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Learning to Fly

By Jadestar

Hoshi was getting old, but she wasn't getting blind. Not yet. She estimated the stray boy's age to be about fourteen or fifteen. He was very tall, true, the height of a grown man and more, but his face and eyes gave him away.

He'd been sitting around in the street at the foot of her hill for at least a week now. His favourite spot was outside her large iron gates. He hid in the shadows, shy, he never stole any food, only accepting what strangers offered him. That wasn't much.

Tonight, ignoring the threat of thieves or vandals to her beautiful garden, she left the gates open.

*****

Morning came, and she found him half asleep in a pile of longer grass, under a tree. He was shivering, covered with dew.

"Child?" She gently shook him, and he woke, sitting upright hurriedly.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, the gate was open, and I needed somewhere to sleep... Sorry..."

She held up her hand for silence. "I made you some breakfast."

A stare. "You did?"

"My name is Hoshi, and I would like you to be my honoured guest. You can clean yourself off, and eat."

He carefully looked her up and down, then stood. "You're from Nippond?"

She nodded, and he started to follow her back from the house. He stuck his hands in his pockets. "My mother was born in Nippond, and she worked there until she met my father."

She opened the front door. "And where are they now?"

"Dead."

They came into a small, oriental-style kitchen. In fact, the whole house and garden was Asian; she had wanted to feel at home. "And what's your name?"

Now he paused, probably debating how much to say. "Sparky."

"No second name?"

"Not any more."

"Ah." She passed him a plate filled with rice, and he dug in hurriedly. Over the next half hour, he managed to polish off two other plates as well. And much the same happened over the next week. Hoshi carefully wheedled Sparky's story out of him. His parents had died in a Saurian camp, he'd never had any relatives.

"Why don't you go to an orphanage?"

"And be locked up the rest of my life?" He shuddered. "You know what those places are like."

"So you will live on the street forever? Child, that can't be."

"Not... forever. I'm... hiding from some people. I can't let them put my name into any records, or I'll be found."

"So... you would not agree to be adopted by me?"

Startled, he looked up. She was serious. "You would even want me?"

"I'm an old woman, I'm lonely. You are still a baby bird who needs someone to show him how to fly. We can help each other."

He sighed. "They would kill you too. I wouldn't want that."

"Very well."

"It's not you, Hoshi."

"I know, child."

"What does Hoshi mean?"

"A star."

"My mother was called Aiko. What does that mean?"

"Little beloved."

He smiled slightly, and nodded. "It suits. What about Kiyoshi?"

"Your father's name?"

"No. My middle name. Mum wanted to remember Nippond, and she had a friend there called Kiyoshi."

"It means quiet."

"Quiet. Okay. It sounds weird, but I don't mind. Shockwave Kiyoshi Featherstone. Very weird."

She smiled, as he didn't seem to realise that he'd told her his real name. "It's different."

"I wouldn't like to be locked up again, you know."

"I know."

He stood up, and gave her a quick kiss on the forehead. "You have been really nice to me, Hoshi. Thank you."

Hoshi hugged him as best she could. "You will come tomorrow?"

"Yup!"

Waving him down the path to the road, she waited until he was around a bend and out of sight before turning to go. She was about to go back inside when she heard the sounds of scuffle, and Shockwave's yells. She hurried back down the hill, just in time to see a van with 'Child Collection Agency-CCA' written on the side drive away.

*****

"If you would just let me see him..."

"I'm sorry ma'am, but that's impossible. He's been fighting, and won't be able to have visitors for another four days. You can come back and make your application to become his guardian then."

Hoshi waited for the bus, downcast. She knew that four days would be too long.

*****

Knock, knock, knock. Hoshi put down what she was doing and saw that the man from the CCA was there.

"Morning, ma'am. I understand that you were applying to become the guardian of..." He checked his clipboard. "Shockwave Kiyoshi Featherstone."

"Yes. That's correct. Is he okay?"

"He set fire to his bed and escaped in the confusion." She closed her eyes, so he continued. "We were wondering if you knew where he could have gone..."

Hoshi glared at him. "You shouldn't have taken him in the first place."

"Ma'am, you can't just leave kids running around the streets... There were complaints."

"You have ruined everything," she hissed angrily at him, and slammed the door in his face. She sat down to cry.

Hoshi never saw Shockwave again. But she left her gates open, just in case.

 

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