The Honourable Thief
“Beauty is found behind words. But it depends on how it is received. One might take it as a compliment while another might take it as an insult.” Vivie summarised as she pet the sobbing girl’s head, trying to comfort her.
The other children who were playing around, were making of her, and there were a few reasons why. From her comical name that her long-lost parents had bestowed upon her, to her scrawny looks that was a result of her current situation that no one knew about.
Vivie sighed. The one thing she couldn’t do anything about, as she knew the situation all too well. Why? Because she shared the same life. She had experienced it more than the little one and was now one step closer to her promised freedom.
The girl hugged her older sister and cried her eyes out, that was the only way she knew how to vent out her helpless frustration, and it managed to her calm down after a while as she fell asleep in that warm welcoming embrace.
Vivie let the girl do as she wanted, as she was the only child left. The others had gone flocking back to their small common humble abode they knew as home. The eldest carried the child back to the others and their care taker smiled as she put the child to bed.
The care taker, Mrs Nana, was an old woman, disowned by her own children. So, in turn, she opened a small orphanage so she didn’t have to be alone any more, especially after her husband had long passed away. Considering she was only woman in charge with nothing to fund a working home, the house was in a dilapidated condition, breaking at the seams. The only glue that kept it together is the innocent happiness that the children carried, despite the harsh conditions of life.
The only privilege the children were given to is a place to stay, three hot meals, abundance of friends and a slight feeling of belonging. It’s true, that they don’t have enough to go to amusement parks or the movies or even to school. Hell, they didn’t even have enough to buy them some new clothes, forget any other luxury. All they had was each other and their genuine happiness they got from knowing they were cared for. Something that their own parents couldn’t do.
Even though, knowing that, Mrs Nana tries her best everyday to get something to get them all by arranging small events which includes the fun that her little darlings could also enjoy. If only people liked to see something like that. Only the unlucky passers were entertained a little and it was the sole way they could live by.
Vivie was a part of the little crew. In fact, she was one proud child, soon going to graduate from the orphanage in half a year as she was the oldest as well as the only educated child among them. In those terms, she was slightly luckier than the others. She turned into an orphan in her early teens while the other kids were forced in their younger years. That meant that Vivie was the only one who knew about the outside world and their harsh realities. The others were still wrapped up in innocence.
Being the eldest meant that Vivie had to carry some of the responsibilities towards the other children. It wasn’t forced upon her but she took it gladly. Just glad to be of some help. She often did her chores and took upon other things that would help for the good of the kids. Something that would bring smiles on their faces.
One of those would be the classes she held for the younger ones, telling them beautiful stories and singing in her raw melodious voice, letting her tales spin in a new fantasy world, as she gave her listeners the chance to escape from reality. And the best part of it, they truly enjoyed those moments with rapt attention. It took place in the park, capturing the interests of the people around, as well as earning something to fill their tummies.
But such amazing times need some sort of preparation beforehand and considering there was a shortage of cash in hand, it truly makes one wonder how those smiles were achieved. After all, isn’t money everything?
Every time one of those intelligent eyes asked Vivie where she got the books from, she would smile and ask them not to worry about it. After all, it was her responsibility. But only she knew the dark truth. Not even Mrs Nana knew. For she would be severely reprimanded. So she wasn’t going to tell anyone and she as determined to keep that façade on.
But into the light of the event, every weekend, the thin girl would sneak into the nearest book stores and raid a few things she would need for her classes. In return, she would clean the place and even leave a bit of her earnings and sneak back out with the items. Each time, it would be a different store and she would hear about the burglary and feel a sense of bittersweet guilt. But not once was she caught, by anyone. This was her burden alone.
Every time she thought about it, had to remind herself that it wasn’t just for her. It was for the children. They truly needed their escape. It was the only way.
And so she made a promise to herself. That she would confess, if she were ever caught, or if the guilt had over ridden her every move, the moment she stepped out of her haven and into the stark, cruel world. But for now, let it go on. That façade. For the sake of the smiles on her family’s face.
(This was submitted to Cult Altered for an Independence Day Competition under the title of ‘The Honourable Thief’ and was short listed as one of the top five.)