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 νέα ζωή (New Life)

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Zoe

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Posts : 502
Join date : 2013-09-02
Location : Nacogdoches, TX

PostSubject: νέα ζωή (New Life)   Tue 03 Sep 2013, 23:11

Ryan O’Toole sat meditating over a new piece of equipment in one of the side rooms on the second story of his octagonal house.  He was attempting to create a rope that would never knot or tangle, that could be controlled with a single touch. The rope hovered a few inches above the table, suspended in a aether field as he attempted to harmonize the metal fibers interwoven with the rope. All of a sudden the length of hemp and iron dropped to the table as the brown-haired mage was struck by a distinct feeling that something was amiss in his home.  

Not prone to fear or panic, O’Toole walked quietly to the door and paused, listening for any noise outside the closed door of his room.  He heard two separate sets of footfalls scurry down the stairs and slam into the front door, which seemed to have shut and locked of its own free will.  

As he walked to the top of the stairs, he saw two boys clawing frantically at the front door, having dropped their stolen cash in their frenzy to escape.  O’Toole summoned the money to himself with a whisper and shoved the boys out the reopened door.  Neither one turned to retrieve their booty, but simple ran as fast as their stubby legs could carry them.  

O’Toole laughed to himself as he shook his head.  

“Seems the thieving types are getting younger and younger each day.  ‘Tis a pity their parents never taught them better.  Isn’t that right, Rudy?”

A bright red cardinal cocked its head in response, as the scientist walked past its cage and back up the stairs.  He would soon realize that he was still not alone in his house.  

Upon entering the room with the safe, his eye fell upon a most unexpected sight.  A young girl in a worn out shirt, a torn pair of pants and socked feet lay quietly on the floor.  Clearly, she was the one who had cracked his safe, triggering his safeguard, a steel snare he had cunningly built into the floorboards.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! She’s just a child!

As he took another step forward into the room, the floor creaked beneath his boot.  The girl sat up as best she could and looked straight at him.  Her eyes were red from crying and filled with fear as they darted back and forth between his face and the cash in his hands.  

“Please don’t hurt me, mister,” she squeaked out in barely a whisper.  “We was only doing as we was told.  We was hungry, mister.  Please, mister, I’m so sorry.”

Though not typically one with a heart for strays, there was something different about this girl that O’Toole found captivating.  He bent down and withdrew a small, ornate key and disengaged the hidden locking mechanism on the snare. As he gestured to a pair of beige arm chairs facing one another on an adjacent wall.  
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When the man entered the room, Raven’s heart quickened.  At the sight of the cash in his hands, her pulse spiked in fear, wondering what had happened to the twins.  She pleaded with him not to hurt her, and with a mumble he broke the spider’s web and indicated a couple of chairs for her to sit in.  

As her leg broke free, her first instinct was to run.  Unfortunately, her eyes gave away her intent and the door slowly closed on its own.  The room had no windows and was lit by a single lantern hanging near the chairs.  She had no choice but to join the quiet man.  She grabbed her boots and put them beside her chair as she sat with her knees bent and her arms hugging her legs in an attempt to shield herself from the eerie feelings that had accompanied the man into the room.  

The man himself was fairly unassuming.  He was of average height and build with brown hair that had clearly not been cut or washed in quite some time.  He peered at her over small, round spectacles which sat upon the narrow bridge of his pointy nose.  His eyes were an astonishing blue against his otherwise plain features and were narrowed at her inquisitively.  

“How did you get in here, child?”

Raven saw no reason not to be truthful with the man who currently held her captive.  She saw no merit in being deceitful and did not believe now was the time to experiment with such a trait.  

“Up the stairs, through the front door, and up the stairs again, mister.”

She avoided his gaze as his blue eyes unnerved her, choosing instead to fix her eyes on the floor just in front of her chair.  

“The outside stairs were raised, the door was triply locked, and the inside stairs were secure as well.  It would have been nearly impossible for you to enter that way.  Now this time tell me the truth,” O’Toole replied without breaking stride.  

Raven’s eyes darted up from the ground, offended for two reasons.  First, that he did not believe she was being honest.  Second, that he did not believe she was capable of getting into his house.  

“Honest, mister!  I used my spurs and boots to climb up to the top of the stairs.  Then I looked real careful like at each of your three locks and opened ‘em without any trouble.  They just made sense to me.  Smalls almost tripped your inside stairs alarm, but I saw it just in time.  Then when I got up here, your safe practically opened itself for me.”

