Fly Away Home

     Jenny grinned as Catherine laughed openly. It was such a rare thing to see lately. Even a smile
sometimes seemed to be beyond her friend’s capacity. So she felt relieved to hear such a genuine laugh
coming from the tiny face behind the large belly on the couch across from her.
     
     Catherine was five months pregnant and in Jenny’s opinion she looked ‘ready to pop’. She was like
an inflated balloon that looked as though it would burst soon from the pressure. She saw Peter twice a
week, but no matter how they argued or pleaded, Joe and Jenny were kept far away during her
appointments.
     
     “You’re terrible!” Catherine threw a handful of popcorn at Jenny from the bowl that rested on her
overgrown belly. She laughed, her eyes squinting and her nose scrunched up.
     
     Jenny shrugged, lightheartedly defending herself. “Well, it was the only way I could get him to relax. If I
hadn’t we wouldn’t have gotten anywhere!”
     
     Catherine laughed so hard that she was suddenly clutching her side where a cramp was forming. “I
don’t think I’ve heard anything so ridiculous!” She cried, gasping for air.
     
     The laughter was so pure that its effect was contagious and Jenny began to laugh just as hard.
     
     “Oh Jenny... I’m staying here from now on. I’m never this entertained at Joe’s!” Catherine took a drink
to try to contain her laughter, but she ended up hiccuping from it which made her laugh even harder.
     
     Jenny was doubled over now, resisting the urge to point and laugh as Catherine’s belly pulsed with
hiccups. “Not after last night you’re not! If he were to find out you were here overnight...” she tried to finish
her sentence in the jumble that was now her thought process, “I’ll have to start back at square one!”
     
     “No, seriously...” Catherine hiccuped, now in a lot of pain between the hiccups and the cramp in her
side, “the man’s a bundle of nerves whenever I’m around. He won’t let me do anything. The other night
when I told him that I was going for a walk, I thought he’d have a stroke! It’s been horrible lately. I never get
a moment’s peace!” Finally the hiccups had ebbed away.
     
     “Well, Cathy...” Jenny began with that serious and almost parental tone that Catherine had grown to
hate, “you know that Dr. Alcott said that you shouldn’t take those walks anymore. And I for one agree with
him. You always come back depressed. It’s disturbing really.”
     
     “Oh,” Catherine sighed, waiving her friend off, “Peter doesn’t know what he’s talking about. The
exercise is good for me.”
     
     “Yeah, but the mood isn’t. Where do you walk to, anyway?” Jenny leaned forward curiously, wondering
if maybe she had caught Catherine at a weak point and she’d slip.
     
     But no, Catherine was quick and vague to answer. “Oh you know, around. Sometimes I walk to see a
show.” She lied. “And sometimes I just walk to be among other people.” Big lie. “Sometimes I walk to the
park and watch.” She mumbled the truth.
     
     “Watch what?” Jenny began to pickup the strewn popcorn, satisfied that she wouldn’t get a straight
answer.
     
     “Everything. The people, the trees, the animals... you know, the nightlife.” Catherine mused, lost into
that world.
     
     Jenny froze in place, then brought herself up slowly to meet Catherine’s gaze. “Joe lets you out at
night?” She asked, furious.
     
     “I’m not a pet, Jen.” Catherine replied, just as angry. This treatment they were all giving her was
getting to be too much.
     
     “It’s not safe, Cathy!” She insisted, standing tall to make it final.
     
     But it wasn’t. Catherine came back quickly, as if this exact scene had been playing in her mind for
days now. “Where and when I go somewhere is my own business.” She stated firmly. “I appreciate your
concern, but I don’t need you to watch me 24/7. I know what’s best for me and this baby.”
     
     Jenny promptly interrupted. “Cath,” she began quietly with a tone that told her friend to get a grip on
reality, “you don’t eat unless we tell you to, you’re hardly sleeping and when you do, you dream.
Sometimes violently. Why do you think you’re living with Joe and I? Dr. Alcott is worried that you don’t
know what’s good for you. At this rate, without someone watching you, you’ll fall apart. Wherever you go at
night... it’s not helping you.”
     
     “I know where I need to be.” Catherine told her friend with a strain to keep her emotions under control.
“And... I can’t... yet. That’s where I go, Jenny. I stare at it for hours just in case there is some shred of
chance that the doors will open and... he’ll be there, waiting for me.” She had begun to cry. “And every
night I’m alone, cold... and staring at a locked door.” The vague details flowed out of her, unable to keep it
all in anymore.
     
     With something that was almost comprehension, Jenny sat on the edge of the couch and took her
hands. “Please tell me what’s going on.”
     
     Catherine looked back up at her friend with red eyes and a sorrowful face that would make anybody’s
heart sink with despair. “I wish I could. You have no idea how I wish I could.”
     
     “Who is the father?” Jenny asked reluctantly. She had never asked before. Countless people had
harassed Catherine about this for months now, and she was not about to be added to her best friend’s
‘hate list’. But now, it had welled up inside her for so long and Catherine had actually opened up the
subject, if only accidently.
     
     Catherine was silent. Jenny couldn’t tell if she was thinking of what to say or ignoring her. But finally
she spoke. “I don’t know.” She whispered. It was her first admittance of this. For months she had insisted
that she knew exactly who the father of her baby was (though she never gave a name), and finally she had
said what everyone had been saying behind her back and even to her face. She didn’t know.

****************************************************************************************************
     The walls seemed to be closing in on Catherine, sitting on the examination table, belly exposed. She
was beginning to panic as Peter eased her down on her back. “I don’t understand, Peter.” Catherine’s
eyes were wild and she looked as though she were searching for some stalking predator.
     
     “Just relax, Cath.” He began to smear on the thick ointment for the ultrasound.
     
     “I just don’t understand. Another month?” She tried to sit up, but she was pushed back down gently. “Is
that what he said? Are you sure? Have you been telling him about everything?”
     
     “I’ve told him all about the latest examinations, Cathy. Believe me, I’m your advocate here.” Peter
prepared the paddle as he spoke, allowing her to get out all of her frustration and talk about anything she
liked. She needed that now.
     
     “Everything?! The erratic heartbeat, the strange form?” Peter nodded as she ticked down the list. “Did
you tell him that you weren’t even sure it’s a girl?”
     
     “Cathy, I’ve told Jacob all about your condition and the baby’s.” Peter had already begun the
ultrasound and was now searching for the oblong and oddly limbed life growing within Catherine. “Right
down to the most obvious and convincing fact that according to your growth, you are seven months
pregnant.”
     
     “Except that I’m only five months.” She finished, having heard him repeat something similar to that for
the last two months. She watched the creature inside her wiggle on the screen. She heard the erratic
heartbeat that she had grown accustomed to on the monitor. “And he said another month?” She asked
again, quietly.
     
     “I don’t know why, Cathy.” Peter had to be honest. He couldn’t defend his friend this time. “Your case
is just getting more and more strange. I don’t think there’s any doubt about her parentage anymore.”
Peter watched the screen ruefully.
     
     Catherine was quiet for a moment. Peter believed. It had taken a while, but he really believed her.
Vincent was the father. Finally, someone other than herself believed it. She gave him the tiniest of smiles,
and then turned back to her baby. She found the oddly shaped torso and, from there, her perfectly normal
head. “I’m trying so hard to be happy about this. Finally... proof, and yet I almost wish that there was no
way to tell. Then at least I wouldn’t worry. I mean, did I do this to her, Peter?”
     
     “No.” He quietly differed her fears. “You had nothing to do with this. This just an abnormality. Pure
genetics cause something like this.”
     
     “Somehow that doesn’t make me feel better.” She stared still at the black and white form on the
screen.
     
     “Cathy, I’ve been thinking.” His serious tone drew her out of her trance. “I don’t agree with Jacob. I
think your condition deserves special attention. Now, I’d like it to come from him. But, right now that doesn’
t seem like an option.”
     
