* September was just settling in as the mood of school filled newspapers and commercials. Kids prepared for their next year as others, like Evlan, prepared for their last. After the long 12 grades, it was finally her last at Overlea High, and what she continued to protest as her last year in Baltimore too. A small tingling in her stomach grew as the thought of school played its tune in her mind. The blankets fell to the floor as she slumped out of the bed.
Her legs lazily inched to the bathroom as her eyes attempted to open without the necessity to squint. She washed her face off in the bathroom and looked into the mirror. She remembered how she looked in the ninth grade, and how different she looks now. Auburn hair, with green eyes, with freckles on her cheeks; those cheeks high and red on her pale skin.
She walked back into her room and faced the window beside her beauty product filled dresser as it poured air into the room. She slid her hands up and down her arms as she went to close it. Her backyard was still dark, but from her window the grass was visible along with her dog’s dog house. A white, house shaped wooden shelter with a red roof in which he slept in during the day. When she forced the window down to the sill, a subtle movement caught the corner of her eye. At first, she thought nothing of it. At second glance at the dog house, she saw her dog Rosco’s pillow move.
She thought of waking her Dad up and telling him to go check it out since Rosco was in the house. But she remembered how red his eyes were last night after coming home from work. Evlan took off the tank top she had slept with and put on a new one over a sports bra. She grabbed a pink robe that rested on the floor and wrapped it around her body. Rosco, the previously sound asleep pug, lifted his head as he heard the door open. He stood on his hind legs and barked.
“Shh, you stay here,” she ordered.
Rosco tilted his head and walked over to the edge of the bed.
“Rosco lay down I said,” she loudly whispered, “go, lay down.”
He saw her snapping fingers but jumped off from the bed and clung to Evlan’s leg.
“Fine, fine, let’s go.”
She moved throughout the black house; some rooms only being lit by the various digital clocks throughout them. Rosco made it to the back door first. The back door was a thin screen rectangle that had a few dents at the bottom of it from his attempts to get into the house before it was his time to. Evlan stood before it; her toes curled from the cold that slipped beneath it, but her eyes stayed focused on the dog house. She slid her feet into a pair of thin slippers that rested beside her and opened the screen door. Within seconds, her her lips, nose, and ears went numb.
She scanned the area around her and picked up a dark brown stick that was almost the length of her arm. The damp branch poked the pillow several times. No movement. Her heart beat irregularly, but not in a harmful manner. Her lips poked out as her neck extended to get a better look. The stick fell to the pillow as Evlan lost her balance. Her ankles gave up, forcing her butt to fall to the wet grass. Did her eyes attempt to fool her? Did she see something move?
She angled her neck again, making it so that the inside of the dog house could be seen again. The back of it was barely visible, but she could still see movement. She aimed her ear at the dog house and waited. At first, she heard nothing; a few seconds passed, and still nothing. But after about a minute or so, she heard shivering, then a muffled cough.
“Hey, is---is someone in there?”
“Is someone in there?”
Still no answer.
“I’m gonna go get my parents to see if they want to call the police to get you some help.”
“No, don’t.” She heard.
The voice was tiny and weak as it emptied from the wooden shelter. Evlan crouched back down and looked at the darkness.
“How old are you?” She asked as she leaned a little closer. “It’s cold out here, let me help you.”
The wind picked up, but she could still hear the child.
“You help me. No one else.”
“I will, I promise,” her words were sincere, but also rushed by the cold, “it’s freezing out here. We can go in my house. Come on, you’ll get sick.”
The pillow moved forward, flipped over, then pulled into where it was no longer visible. The child’s feet scraped against the floor as he hugged the pillow underneath his arm. Evlan’s shadow stood up and uncovered the dog house as she waited. Out of the opening, a dirty brown face, with smudges of dirt and dried blood was introduced to the sun.
“Oh my God. Hurry, hurry. Oh my God,” she kept repeating.
She unwrapped her robe, and placed it over the boy’s body.