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Submitted by natalie jamison on 21 February 2007 - 10:10am.

It was like any other calm day on Centrion; the yellow-orange sun was gleaming and the air was warm. Eight-year-old Trisa ran ahead, as her father followed close behind. The park was refreshing and green, chipas and dorses adding vibrant colors along the bland stone-laid path. Mag looked up at the trees. A slight breeze had started, causing the splotches of sunlight gleaming through the leaves to dance on the ground below. Looking back down at his little girl, he pondered over what seemed to be so different about her, compared to other children, or maybe she was just different to him. She came running back to his side.

“Can I go get a drink from the fountain?” Trisa asked.

“May I,” Mag corrected.

Trisa grinned. “May I get a drink?”

“Yes you may.” Mag chuckled and watched her run off again, relishing in the joy that his daughter gave him.

A rustling sound from some near by bushes interrupted his wandering thoughts. As he began to turn around to investigate, his back was pummeled by something hard and narrow, forcing him face first into stone.

Trisa heard the startling groans of her father; immediately she turned her attention from the fountain to where her father stood. Instead of the loan, lean figure of her father, Trisa could see four shadowy figures, all dressed in black, attacking her father. One stood right above Mag, holding in his hands something like a crowbar; the others were closing in fast. Her father was doing his best to fight them off, but aside from the four to one odds, each of the other men were firmly built. Trisa started sprinting towards them.

Mag was punched, kicked, and thrown to the ground once again. Willing his gaze upward, he saw his daughter rushing towards the struggle. The commanding look in his eyes caused her feet to come to a hault; he was shaking his head. Trisa stood there, frozen in fear for a moment, then ducked behind a bush close by. She watched in horror as the men beat her father repeatedly, terrified because there was nothing she could do about it.

“Daddy…” she squeaked, shaken and heartbroken, unheard over the commotion. Anxiously, Trisa searched the whole park, hoping that there might be someone passing by who would be willing to come and rescue her father. There was no one - there seldom was. She turned back towards the scuffle just in time to see one of the men - a tall, bulkier man with black hair - pull something out of his coat pocket. It looked like a miniature toy pin-gun, like the kind her brother played with, but with a pointed tip at the end of the barrel. As Mag stumbled to his feet, the bulky man shoved the gun into his back and pulled the trigger; no sound emitted from the instrument. Mag gasped, then went limp. They let go of his body and let it fall to the ground for the last time.

"The coroners have been given notice?" asked the man with the gun. Trisa noticed an awkward arched scar on the back of his hand as he replaced the tiny mechanism.

“Yes; it’s all settled,” answered a shorter individual, with swanky brown hair and a complexion to match. “They are aware of the consequences if they do not cooperate.”

“Good. We will leave him here until someone finds him then. Let’s go.” All four men left in the same direction; Trisa watched with a wary gaze as the disappeared around the corner. She still did not come out of the bush until a few minutes had past and she was confident they were in fact gone. She immediately rushed to her father’s side.

“Daddy?” She shook his shoulder and waited for his eyes to open. Tears began flooding her vision when he did not wake up. “Daddy!” she shouted as she shook him more violently. She began to sob, and laid down next to him, snuggling her head firmly against her shoulders and tucking her arms and legs in toward her body. Trisa was so angry, so distressed, shocked, and confused all at once. She had never felt so many things at once before. Why?! she screamed in her head. Why!? Why both? It’s not fair! It’s not fair!

Later that evening, fast asleep against her father’s lifeless body, she was found by a chance passerby. It was raining.

* * *

Toan had been at a friend's house. He’d gotten home on time, just as his father had instructed him; seven o‘clock had come and gone, followed by eight and nine. By nine thirty, he began to worry a bit more that something was awry - it wasn’t like his dad to be this late, along with his little sister.

