“Hey! Don’t come around here no more!” The old man shook his balled fist at the ragged urchin in tattered tunic and patched leggings.
“Catch me if you can!” teased Connor, dancing away from the irate merchant’s fruit cart. He tossed the apple he’d swiped into the air and caught it. There was another in his pouch. A good haul for the day. He turned and ran for home…such as it was.
As soon as he was safely away from the fruit merchant, he slowed his steps. Alone again, naturally, the boy thought, sighing as he strolled down a dimly lit alleyway between two seedy tenements. Even those were palaces compared to the rat infested shack he squatted in. And he was lonely…
He took a bite of the apple. First food he’d had all day. Not bad. Not bad at all.
“Hello.” An equally bedraggled girl stepped out of the shadows, her eyes fixed hungrily on the apple. She pointed a shaking finger at the fruit. “You’ve got something I need…What wouldn’t I give for that…”
Connor frowned, taking a step backward as he cradled the stolen prize to his side. He might have two, but that also might have to be stretched for days. Why should he share with a stranger?
“Who are you?”
“I am my own worst enemy,” she answered with a rueful grimace.
“Won’t you tell me your name?”
“Rose.” She made a grab for the apple and Connor sidestepped the rush.
“Take it easy!” he ordered with a frown. “You’re moving too fast!”
Tears welled up in her eyes. “Prospects look dismal, how can I go on? The night has been too lonely, and the road has been too long.”
“A curious tale,” he murmured, sympathy swelling within him, despite his crusty exterior.
“Our troubles are all the same.”
She lunged again, and Connor let her snatch the apple from his hand. She ate it as if she had not seen food in days.
He knew that hunger. It was easier to bear when you weren’t alone…
“Consider yourself at home.” He smiled, draping an arm around her shoulders. “We don’t want to have no fuss. Together, we’re better.”
She looked up at him, eyes shining with tears. “Every rose has its thorn.”
Connor shrugged. “I’ve got the touch.” And he led his Rose home.
Rie’s short stories currently appear in several anthologies with various publishers. Yard Dog Press publishes humorous horror chapbooks Tales from the Home for Wayward Spirits and Bar-B-Que Grill and Bruce and Roxanne Save the World…Again. Mocha Memoirs has the individual short stories “Drink My Soul…Please” and “Bloody Rain” as e-downloads.
Attribution for song lyrics:
“Hey! Don’t come around here no more!” — Hey, Don’t Come Around Here No More — Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
“Catch me if you can!” — Catch Me If You Can — The Like
“Hello.” — Hello — Lionel Ritchie
“You’ve got something I need…” — Brand New Key — Melanie
“What wouldn’t I give…” — What I Wouldn’t Give — Jake Miller
“Who are you?” — Who Are You? — The Who
“I am my own worst enemy.” — My Own Worst Enemy — LIT
“Won’t you tell me your name?” — Hello, I Love You — The Doors
“Rose.” — The Rose — Bette Midler
“Take it easy!” — Take It Easy — The Eagles
“You’re moving too fast!” — Moving Too Fast — Artful Dodger
“Prospects look dismal, how can I go on?” — Oh, To Be a Movie Star — The Apple Tree score
“The night has been too lonely, and the road has been too long.” — The Rose — Bette Midler
“A curious tale.” — Lady or the Tiger — The Apple Tree score
“Our troubles are all the same.” — Where Everybody Knows Your Name — Gary Portnoy
“Consider yourself at home. We don’t want to have no fuss.” — Consider Yourself — Oliver score
“Together, we’re better.” — Together We’re Better — The Partridge Family
“Every rose has its thorn.” — Every Rose Has Its Thorn — Poison
“I’ve got the..touch.” — Midas Touch — Midnight Star