“Alysa what are you looking at?” my mum asked me, worried more than suspicious that I was up to something. I was 8 years old, my strawberry blonde hair was in two braids but perfect chewing length, which mum had commented on this morning, how we would need to cut my hair soon as I kept chewing it. I knew I was different mum said I was special it was why we had to stay hidden but one day apparently we wouldn't have to. But she never said when that would be and what would change. I kept looking out the window of our downstairs flat in London England. We had moved here almost 3 months ago and I loved watching the people outside walking about as though they were always in a hurry. But tonight was different the man outside was scary he had stopped and he was watching the flat as if he was waiting on something or someone. He was stood in the communal garden trying to stay hidden from sight of all the windows as if he was a spy. As if he was trying to find us! He was on his phone now talking too quietly even for mine and mums sensitive hearing to pick him up but he was staring straight at the flat. He was staring straight at me, even though I knew he couldn't see me through the net curtains, thankfully.
“The man,” I said to mum trying to make her not panic like she normally does because it normally was a bad thing when men in black jackets arrived. Although he wasn't wearing one today. From what I could see his hair was jet black slightly long for a man but not quite ponytail length yet at least. he was huge, not in a fat way, mum told me that was rude, but in a solid wall of pure muscle way. Similar to the men in black jackets which always ended up being scary as they hurt mum. Black jackets meant us fighting pain and possibly death. I knew that more than anyone. I didn't know why they couldn't just leave me and mummy alone, we weren't hurting anyone we were just trying to live.
My mum walked over she was beautiful, her long blonde hair went down to her waist at the moment and she never had a hair out of place. My mummy was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. People always asked her if she was a model when she laughed and told them no they always looked disappointed and then told her she should be. But right now her face was full of fear as she looked out and said: “go get your stuff Alysa we need to run.” I ran to my room, I knew what to do, we had left in hurry a lot of times because no matter where we went someone had a problem with us. someone would attack us or turn up and we would need to flee. I was 8 and okay I get it we are not human but that doesn't mean we are bad, I honestly didn't want to hurt a fly. The stuff my mum was talking about was pretty much my only belongings currently. A few outfits and my teddy bear that meant the world to me, even though I didn't know why. I shoved it all into my little pink backpack that had cute bunny rabbits on. I gave my room a quick look around to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything important, or that would indicate we were ever here. I knew I would never see it again if I did leave anything, that’s how I had lost my dolly when I was younger. I had accidentally left her under my bed when they made us run, that had been the men in black jackets though. the men in black would have been a good title if it wasn't taken.
I ran back into the living room knowing I had literally only been gone a few seconds. mum was stood at the window where she had her bag of stuff as well and was looking out sadly as if she was a step of giving up as if the person outside that window was hurting her just by being there. To be honest I knew he was. But her face showed recognition and hurt rather than annoyance and fear currently as if she personally knew the person who might kill us. She was still hidden behind the curtain but I knew she wouldn't stay that way for long.
When I peaked myself, I saw that the man had been joined by 2 others all wearing black one of them was in that dread black jacket that filled my nightmares he had ginger hair darker which even in the dark I could tell was redder than my strawberry blonde. But he watched the house as if he was torn as if he didn't want to be there any more than we did. the others weren't watching him though but mum did, did she know him was that why she looked so sad?
"Not ready, Beth we are not ready. Help." Mum said, she often said things like that out loud as if talking to someone who nobody but her could hear and see. I once asked her about it, she said she sometimes felt like she could hear her old best friend in her head giving her advice, then told me it wasn't important to drop it, she was just tired and talking to herself. I had dropped it, same as I dropped asking a lot of questions as they made her upset and I didn't want to hurt her. I'm not going to say my mummy is a bad mummy, because she's not. She's amazing, she never doesn't have time for me. She taught me everything and tries to give me as normal and a happy a childhood as she can, if we didn't have to keep running and fearing for our lives I know she would let me go to school, she said so herself, that she wants me to interact with humans and have humanity, as it is important that I know there is good in this world as well as bad. That yes people have been trying to kill us on off my whole life, but just as many have helped us. Have sheltered us, have supported us, have been friendly to us. Have cared. That it is important to see the good and the bad and just be the best I can be. She does my schooling at home, we both struggle on maths, she claims she didn't have to do it in her country, but she never tells me what country that is. she never tells me where we are actually from, our real last name, who my father is. Although that always makes her sad when I ask, I think he hurt her. I think he let her down. I won't let her down, I love her. We both speak English, Spanish, French, Italian, Chinese, German and Greek. If we are fleeing to a country we don't speak the language we soon learn. Mum believes I can never learn enough. that it's important to have as much knowledge of this world as possible, that I always must keep my eyes open and my heart. That humans are amazing, we are different and special but so are they. Being someone doesn't make them special its what they do.
I looked at my mum trying to be brave. She mumbled “just 3 but more shall be here soon.” I knew that was to me and herself as a warning, it was time to go. The question wasn't if we were going, the question was if we would get away alive. Mum kissed me on the head and we made our move silently as we could. we ran. mum went out the door towards the people and I went out the fire exit the other side of the building. I ran not stopping, hoping, praying we would both get out of this alive. Hoping, praying I would see my mummy again.
No one stopped me as I ran down the path, even though it must have looked strange to anyone that saw me, a roughly 8-year old running down the road alone at this time of night. As if she was being chased, as if she was scared stiff, because honestly, that's how I felt. I kept looking behind me, it was kind of obvious I was looking to make sure I wasn't being followed but as far as I could see I wasn't being.
I ran to the tube station, I jumped on the first train that turned up, knowing it was safer to constantly change trains than stay still for even a moment. To stay still could mean someone could catch up with me and kill me. to confuse my trail, to get lost myself was even safer than staying still.
