Chapter Seven: No Matter What
I wiped my forehead after I finished half fixing the back wall of the building. It was falling apart. Bent on my knees, I heard a giggle on my right. I turned my head to see Zara with two of her youngest. Daniel and Evalyn playing around. I place my hand on top of my bent knees. Zara stops, her gaze landed on me. Our eyes connect and somehow I felt trapped. Then the spell is broken, when Daniel pulls her arm.
‘Is she okay with me being here? It’s been three days since I told her my profession.’ After I told her, she just stares, then turns her head and told me good night. Not sure how to take that as.
She ran around slowly, while Evalyn and Daniel chased her.
“Here,” I heard. I lifted my gaze to see Issac and Lilly. I straighten up, taking a glass of lemonade.
“Thanks,” I said, drinking it. I wipe my mouth with my forearm, while Lilly stares at me. I lower my arm.
“Yes?” I asked. Lilly shook her head, while Issac crosses his arms in front of his torso.
“Two things,” he started. I arched a brow.
“What?” I asked. Lily giggles, now making me feel uncomfortable.
“Why do you treat us well?” he suddenly asks. I cough out a dry laugh.
“You serious kid? Why shouldn’t I? You aren’t any different from any other people I met over the years.” I told him. Issac’s eyes scrunch.
“Is that so? Then second, why are you staying longer than the normal?” he asks. I stare at him, then at Lilly. Then I turn to look at Daniel and Evanly. Then lastly at Zara.
“Look like you all needed some help. This place is falling apart and you’re lucky that I know my way around repairing things.” I said. Lilly gets closer to me, her blue eyes scanning me.
“Do you like us?” she asks. I shrug.
“You are good kids. Compare to where I use to live, this place is peaceful.” I admit.
“Use to live?” I heard Issac say, but doesn’t ask.
“So is a yes?” Lilly asks. I stare at her then sigh.
“Yes, I like you all,” I said. Lilly suddenly claps. Issac then frowns.
“Can. Can you teach me how to fix things? I’m not very good. Zara is the one that normally fixes things around and I feel helpless. She always told us to not get worried, and have fun. She’s not getting younger as the years passes. Her hands are already injured up as it is.” Issac eyes sadness.
“Her hands are becoming disfigure.” Lilly frowns. I look down at my own hands, seeing how rough it is and has scars all over. From the years of fighting. Heck, my bones are starting to hurt me.
‘A woman hands suppose to be diligent and gentle. Like the other woman I met over the years. I guess Zara never pamper herself. She’s very different from the other woman.’
“I see if you want me to teach you, fine kid. I don’t mind. I really admire you two. You two will do anything for your mother.” I said. Lilly blushed and Issac turns his head.
“You have no idea how much we owe her. I doubt that we would be here if it wasn’t for her. Especially what she sacrificed for me.” Issac eyes filled with remorse. I arched a brow, now curious what he meant.
‘Sacrifice for him? Exactly what did that woman do?’
“Is not only us, but the rest of the kids. They love her to death.” Lilly added.
“That’s good to know. I’m not sure if your mother wants me around, though. I told her a secret and now she’s been avoiding me. So I may leave sooner than I thought. So in the meanwhile, I can teach you simple things.” I told Issac. Issac frowns at my words.
“Why? Wait, are you a con-artist or a thief?” he asks. I blinked, surprised by that.
“No,” I told him. He sighs.
“Those are what my mother hates the most, she’ll forgive you, but she won’t see you ever again. Oh, and a bad heart as well. You know, those who are not good hearted. Besides that, she doesn’t care what you did. While you don’t harm us, you’re good. Like I told you before, Zara is a very kind woman.” he said.
‘Then why she’s not spoken to me?’ now getting uncomfortable, I shuffle my feet.
“Issac, Lilly, wake up the others, is almost lunch.” I heard Zara call out. Both turn their heads and nodded. Issac turns to face me.
“Yes, mom!” Lilly yells, as I hand her back the glass. They both turn to face me.
“See you at lunch Ciel.” with that both left, heading for the building. I gave them a last look before returning to my work. Then, before I bent over, I caught Zara, which held Evalyn in her arms watching me. I stare back.
‘She really a strange woman. I hope I can keep my promise.’
