Prompt: "She climbed down the ladder"

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Scarlet climbed down the ladder of the fire escape, rung after rung after rung. It was dangerous being her with him. He was in danger—had been in danger for three years—because of her.

Stupid! Why did she have to be so stupid?

He'd made a charming life in her absence, even had a job as a postal worker. Gods knew the benefit of that job!

Her feet hit the ground of the alleyway. Now what? Where to go? What to do? How many of the people she'd known three years ago were even alive, much less in the same places? Even if she could find them, how many would risk sheltering her, and how many would turn her in for the bounty?

She took one step, then another. Her legs were steadier now, but she still lacked the strength she'd had years ago. Lying in a crypt for three years gave a person aching joints and muscles. It was amazing she didn't have bed sores.

As she walked, the sky in the east began to lighten to the dirty gray of morning. It would be blue in an hour.

Shopkeepers eyed her suspiciously as she walked past. She tried to look inconspicuous. She used to be good at that, at least when she wanted to be.

A beautiful, savory fragrance wafted out an open door. Scarlet stopped walking. A little old granny stood at the counter squishing down noodle dough with a flat stick.

"Are you open?" Scarlet asked.

The granny nodded and sprinkled more flour on her counter.

"Nothing like noodles for breakfast," a man said from farther back in the shop. He came forward then, still tieng his muslin apron. He was old, probably the granny's husband. "What can I get for you?"

Scarlet looked at their offerings for a few minutes and ordered a noodle bowl with broth, green onion, egg, and carrot. She paid with [currency amount] from the purse she'd taken from Vincent. She hoped she'd left him with enough to get by until his next paycheck, but doubted that lack of [currency amount] could put him in as much trouble as her presence.

She sat at a corner table, facing out into the restaurant. It was an old habit; no one could sneak up on her through the walls, but after a few minutes of noodle slurping, she realized it left her face out for all to see. She needed a disguise, pronto. She finished her noodles and took the bowl back to the counter.

"Thank you," she said, "It was a feast."

"Come again." The old couple smiled at her and went on forming noodles. No one had come into the shop while she was there. Evidently, not everyone in the neighborhood shared the old man's stance on noodles for breakfast, or they were all still sleeping.

It was lighter now. Three-quarters of an hour had gone by since she went inside and now people roamed the streets. Most shops were open. Carts drove by with produce, cloth, and other goods. Smoke rose up from stovepipes in the roofs. Pigeons dove down to peck at a lost piece of bread here or a wagon of grain there, usually to be beaten back by the angry owners of the goods.


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