I was wondering what could have happened in order for Principle Horace to call Téras away from school, but I honestly didn’t have much time to think about it. I had to finish my studying and take my tests, which… I didn’t do so well on. During the lunch break and short recess, I introduced Rosea to all my friends, and they all crowded around me at the lunch table. Yet for some reason I actually kind of wished Téras was around. At least he didn’t crowd me. For the first time in my life, I actually felt slightly annoyed by all these kids.
Yet the day drug on, and finally school was let out. Instead of hanging around to chat with my friends like I always did, I wanted to go home, and so I decided that Rosea was probably tired and needed to get home too, and I used that as an excuse to my friends.
“You’ve been quiet,” Rosea remarked as we walked home. “Are you always like this?”
I shrugged. “No… I mean, I don’t know… I guess I just wish I’d done better on my stupid tests.”
Rosea shrugged as well. “I’m sure you’ll do better next time! Just think, tomorrow that Black-Wing will be back and will help you.”
I nodded. “Yeah, hopefully! Mama and Papa will be so disappointed if I’m held back another year…”
But the next day came and went, and there was no sign of Téras, nor the following day either. Finally, on the weekend, I decided to bike down to the side of town where Téras had said he’d lived, even though it was a bad area of town. I got his address out of a teacher, and so early that Saturday morning I got dressed, announced that I would take a bike ride and that I would be back soon.
Rosea followed me. “Where are you going? Can I come too?” She asked as I mounted my bike. “Dad would take me out to see the town, but he got called by that television company that he applied to work for today and had to go to an interview, so I’m bored.”
I shrugged. “If you’re sure you can keep up. I’m going at least ten miles today.”
Rosea nodded. “I’ll try!” She ran around the side of the house and into the garage and returned with her helmet on and dragging her bike along with her. Then she hopped on it. “Ready!”
I nodded, then started off. “Stick close to me, Rosea. We’re going to go see what happened to Téras. I mean, he is one of us Wings, so I think we owe it to him to see if he’s all right.”
Rosea rode up beside me and glanced at me worriedly. “Are you sure that’s a good idea? It’s so far away and on the west side of town…”
“It’ll be all right,” I answered cheerily. “What’s the worst that could happen?”
“We could… get kidnapped…” Rosea shivered. “Or get lost…”
I laughed. “Aww, we won’t get lost! Trust me! I know my way around!”
We got lost.
I didn’t want to let on to Rosea that I had remotely no idea where I was, so I tried to keep up a cheerful conversation until she stopped me and said with a pale face, “Eilad, we’ve passed that building three times… I know it because it has that strange graffiti all over it…”
“Oh, Rosea, there’s graffiti sprayed all over this side of town.” I managed to laugh, though now that she had brought my attention to it, I recalled seeing it before.
She slowly shook her head. “No… that’s the one I don’t like… it’s scary…” She shivered and then started to cry. “We’re lost… aren’t we, Eilad?”
I sighed and nodded. I couldn’t keep the truth from her any longer. “Yeah… but don’t cry, Rosea! We’ll find our way out! Maybe someone will help us!”
“No!” Rosea started crying harder. “What if someone tries to kidnap us?!”
“No one will try to kidnap us, Rosea.” I sighed. “Come on, we should at least keep going.”
Rosea wiped her tears from her eyes with her sleeve and nodded. “I’ll try… but I’m tired… and hungry.”
I looked down at my own stomach as I heard it growl. I was hungry too. “We’ll get out of here, I know,” I said cheerily, as I then looked up at the huge, dark buildings towering overhead. They weren’t helping our predicament any, and as we rode along, it seemed to be growing darker. Rosea and I stuck close together, and for the first time that day, I felt the cold grip of fear wrap around my heart. What if we never got out of here?
Dark raindrops from above started to fall, and soon street lights dimly lit up the streets, and the whole torrent of rain came down upon us. Rosea and I finally had to stop, and we parked our bikes by an alleyway and found a piece of cardboard with which to shield ourselves from the rain.
“I’m sorry, Rosea,” I said, my teeth chattering from the cold. “I’m sorry for not listening to you…”
She barely answered, only scooted closer to me, shivering worse than I was.
The only light was from a streetlight by the corner of the alleyway where we had parked our bikes, and I looked at it for the good half an hour we stayed in the alleyway to shield ourselves from the rain. It was nice and peaceful looking compared to the rest of the street.
“Hey!” I suddenly exclaimed as I saw someone dressed all in black step up to the street light where our bikes were. The figure wasn’t anyone I recognized… but as he looked at me, there was something familiar about him… or he looked familiar, at least. Yet I barely had time to think of who he reminded me of, as he grabbed my bike and then hopped on it and dashed off.