     “What are you saying?” Catherine brought herself up on her elbows, hope welling in her.
     
     “I’m saying that within the next week, either Father will take you or you’ll be staying in the hospital
under surveillance.”
     
     “Really?” Catherine breathed, feeling real joy for the first time in weeks.
     
     “Really.” He smiled at her excitement. “Now this means that you need to pack your things at Joe and
Jenny’s house. And make them help you.”
     
     “Don’t worry, that won’t be a problem.” She answered, obviously annoyed by all the ‘help’ she was
getting already.
     
     “Oh, speaking of which,” Peter handed her a towel to wipe the greasy ointment off of her belly, “Jenny
called me. I thought I told you no more walks.”
     
     Catherine sank back down on the table with a sigh. There was no hiding from Peter. He knew where
she went, and why, no matter if she actually told him. “Has anyone seen him?” She asked quietly, referring
to Vincent.
     
     “Someone thought they saw him while they were working in the Catacombs. Mouse tried to catch him,
but...” Peter let his voice trail off.
     
     “Do you think he knows?” She asked ethereally, a hand placed on her baby, starring at the ceiling.
     
     “I don’t know.” He answered delicately, not really prepared for this type of question. “I’ve never
understood what the two of you shared.”
     
     Catherine laughed ironically. “Neither did we.” She sighed again. “I don’t even know if it exists
anymore.”
     
     Peter let her revel in that thought for a moment before cutting in. “But I do know that I need you to go
back to Jenny’s and pack. You and the baby need to be fairly out of reach A.S.A.P. in order to get Jacob
to let you Below. So, go back, pack, and for both of you... rest. No more nighttime excursions, I mean it.
Especially when you have to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.”
     
     Suddenly Catherine had newfound zeal. She would finally be out of Joe and Jenny’s apartment. Even
if she couldn’t go Below, she would be in the hospital and there she would be away from suspicion and
questions, and close to her only link to her home.
     
     With a bit of difficulty she slid off the examination table, kissed Peter’s cheek, and made her coat fly
behind her as she rushed out the door. She was going home, she could feel it. And she wasn’t the only
one; the baby rolled and kicked with equal excitement.
     
     “Cathy, honey... you’re clothes!!”

****************************************************************************************************
     “I just don’t understand!” Jenny protested, as she watched Cathy fold her clothes into her suitcase at
lightening speed.
     
     “Join the club,” she quipped, “we’ve got pins!” Two books were tossed in the suitcase.
     
     “But you and Dr. Alcott... you both said everything was alright. For months you’ve been saying
everything is fine.” Poor Jenny watched helplessly as her friend flung a t-shirt into the suitcase. “And now
you have to go into the hospital again on observation?” In frustration, Jenny simply grabbed Catherine’s
shoulders and held her still. “Cathy!! What happened?? I deserve to know that at least!”
     
     Catherine sighed. She had been trying to figure out how she would explain this to Joe and Jenny,
but... she didn’t even want to speak to them. She was going home. There was a possibility of seeing
Vincent again. Life Above simply didn’t matter to her anymore. There was no anger toward her friends...
only indifference. “Jen... I really can’t explain. You probably won’t see me for a while. Peter... isn’t allowing
me any visitors.” It was all she could think of. “Just, please Jen...”
     
     “Oh God, Cathy!” Jenny whispered. “What’s wrong?”
     
     “I can’t tell you!!” Catherine suddenly burst out, breaking away from her friend. “Stop asking... please!
If you want to know how I’m doing you can call Peter! I appreciate your concern,” Catherine continued
packing only sounding half-hearted in her thanks, “but please don’t ask me questions. Would you just help
me pack? Please!”
     
