“Alysa what are you looking at?” my Mum asked me sounding worried rather than suspicious that I was up to something. I was around 8 years old, but to be honest, my Mum never told me how old I was, She never corrected me though. She said that not knowing how old I really was would keep us safer in the long run. I stood chewing the ends of my strawberry blonde hair that was in two braids, they were the perfect chewing length, which Mum had commented on this morning. Apparently, I will need a haircut soon because ‘chewing one’s hair when nervous is not a ladylike behavior’, it does make me laugh when She says it as She pulls a funny posh voice with an accent to do it. I think Mum secretly got told it a lot growing up. I knew I was different from other kids out there. Mum says I am special it is why we must stay hidden until I’m ready. one day apparently, we wouldn’t have to, but She never says when that will be and what will change. I hope it will happen soon. I just want to not see Her looking over our shoulders with fear every day of our lives. fear of others is all I’ve ever known. Which is why I knew I should tell Her what I see. I really liked to look out the window of our downstairs flat in London England. We had just moved in Here almost 3 months ago and I love to watch the people outside walking about as though they are always in a hurry and I make up stories about each person who passes and write them down for Mum as school work. creative writing, She calls it, She will tell me a language and for that month we will study everything to do with that language. as we were England currently, the language of choice was English. The man looked up at the window then, He had stopped, the people don’t normally stop. He was watching the flat as if He was waiting for something or someone. It was scary He was standing in the communal garden trying to stay hidden from the sight of all the windows as if He was a spy. As if He was trying to find us! He pulled out his phone and started talking extremely quietly so quietly that even for Mum’s and my sensitive Hearing I could not Hear what He was saying. He was staring straight at the flat, as though He was staring straight at me. I hoped He couldn’t see me through the net curtains.
“The man,” I whisper just loud enough for my Mum to be able to Hear me, trying not to make Her panic like She normally doe’s because it normally is a bad thing when people come in the black jackets, but He is not wearing one today. From what I could see of him, 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 like upstairs although Mum said it was rude to call him fat, what had Mum called it. oh yeah, muscles. Mum had said it was called being like a solid wall of pure muscle for a guy like this one. very similar to the men in black jackets which always ended up being scary as they hurt Mum. the people in the 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 to me She was beautiful, her long blonde hair went down to Her waist now and She never had a hair out of place. My Mummy was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. People always were asking Her if She was a model, She was that pretty. She always laughed it off though 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 the small gap in the net curtains and said in a whisper.
“Go get your stuff Alysa we need to run.” that’s all it takes for me to react, I ran to the room that I share with Mum, I know what to do, we had left in hurry so many times with barely even a seconds warning. because no matter where we went someone had a problem with us. a lot of times 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. I’m just a little kid. I pulled out my bag from the wardrobe, I knew the stuff my Mum was talking about. It was pretty much my only belongings currently, as we often must leave in a rush, it was important not to have many possessions. All I owned was 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 pink backpack that had cute bunny rabbits on. I gave our room a quick look around to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything important, or that would indicate I was ever Here. I knew if I did leave anything, I would never see it again. It was 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. although it felt like forever, as my Heartbeat so fast from the fear of what was about to happen, what was Mum going to do. Mum is stood at the window sill, but She had Her bag of stuff on her back, She didn’t fear so much leaving Her clothes just mine. Mum 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. 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, She would go face them so I can escape. When I peeked out the curtain myself, I saw that the man had been joined by 2 others all wearing black and trying to hide in the shadows but blocking off the escape. One of them was in that dread black jacket that filled my nightmares He had ginger hair that I could see even in the dark. I could tell He was more ginger 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 through, but Mum was as if He was the most important one of the trio. 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 She could Hear and see. I once asked Her why She talked to Herself and said the name Beth, She said She sometimes felt like She could Hear Her old best friend in Her Head giving Her advice when She needed it the most. then She told me it wasn’t important and 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 always has time for me. She taught me everything I know 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 tried 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 and have cared. it is important to see the good and the bad and just be the best I can be. She does all my schooling at home, we both struggle on math, 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 daddy is. 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 it’s what they do with their lives. I looked at my Mum trying to be brave.
