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Writing Resources from Fifteen Minutes of Fiction

The Little Vagabonds

by Scott

IMPORTANT NOTE: This is a piece of a longer writing project. You can view the entire project here: The Little Vagabonds

The following is a piece of writing submitted by Scott on December 31, 2010
"Yet another chapter in the saga of Charlie and Mira"

The Invitation

Mira giggled as she bounced on her daddy's lap. Charlie knew she didn't understand the song, she was only just over a year old, but the sight of Charlie and Mom in reindeer antlers and fake red noses was enough to make anyone laugh!

Charlie and Mom had just finished singing, "I'm Gettin' Nuttin' for Christmas", complete with exaggerated movements. Mom was leading the Christmas concert at school this year, so Charlie had a line in the song. He was the one who filled the sugar bowl with ants, and somebody snitched on him!

The lights on the tree behind Charlie and mom danced in Mira's eyes. Mom hugged Charlie and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek. To Charlie, this was the way that life would always be. His family was around him and he was so happy.

"Hey, kiddo, great job!" beamed his dad.

"Hey, kiddo. Wake up." A gentle hand shook his shoulder. Charlie's eyes opened slowly, and for an instant, for one fleeting, happy instant, Charlie almost expected it to be Christmas day, with Mom and Dad smiling over him.

As his senses came back to him, Charlie remembered the little alleyway. While he dozed, the sun had moved and now the bricks felt cold and harsh against his body. Scared, Charlie's eyes snapped to where his sister was still nestled up against him. She was awake, and her eyes showed a sign of fear.

"Don't be scared," the man before him said, softly. "It's Charlie, isn't it? And Mira?"

A flash of recognition sparked in Charlie's eyes. Before him was the manager from The Better Baguette, where he and Mira had searched through the dumpster this very morning.

The man sat back on the cold ground, reached behind him and brought forward a small bag bearing the restaurant's logo.

"Please, don't run. I saw your pictures on the news. They have been looking for you both. I'm... I'm sorry about your dad. I lost my father when I was young, too. I can't imagine what it must be like to lose both your parents. "

He reached into the bag and brought out two cartons of chocolate milk and two warm cheese danishes.

"I thought maybe this would taste better than the stuff from the dumpster."

Mr. Mittens, the small cat that Mira had adopted- or maybe the cat had adopted them- stepped forward to smell the offering of food. The man, Charlie remembered now his name was TJ, pulled a piece of danish apart and held it out for the kitten. The cat licked the small piece, then grabbed it from the man's fingers and ran back to Mira.

Charlie looked at Mira and found her looking back. Her eyes asked him the question he asked himself: can we trust him?

Charlie reached out warily and took the danishes and chocolate milk. Silently, and not taking his eyes off the stranger in front of him, he handed one of each to Mira.

"My name is TJ," the man said. He looked away thoughtfully, as though deciding what he would say next. "I spent some time on the streets, too. That was how I found you. Well," he chuckled, "I had to look down a few alleys, but, here you are."

"What do you want from us?" asked Charlie. "Mira and I are fine on our own."

"I just want to help. My wife and I have watched your story and have prayed for you each night. What happened to you, to the both of you, no kid should ever have to go through that." The man's soft blue eyes misted over. Charlie found himself desperately wanting to believe him.

"I won't leave Mira. I promised." Charlie made his voice as hard and defiant as he could.

"I'm not asking you to leave her. I wouldn't dream of splitting you two up. Let me make you a deal. Come with me, meet my wife. Let us give you a decent meal and a warm, dry place to sleep tonight. No strings attached. If, in the morning, you don't want to stay, you can leave."

"Can we bring Mr. Mittens?" Mira asked eagerly.

"Mira, hush!" said Charlie.

"So, Mr. Mittens it is. I was wondering what to name the little fellow." He reached out a hand toward the cat. Mr. Mittens ran over to TJ and allowed the young man to pat him roughly. The cat's purr could be heard over the din of the city.

"Of course you can. We love cats. In fact, I've been feeding this guy some scraps from the store. Ssshh, don't tell anyone!" He smiled broadly.

"Our parents told us never to trust strangers." Charlie said, still eying the man with caution.

"And they are right, you shouldn't." He leaned back with a mischievous gleam in his eye. "Tell you what, I don't live far from here. I'm going to head home now, my wife is waiting for me. If you two should, say, happen to follow me, and if you should decide to come for a visit, we would welcome you graciously. The choice is up to you."

The man smiled one last smile then rose and walked slowly away, whistling. Mira and Charlie looked at each other.

"What do you think, Punk? Do we trust him?"

"Mr. Mittens likes him." Mira replied. "Cats always know who is good."

Charlie thought for a moment, watching the man slowly disappear around the corner. What was he thinking? Was he seriously considering this? Mira was certainly convinced, then again, so was the silly cat!

"Okay, we go, we see what the house is like and what the lady is like. If I think for a second that something is not right, we're outta there. Got it?"

"Got it!" Mira held out her hand and Charlie grasped it tightly.

"Okay, Punk. Let's do this."

Hand-in-hand, the two children walked in the direction TJ had gone. As they rounded the corner, they caught site of him a few stores down. He had been looking into an old bookshop. Charlie saw the man steal a glance his way before continuing along. Charlie knew the man had been waiting for them. He wondered again what would happen when they got to the house. Secretly, in some deep place, he hoped that he and Mira would find a place to finally rest.

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