     “No, Cathy! That’s not good enough! Yeah, I could call Dr. Alcott, but I want you to tell me! I want to
hear it from you! Cathy,” Jenny took a breath, “you’re my best friend. I’ve known you for years... this isn’t
you. You changed a lot after your accident... I am proud of you for that! But then... something happened.
You’ve completely withdrawn from us. Joe and I love you, Cath. That’s why you’ve been here for the last
four months. And, this baby... I don’t know, maybe it’s the baby that’s changed you. Or maybe,” she
paused, trying to decide how she was going to say it, “it’s the way you got pregnant that’s changed you. I’
ve known you for a long time, Cathy Chandler. I know your weaknesses and your fears... and my best
friend would know who the father of her baby is. She wouldn’t even hesitate. You know, sometimes I can’t
even tell if you love this baby. And that is not the Cathy Chandler I know.
     
     “I care about you, Cath. So does Joe. We both deserve an explanation!”
     
     Catherine just starred. And as Jenny listed all of her reasoning, she thought it through.
     
     She was no longer “Vincent’s Catherine”. Not because of their accident, or their argument, or even
Jesse. It was just her. She had changed. She was not the woman who led that glorious double life
anymore. She could no longer run to her Vincent’s warm embrace, or make those wonderfully vague
remarks when someone would ask why she wasn’t dating. She was no longer the woman Vincent had
fallen in love with. No matter the fault... she was oh, so different... and she couldn’t go back. Vincent was
gone and their relationship forever scarred even if he did come back.
     
     But Joe and Jenny were still there. Joe and Jenny were always there. She and Jenny had been
through a lot together; high school, college, and beyond. Jenny had been there through Steven and Tom.
She had been there through Elliot... and even if she didn’t know it, she had been there through Vincent. A
lot of changes... a lot of broken hearts and crushed dreams.
     
     Joe hadn’t known her quite as long, but there was not one moment since the day they met that he didn’
t help her. He helped her when she didn’t even want to be helped. He was there through all of the rough
spots to give advice, a patient ear... and occasionally some time off.
     
     And then there was the baby. The child. Their child. This little creature inside her had changed her.
The child changed everything. It had made her insecure and fearful. And, Jenny was right, there had been
times when she had doubted the paternity and she had hated the life growing steadily within her. But now
there was proof. Someone actually believed her now, and that gave her reason to believe herself.
     
     Joe and Jenny had never questioned, though. They had never given her strange looks or bothered her
when she would stare at her own belly, obviously deep in thought. They had given up their lives to her and
Vincent’s child... even if they didn’t know. That had saved this precious little life. They deserved
something.
     
     Catherine took a breath and closed her eyes. She never once opened them as she spoke. “His name
is Vincent. I love him. I always will. But... he just can’t love me. I hurt him and I’m paying for it in losing him.
This is his baby and I love every movement I feel every moment of every day. But... Vincent is different
from other people and I’m afraid that the baby may be also. So, Peter and I think that it’s best if I’m kept in
observation. Just in case.” She took a deep breath, still her eyes were clamped shut. “I need you to keep
everything I just told you a secret. No one can know. You can tell Joe what you will, but I know that he’ll try
to find Vincent. I don’t want that. If you could keep him confident that everything is fine and nothing has
changed... I will owe you the last three years of my life, because they were the best!”
     
     There was a still silence in the room. Catherine wondered if Jenny was curious why her eyes had
remained closed, but she just seemed to understand every vague description.
     
     Catherine felt the sudden impact of a tiny frame against hers and only then did she open her eyes.
She immediately hugged Jenny just as tightly as her friend held her. They both laughed as Jenny
shrugged.
     
     “You always have fallen the hardest for the wrong guy.”
     
     “Yeah... So why does it hurt so badly now that I’ve fallen for the right one?”




The Escape

     “Isn’t it funny?” Anna posed the question as she lay next to Jacob on her bedroom floor, midnight now
ticking away on her dresser clock.
     
     “What?” He asked breathlessly, staring at the stars as she did.
             
     “How whenever there is a problem, something that seems unfixable, people always look at the sky? It’
s like they think looking at the sky will help them. Like a cloud will spell it out, or a star will twinkle in morse
code.”
     
