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Chapter 5

I went to the park the next day even though I knew I wouldn't see him there, just being alone was a relief. But this trip wasn't just a way to be alone; I had wanted buy some clothes- men's clothes. The boy Nicky had given me an idea; if he could dress himself up to look like a girl then why couldn't I do the opposite, dress up as a boy? I smiled to myself as I walked into a cheat clothes store and picked out some clothes that looked like they would fit me. They were old and worn but I didn't care, I didn't want to stand out or give anyone reason to try and rob me.

I thought that if I dressed up like a boy then I would be safe and could go almost anywhere in the city. No one ever questioned a boy walking around by himself but a girl…that was completely different. I smiled to myself; I could see Tristan's face when I told him that I had gone out dressed as a boy! He would be so surprised, and hopefully proud. I would do anything to make him proud, to make him love me. And that scared me, but not enough for me to do anything about it, which made it even worse.

I had nothing planned for the night so I pretended to exhausted and rushed off to my room, I was so excited. I was ready to make my début into the real world, the world of hunger, pain, and poverty. The world of freedom. The Real World. I laughed to myself as I struggled into my new clothes, I had a little difficulty since I had never worn men's clothes before but after a few minutes I was dressed. I felt so free, so unrestrained in boy's clothing. The dresses I usually wore were heavy and hard to maneuver but wearing these clothes was like wearing nothing! I loved it!

In my revelry I had forgotten a crucial part in my plan- getting out of my house! I sighed and sat down to think, I definitely couldn't just walk out I mean they probably wouldn't recognize me but they wouldn't let me back in. I though about for a while then I remembered the small ledge around the roof. My room was one the second floor and the windows were above the roof and the ledge was about two feet below my window. I took a deep breath and opened my window, thankful for the darkness for hiding me, and slipped quietly out. I walked slowly on the ledge until I got to the spot where our house came within three feet of the next house. I tried not to think about the fall as I jumped onto the roof of the next house but I could help the feeling of exhilaration as I climbed down the back stairs onto the street. I had made it! And alone too, I had done it! I smiled, I could run away now and they wouldn't find me this time. I was not longer myself, I wasn't beautiful. I was just a young boy, without a name, without a home, a was just a boy now, free to do as I choose.

I laughed and skipped towards the main road and began to make my way to Vermillion Street. It wasn't hard to find, I remembered the way Tristan had gone and you could hear the laughter and singing from at least three blocks away. I was so happy about the prospect of getting to Vermillion Street that I hadn't really considered what I was going to do when I got there, I just stood there taking it all in. It was so bright, so wild, it was amazing! People were dancing, singing, kissing, fighting, eating, and drinking; these were all normal things but they did them with such passion, with such raw emotion, it seemed so new to me. It was as if the night magnified the newness of Vermillion Street because I was stunned by the constant activity, it seemed a million times more exciting then it had that afternoon.

After I had watched for a while I decided to go into one of the bars, as I made my way through the crowd a pretty girl grabbed me by the hand and pulled me to a circle of dancers, I tried to say I didn't want to dance but she didn't let me get away. Soon I was spinning and jumping and stomping around with the rest of them, twirling the girl around and around. But then she tried to kiss me and I figured it was time to get away, as soon as she looked the other way I slipped into the nearest bar.

Inside it was dark, smelly, and smoky but I liked it. It had a secretive look but the people inside- mostly men and prostitutes- were the complete opposite, laughing and roaring along with all the songs sung by a man and woman in the corner. The man had a guitar and the women had a tambourine, they both had beautiful voices but it was hard to hear them over the drunken singing.

"What's the matter son?" Asked a voice. I turned to find the owner of the voice and saw an old man looking at me curiously.

"Nothing. I was just admiring the music." I smiled, hoping he didn't suspect anything.

"Admiring the music eh?"

"Yes sir." I replied, getting a little nervous.

"There's no need to call me 'sir', what's your name, son?"

