Walking around this corner of the city always made the officer feel squeamish. It might have been the looming knowledge that danger was always close by, or the terrifying silence that made it so cold, he had to shiver even though the sun nearly cooked his skin. Either way, the sight of the little boy sitting alone on the sidewalk made him stagger backwards and he quickly looked about himself. They were alone.
Slowly walking towards the boy, he could hear him mutter words and letters, moving his fingers across the page. He looked about five years old, no more, and the officer worried more than anything about his safety in this place. He squatted down beside the boy.
Bewildered, as though pulled from a dream, the boy looked at him. Then he smiled broadly.
“Why are you all alone?” the officer asked, carefully keeping his voice neutral.
“I’m learning to read,” he replied, proudly holding up the little blue book with the birds on the front. “See, this is an ‘a’, which is what the word alphabet starts with. Aaaaaalphabet,” he repeated, drawing out the initial ‘a’.
“Where are your parents? Where do you live?” the officer had a hard time keeping the anxiety out of his voice.
The boy shrugged. “I don’t have any parents and this is where I live.”
“Surely…” he trailed off. “Would you like a proper place to live? I can take you to a children’s home. They are like a family.”
The boy jumped up so quickly and suddenly, the officer nearly tumbled over backwards in surprise.
His eyes wild, he said, “They beat the children there. B-e-a-t,” he spelt out, “No, no, please, don’t take me back there.”
Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner, Week #9 – 2016
Photo prompt provided by http://publicdomainarchive.com/public-domain-images-vintage-kids-toys-books-fisherprice/
**I must sincerely apologise, but the story didn’t want to be honed under 200 words.. However I shall do my best to make amends in next week’s entry!**