2. Stone Cold

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London, 2017

It had been years since that miserable April night. But as the anniversary of my mother's death approached, I found myself dreaming it all over again.

I opened my eyes slowly, wishing there was more to look forward too than a dreary day at the Fawk.

Falkland Children's Orphanage, to be exact. The place I had been brought to for questioning the morning after my Mother's death. And the place I was left at when Police gave up and ruled it unsolved. I never did learn who was responsible for taking my beautiful Mother away from me that night, but one thing I was sure of, she hadn't gone without a fight. At least, if the blood on the floor was any indication, maybe she had been able to return the favor.

'What's your name child. Speak up!' It was the first time I had lain eyes on Warden Monica Dunville.

'Are you mute, what's your name girl?'

I felt mute. Like thoughts didn't know how to turn into words anymore, and I didn't think I could summon the strength to try. But with Dunville staring down at me, and no other option but to say something... I cleared my throat, and lied.

'I'm Eve.' I remember saying, staring at my hands in nervous fists on my lap, but what I couldn't remember was where it had come from. Eve wasn't a nickname I'd ever been given, but the lie felt safe to me then. Like a special secret that would be only mine.

No one got to call me the name Mama called me.

And so I became Eve, both to those around me, and some days even to myself. But the secret didn't make my new life any easier, and I was running out of memories that were anything but sad and empty. Most nights the only way I could sleep would be to imagine the man, whoever he was, bloody and dying and alone on the night of her death, and I hoped he felt pain in his last moments. I'd imagined it so often I actually convinced myself it was true, filling in the holes of my memories little by little until I could imagine exactly how it had played out, with my Mother the hero and the bad guy barely escaping, only to bleed out in a street corner somewhere.

I should consider myself lucky, they liked to tell me. Then they'd ramble on about the dangers of the streets and the 'oh what could've happened' blah, blah, blah.

I hated those conversations, and I had gotten them a lot, with all the running away I did that first year. But being marked orphan, I learned, was an even harder truth to hide from than having a dying prostitute mother.

The people in my city always brought me back. They knew I was a Falkland girl and no matter how far I got, I was always caught eventually.

I stopped trying when they finally gave me my own room... a bargain I struck that let me feel like I had gained something, if not nothing at all. Over time I got used to the sounds of children crying for their parents, heartless staff barking orders, and the boots that stomped down the hallways, indicating a child was coming, or a newly-legal teenager was leaving for God-knows-where, accompanied by Warden Dunville. There were rumours about what happened after you turned legal, but if you asked any staff about it they'd insist those kids found work, and were living their lives as responsible adults.

That would be me soon. Nearly eighteen, waking up from my haunted dreams, to the cold air making me shiver. I looked around. The books I'd collected over the years sat in stacks around the room. My only escape from this reality typed out in their pages and I can't remember how many nights I stayed up reading about monsters and heroes. Somehow their tragedies made me feel like I was in good company. It was pitiful really, but no one had to know because no one ever came here.

I sat up, pulling on a black hoodie to help with the cold. My head hurt where I'd left my hair up last night, and I pulled the elastic out slowly, massaging the scalp underneath. Sounds could now be heard downstairs, the morning was upon me. Would today be the day I snapped? Like a twig bent to its breaking point? Or would it be like every other day, tense and silent and cold.
When was life going to give me something worth living for?

It isn't. I reminded myself.

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