Blue(10) by Danielle Steel

“I’m Ginny Carter,” she said, and they shook hands. “How old are you?” He looked at her suspiciously then, suddenly afraid.

“Sixteen,” he said instantly, and she could tell that he was lying. He was obviously worried that she’d report him to Child Protective Services. At sixteen he would have been exempt.

“Do you want to go to a shelter tonight? It must be cold out there in the shed. I could drop you off, if you want,” she offered. He shook his head vehemently in answer and drank half the Coke, having already finished both burgers and most of the fries. He was starving and ate as though he hadn’t had a meal in a while.

“I’m fine in the shed. I have a sleeping bag. It’s pretty warm.” She considered that unlikely but didn’t challenge him.

“How long have you been out on your own?” She wondered if he was a runaway someone might be looking for. But if so, whatever he had run away from had to be worse than what he was experiencing on the streets, or he’d have gone home.

“A few months,” he answered vaguely. “I don’t like shelters. There’s a lot of crazy people in them. They beat you up, or rob you, and a lot of them are sick,” he said knowledgeably. “It’s safer where I am.” She nodded, willing to believe it—she’d heard stories about violence in shelters before. “Thank you for dinner,” he said, smiling at her, looking more than ever like a little boy, and nowhere near sixteen. She could see that he didn’t shave yet, and despite the life he was leading, he had the appearance of a child, a very wise child, but still a child.

“Would you like something else?” she offered, and he shook his head, and they left the table. She stopped to order two more Big Macs and fries and another Coke, and handed the bag to him when she got it, to take with him. “In case you get hungry later.” His eyes were wide with gratitude as he took the bag, and they left the restaurant and walked back the way they had come, hurrying along the street in the cold. It was still snowing, but the wind had died down. They got back to the shed quickly, and when they did, she unzipped her parka, took it off, and handed it to him.

“I can’t take that from you,” he objected, trying to refuse it, but she gave it to him, standing in her two thick sweaters in the falling snow. It was freezing, and she could only imagine how cold he was in the thin T-shirt and nothing else.

“I’ve got another one at home,” she reassured him, and he slowly slipped it on gratefully. It was thickly padded and insulated and he smiled as he looked at her.

“Thank you, for dinner and the coat.”

“What are you doing tomorrow?” she asked him, as though he had a heavy social schedule, and wasn’t just trying to stay alive in the shed, and she wondered if he really did have a sleeping bag as he claimed. “Can I interest you in breakfast? Or drop something off for you?”

“I’ll be around. I usually go out in the daytime, so they don’t see me here.”

“I could come by in the morning, if you want,” she suggested, and he nodded, with a puzzled look.

“Why are you doing this? Why do you care?” he asked, looking suspicious again.

“Why not? See you tomorrow, Blue.” She smiled, and waved. She walked away and headed toward her apartment, as he disappeared into the shed, wearing her parka and carrying the extra meal she had given him. She had completely forgotten about wanting to jump into the river. And as she thought about it, it no longer made sense. She was smiling to herself as she walked along in the snow. It had been a strange encounter. She wondered if he’d be there when she came back the next day. She realized that he might not be, but whether he was or was not, he had given her far more than she had given him. She had given him a parka and dinner, and she knew with absolute certainty that were it not for Blue suddenly appearing out of nowhere, she would have been at the bottom of the river by now. And as she walked into her apartment, she realized with a shiver how close she had come to ending her life that night. It had seemed so easy for a minute, and such a simple thing to do, to just climb over the railing, let the waters close over her, and disappear. And instead she had been saved by a homeless boy called Blue with brilliant blue eyes. She thought of him as she fell asleep that night, and she slept peacefully for the first time in months. She had survived the anniversary thanks to him, and he had saved her life.

Chapter 3

Ginny woke up early the next day, and saw that it had stopped snowing. There was a foot of snow on the ground, and the sky was still gray. She showered and dressed quickly, and was back at the shed at nine o’clock. She knocked on the door of the shed politely and a sleepy voice answered. It sounded as though she had woken him up. He poked his head out a moment later, wearing her parka and holding his sleeping bag.