A cold rain had begun to fall, mixing with her tears. Sonja pulled a large piece of cardboard over her head and her will to live grew weaker. Two weeks passed since she ran away and found herself behind the large trash bin. She dug a frazzled afghan out of the bin. That would work for a while. But winter was already so near, and she would have to find some other form of shelter soon.
Careful not to be noticed, she walked around in the daytime, searching for cover and taking food that restaurants had thrown out. Finally, she found an empty boathouse. There didn’t appear to be any dogs around to give her away if she went there after sundown. So that night, Sonja took her afghan and a half eaten burger and went to the boathouse.
That night, Sonja slept soundly. She could scarcely recall ever having slept passed sunup. She wakened to the sound of someone attempting to turn the doorknob. She’d locked the door before she went to sleep and knew nobody could get in without a key. If she was quiet, maybe they would go away. Then, she heard the key turning in the lock and there was nowhere to hide.
A stocky man stood in the doorway, apparently shocked at her presence. He took a few steps toward her, staring curiously, and she tried to run passed him. But, he caught her arm. She kicked and swung with her arms. He only grunted. Then, he caught her wrists and held them at her sides, turning sideways to protect his shins from her flailing feet.
She went still in his grip until he cautiously loosened his hold. Immediately, she attempted to break away, but to no avail. The man just exhaled in apparent frustration, but still didn’t say a word. Sonja quickly decided that the best strategy would be to cooperate with the burly man until she could make a clean break.
“Okay. You win.” She rolled her eyes to the ceiling, feigning defeat.
The man gave her arm a gentle tug and she followed him out of the boathouse and up the sidewalk to what she assumed was his home. Keeping one hand safely around one of her wrists, he opened the back door and stepped inside.
A fragile old woman had been cooking breakfast and laid her spoon aside to wring her hands through her apron. “What’s... Who... Where did she come from? Arnus?”
Arnus pulled the door closed and let go of Sonja’s wrist to sign something to the old woman.
“Well, come in. Let’s get you a bath and some breakfast. Then, you can tell me what you were doing out there. I’m Freda, by the way. And you are? ” Freda’s smile was friendly. Deep wrinkles spread out like fans from the corners of her eyes. But Sonja knew too well that looks can be deceiving.
“Kim.” Sonja lied. “Aren’t you going to call the police?”
“Whatever’s going on, Kim, we’ll discuss the best solution. But for right now, let’s get you a bath and a decent meal. You’re looking a might poorly.” Freda seemed unnaturally calm to have an apparent intruder. But Sonja wasn’t about to argue with her. The sound of a bath and food were just too tempting.
When Sonja came back into the kitchen donned in one of Freda’s faded jogging suits and her hair wrapped in a towel, she found Freda sitting at the table with two full plates. Arnus had apparently finished his breakfast while Sonja bathed because there was an empty, though used plate on the counter.
“Is he deaf?” Sonja asked.
“No. he's just mute. I found Arnus in an alley when he wasn’t much younger than you are. He’d run away from home and got attacked while searching for food. The men took nothing because Arnus had nothing for them to take. But because he fought back, they cut out his tongue and left him there to die.”
Sonja’s defenses came down and her tears spilled over. Suddenly, Arnus placed his book in front of her. There, underlined with an ink pen, were the words that would change her life forever, offering her a brand new start. "Psalm 91:1-2 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.”
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