“Move it kid! We only have a short time before the police possibly figure out we are here.” The man who had pushed me up onto the roof said with a growl in his voice.
“I’m going.” I said as I crawled forward towards the trapdoor that was on the roof with me.
I was six years old at that point in time, scrawny as could be and small enough to get into any place that was possibly locked.
Which was exactly why I was with the people that were on the ground waiting for me to get inside. It wasn’t my choice to be with them.
If fact I would have taken going back to the orphanage over staying with them, but no matter what I couldn’t find a way to get free from there.
Besides, I was only six, how was I supposed to take care of myself if I had no one left to go to? That fact was what kept me trapped with those people.
My little body slipped though the trapdoor and I landed hard on the tiled floor of a closed grocery store. For a moment I just laid on the cold floor trying to regain my senses and breath.
The air hadn’t fully returned to my lungs when I heard the voice of the man again.
“What are you doing?!” It was always a surprise that the group had never been caught on account of the guy’s shouting which seemed to be his normal voice. “This is no time to be taking a nap!”
Groaning, I stood up and limped slightly to the door. The lock was easy for my tiny hands to unlock and soon the door stood open with the man and his three other accomplices beside him.
“Ten minutes everyone. If we are here longer than that the police will catch wind of us. We need to disappear before then."
The three nodded and took off into the store, each with their own mission. “Watch the door, kid. If anyone comes by make sure to alert everyone."
He moved off quickly, his corrupted soul already directed towards the loot that he was sure to gain from this little endeavor.
“I has a name.” I mumbled to myself as he disappeared in the direction of the cash registers. Ever since they had taken me from the orphanage I had been referred to as kid instead of my name.
With every passing day I missed the nice Nuns that had taken care of the kids at the orphanage.
People always had a stereotype for nuns but I had never found them to be true because the ones I had known had only cared for us to the best of their abilities.
They had to be strict sometimes, but they were the closest things I had had to mothers. In that moment I missed them more than ever.
A couple minutes passed and I absentmindedly glanced out the door, not really into the whole keep an eye on our backs thing.
They would have gotten rid of me if I had proved to be unhelpful with anything they wanted to do. Then I spotted something outside near the road. More like someone.
The person was just a passerby, but they had noticed the movement going on inside the store.
I knew that meant that they would soon call the police which would get them here quicker than any of the thieves that kidnapped me could think of.
Then the words that the leader had often said to me came back. “If you fall behind, you get left behind.” This was my chance to get away. If they fell behind then they would be left behind.
They might finally be taken in and I could find my way back to the orphanage and maybe finally get adopted by a nice, loving family.
I had dreamed of having a family for so long and it seemed closer than ever, if only I could slip away.
Instead of warning them I stepped out of the store and slipped around closer to the pedestrian. He seemed to be stunned by what he was seeing as I hid in the bushes close to him.
Then I saw him take out his phone and dial. I didn’t stay around to hear what he was saying.
I just knew that the police would be there sooner than expected and I couldn’t be found in the same area as the robbers.
I made it to the rear of the building when I spotted a trail that cut through the woods. My feet moved as fast as they could, the trees enveloping me somewhat from view.
I didn’t know where the trail lead, but I knew that if I wanted to find my way out I would have to stay on the trail. At the same time fear prickled through me.
What if I was found? What if the police found me? I didn’t know what they might do to me if they linked me to the break in and robbery. Then I heard sirens in the distance.
They were at the store, which meant that the group that had taken me must be surrounded. But it also worried me because that meant that the police were close to me as well.
I tried to push myself faster as the worst possible scenario played out in my young head: sniffer dogs finding my trail and then finding me,
then just about tearing me limb from limb as I cried out for help.
Just as I was reaching a full panic someone I hadn’t taken notice of reached out of the dense trees around me and pulled me into the enclosed cover of the trees and bushes.
I wanted to scream, but a hand covered my mouth and I couldn’t get free of the grip they had around my waist. “Hey, I’m not here to hurt you. Just be quiet for a moment so they can’t find you."
The voice stunned me for a moment. It wasn’t the words, but the tone that he was using. It wasn’t the one I was used to.
There was no verbal abuse being thrown at me, instead it sounded like unique care and concern.
I was still scared, but I managed to calm down a little with the knowledge that maybe I wasn’t going to be caught and that I wouldn’t have to go back to those criminals.
“Okay, I’m going to release you. Don’t make any noises or we might be caught up with what is happening down there as well.”
He let me go and I stumbled away stunned that someone was out here with me that wasn’t like the ones I had gotten to know.
I turned around to see who I was with and he looked nothing like the man that could never stop shouting at me.
He was tall, thin with broad shoulders, and his expression was nothing like what I had seen in the past few months.
“What’s your name?” He had knelt down to my level so that I could actually see his face when he talked to me.
“Nate.” I stammered, surprised that someone was actually interested in who I was and not just calling me kid because they didn’t care. “I’m six” I said holding up that amount of fingers.
“Where’s your family? Is that them down there?”
I shook my head as I warmed up to the guy. “They not family. They took me from St. Mary’s at night three months ago. I think that long."
I said and looked around as if that might help me remember how long it had been since I had been in the safety of Saint Mary’s walls.
The man looked worried for a moment, but then he smiled and held out his hand as he stood up. “Let’s go visit Saint Mary’s then and get you away from those people."
I wasn’t totally sure what would happen, yet I did know that my life would be a lot better if I went with the man. I reached up and took his hand as relief flooded through me.
I was finally going to be free of those people.
He took me back to Saint Mary’s where he told Sister Anne what had happened and how he had found me.
Everyone was so relieved to see me back in one piece and I was relieved to be back to the safety that I knew. The next day the man came back and when I saw him I raced out to meet him. “You back!”
“Of course. I came back to see how you are doing.” He said and smiled at me.
“Much better.” I said. “So much better. Sister Anne said I was lucky that you found me.”
Then he knelt down in front of me and asked me a question that I never expected to hear so soon. “Nate, would you like to come home with me? Want to be a part of my family?”
I was nodding before I even could realize it. “You want to be my dad? A family? Yes!” Then I ran forward and hugged him.
For once something was going right and in that moment I felt like the luckiest kid in the world. My dream of having a family came true.