Near 500 words: The children

Nicole ran. She remembered the day she ran. It was the Day of the Rainbow. Karl, her brother, ran with her. They left their father’s house and ran from the fear. Their father had big hands and he knew how to use them. Especially on Nicole.

She was eight and Karl was ten and they ran. Their father followed them until he lost their trail. Then they walked. They did not know where they were going. Only they knew they were not going back. They would rather die first. So they walked.

When you are that young, you have no place to go. No refuge. They must have walked for weeks. They slept underneath things and ate the food they found in the trash. By this time, they were dirty and unrecognizable as the children of their father.

Summer was getting close to coming to an end. Autumn was closing in and soon it was to be chilly. And then the snow and winter. They had to find a place of refuge. But where.

They came to a forest. It was a large forest. Perhaps they might find a cave where they could stay to keep warm.

In that cave, the woodsman found them. Asleep. He was a big fella and he was handsome and was gentle. He had lived in the forest all his life long.

“My name is Theodore. My friends call me Theo,” he said when the children woke up. “What are your names?”

The children looked at him with frightened eyes. He could not see those eyes but he knew they must be frightened.

“Do you wish me to leave?” he asked.

“Y-y-yes,” Karl answered.

“I can do that. And you can stay here. I can bring you cakes if you are hungry. My wife makes very good cakes. But what are you going to do when the witch comes?”

“There are no witches,” Karl said.

“Oh, but there are. The one this cave belongs to is disguised as a bear. But she is a witch. And she likes the taste of children with her gingerbread.”

“Wake up, wake up,” Karl shouted to Nicole. “We have to leave. There is a bear coming.”

“Would you like to come home with me? I have food, a bath and a warm bed. And a wife who would love to meet you. If you are not happy there, you can be on your way.”

Karl and Nicole were not sure whether to take the offer. Theo might be just like their father. All smooth, then like a volcano, bursting with anger. Finally, the hunger got the best of them. “We will go with you,” Karl said. “But we will not stay.”

“At least, stay for the winter. Once the spring comes, go your own way.”

They stayed for the winter and then the summer to come and then another winter and another summer. Theo and his wife loved the two children as if they were their own. Finally, one morning Nicole told the story of their father’s anger. It was not a pleasant story to tell by a fire. But she told it anyway. Theo and Margaret, his wife, were happy the children trusted them enough to tell their story. That was the day a giant rainbow appeared through their window.

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