The door closed. The clunk echoed down the silent corridor. She cringed but no one came. The child in her arms stirred. Nina hugged him tighter. His head lolled against her neck and his breathing deepened. She wished he wasn’t so heavy. Her own childish arms were already tiring. A stream of light flashed through a curtainless window. She stopped still, breath held. A car pulled into the car park out back. Nina froze, unsure whether to run or hide. Footsteps clicked up the path by the window. She flattened herself against the wall. The figure went past. Damn it, Miss Dawson was supposed to be out for the evening. Deciding there was no turning back Nina continued to creep towards their way out. Rooms lined the corridor. The sounds of children turning or snoring leaked from inside. Behind her a key turned in the front door and Nina knew in a matter of seconds they would no longer be alone. She began to run. The child woke,
“Mummy,” he said.
“Shhh, it’s only me,” she whispered as quietly as she could. He lifted his head looked up.
“Yes. We’re getting out of here, now hush,” she hissed franticly.
Her sneakers were beginning to squeak on the freshly polished floor and her lungs felt as heavy as Henry did in her arms.
“Is mummy back? Is she coming for us?” he asked as quietly as a three year old can.
Nina’s heart clenched with sadness at the thought of their mothers warm face and soft brown eyes.
“We’re going to Australia,” she replied as they rounded the corner into the refectory. She could sense freedom as they reached the kitchen door. Setting Henry down, she ferreted in her jeans pocket and extracted the stolen key. It slid cleanly into the lock and with nervous hands she turned it.
“Is that where heaven is?” Henry asked with wide round eyes. Salty water blurred her vision and spilled down her cheeks. Fighting the urge to sob, she pushed down the handle and gently shoved. As the door opened, fresh summer air and hope flooded in.
“No Henry, we’re going to find Dad.”
“And how do you plan to get there?” The voice behind them sent Nina’s heart plummeting into her stomach. She wished she were older and tougher. “Social services will be here in the morning. I really should report this.” Henry threw his arms around Nina legs. “Just get back to bed the pair of you.” Their jailer shook her head and sighed. Nina drew back her shoulders, grabbed her brother’s hand and stalked away. Henry began to sniffle as his feet tripped along at her side.
“If we can just find Dad then he’ll give us a real home,” Nina told him defiantly.
Behind them, the door closed.
(c) 2012 Liah S Thorley, all rights reserved