     “And isn’t it funnier,” Jacob finished, “that looking at the sky does seem to help you solve your
problems?” He sighed contentedly as Anna fidgeted next to him until their heads were touching. There
was a thick silence in which the pair lay head-to-head. They knew what the other was thinking, but it took
Anna to voice it after whole minutes of silence.
     
     “Jacob... it’s not solving our problem.” She rolled onto her side so that her nose was almost touching
his ear.
     
     “I don’t see the problem, Anna.” He insisted, turning as she had done so that they were now touching
foreheads.
     
     “Your dad caught you out! If he catches you again, he’s not gonna let you come back.” There was true
fear behind her eyes.
     
     “I know.” He admitted quietly, sympathetically. “But father knows all about this. He would understand if
we told him.” He told her for what seemed the hundredth time.
     
     “Jacob... if we told your dad, he’d want to tell my mom. Trust me, I know parents. They’ll want to check
with each other to make sure its okay. My mom would never allow this.” When she finished there was
quiet as she stared into the little boy’s blue eyes that reflected her own. Slowly she sat up and wrapped
her arms around her knees. “I’m scared that one night, you won’t ever come back.”
     
     Wordlessly, Jacob sat up with her, still staring out the window at the stars. He sighed, wishing, as
Anna was, that the night sky really was telling the two children what to do. Looking at Anna, who had now
begun to cry, he immediately hugged her with no hesitation. She clung to him as if he’d disappear as she
cried quietly. They sat there, hugging and crying under the stars that refused to answer them.
     
     It was almost twelve-thirty before they let go of each other, relenting to the necessary separation. Anna’
s flushed cheeks were stained with her tears and Jacob looked as if he may begin to cry soon as well.
They watched each other, catching their breath as they did and found something in each other’s eyes...
something neither had seen before. They stared, allowing a wave of emotion that was not their own to
washed over them. It took a few minutes to realize that it was each other’s emotions that they were
suddenly feeling.
     
     Jacob smiled at Anna widely. They both suddenly felt all of their problems melt away. Nothing was
complicated anymore. They were children; inseparable, untethered, and indestructible. Mortality was a far
away concept, it barely existed in their new world. Where would it fit within all of this wonderment?
Together, they were invincible, and they knew it!
     
     Jacob climbed to his feet and lifted Anna to hers. She smiled brightly at him now, knowing exactly
what she was about to do, and not caring about the consequences.
     
     “Come on!” Jacob whispered, pulling her to the window in a way that reminded Anna of Peter Pan
leading Wendy to Neverland.
     
     She broke away for only a moment in which she buckled her sandals onto her feet. She practically
flew back to the window, taking his hand and escaping with him into the dark and dangerous night.
     
     Jacob helped her down the metal stairs, for she had never climbed them before, and the moment her
feet made contact with the sidewalk he took Anna’s hand and pulled her down the street. Their feet flew
beneath them; one block... two blocks... three blocks...! They just kept running, their pace and stamina the
same as they raced New York City’s night life. Jacob followed the back alleys as he was taught and
seemed to know them by heart, down to positions of trash cans and neighborhood alley-cats. It was a
familiarity and freedom Anna had never known and she reveled in it.
     
     Around a corner, down a small business street, Jacob pulled Anna behind him, crouching low in front
of a small deli shop door. He knocked rapidly, alerting the older couple within to his presence.
     
     It seemed odd to Anna that a deli shop would have been open so late that the owners were only just
cleaning and closing up. The woman came to the door for them, checking the streets and staring
suspiciously at Anna. She opened the door and bells jingled above them as they entered.
     
     “Jacob Wells, do you know what time it is?!” The woman scolded.
     
     “I’m very aware.” Jacob whispered, pulling Anna closer to his side. “May we go through the back?”
     
     “Does your father know you were out here, boy?” The man asked harshly.
     
     “No, sir. But he’ll know soon. I’m going to tell him.” Jacob nodded earnestly, clutching the hand
growing steadily sweatier in his own.
     