“Hey!” I screamed after him. “That’s mine! That’s my bike! Give me my bike back!” I dashed out of the alleyway and started to chase him down the street, but a car turned around the edge of the street at that moment. My heart sunk as I started to slow my pace. This had to be that man’s buddy… or was it?
I saw the car as it squealed to a stop, then the driver leaped out and gave a quick blow to the thief on the bike. The thief went sprawling onto the ground, but then quickly ducked another blow, and dashed this time to the open door of the car, leaped in, and quickly zoomed off. The driver seemed to be staring after it in utter disbelief, trying to figure out what had just happened, and I couldn’t help but feel bad for him as Rosea came up beside me, sobbing again, and clinging to her bike like it was a life-raft.
I cautiously made my way to the man who had finally realized what had happened and was slowly bringing my bike back to me. He looked a bit familiar too, and then as he grew nearer, I recognized where I’d seen him before. He was Téras’ dad… or caretaker.
“I think this belongs to you,” He said in a low tone, as he handed me my bike back.
“T-thanks… and I’m sorry about your car.” I said shyly.
He shrugged. “I don’t care anyhow.” He said in a depressed tone. “Everything else has been taken from me, might as well have my car taken too.” He crossed his arms and shivered as the rain poured down still. “What are you two doing out here in this?”
“W-we went to visit a friend… but got lost,” I answered, as Rosea hid behind me.
“Where does your friend live? I know these parts well enough to take you to him.”
“I think you know him,” I said. “You’re Téras Trómos’ uh… caretaker, aren’t you?”
His brows raised. “Y-you know Téras?”
“Yes, I’m… I’m Eilad Chári.” I held out my hand though I was trembling visibly.
He shook it kindly. “Auburn Prewitt. And yes… I was…” He dropped my hand again. “That’s why I was out here… I’ve been looking for him for three days now…”
“L-looking for him? Hasn’t he been with you?”
“It’s a long story…” Auburn said as he glanced up at the sky again. “Where do you children live? You should probably get home. I’ll take you there, and I suppose I’ll explain things as we go.”
I told him approximately where we lived, and then he started to lead us out of the slummy part of the city, as he explained everything to us, how his father had never liked Téras and how he’d ran him off, and how he himself had lost his cool with his family and just finally walked out with his few belongings and lived in his car the last few days, looking for Téras every spare moment he could. But now that too was gone. I could tell by how pale he got that he had some physical ailment bothering him as well, but when I asked him if he was all right, he answered with a cheerful, “I’ll be fine.”
Finally, the rain stopped, just as we walked into the better part of town. Wearily, we all sat down on a bench, and then Auburn said something that surprised me. “Téras never told me you had wings.”
Rosea and I both looked up quickly at him. “H-How did you—?”
“How did I know?” Auburn gave a small, sad smile. “I’ve lived with a Winged person for almost thirteen years, and I’ve studied a lot about Winged people. Guess you could say I’m an expert.” He chuckled wearily then sighed again. “Anyone with any in-depth knowledge of Winged persons could tell the difference between and Winged and non-winged person in a few minutes. Your gait is different, your eyes are often slightly larger than regular peoples, and well… in your cases, it’s pretty obvious with the white and pink hair.”
I crossed my arms and rubbed them. “You won’t tell anyone, will you?”
“No, of course not,” Auburn said with a smile. “Now, do you think you can get home on your own?”
I stood up and nodded. “Thanks again, Mr. Prewitt.”
He gave a small smile. “Call me Auburn.”
“Thank you then, Auburn,” Rosea said shyly, as she stood up after me.
“But where will you go?” I asked Auburn as he got up.
He shrugged. “I suppose I’ll report my stolen car to the police and then… I reckon I’ll look around for a job so I can make some money somehow to survive on and obviously keep looking for Téras. He must be around somewhere… he couldn’t just disappear…”
I glanced at Rosea, my eyes brightening with an idea. “But you don’t have anywhere else to stay tonight or until you can get enough money to get an apartment, do you?”
He shrugged. “Nope. I suppose I must find a shelter or bridge to sleep under tonight.”
“How about you come to my place?” I asked quickly. “I’m sure Mama and Papa will be very thankful that you helped us, and they’ll give you a room for tonight, I would think!”
Auburn seemed surprised. “N-no, I wouldn’t want to impose—”
“No, please, you wouldn’t be imposing! C’mon!” I motioned for him to follow as I started off towards my home, and with a shrug and a sigh, he started to follow us.
“I sure hope you know what you’re doing this time,” Rosea whispered in my ear as we walked.
“Trust me! This’ll be fine!”
“The last time you said that, exactly what you said wouldn’t happen happened!” Rosea whispered back.
“Okay, well I was wrong. But this time I can’t be wrong!” I said cheerily. I couldn’t be wrong this time… could I?