Winter night set in. The warming rays of the sun had disappeared and the temperatures had begun to drop into the negatives. My voice was hoarse from shouting all day, my legs threatened to buckle from exhaustion. The cold air stung my throat with each breath. If I had passed out right then and there on the street, I surely would have died from the frozen environment during the night.
I could have walked down any number of pathways, streets, or alleyways seeking refuge and escape from the cold. The one I chose, or rather the path fate guided me in was my saving grace, but also my ruination.
Voices could be heard in a lot just beyond the walkway I took. It was dark, only a lone lamp post lit the area poorly. Coming upon the groups of people in long black coats and hats, I huddled close to the wall and behind some debris. The figures scared me. I couldn't identify them readily because of how dark it was and the distance I was at, so at first I cowered from the unknown entities. The voices picked up and I recognized them soon enough as other people. If they wouldn't help me, then no one would. They were the only ones around at that time of night.
Run. Leave. Turn away. Go back.
My child's intuition for danger told me not to go near those people, but my curiosity and longing to receive help of any kind pushed me forward. I crept closer and closer until I could see one of the people in full view. A man old enough to pass for my grandfather stood in the center of a line of much shorter and younger men. He was unlike any of the others present. He had a back so straight that you would think his spine was replaced with a steel rod all the way through. His attire was professional and his hair well kept. There was a regal air about him, it was almost oppressive. I felt a significant pressure just looking at the man, like I would have to give payment just to gaze upon his figure.
Shouting began, loud, angered yelling. I didn't know what they were talking about, but I could tell they were upset with the stoic statue of a man in front of me. Even when they threatened him, his face showed neither fear nor arrogance. It just was. Emotionless, stern, experienced, uncaring. The man immediately accepted the situation as it was without so much as a wasted breath in considering what might happen. It was like the man was an existence that was separate from everyone in the area at the time. Not one of superiority, but one that had nothing to lose, only gain.
Ear shattering cracks and lights filled the air after a few more moments of heated yelling. I covered my delicate and cold ears as best as I could to block out the sounds. There were screams of a type I had never heard before. Cries that shoot me to my core as a child and terrified me just from hearing it. Bodies fell in different directions and the sounds of objects colliding with metal filled the air. All the while the older man remained completely still as the event unfolded.
One such flash of light emitted and soon after a buzzing at my left side, then my arm was filled with pain. I had fallen before. Scrapped my knee, but this was unlike anything that should be felt as a child. It was sudden. It stung. It burned. It throbbed. It hurt.
As I looked at the dark crimson rolling down my arm, at first it took a few seconds to register in my brain. I cried out, flipped on my back and rolled back and forth. I pressed my voice box to the utmost limit and tears rolled down my frozen face. My right arm had shifted into that of a blade once more. It was uncontrollable, I didn't mean to and it only served to bring more terror to my feeble heart. An emotional out burst from my body trying to make sense of a dangerous situation. The pain coursed through the entire left side of my body, like I had been set aflame.
The more I struggled, the more tired I grew. I just wanted it to end. I hadn't been a bad girl, why was this happening to me? My wails only grew more hysterical as the seconds droned on.
Shooting had died down and all that remained in the night air was my own despair. The older man took notice of my plight. I remember seeing his expression through my tear soaked eyes as I looked up to the shadow who loomed over me. It was unchanged, just as before. No sympathy behind his facade and no pity.
He reached down at me and in my fright I tried to swing my bladed arm at him. I didn't know if he intended to hurt me more or help, but regardless, I still waved the blade around wildly as if it would somehow help me. The light from the lamp went out of my vision as the man lowered him despite my thrashing. He had taken off his large coat and used it as a buffer to both wrap my body and keep me from striking him with the small scythe edge that my arm was.
I had been put into a vehicle, still crying loudly. Every movement shot more pain throughout my tiny body. By the time I was carried inside a building by him, my voice was raspy and almost non-existent. I couldn't spare anymore fluids to make tears. I was set on a table and the man took off my coat and tore my shirt to better see my arm which was completely dyed a red hue.
Without any sort of warning or pain reliever, he dug into my arm with a knife. I screamed even more. Each second felt like eternity. A child shouldn't be subjected to such injury nor crude treatment of such. I tried to pull my arm away, but I couldn't even make his own hand which held my arm down budge even slightly. A small lead lump was pulled from the upper part of my left arm.
Eventually, I had passed out. The pain I felt that night, the despair and loneliness during the day, my little body couldn't keep up anymore and shut down, putting faith that the person still hurting me would see to it that I woke up.
When I did, my arm was still ripe with pain. I was in a bit of pained daze when I looked around the room. My throat was too tired to make noise and my limbs were too sore to move. Even my eyes strained to look around as they begged for more rest. The old man was still awake, what time it was, I have no idea. He stopped doing whatever it was he was doing in the room when I glanced briefly at him. Still caring the same lethargic expression, his eyes briefly scouted over to me.
I looked at him for a time, stared at him blankly. He did return the gesture, returning to whatever task currently occupied him. I watched him. Silently thanked him with my attention. This person didn't ignore me, didn't abandon me when I needed help. Saved my life and cared for me.
He was my hero. My savior.