     “Jacob, do you know how dangerous these streets are?! Especially to you?!” The man added his
scolding, but Jacob never got a chance to answer.
     
     “Who’s your little friend?” The woman seemed much nicer than the man, but she watched Anna as
though trying to match her face to someone she knew.
     
     “Her name’s Anna.” Jacob granted shortly, trying to get around the questions and to the mysterious
back room.
     ]
     “What? She can’t speak for herself?” The man demanded more to Anna than Jacob.
     
     “I...” she stumbled, “I-I’m Anna Chandler. It’s nice to meet you.” She whispered meekly. These people
were almost terrifying. They obviously knew Jacob well, but it seemed odd for anyone to accept Jacob
the way she did, and yet they did just that.
             
     The couple’s eyes had grown twice their size at the mention of her name and they simply watched her
for a moment and even the man’s face seemed to soften as they stared. “Anna Chandler?” The woman
confirmed sweetly. “Is that what you said?”
     
     Anna nodded with a couple of mere jerks of her head. The woman smiled broadly at her and Anna
suddenly had a strange impulse to hide behind Jacob.
     
     “Well then... Anna Chandler... you’ve met our Jacob. Are you two getting on well?” The woman
obviously wanted to strike up a conversation and Anna felt Jacob bounce impatiently on his toes.
     
     “He’s my best friend.” She stated, proud and short. She took a step forward, hoping Jacob would
follow suit and just walk to the back.
     
     “Is he really?” The woman wouldn’t let them leave. “Well... that’s wonderful!” For some reason her eyes
began swimming with tears. “That’s... that’s just wonderful!” She suddenly came toward Anna and
scooped the little girl into her arms, hugging her tightly. But, Anna held fast to Jacob’s hand, refusing to
loose him in any capacity.
     
     When she finally let Anna go, Jacob tugged her back to him and she gratefully followed. “May we
please go through the back?”
     
     “Oh! Most definitely!” The woman, wiping her eyes, stepped out of their way.
     
     “Thank you.” Jacob called behind them, already at a jogging pace. They passed the man at the
counter who had not said a word since Anna had introduced herself. He watched her go by as if he had
never seen anything like her in his life.
     
     It was a mere fraction of a second and then he was gone. All that lingered was the couple’s voices as
Jacob and Anna reached the storeroom.
     
     “Did you hear all of that, Anthony?” The woman asked wildly.
     
     “Yes Ginny. The girl even looks like her.” He answered quietly.
     
     The children’s hands parted only for a moment as Jacob cleared away a few boxes and wrenched the
extra piece of plywood from the wall. He climbed down the hole first, assuring her that there would be light
when she reached the bottom.
     
     She jumped the last three rungs of the ladder, landing hard, but immediately taking Jacob’s
outstretched hand. They ran just as they had in the streets, only with a small amount of reluctance from
Anna. They passed great halls and people dressed just like Jacob, out walking. The walls were lit by
torches, illuminating a golden atmosphere that reflected off of Jacob’s excess hair beautifully.
     
     “Come on!” Jacob attempted to whisper back to her, but it came out fairly loud. “My chamber’s just up
here!”
     
     They rounded a rocky corner and Jacob stopped short so that Anna had to grab hold of him so that
she could stop herself. He held a finger to his lips, “Shhh.” Anna nodded obediently, still taking in her
surroundings. Jacob led her through a livingroom type of space, though it was extremely small and
cramped, it was very livable. On the far right side of this space was a open doorway and on the far left
was an identical arch. Jacob led her, tip-toe, through to the left archway. Once inside he slid a curtain
across, concealing the room from the rest of the chambers.
     
     This was Jacob’s bedroom, obviously, but it was so different from her own. It was darker, even after
he had lit the candles and the lantern. There were very few trinkets or toys. Only a dresser and a bed in
this small space, with some things piled on the dresser and a large sea trunk in the corner opposite the
bed.
     
