In the darkness of night, a lone figure can be seen weaving between the flickering streetlights. She looks rather ominous, skulking among the shadows as if she were one herself. From underneath the hood of her dark gray sweatshirt, a single lock of fiery red hair is visible. From within the shadows on her face, one bright green eye can be seen.
Behind her, she hears a faint creak from a fire escape. Her breath hitches, and she whips around, only to find a small grey squirrel standing on the cracked pavement, paralyzed with fear. The girl lets out a barely audible sigh of relief and despite the fact that any danger is seemingly gone, she breaks into a run. She runs quickly, long strides like an antelope, her nimble feet pattering noiselessly as she passes through the quiet city streets. She stops once in a while to pull back any loose red hair that could be so easily seen in the colorless darkness. After a few blocks, she slows down to walking again.
Swiveling her head side-to-side, the girl scans the street before ducking into a narrow alleyway. Carefully, she tip-toes swiftly among the broken glass and refuse-soaked garbage that litters the passage. “Where are you? she whispers. I’m here. You can come out.” She glances around constantly, exploring every nook and cranny, every forgotten cardboard box.
To the left, she hears a sound, like the soft beating of butterfly wings. From out of a corner comes a small kitten with orange fur as bright as the girl’s hair. The girl smiles and bends down to pet the kitten lovingly. As the kitten purrs, the girl reaches into the pocket of her sweatshirt and pulls out a tin of tuna. She pries it open for the hungry kitten, and then slowly gets up and slinks away, back into the shadows. Underneath her hood, she is smiling.
Isys Nelms is 12 years old; she lives in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania