Waves crashed on the rocks, and water splashed on someone’s foot as they dipped their feet in the sand. Light brown eyes gazed at the ocean, and the person began to hum a song. Sounds of footsteps were heard above as people talked or laughed. Someone called out a name.
The person’s eyes moved from the ocean and stared at the pier above. A young boy’s head poked from the top as his dark brown hair hung upside down. He looked at the person with a smile.
“Ruth, you hungry?” The girl nodded her head. “Great.”
The boy vanished then appeared again with a corn dog. He extended it to her and Ruth grabbed it, then the boy vaulted over and landed on the sand. Ruth looked at the boy who was older and taller than her. The colors of his black pants were faded that it seemed gray. There were a few holes on it which he patched up with different fabrics. His shirt was stain and torn around his midsection and on the shoulder. His shoes had holes too, and Ruth was able to see a toe on one of them. His skin was dark as he was exposed to the sun so much. He sat next to Ruth and looked at her.
“You know you got to speak. You’re not going to be able to buy or sell things if you just hum to others.” Ruth answered with a hum. “Yeah like that you can’t do that. Just say a word. It’s easy, one word and that's all I need to know. You’re not a mute person.”
Ruth just ate and stared at the ocean. Her light brown hair blew in the wind, and it caused her to shiver. Her shirt also had holes and barely protected her from the environment. She had no shoes, and her pants were turned into shorts as most of the fabric was eaten by the salty sea.
The boy noticed the girl shivering. “Guess we need to head to the city and find clothes.”
“No,” Ruth said.
“Well, it’s about time you said a word.” The boy hugged her. “I was wondering if you lost your voice. Anyway, let's go and find something nice for you to wear.”
“No.” She said again.
“Ruth, the weather is going to get cold, and I promised mom to protect you, and as your older brother, you have to listen to me.”
“Is that the only word you know?”
The boy smirked. “You sound like a broken record. Come on.”
Ruth stood and followed her brother to the city. It was evening, and most of the people were heading back home. The streets were packed so it was easy for the two of them to cross. The boy held his sister’s hand as they traveled to a building. There was a long lineup of people waiting to enter. They stood in line, and Ruth looked around her. Most of the people were homeless, and they had brought their things with them to stay in the building for the night. As they waited, a man with a clipboard came out and spoke to the people in the line. When he reached the two children, the man was surprised to see them there. He adjusted his glasses and keeled down to the boy.
“How old are you?”
“Ten, and my sister is eight.” The man looked at Ruth then at him. “What?”
“Sorry, but where are your parents?”
The boy made a sad face. “She was killed by a homeless guy that wanted our stuff.”
“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.” The man stared at Ruth. “Must be hard for the both of you to see something so horrible.”
“Ruth was five when it happened, so she doesn’t remember.”
“What? You two have been living in the streets for that long?”
“Yeah, but we have survived, and we always stick together.”
“I see,” The man stood. “Well, you two come with me.”
They followed the man and entered the building. It was warm inside, and there were many inside eating their meal. At the front was the kitchen were four volunteers were passing out the food. The man called out to one of them, and a tall woman walked over to him.
“Paige, do we have clothing for kids?”
“I’m not sure.” She stared at the siblings. “First time we ever have children.”
“I found them outside waiting. Can you look after them while I head back?”
“Sure.” Paige looked at the children with a smile. “So, what are your names?”
“I’m Jonathan, and this is Ruth.”
“Pretty name for a pretty girl.” Ruth did not smile and stared at Paige with a blank face. “She’s not too friendly.”
“She likes to be away from others.”
“Oh, I see. Well, let's look for some clothes.”
They went to another area that was filled with buckets of clothing and Paige walked to a man that was marking a box. She asked him if there were any clothing for children. He shook his head.
“Nothing at all?”
“Most of the clothing is for adults.” The man looked at the children. “I might have something for the boy but not for the girl.”
“That sucks.” Paige looked at them. “Okay, I will go get something for her at the store.”
“I think you should report them to child services and let them take care of them.”
“Bill is going to do that. But at the moment I want her to have something nice to wear, and it is getting cold.”
“Fine, just don’t spend so much.” Paige kissed him on the cheek. She took the children to a quiet room and served them food then told Jonathan to wait for their clothing. Ruth stared at the bowl of soup and lifted the spoon then let the water fall back down.
“Eat it,” Jonathan said. “And they will give you a treat.”
“No,” she said and placed the spoon down.
“Say something else besides no.”
“A new word.” He smiled. “Do you want something else to eat?”
“What do you want?”
Jonathan sighed. “Something what?”
He smirked and leaned back on the chair. “Are you just going to say short answers?”
A little while Paige returned and held up an outfit for Ruth. She stared at it and shook her head.
“Honey, you need to wear this. Its new and will keep you warm.”
“No.” She shook her head and looked away.
“Jonathan can you convince your sister to wear it.”
“Sure.” He got up and grabbed Ruth by the hand then removed her old shirt. Paige gave him the new one, and he placed it over her head. Ruth did not fight him as he adjusted the sweater on her. She did not smile and moved her eyes around the room.
“Your sister doesn’t say much does she.”
“Until now she started to say things but just one word.” Jonathan held the pants to Ruth. She unbuttoned her pants and removed them then put on the new ones. “As I promised you, you got new clothes.”
Ruth shrugged her shoulders and sat back down.
“Well, at least she will be warm,” Paige said. “And for you, Johnathan, I have your clothes. It might be a bit large, but you should manage.”
He grabbed the clothing and changed behind a large box. The pants were long on him that he needed to roll it up and wear a belt to keep them up. The shirt was big as well, but it would do.
“All right, now you two just eat and rest for a bit.”
“Oh Paige, do you have something else to eat? Ruth doesn’t like the soup.”
“I have some mac and cheese. Ruth do you want some?”
“Ruth, say something,” Jonathan told her.
Paige smiled and placed her hand on Ruth’s head then went to fetch the meal. A few minutes later, Ruth was eating the food, and smiled as she hummed the same tune. Paige stared at Ruth then at Jonathan.
“So, what happened to your parents?”
“Mom was killed by a homeless guy. And dad, I got no clue.” He said as he ate the other bowl of soup.”
“Oh, I’m sorry to ask.” Paige rubbed her hands together. “Bill told me that you were living on the streets for three years. I’m surprised that you lived that long with no one to help you.”
“It was scary, but I needed to be strong for Ruth. I promised our mother that I would protect her.”
“So where have you two been living?”
“The Pier,” Ruth answered.
“And no one said anything to you?” She looked at them.
“Nope. We kept a low profile and stayed hidden.” Jonathan said as he looked at Ruth.
A knock was heard on the door, and Paige went to see who it was. Once she opened the door, a man and woman stood in front of her. They both showed their badges and Paige looked back at the children.
She stepped outside and closed the door slightly and told them about the children. Jonathan became suspicious and grabbed Ruth’s hand. She looked at him and nodded her head for she knew what it was about. They quietly left the room, and when Paige opened the door, they were gone.
Ruth ran back to the pier and stopped at the end to stare at the dark ocean. She sat down and hung her legs over the ledge. Jonathan sat next to her, and he held her hand. Ruth began to hum the tune and Jonathan rested his head on her as she closed her eyes.