     Jacob flopped on his bed that creaked and sprung back up on him. His arms stretched wide, and a
smile just as broad, he was quite a vision in his contentment. Anna wandered the room a bit, breathing
heavily as Jacob did, and then settled next to him when he sat up.
     
     “Jacob,” she began, her smile fading, “I shouldn’t be here.”
     
     “You don’t like it here?” He asked, mortified.
     
     “No, its not like that.” She insisted. “Its just... what if my mom realizes I’m gone? What if she tries to
find me? You said this place was supposed to be secret.”
     
     “It is. She won’t find us.” He shrugged. He found himself suddenly indifferent to anyone else’s feelings
except Anna’s. There were no other people in the world, just them.
     
     “Jacob.” A new voice sounded from the doorway and it made the boy freeze, wiping the smile off of
his face. “Where have you been tonight?” The voice asked coldly.
     
     Jacob turned slowly to face Vincent, standing tall and imposing, arms folded with a harsh expression.
“Father, I...” it was as if Vincent’s stare was prohibiting his speech, “I just... I wanted to see...” Jacob
glanced back at Anna; her eyes wide and frightened. He stopped and closed his eyes, collecting his
thoughts. Slowly, he looked back up at Vincent. “This is Anna... my best friend.”
     
     Vincent hardly glanced at the little girl, focusing on his son’s discipline. “Ah... so this what you’ve been
sneaking out, risking your life, my life, and everyone else down here for. You have more explaining to do
than you know, son.” He watched Jacob bow his head and then looked over him to the child behind.
“Anna? Is that your name?” His tone was softened for her frightened and cowering face, but harsh enough
to show seriousness. “Well, do you have any idea how much trouble you’ve caused by coming down
here?” He stared into her sea green eyes, and when neither child answered, he continued. “Grandfather
will be quite angry with you both.” His eyes were trained back on Jacob. “You have to learn that when you
venture out, it is not just your life that you take into your hands, it is all of ours as well.” Jacob nodded, his
eyes still averted. “And Anna, you’re probably missed somewhere Above. Do you have a home?”
     
     Anna nodded slowly, her eyes transfixed on Vincent in the candlelight. “I live on 134th with my mother.”
     
     “Well,” Vincent paused a moment taking in her sweet, soft features against her ruddy skin, but quickly
snapped back, “she’ll be missing you then. We’ll get you home soon.”
     
     Jacob slowly reached over and took Anna’s shaking hand. “What are you going to do, Father?”
     
     Vincent had never seen the true fear in his son’s face as he saw then. Jacob was fearless, he passed
through barriers and ignored limitations just as his mother had, which made it difficult to discipline. But he
clung to his new friend just as she did to him, as if Vincent were about to sentence them to a fate worse
than death. He knelt down in front of them, a furred hand on each of their knees. “Don’t be afraid.” He
looked specifically at Anna. “Please don’t be afraid.”
     
     Anna tilted her head a bit as if examining a strange painting, her green eyes bearing into him. Her
fearful expression was gone and a determined face, that he recognized briefly, replaced it. “I’m not afraid
of you. I’m afraid that you’ll split me and Jacob up. I don’t want to be without him anymore.”
     
     Vincent gave a half-smile and looked at the two children together. Their hands intertwined, they
looked as though that connection was all that was keeping them from falling off some invisible cliff. As
their eyes begged him, he had to wonder: is this what he and Catherine had looked like, all those years
ago, to Father who was left to decide their fate? Were they these children in the old man’s eyes? He
sighed heavily. What should he do now that he was the “Father” to these children? “That is an admirable
statement, Anna.” He began slowly, once again seeing a flicker of someone he recognized in her, but
shaking it off. “But, you must understand that Jacob and I... we’re not meant for your world. It is dangerous
for us to even venture beyond these walls. We cannot-“ he was cut off.
     
     “No!” Jacob yelled, standing up to his father in protest. “You told me that you used to visit mother every
night! Why can’t I see Anna?!”
     