Some people were staring at me on the tube but I pretended to not care, I pretended that I didn't think and know this was odd myself. That it wasn't worrying for me to be alone at my age, that I didn't have the fear that maybe this time mummy wouldn't get away, maybe this time we wouldn't survive. I pulled out a book to look busy to look relaxed, it was a German storybook, a novel mum said she enjoyed at my age, and yes I was enjoying it.
An old lady came and sat next to me, I put on a smile on my face and pretended to be absorbed into my book, that the lady's presence was nothing to fear, I knew she was human. The whole time I was checking my surroundings but trying to look like I was reading.
The old lady looked at me worried and asked “have you lost your parents?” her voice thick with worry that I knew she was trying not to panic me with. I put on an innocent smile, I could pretend not to speak English but with the amount of worry in her voice, I knew it would be best to reassure her I was ok. I said “no mam my mums meeting me at the other end.” which hopefully was the truth. Hopefully mum would meet me at the other end. Hopefully, she would get away and live through this. The old lady looked really worried she asked me “does she know you’re on a train yourself at this time of night?” I nodded she looked even more worried. I knew I wouldn’t get away from this old lady, she was being so nosy, or maybe it was more worried for the little kid alone. I didn't fear her. but she could alert people to me which was the danger here. Why did people always seem to worry about the little things? If they only knew what was really out there a child riding the train alone would be the least of
their worry’s, although then maybe that would make them worry more. Just then we came to a stop, the lady looked at me and went to say something else. I looked at the map and counted stops, I had started at Saint James Park and I needed to get to black friars. 4 stops and I had done one so far, this was risky but there was a way to look less odd on this train. I realised that the lady was still talking to me, so I gave her one of my most innocent smiles that mum says is my I have a plan that is dangerous look, she said she knows the look well, and she still doesn't know if she should fear the look, laugh or be proud.
I looked at the old lady dead in the eyes, not blinking and making sure all she was focused on was me. sending out a slight bit of hormones that I didn't really understand yet. whilst I had the lady's full attention in as gentle and calming almost singsong voice as I could manage I said. “my parents are picking me up at black friars, I am fine everything is fine. If you have a sweetie offer it to me” she blinked at me a few times, but I saw it taking effect, her pupils were dilated her eyes had an almost hazy look, as if she was seeing the world, but not quite seeing it. Mum told me it was like they were drunk, I had purposely looked in a drunks eyes after that and yes the look was slightly similar but not fully. She smiled at me friendly and actually held out a bag of toffees that she got from her handbag. “Okay, sweetie would you like a toffee?” I nodded and said, “thank you.” taking one from her. I knew it was wrong, mum had always said making people do what I wanted was wrong, that everyone should have free will. That we should never take that away, just because we can. But it was better than her kicking up a fuss and getting me even more unwanted attention. As long as I never took someone’s choices away from them and hurt them, I didn’t see the actual problem to use it for the odd bit of survival. But then I suppose it would start with small things then go onto bigger? Although mum would tell me when to use it sometimes which never made sense to me. Most the time it was wiping people’s memory’s that they had ever seen us. We must stay hid I know that. Staying hid meant our survival and I choose to live. I was 8 and I hadn't ever done anything wrong that I know of unless me being born was a crime.
When new people got on the train they just assumed I was with the old lady, it was so handy as no one new gave me another look. The ones who had been in the carriage when I had got on were still staring at me worriedly though, I kind of wished I had got on the train with someone and sat with them and convinced them I was with them. it would have been a lot better an idea. but then no one said anything before we got to my stop, so that was a plus. if they informed anyone about me I would be long gone.
We got to blackfriars after what felt like a lifetime. I turned to the old lady looking her dead in the eyes in my most quiet gentle voice I could manage I told her rather than ask, but I was polite about it. “please come with me” she nodded and we got off the train, it was that easy. Hopefully, it would remain like that.
We went up the stairs me holding her hand as if I really was just a little kid. I pulled her into a lady’s toilets, and again in my gentle singsong voice I told her “you will forget about me and go about your business.” she looked puzzled didn’t see me and walked away, saying “why am I in here?” I went back out the toilets and walked after a family with kids. They seemed in a rush, if I kept up with them they hopefully wouldn’t notice me and to everyone else, it would look like I was with them. To get away I needed to blend.
I went to where I had agreed to meet my mum if the worst ever happened to us in this home. It was a hotel and I just hoped she would turn up. I just hoped she would come because if she didn't I didn't know what I would do.
I sat in the hotel lobby and sucked my hair, it was a nervous habit, I really was trying to break it, but it wasn’t working, mum didn't have to keep saying about cutting my hair, I honestly was trying to quit. I soon noticed her though, a beautiful blonde lady that looked like she should be on a runway, not walking into this dingy hotel. Her loose blonde hair swayed. No one could tell looking at her that she had just been in a huge fight, I could sense that she was weak, that she had used a lot of her magic. I could see by the slight wobble that she would be hurt, she was just trying to pretend she wasn't. The men in the lobby and hotel staff looked shocked at seeing her, I knew it was her beauty. she was the most beautiful here by far, her looks defiantly did not help us blend. She walked straight up to me. her only focus was me, checking me over to make sure I wasn't hurt, I saw her eyes take me in and the relief on her face to know I was okay. I looked at her and said quietly when she reached me “where now mum?” she gave me a weak smile as if this was all just an adventure as if she wasn't scared and hurt “Hidden Alysa we must always stay hidden until it is time to be found.”
I took her hand and we walked out of the hotel and left the country as quickly as we could.
This is how I spent most of my childhood. Running from one place to another. Never getting to settle down. Most of the time we got away before they turned up, we never stayed in a place again more than 2 months, it wasn’t safe to but one thing I never doubted was I was loved. mum loved me.