"Ummm...My name's Darean." I said inventing a name off the top of my head. Some of the men listening snickered.

"Darean? Ain't that a fancy name!" Laughed the old man.

"Yeah, My ma wanted to give me a gentleman's name, she thought it sounded proper like..." I trialed off, hoping they believed me.

"Most people call me Dare though." I quickly added, hoping that sounded more normal...

"Dare, now that's a name for a man! It's nice to meet you, Dare!" The old man said, happily like I had just made his day perfect. I shook his hand and went up to the bar and sat down.

"What'll ya have?" Asked a middle aged woman behind the bar.

"Ummm..." I glanced around to see what other people were eating, "Juss get me som'in hot." I said, trying to mimic the accent and manner in which everyone here was speaking. The woman smiled at me and poured me a mug of beer.

"Ere darling," She put it down in front of me and left to dish up my food. She brought me back a steaming bowl of beef stew with a nice thick slice of dark, rough looking bread. I thanked her and paid her, by the look she gave me I think I gave her a lot more than she usually got but I figured she wouldn't complain.

I ate my food slowly as I watched the people around me, I felt as if I was at the theatre. Everywhere I turned there was something new and interesting going on, some event or situation that played out as I watched. There were two lovers whispering in a corner, to men arguing over the prices of beef, to older women complaining about the quality of wool being sold, everyone seemed engaged in a passionate discussion about something. Everything they did, they did it with their whole heart; it was so different from the half meant complements and polite inquiries that I was used to hearing.

I shook my head, thinking of how gathering were back home. Everyone was politely quiet and everyone seemed so controlled, so emotionless. The only laugher that could be heard was quiet and most of the time fake. This was the polar opposite of my home, this was the place I was made for.

I sat there until I had finished my stew and gotten dessert then I left, I knew that I should have gone home hours ago. It was so late that even Vermillion Street was beginning to quiet down as I headed home. On the way back I got nervous, hoping I would be able to get back into my house. What if I fell when I went to jump across to my house? I took a deep breath and tried to push the thought out of my mind.

In the end getting back inside was even easier than getting out, I was thrilled because now that I knew how easy it was, I could leave anytime I wanted to. I smiled to myself as I hid my clothes and climbed into bed. That night I dreamed of dancing and laughing through the streets with Tristan.

I felt like I slept for just a few moments when my servant came to wake me in the morning. I groaned and rolled over, hoping she would just leave if I refused to get up. Then I remembered, I going to see Tristan today! I flung off the covers and got, I waited impatiently as my servant filled up the bath.

My heart was beating faster and faster each time I glanced at the clock, there were only a few hours left now until I saw him. I smiled and hoped that I looked good, then I laughed- he wouldn't care how I looked. He liked me for who I was, not how I looked.

Finally it was time to leave, I was so excited I could hardly sit still. I felt that if we didn't get there immediately I would loose him forever. I was worried and at the same time excited. As we got closer and closer I began to think that maybe he wouldn't be there, I started worrying about that plus what I would say and how to act if he was.

By the time we got there I had worked myself up so much that I could hardly stand still. I had spent most of the ride trying to convince myself he wouldn't be there so that I wouldn't be too disappointed if he wasn't yet I knew it was hopeless. I wanted him to be there so much there was nothing that could lessen my disappointment if he was absent.

I rushed away from my parents and off into the sea of bodies as soon as I could, I wove my way in between everyone. I didn't even notice their looks or greetings, I only had one person on my mind. I walked through each room I got more and more upset, soon I had gone through every room but I didn't see him anywhere. I slipped outside and sunk into a nearby bench. I sighed with relief, no one had followed me. Then I took a breath, trying to keep the tears from falling.

"Deirdre?" I gasped- startled- and looked up.

"Tristan!" I cried happily and leaped to my feet, throwing my arms around his neck.

"I missed you too!" He laughed as he hugged me back.

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