“RUN KIYOTO! RUN!”
“DON’T TURN BACK!”
“GO LOOK FOR THE GIRL!”
Kiyoto could hear all the yelling and screaming behind her, haunting her. She wanted to turn back so badly. She didn’t want to leave by herself, but she knew they had created this distraction so she would have enough time to run away. She ran but glanced back to just witness the effort of the two friends struggling to save her time.
Kiyoto wanted to call their names, but when she opened her mouth, all that came out was a pathetic, choked sob. She collapsed on the forest floor, quite a distance away from the orphanage but still in view of her friends and their captors. Her mind screamed at her legs to move, but they remained frozen.
“KIYOTO, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! GET AWAY FROM HERE! RUN!”
Her head snapped up and for a moment, time seemed to stop as her eyes met with one of them. His eyes were full of determination and power, but what struck her the most was the pleading look in his eyes. One look at that and she knew exactly where her priorities lied.
Clenching her fists tight, she pushed herself up into a standing position. Despite her joints screaming in protest, she started to run once again as fast as she could, away from her friends whom she had now abandoned.
With only the clothes in her bad and little amount of money she owned, Kiyoto ran as far and fast as her legs would allowed her. With no indication of time besides the movement of the moon, she could only guess how long she had been running for. Never having wandered off from the orphanage, her new surroundings became more and more unfamiliar the furhter she ran. Yet, she still couldn’t shake off the feeling that she still hadn’t run far enough. She knew that they were after her and that they were chasing her down.
“Just a little bit more…….”
Kiyoto repeated the phrase to herself like a mantra, but after a while, her legs refused to cooperate with her anymore, and she finally stumbled and collapsed onto the cold floor.
She lied there motionless, thinking about the home she’d just left behind. She remembered when she first entered the orphanage. She had felt safe and had accepted of the possibility that the new place could be her home. There were people she could learn to trust.
However, it turned out to be the complete opposite. She couldn’t imagine the fate of her friends that she had left behind; the friends that gave up their freedom for hers.
‘Were they even still alive?’
Unwanted tears began to fall from her eyes and she furiously wiped them away with the back of her hands. She willed herself to stop crying, but the tears just kept coming. Like the rush of water pushing against a dam, her despair became something she could no longer hold together.
‘Everything I’ve ever known was an image created by them.’
Everything in her life turned upside down in one night…
She cried her heart out on the cold floor where she was lying on. She was feeling exhausted and all the weeping was causing her a painful headache. Unable to withstand these sudden emotions, she blacked out.
She opened her eyes slowly, squinting when the bright rays of the sun hit her face. She used her hand to block the light so she could see properly and examine her surroundings. Her muscles screamed in pain, but with much difficulty, she finally got up. Nothing seemed to register in her mind but as she shook the sleepiness out of her head and memories of yesterday came flooding back. With a heavy heart, she looked around, but saw nothing that was familiar.
‘At least I’m alive… and safe, for now.’
“Um, miss… miss, are you okay?”
The sound of a man’s voice suddenly interrupted her thoughts and she whirled around in panic.
Standing there, was a man in a suit with a name tag pinned onto the right side of his chest. She moved her head to look around and finally realized that she was standing in front of a small place filled with boxes of colourful fruits and vegetables. She looked uphigher and saw a huge sign that read “SUPERMARKET”.
“Miss? Can you hear me?”
At the corner of her eye, she saw the man’s hands reach out for her and she jumped backwards in fear, stopping herself from screaming the names of her friends.
She felt shocked and scared and with all the mixed emotions bottled up inside, she grabbed her bag and bolted away from the man, leaving him standing in confusion.
She didn’t know what direction she had run in, but just continueduntil she spotted a dark alley where she hid until she had calmed her erratic heart. It seemed like running was all that she had been doing these days– running from the orphanage, from the strange man and from her friends. She placed her hand over her chest to soothe the stinging feeling. Warily, from her spot in the dark, she peeked outside of the alleyway to observe this new, unfamiliar place where she had escaped to.
This place was completely different from the orphanage. The location had tall buildings with many floors, big flashy screens high up in the air and posters covering every inch, crowds of busy people were talking loudly to each other and many loud cars that honked their horns every now and then in midst of the busy traffic clogging up the roads.
This is what people call the city, she realized in awe, but the feeling soon dimmed when she noticed that this place doesn’t have her two best friends.
This was her first time in the city after arriving at the orphanage at the age of 4 and it was also the first time without her friends since that time. She had never been to a place with so many people. She had stayed at the orphanage for the past 13 years. She and the other kids had been pretty much isolated from the outside world and stayed in the middle of the forest where they had been forbidden to wander off far. To her, this place was like discovering a new world.
When she came back to her senses, the first thing she did was bring the hood of her sweater over her head to hide her face. Even though she was a live and safe for now, she still had to be careful or they would catch her again. An after all that they had done for her, being caught wasn’t an option. The only thing she could do now was hide and hope that her friends were still alive.
“I’ll find them one day. I’ll find them for sure and I’ll free them no matter what.”
With newfound determination, she took her first step out of the alley and walked out of the darkness to be embraced by the sunlight.