O’Toole’s jaw dropped only half an inch, but it was clear that he was quite impressed by the girl’s abilities.  He wondered what had to have happened in a girl’s past to make her so skilled in the art of breaking and entering.  

“What’s your name, child?”

“The boys call me Raven,” she said softly.  

“And what do your parents call you?”

The girl became silent as she yet again made eye contact with the floor.  

“They don’t call me nothin’, mister, because I don’t have none.”

She appeared both sad and embarrassed by her confession.  

“I’m sorry to hear that, child.”  O’Toole maintained a stoic disposition.  

“It’s okay, mister.  I’m sure they had a real good reason for leaving me, ‘less they died, then that’s not real good for them or for me, huh?”

Before he could respond, she pulled a small necklace out of her shirt.  It was a simple circle with the following inscription: ζωή.  

“This is all I had with me when the boys found me a few years ago.  Looks like somethin’s writ on it, but we never did know what it was.”

She hesitated for a moment before slipping the necklace off and holding it out to him.  

“You look real smart, mister.  Do you know what it means?”

At her observation a small smile crept onto his face.  He took the necklace from her, turning it in the light to get a better view of the letters engraved on what felt to be a piece of iron.  

“Ah, yes.  These letters are from the Greek alphabet.  Let’s see…zeta…omega…eta… Zoe.  It says ‘Zoe,’ which is the Greek word for life.”

“Zoe,” she said slowly, letting the new sounds dance on her vocal chords.

“Yes, Zoe.  Perhaps that is your name, child.”

Her eyes widened at the thought of putting the first piece into the puzzle of her past.  Her postured straightened as she dropped her legs toward the floor, leaning excitedly toward O’Toole.  

“Really, mister?  You think so?  My name could be Zoe?  Life?  I like that lots more than Raven.  Those black birds scare me, ya know?”

He laughed heartily and nodded his head.  

“Yes, child, I think you are more a Zoe than a Raven.”

She beamed with the affirmation of her new name.  O’Toole’s face immediately grew sullen, however, as he glanced toward the cash sitting on the floor beside his chair.  

“Now for the matter of my stolen property.  It seems not all of it was taken by the two boys I dealt with earlier.  Though I have retrieved my money, I am missing a particular family heirloom.”

Raven – or rather Zoe – reached into her pocket and shamefully returned the watch to the man sitting before her.  

“I’m really sorry, mister.  We was just-”

“Hungry, I know.  But there are other ways to find food, Zoe, than stealing a man’s prized possession.”

“It’s the only way I know how,” she whispered meekly.

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At her confession O’Toole felt his heart break in two.  Having been raised by a fairly well off family, he could not imagine the life of a child living on the streets of such a town as Galveston.  He was honestly surprised she had lasted this long.  There was certainly something different about her, but it wasn't going to come to light by living on the streets.  

“Zoe, despite your hunger, what you did today was wrong.  You broke into my house and took my things and for that there must be consequences.”

Tears welled up on the edge of Zoe’s eyes as O’Toole continued his monologue.  

“However, I am willing to make a deal with you on one condition: that you never steal again.”

“But, mister, we’ll starve if we don’t steal nothin’!  We ain’t got no money otherwise.  Ain’t nobody gonna pay a kid to do nothin’ in this town.”

O’Toole raised a hand to silence her.  

“I would like to adopt you as my daughter if you promise never to steal again.  I will feed you, clothe you, provide a place for you to live, send you to school, teach you how to keep house, and help you become a proper lady in society.”

Zoe’s eyes lit up as she sat up straight in her chair, hope and anticipation plastered on her young face.

“You mean, I could live here in your fancy house with all your interesting machines and things?  I wouldn’t have to take no more money from folks’ houses or nothin’?  I just gotta promise not to steal no more?”

“Yes, Zoe.  You can live here and have everything you need and more.  I could even let you help me with the interesting machines if you’d like.”

Zoe was nearly jumping up and down in her chair.  She lept from her seat and hugged O’Toole’s neck.

“Oh, thank you, mister!  I promise I won’t steal nothin’ no more.  I’ll be real helpful like and do everything you ask!”

O’Toole smiled as a single tear snuck down his face and dropped onto Zoe’s raven-black hair.
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