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The Alleyway by James Eveleth

A soft cry came out of the alleyway as I walked by. I stopped and listened, looking into the vast darkness of the alleyway. Not a sound or a movement came from within and I turned to continue on my way, thinking it must have been the wail of an alley cat. Then, as I begin to leave, the cry echoes through the gloom again. A soft cry. Not to loud, not loud enough to be heard by a hurrying passerby in the midst of the rush hour traffic, but just loud enough that you might catch it if you stopped to tie your shoe like I did.

I walk slowly into the darkness of the alleyway. Carefully stepping over trash and debris, I let the sound guide me back further into the recesses of the blackness. My eyes, slowly adjusting to the dark gloom, noticed the shifting of some boxes stacked next to a large rusting dumpster. I carefully peeked around the boxes not knowing what to expect and starred in disbelief at a little girl.

She was nothing more than maybe five years old and tears were streaming down her face. Her eyes were red and her face and clothes were dirty with mud and grease. She huddled further back into her corrugate cavern until her mangled, blond hair and small face were all I could see. She stares up at me and starts to cry again, the fright in her eyes sending a shiver down my spine. I carefully sit down, scrunching to get myself partly into the shelter she has created. I hesitate at first and then I slowly put my arm around her. She welcomes it eagerly, huddling closer to me and laying her head against my side. Slowly, like ending of a sad song, the crying stops and I look down to see her sound asleep.

Copyright 1999-2000 James Eveleth. All rights reserved.