At about ten, there had been a knock at the door. The enforce-officer standing there explained that he needed to take Toan to the agency, where he was reunited with his sister. Her eyes were red and puffy from crying; they seemed empty, sad and incredibly distant. He was soon told about his father‘s untimely death. He broke in tears at the news, screaming words of disbelief and rejection at the officers. When he calmed down enough to take a breath, he sat back down next to his sister and held her closer to him than he ever had before.

On the day of the funeral, rain poured down again, setting the mood for the dismal event. Trisa and Toan, dressed in black, stood next to their father’s grave as the simple wooden casket was lowered into the ground. Toan’s eyes were streaming with tears; Trisa’s were dry, but incredibly overcast.

After the funeral, the children were taken to Dr. Niche’s. They were instructed that they would be staying with the doctor until they were old enough to take care of themselves. Dr. Niche had been a friend of the family for years, and had volunteered without hesitation for the responsibility as the children’s new guardian.

When arriving at their new home, Trisa walked in and glanced at her new surroundings for only a moment. The gathering room was very simple, as was the rest of the house she supposed. Though the color scheme was a dusty tan, the dreary light coming through the windows made the room appear more grey than tan. Trisa sat down on the bland couch that sat in the middle of the room, and starred into space. Toan sat in one of the hard wooden chairs, as simple as the couch, and watched her from across the room.

* * *

Later that night, Trisa sneaked quietly into Toan’s room. The door made a slight creek as she entered; the room was practically an exact copy of her own: beige based walls and bed, dresser (there was no closet), chair, nightstand, and one small lamp. She slowly tip-toed over to the bed and climbed on top of the covers. “Toan?” she whispered. Toan’s arms and legs lay sprawled across the mattress; his eyes were closed and he breathed heavily through his open mouth. “Toan!” Trisa extended one bony finger and poked him hard in the ribs.

“Ow!” he hissed, and bolted straight up.

“You can’t fool me,” Trisa boasted with a slight grin. “You should know that by now.”

Toan shrugged and rubbed his head, messing his already ruffled hair. “I forgot; what's wrong?” Trisa suddenly looked down at the bed, slight embarrassment obvious on her face. “Well?” Toan urged.

She finally sighed, and decided to just say it. “Are you going to leave me?” Her voice was soft, but very serious.

“What?” Toan spurt in confusion. Trisa looked up, her starry crystal green eyes brighter than ever. “Are you going to leave me?” she repeated.

“Of course not. Why would you think that?”

“Mom left, daddy left; everyone I love is leaving.”

Toan grabbed her shoulders and looked her straight in the eye. “I am not going to leave you, not now anyway.” He smiled. “Not for at least…” Toan pretended to count digits with his fingers. “… a hundred years!”

“How do you know that?” Trisa accused.

Toan didn‘t know what to say; instead, he came up with a different idea. “Just a minute,” he said. He hopped off the bed and scurried to his dresser; opening the top drawer, he pulled out a small, black, single blade pocket knife. He returned to the bed, shaking it as he climbed back on.

“What’s that for?” asked Trisa.

“I saw this in a cine once. Watch,” he said as he drew the sharpened blade, held it against his right hand and sliced the middle of his palm. He looked up at Trisa, her expression unchanged. “Now your turn. Here.” He took her right hand in his left, and repeated the motion. Trisa winced and drew her hand back. Small trickles of blood began running down her arm. “Now hold your hand up,” Toan instructed. She did as she was told. With his own bloodied hand, Toan clasped hers. “I promise, I will never leave you.” He looked into Trisa’s eyes; they were gleaming. “Now that I’ve promised in blood, it can’t be broken. I will never leave you.”

“Me too,” Trisa piped. They clasped hands for a little longer before Toan climbed off the bed and went to the restroom to find some bandages. After Trisa’s wound was bandaged, she climbed off the bed to go back to her room. She turned around as she reached the door frame. “Thanks, Toan.”

“No problem,” he answered. “I love you.”

“Yeah,” she replied. The grin on her face wasn’t like it used to be, but it was bigger than it had ever been in the past three days. Trisa turned around and went back to her room. Toan sat in the darkness and he sighed deeply while shaking his head.

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