“Stop, you little thief”
Moon’s fingers gripped the scrap of cloth holding her prize as her bare feet pounded the uneven cobblestone. Her tattered skirt fluttered like a sail behind her as she navigated the familiar path leading to her escape. Angry shouts faded behind her as the distance grew between her and the baker.
Pushing her way through women’s thick skirts and men’s trousers, she barely noticed the way they cringed from her path as if her poverty and despair were a plague. No one chastised her for her crime, only a handful of people even knew her name.
Two years ago, as they huddled together behind the bakery, Star, with all the wisdom of a six year old, suggested Moon pick her own name. Contemplating her choices, Moon knew she wanted something that would always be close to Star.
Star had been the one who had carried her as a toddler away from the fallen woman in the alley, the woman who was known as Mother. Two years was a lifetime to Moon. It was longer than the unwanted girl ever had with a “family.”
Moon twisted her body between the tin walls of her riverside fortress.She clutched her bounty close to her so it would be unblemished when she presented it to Star. Cautiously, Moon picked her way to Star’s bedside.
Her breath caught for a moment until she saw her sister’s chest rise and fall with another shallow breath.
She placed her small hand on her feverish forehead and waited. Eyelashes fluttered open, revealing Star’s pained eyes. Without a word, Moon slowly unwrapped the richly frosted donut and broke off a small piece, placing it on Star’s swollen tongue.
A smile, so slight it could have been imagined, crossed her face as peace took the place of anguish.
She carefully tucked away the luxurious delicacy. The lingering smell reminded her of the other times they had shared a stolen pastry. They had dreamed of being royalty and how anxious they were to return to the loving arms of their parents. In those brief moments, Star and Moon were no longer street tramps but princesses, adorned in fine dresses and dining to their hearts’ content.
Rustling jerked Moon back into the present and she spied the hungry eyes of a child peering through the sheets of tin. Drawn by the sweet scent, the child cautiously approached her. So not to frighten the child, Moon reached out to the fragile little boy and offered him the wrapped donut.
“You got a mommy?”
His sad eyes told her a familiar story of pain. She settled down beside him as he devoured his treasure, savoring the sugary icing. Using her torn skirt, Moon tenderly wiped the crumbs from his sunken cheeks.
“You got a name?”
The boy would need a name. Moon suggested he choose his own.