“Ciel..” I heard behind me. I turned around to see Armando and Oscar walking towards me. I stop my walking and turned to face them. Oscar looks worried.
“Hello there, what’s wrong?” I asked. Oscar pushes his bottom lip out, then looks at me with wide eyes.
“Remember when I said Monster?” he suddenly asks. I blinked, but then I remember that he meant when his mom told him that I wasn’t a monster, after I woke up the first time I arrived here.
“Yes, I remember, what about it?” I asked. Armando’s eyes start to water, while Oscar as well.
“I did see a monster, I keep thinking about it, it wasn’t you.” He wipes his eyes with his arm. My heart tightens. Without thinking, I moved closer.
“Maybe it was my shadow or something. Remember, it was raining hard that day.” I told him, remembering the heavy downpour that came out of nowhere.
‘Right, it started to rain hard that night.’
“No, it wasn’t your shadow. It was looking back at me.” Oscar cries now tear running down his cheeks.
“It was scary. It had white eyes.” he burst out. My eyes widen in panic.
‘Was it the same thing I saw last time in the window?’
“Oi, Kid, don’t cry.” I move my arms and for some odd reason, I wrap my arms around him and pat his small back.
“It was scary. Mama was scared too. Even if she didn’t say so.” He hiccups as I felt his small hands grab my shirt. Armando goes up to me, starting to cry as well. I turn, looking at him.
“Why are you crying kid?” I asked him. Armando hiccups.
“Crying. Oscar,” he said, crying harder. My heart somehow broke at the crying of these two. Armando must be very sensitive to others. Once again, I wrap my arms around Armando now having two small boys crying.
“Is okay.” I tried my best to console them. Oscar cries harder.
“Is mama going to be okay? It was scary when she didn’t breath,” he asks.
“Yes kid, she’s going to be alright and the monster is gone,” I told them. Armando looks up at me with puffy red eyes.
“Prote..ct. Mama. Family? Ciel?” he asks in a stuttering way. I place my hand on the side of his head.
“You lot really has no one to protect you, besides your mother? Your mother has no one to protect her?” I said. Oscar nods.
“Please stay Ciel. I don’t want mama to be alone, and it’s nice to have someone that like us. We like you, Ciel. You’re nice to us and funny, and you protect mama well. Even if Mama doesn’t see it.” Oscar cries out. I frowned as I cleared my throat.
‘Well, I know how it feels to be alone. It seems I can’t help it. Plus, God wants me here for a reason.’
“I’ll try my best, okay. Didn’t I promise to protect your brothers and sisters as well your mom that night?” I said, trying to calm them down. Armando nods and Oscar as well.
“Remember not to say anything to her. It’s a secret.” I told them. They nodded, wrapping their small arms around me, giving me a gentle hug. I chuckled, rubbing their backs.
“So are we good?” I asked. They both nod and I move back to look at them.
“Armando, Ciel will protect us and mama. From meany Mrs. Morris and the monster. Don’t cry anymore. See, I told you Ciel like us, no matter what we have. Right, Ciel, we aren’t freaks like Mrs. Morris says, and the other adults say when they come to ad..ad... um, take us?”
‘Take us? Did he mean adopt?’
“Freaks? Not really, you all are as normal as any child.” I rub the back of my head.
“Really? Even if I’m blind with my right eye and Armando talks weird?” I blinked,
“What?” I asked, surprised by this new information. Armando nods, Oscar looks scared now.
“Please don’t hate us. I am blind in my right eye. My real mama left me because papa said they can’t keep boy that can’t see. I’m loosing my left seeing eye. Armando.. I don’t know what happened to him last year. I remember that Mama Zara brought him with blood all over him, and he recently started to talk, but he talks weird, but we don’t care.” he said. My heart leaps pained at this.
‘Rejects, those damn adults didn’t want their kids because they were not born normal? What the hell is wrong with them? They still human, innocent children.’
“Oh, well don’t worry, I see you all as normal as anyone. Trust me Oscar, Armando, I have seen worse. One time, I met a man with no arms or legs. Nicest man I ever met.” I told them. Oscar’s eyes widen.
“Really? Was he a reject as well?” he asks. I shook my head.
