and never coming back, which was just short of a slap in the face before he took his little sister's hand, pulling her towards the door and into the softened rain. It was turning dark but that didn't matter to him; they had to get out.
Walking down the stairs the stepped onto the street and for the first time, Gregory laced his fingers with Marigold's. He gave her hand a reassuring squeeze and only took one look back up the street to where he had found his brother. The image popped into his mind and made him shudder, but then he looked forward and his anger was gone... they walked the opposite way, towards the edge of town where the stone streets ended and the woods began. Marigold kept her head down, relying on Gregory's steps to keep them in line. However Gregory kept his gaze sharp and in one of the alleys, saw a hunched man with a red, white, and green sweater on, with little blue ties in the front. He was counting something in his hand, but Gregory just looked away, pulling Marigold with him beyond the trees.
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