“just three of them. but more shall be Here soon.” She Mumbled under Her breath as quietly as She could for me to be able to Hear, but afraid their sensitive ears would pick Her words up. I knew it was Her warning to Herself and me, it was time to go. The question wasn’t if we were going, the question was if we would get away alive. Mum took Her eyes from the window and gently kissed me on the Head, She indicated for me to move as silently as I could. I did as She directed me to do as She leads me towards the window at the back of the building that was just big enough for me to slip out of. We had arranged all this in case of this exact situation. I knew Mum would go towards the threat, to make a distraction so I can get away. It was all part of Her plan. I slipped out the windows and into the shadows. from the shadows, I watched Her turn away from me and Head towards the threat. Why couldn’t She just come with me I didn’t know. I waited until I Heard the yelling. then I run for my life. All I could hope and pray for was that we would both live through this and that I would see my Mummy again.
As I ran down the streets of London, down busy and empty paths alike, no one stopped me, even though it must have worried the people I passed. a roughly 8-year old little girl, running down the road alone at this time of night. I ran as fast as my legs could carry me, not knowing if I was being chased, as far as I could tell from every time I looked back, no one was following me. but I kept checking to make sure. I was scared stiff. I ran to the tube station that was closest to our flat. jumping down the stairs, because I didn’t have the time to waste running down them, I also knew from my Mum’s training that I would be okay and land on my feet. I jumped on the first train that turned up, knowing it was safer to constantly change trains than stay still for even a moment. even if I was on the wrong train. To stay still could mean that someone could catch up with me and kill me. Mum had taught me to confuse my trail, ‘To get lost yourself is safer than staying still sometimes.’ was what She had told me, only a few weeks ago.
People were staring at me on the train, but I try to pretend that I don’t notice and don’t care. I try to pretend that I am not scared, that I’m not worrying about my Mummy that She didn’t get away that maybe this time we wouldn’t survive. I pull out one of my books from my backpack to try to look busy, to look like this wasn’t odd. to try to calm my fear down. I look at my German storybook that Mum tells me She and Her best friend enjoyed at my age and yes, I had enjoyed it, but now I really couldn’t read it. It wasn’t going to Help me calm down.
An old woman came and sat next to me. I forced myself to smile and pretend to be absorbed in my book. That her mere presence wasn’t frightening. I knew She was human. The whole time I had checked my surroundings but trying to look like I was reading, I had made sure everyone around me was human. The old woman was looking at me so worried.
“Have you lost your parents?” She asked me Her voice soft but thick with concern. I knew She was trying not to frighten me, but She was failing. I forced myself to look at Her, putting an innocent smile on my face. I could have pretended that I did not speak English, but that I do not think would have worked right now. with the amount of worry on Her face and in Her voice, I knew it would be best to reassure her that I was ok. even though I wasn’t.
“No mam my Mummy is meeting me at the other end,” I tell Her my words as innocent as I can make them sound, hoping what I say is the truth. Hopefully, Mummy would meet me at the other end. Hopefully, She would get away and we will live through this.
“Does She know you’re on a train yourself at this time of night?” She asks me worried. I nod. it doesn’t seem to Help relieve Her though, She was so nosy, or maybe She was just worried about the kid alone at 9.45 pm on a Thursday night. Deep down I knew I would not get away from this old woman for a while. Even if I did, She might kick up a fuss and that could lead them straight to me. Why did people always seem to worry and care about the little things? If only they knew what was really out there, a child riding the train alone would be the least of their worry’s, although that might make them worry more. That was when the train came into a station, I had a choice now, I could change trains, or I could stay. The woman went to say something to me, but I had an idea. I looked at the underground map above the door and counted the stops that I needed to go. I had got on the train at Saint James Park and I needed to get to Blackfriars. I knew it was four stops and I had done one already. This was going to be very risky as I had an audience, but there was an instant way to look less odd on this train and in London in general. The woman was still talking to me, but I hadn’t Heard what She was saying. I look up at Her then though and give Her one of my most innocent smiles, that Mum calls my I have a plan that is dangerous look, She says She knows the look well and still doesn’t know if She should fear the look, laugh or be proud. I think I learned it from Her. I looked at the old woman dead in the eyes, not blinking and making sure all She was focused on was me. sending out a slight bit of my hormones that I still didn’t really understand yet. whilst I have the lady’s full attention in the gentlest and calming almost sing-song voice as I can manage, I compel Her
“my parents are picking me up at Blackfriars, I am fine everything is fine. If you have a sweetie offer it to me” I say to Her, not breaking our eye contact. I need to see if it will work before, I try more. She blinks at me a few times, I think I failed until I see Her pupils dilate and the hazy look go into Her eyes, as if She is seeing the world, but not quite seeing it. Mum tells me it is like they are drunk, that it doesn’t hurt them. I had purposely looked in a drunk’s eyes after that to see if the look was the same, and yes, the look was slightly similar but not fully. The old Lady friendly smiles at me and actually pulls out a bag of toffee from Her handbag.