“No, his parents loved him. The point is, what I see in a person or a child is their hearts. The best of people is where they have love in their hearts and treats others with respect and love. You and your brothers and sisters have beautiful hearts. That’s why God gave you a good mama. He saw how much love everyone has. He felt sad that your real parents left, so he sent Zara to become your mother. Your mother has a huge heart to love all of you lot.” I tried my best to make them understand. Armando’s eyes widen, as well as Oscar.
“Mama Zara is the best in this world. We love her so much. Thank you Ciel.” he wraps his arms around me once again. I rub his back, as my eyes sadness.
‘Poor things, they aren’t as different from how I grew up.’
“Thank you for taking care of the children,” Zara bows in gratitude towards Mrs. Morris, that old hag just gave her a stern look.
“Just don’t be late.” Mrs. Morris bitterly spat, while she turns around and heads in. I am holding a bike in my hands, right next to the road, so Mrs. Morris won’t see me. I made sure that I won’t be spotted, thanks to Issac.We managed to find a blind spot yesterday afternoon, so Mrs. Morris won’t catch me.
Today marks three weeks since I enter the orphanage. Yet Zara has kept her distance. I’m not sure how to approach this, so I don’t push the conversation either. She finally reaches me and I start to push the bike. Not sure why we need it.
“Ciel.” finally she spoke, in that soft voice. I stop in my tracks, my heart leaps oddly.
It felt strange to hear her say my name. I turn to see her reach up to me and take the bike out of my hands.
“Can you ride a bike?” she suddenly asks. I shook my head.
“Yes, why?” I arched a brow. She looks nervous. I sigh now getting on my nerves, finally, I snap.
“Lady, let’s stop the awkwardness. Tell me if I go or stay? I know you feel not comfortable that I’m around your children, after learning the truth.” I finally said it.
Zara’s eyes widen.
“I was just wondering if you would like to ride the bike. I’m not sure if it’s comfortable since your leg is not healthy,” she says in a thick voice. I raised a brow not expecting that.
“I can, but I can’t push it too much,” I admit. She nods, patting the seat.
“Then use it. I’ll be fine with walking,” she said. I shook my head.
“Maybe later,” I admit. Zara nods gently, while she looks up at the morning sky. She rubs her arms, while we started to walk.
“I wish I knew how to drive. It would be faster to reach the city. It will take about an hour on foot.” She said. I shrug at her.
“Is okay, that’s why we came out early, so we can get home before nightfall,” I told her. She nods, turning to face me. Her expression turns weird and clears her throat.
“Sorry that I ignored you these last few days. I was pondering on what you told me.” She said.
“The awkwardness didn’t help. Look, I don’t like to beat around the bush. Just tell me straight up that you are uncomfortable about having me there, is all. I know my lifestyle isn’t suitable for your children. I’ll leave tomorrow before sun up.” I simply told her, while we pass some trees, and saw a beautiful river shining brightly on our right.
She gave me a side glance and shakes her head.
“What you told me didn’t make me uncomfortable, but made me very sad. I was pondering on how to approach you.” Once again she surprises me.
‘Sad? Why would it make her sad?’
“Approach me as you always do. I’m not something that you have to think about to approach or not.” I simply told her. She licked her lips, looking at me. Her caramel eyes shine with the sun. I felt my heart feel uncomfortable once again.
“Ciel,” she suddenly smiled, stretching her arm out, so I can shake it. I look down at it, noticing scratches in her hands, and old burn scars? Then back at her eyes.
“Yes?” I asked, confused. She licked her bottom lip, while her eyes soften, and that smile that seemed too bright up anyone’s bad mood.
‘She really has a beautiful smile. Especially when she laughs.’ Remembering when she laughed last time, was strange to see.
“I don’t care about your past. I want to welcome you officially to our family.” my eyes widen, my heart started to pound weird, as I stare at her.
‘Welcome to her family? Why? I didn’t do anything to deserve it. Hell, if she knew my dark secret, she would not be saying that.’
“Why?” I simply ask.
“God sometimes places people on the path they need to be. I think you’re my angel that God sent to us. Ciel. Even if you leave one day. I want you to leave with a happy heart, that you made a family, that accepted you, no matter how dark your past is.”
I’m not sure if I should be touched by this, but for the first time in my life, someone is willing to accept me as a part of a family.
“I’m no angel lady, I can assure you that.”