by Karah Kay Pay-an
“Stella, someone is following us,” a little girl whispered. The little girl walked alongside her older sister on the deserted narrow street.
“Stella, I think it’s a man,” the little girl insisted as she vigorously tagged her older sister’s navy blue shirt. Stella held the little girl’s right handfirmly and kept on walking. “I wonder why the man is wearing a hood, and a scarf covering his mouth. Do you know Stella?” asked the little girl.
“I have no idea Angela,” Stella replied as she looked down at her younger sister’s big brown eyes that stared at her.
“I think the man is holding a gun Stella!” Angela said when she glimpsed something shiny on the left side of the man’s shirt. She pulled her sister forward.
“Angela, listen to me. Walk faster, Okay?” Stella said as she followed her sister’s lead. Angela shook her head up and down and squeezed Stella’s hand tightly. Stella walked faster , leading Angela through the cold concrete narrow streets.
“Stella, why is he following us?” inquired Angela. Stella saw that Angela’s backpack was making Angela uncomfortable. The backpack kept hitting her back as she walked.
“I don’t know Angela,” Stella answered. Angela looked up to her sister looking confused.
Stella picked up Angela as they reached a crossroad. Stella turned left suddenly. “I don’t know,” Stella murmured to herself. Stella took a moment to make sure that Angela was snug in her arms before she ran full speed. She noticed that it was becoming dark and wondered what the time might be already.
“Stella, the man is still behind us,” Angela whispered in Stella’s ear. Stella looked over her shoulder. The man was indeed still behind them. She tightened her hold on Angela and ran faster. Seconds passed, then, minutes when Stella noticed that she was breathing faster and shallower. She thought about how she couldn’t keep on running. Suddenly, she caught sight of a narrow dark alley on her right. She didn’t know where the alley would lead to. She took another look over her shoulder and saw the hooded man. She took the risk. She turned right into the dark unknown alley.
“Stella, where are we?” questioned Angela as she looked around the damp smelly alley.
“Somewhere,” Stella answered. Stella didn’t know where they were but Stella knew that she could always find their way home, always.
“Somewhere?” asked Angela, and then tightened her hold on Stella’s neck.
“Do you trust me Angela?”
“Yes, but I’m scared.”
“Okay then, remember the last time we went to the large park to have a picnic while viewing cherry blossoms?” Stella ask ed with a hint of sadness in her voice.
“You mean the time when Mom was still with us?”
“Yes, that time.”
“Mom baked pecan pie that time. She also made some delicious sandwiches. I especially liked the chicken sandwich,” Angela licked her lips and continued, “I was sitting on Mom’s lap then while you and Dad were playing tag around the trees.” Angela closed her eyes as she recalled the events that day. Angela smiled.
“I remember that too, Dad trying to catch me between the cherry blossom trees but couldn’t. Mom giggling on the hill while watching us. You stuffing your mouth with those sandwiches. It was a great day.” Stella wiped a tear from her eyes as she tighten ed her hold on Angela.
“I miss Mom, Stella ,” Angela confessed teary eyed.
“Me too, Angela, I miss her too.”
“Stella, you’ll always be with me right, no matter what?”
“Always, no matter what happens.”
“I’m glad you’re my older sister.” Angela snuggled on Stella’s shoulder.
“I’m glad too, that you’re my little sister,” replied Stella with a smile on her face. The alley seemed to darken as they ran deeper into it. Angela looked up towards the sky. The sky was covered with dark ominous clouds. Suddenly, Angela felt something drop on her cheek. She touched her cheek with her tiny fingers. Then, the rain poured down heavily upon them. Angela was so surprised that she jolted.
“Are you alright Angela?”
“I’m fine. Just surprised.”
Angela looked over her sister’s shoulder and saw that the man was gaining on them. She also noticed that the hooded man pulled out something shiny . “Stella, it’s a gun! He’s holding a gun!” Angela shouted over the rain.
Stella nodded and once again tighten her hold on Angela. Stella was so thankful that she was wearing her sport shoes or else she would have been slipping and sliding across the alley’s slimy street floor. She was also glad that high school students went home earlier than elementary students for Angela would have been walking alone that day.
“Stella, He’s close!” screamed Angela as she saw the man running full speed towards them with his gun. Stella, even though her lungs were on fire and her legs felt like lead, gathered all her remaining strength and sprinted. Angela could see the end of the alley. Just a little bit more and they could be out of it. Angela decided that as soon as they reach ed the open street again she would scream with all her might to attract help.
Stella sprinted as fast as she could . Using all her strength and energy for that last burst of speed away from the hooded man. Then, her right foot slipped on rotten garbage just about three feet away from the open street. Stella heard Angela gasp. At that split moment before they were about to hit the street floor, Stella managed to twist her body so that she would be facing the sky. There was a loud thud. Stella avoided landing on Angela but fell hard on her back and hit her head. A few seconds passed as Stella laid unconscious. Angela tried to shake her sister awake to no avail.
Angela heard rushing footsteps towards them. Again, Angela tried to wake her sister. She could not help but turn around as she heard the footstep s behind her. Angela saw the hooded man a few steps away from them. She started to scream when the man with lightning speed was upon her and violently pulled her away from Stella. Stella at that moment regained her consciousness and immediately looked for Angela. She saw the hooded man pointing his pistol on Angela’s tiny forehead. Tears ran down Angela’s soft rosy cheeks and she whispered , “Stella.” Stella tried to stand right up but an excruciating pain shot up from her right ankle. She tried to hop but immediately lost her balance and fell down. She tried to crawl but it was too late; the man at that moment pulled the trigger.
“NO!” Stella screamed as she bolted awake. For a while she didn’t know where she was. Then, she realized that she was in her bed. Even so, she couldn’t shake the dread from her dream. She scrambled out of her bed and quickly went out her room into the hallway of their house. She quietly walked towards Angela’s room. She turned the knob silently and peeked through the small gap. Angela was sleeping soundly. Stella closed the door quietly and turned her back on it. She slumped down and put her hands on her face. “Thank God. Thank God, it’s only a dream,” she whispered as tears run down her face.