“Okay, sweetie would you like a toffee?” She asks me, her voice almost sing-song Herself now. I nod at Her,
“thank you,” I tell Her taking one. I know what I was doing was wrong, Mum has always told me that making people do what I want is 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 problem to use it for the odd bit of survival. But then I suppose it could start with me doing small things then go on to bigger? but I wasn’t like that. to completely confuse me Mum would tell me when to use it sometimes which never made sense to me. Although most the time it was wiping people’s memory’s that they had ever seen us. We must stay hidden I know that. Staying hidden means our survival and I choose to live. I am eight, I haven’t ever done anything wrong, that I know of, unless being born is a crime.
When new people get on the train, they just assume I am with the old woman. 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 convincing them I was with them as soon as I got on. it would have been a much better idea. Thankfully 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. When we get to Blackfriars after what feels like a lifetime, I turn to the old lady and look Her dead in the eyes, I know I still have Her in my hold. in my most sweet compelling voice, I used on Her earlier and know works I practically sing to Her.
“please come with me” She nods at me and I take her hand. we then leave the train hand in hand. it was that easy. Hopefully, it will remain like that.
We walk up the stairs at the station, me holding Her hand is if I really am just a little kid with Her grandma. How I wished my life was that easy. I pull her into a lady’s toilet because It would be wrong of me to keep Her with me. even If it makes the most sense.
“you will forget about me and go about your business.” I practically sing at Her when we get into the women’s toilet. She looks around the toilet puzzled not even seeing me. blinking Her eyes as I let my hold on Her go.
“why am I in Here?” She asks Herself wiping Her eyes and blinking. She looks at Her watch then makes a rush out of there. I wait a few minutes then I make my move, thankfully making it out with perfect timing to keep up with a man and women with a buggy, they look to be in a rush. I keep in pace with them, hoping that to anyone who spots me it will look like I’m with them but dawdling. they are in a huge rush. To get away I need to blend.
I went to where Mum and I had agreed to meet if the worst ever happened at this home. It was a hotel, I just hoped She would turn up. because I didn’t know what to do if She didn’t, She had never told me what to do if the worst happens. I went to the little hotel’s lobby and tried to blend in. I sat on the huge red chair with my backpack on the floor in front of me and kept looking at the check-in desk. as if I was waiting for my parents just to check-in. I sucked my hair, I know it’s a nervous habit and I really am trying to break it, but it’s not working, especially when I am scared. Mum doesn’t have to keep saying about cutting my hair, I honestly am trying to quit. Every time the hotel doors open, I look over, and it didn’t take Her long after my arrival. She walked in like She owned the place, a beautiful blonde woman that looks like She should be on a runway, not walking into this dingy hotel. Her loose blonde hair, not a single strand out-of-place sways as She walks. No one could tell just by looking at Her that She had just been in a huge fight. I could sense that Her magic was now weak. I could smell the blood on Her, I could see by the slight wobble in Her step that She was hurt, She was just trying to pretend that 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 to blend. She tells me that Herself so often. She walks straight up to me as I watch Her, not sure yet if I should make a move. Mum’s only focus is me, She looks me up and down as if checking to make sure I don’t have a single scratch on me. I see the relief on Her face when She has fully taken me in and knows I’m ok. When She reaches me, She takes hold of my hand, I put my backpack on with the other arm.
“where now Mum?” I quietly whisper to my Mum as She walks us out of the hotel. She gives me a 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,” She tells me as if this makes sense.
We flee the country as quickly as we can, moving about constantly.
This is how I spend most of my childhood, running from one country to another, fleeing constantly for our lives. Never getting to settle down. Most of the time we got away before they turned up, we never stayed in a place again for longer than 2 months. It wasn’t safe too. but one thing I never doubted was I was loved. Mum loved me.