     “That...” Vincent suddenly realized he was yelling back and stopped to collect himself. He didn’t mind
talking about Catherine briefly, but after more than one reference he started losing control of his
emotions, and these children were like a flashback. “That is very different. There were different
circumstances then.”
     
     “Like what?” Jacob challenged with Catherine’s fire in his eyes.
     
     “Well, for one thing, your mother and I... we were not seven years old, Jacob. We were old enough to
be responsible for the fact that we were risking our lives.” He leaned in closer, intimidating his son,
mentally forcing him to sit back down. “Do you understand that? We could have been caught or killed. We
nearly were quite a number of times. I am not willing to allow you to take that chance.”
     
     “Father...” the little boy began in that harsh tone again, but was stopped.
     
     “Jacob,” Anna held his shoulder with her free hand, “please don’t.” Her soft whisper echoed in the
chamber. “It’s pointless to argue. He’s right. It’ll be okay. I promise.” She nodded sincerely.
     
     Vincent wasn’t sure what he was watching now. He had been reminded of himself and Catherine from
the moment he saw them together, but these children were different; their relationship held no romantic
threads. But they stared at each other as if they were having a conversation without words. And then,
without warning, they hugged each other. They held each other tightly, comforting without words. If they felt
that strongly...
     
     Oh how he missed Catherine. It was an infinite circular pattern in his mind. He missed her so, but he
tried not to think of her. He kept wondering if she would have had the answer to all of his problems if she
were here. Would she have had the answers to Jacob’s insignificant little questions that he always took
so seriously? Would she know what to do now?
     
     Yes, she would have. She would have taken one look at this odd pair and asked him what he would
have wanted someone else to do for them.
     
     “Jacob... Anna...” Vincent sighed deeply and only allowed himself a moment to think about what he
was about to say, “I... you’re right, I can’t deny you two. We’ll think of a way. We’ll find a way.” He
promised.
     
     Both children beamed at him, and then at each other. “I told you!” Anna stated proudly as she hugged
Jacob. “I told you it would be alright!”

     

     “Don’t punish Jacob, please.” Anna walked alongside Vincent through the streets of Manhattan. “I
asked him to come.”
     
     Vincent walked her home, 3:30 in the morning, his mind reeling with the events of the night. His child
was missing for hours, he finally returned home with another child claiming that he couldn’t live without
her. There were too many coincidences to make him comfortable, and now that they climbed the metal
trellis he had trouble even speaking. What had he gotten himself into?
     
     “Anna, Jacob broke a rule, no matter what it was for. I’m sure your mother would agree with me.”
Vincent stopped for a moment on one of the landings. “Anna, does your mother know about all of this?”
     
     She stopped as well, pausing in mid-stride on one of the steps ahead of him. She shook her bowed
head mutely. “Please don’t tell her. She wouldn’t understand the way you do.”
     
     “Well,” he began climbing again, “I don’t believe that is true, but I promise I won’t tell her.”
     
     “Thank you.” She smiled meekly, and climbed the rest of the way without a word.
     
     Anna climbed through her window quickly and crouched to talk to Vincent on the other side. “Now,
remember, you promised.” She told him resolutely.
     
     “I won’t forget. Now, you get some sleep, and let’s hope that your mother didn’t come looking for you
tonight. And Anna... please don’t do this ever again. That’s our agreement.”
     
     “Don’t worry, I won’t.” She grinned, leaned through the window and hugged Vincent tightly. “Thank you
so much!” She whispered.
     
     In that moment, with this child’s arms entwined around him, he felt more whole than he had in a long
time. It was as if that hug suddenly vanquished every terrible thought and feeling in his heart. How could
this tiny little thing make everything so complicated, suddenly right.
             
     The hug was brief, too brief, and then the little ray of light in the darkness had released him, retreating
into her room with a slurred “goodnight”.
     
     “Goodnight, Anna.” He helped her close the window and watched her scurry into bed before climbing
back down to the brutal streets.
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