Darkness was slowly taking over the afternoon's light. The dusk had come. Aisha counted to ten while her two cousins, Macey and Angel went to find their hiding places. Angel, the oldest of the three went to hide under the nipa hut. While she was patiently waiting, she heard a familiar voice of a middle-aged man. She laid her face down the ground and peeked. He saw old George's leather shoes coming up the wooden stairs. The door seemed to open and Aisha's mother greeted him.

"I told you not to come, it's already late," she heard her said in a tense voice.

Old George ignored her and went inside the house, "It's not yet time what are you so anxious about?"

The door closed and the sound of nervous giggles faded away. Angel stayed silent under the nipa house. She listened to the sound of cicadas in the nearby acacia tree and she felt that time passed by like she had been sitting there forever. 

While she was waiting to be caught, she noticed a pair of stunning red eyes looking straight into her. It had a long slender greyish body with black and yellow stripes covered with round golden scales. Its tail which was half the length of its body was slowly moving up and down while it steadily fixed its gaze at her like a predator studying its prey. Angel's eyes widen in fear and her feet seemed to turn like a stone. When the water lizard stepped its one foot forward, Angel suddenly found her courage and ran away as fast as she could.

She saw Macey and Aisha sitting on the ground while chatting happily. She stopped and tapped the large stone behind the two.

"Why are you just sitting there?" she asked Aisha angrily as she panted heavily. 

"She got tired of looking," Macey answered. "Are you okay?"

Angel dropped to the ground and wiped her sweat with her hands, "I s-saw a..a huge tarebalak under Aisha's house."

"Waaa!!" the two kids screamed in fear.

"And I also saw uncle George, he went to your house," Angel continued.

Macey turned to Aisha, "Why does uncle George always come to your house?"

"I don't know," Aisha said.

"I know," Angel butted in.

Aisha and Macey turned to her at the same time.

"Your dad always drink with his friends and only comes home to sleep. Right?"

Aisha nodded.

"That's why old George would come whenever your dad's not around."

Aisha frowned.

"Of course you don't get it, yet," Macey said. "You're just six after all.."

* * *

That night, Derrick came home drunk. Joan couldn't help but nagged him all the way to their bedroom.

"Is this all the money you got? Don't kid with me you good old man! I know today is your payday so how come you only have this money? Do you think we could survive for the next two weeks with this?!"

"If you have any problem with it, then give it back!"

"Give it back? How dare you say that after you gambled all your money? There's almost nothing left! You even came home drunk, you haven't changed at all!"

"Shut up! I'm so tired of your mouth that's full of shit! Let me sleep, bitch!"

Derrick lay on the bed and in frustration Joan threw the pillows at him. "You good for nothing!"

"You're insane!" Derrick shouted back as he stood up from the bed. He was so furious he slapped her wife's face until it bled. Joan dropped on the floor and wept.

"You're asking for it," Derrick said as he went back to their bed. "Get away from me, whore!"

Joan cursed as she crawled out of the room. Slowly she stood up and dialed her mobile phone.

* * *

"What now?" Judith asked upon answering the phone.

"He beat me again. Can Aisha stay at your house tomorrow?" Joan said.

"Sis, not again? What's going on between you two?"

"I'm asking for a favor here. Please for your niece, take her. I'm begging you!"

Judith looked up and smiled at Kevin who was eating beside her. "Sis,  I'll see what I can do. I'll talk to Ethan about it. I'll call you tomorrow, okay?"

"Okay, thanks."

Joan sat on the floor as she cupped her face with her hands. Suddenly, she remembered Aisha and called out her name.


Aisha heard her mother's voice but didn't answer. She silently sat at the top of their house's wooden stairs and stared at the dark figure standing across the street. When the shadow waved its hands on her, she stiffen. Slowly, the dark figure walked towards their house. Aisha's eyes widened and she was about to scream when Shady, their neighbor who worked for a graveyard shift came out of nowhere.

"Hey, Aisha? Why are you still out at this hour?" the young lady asked her.

Aisha stood up and ran back inside their house and shut the door.

"Maybe her parents had a fight again," Mark, a teenager who always jog around at this hour said as he passed by. "I heard shouting just a few minutes ago." 

Shady nodded and whispered to herself,  "Maybe he caught her this time. Poor kid."

* * *

The morning came too soon and Derrick left early for work. As soon as he was gone, Joan took her phone and dialed a number. After three rings, the call was picked up.

"Come as soon as you can," Joan said as she restlessly walked around the living room.

Leave him.

Joan turned around when she thought she heard someone's voice but she was alone in the room. "Are you coming or not?"


Joan stopped walking. She slowly turned around and scanned the room. She was surprised when she saw Aisha standing in front of her bedroom. "What?!" she shouted at her.

The little girl froze in fear when she heard her mother's voice. "No, no...wait'," Joan cut off. "I- I have to take Aisha to my sister's place first, so I'll see you after lunch instead."

Joan hung up and told Aisha to play outside. The little girl dashed out of their house and searched for her two cousins.

* * *

A fallen with a small and thin figure patiently watched Aisha and her cousins played hopscotch in someone else's backyard. His platinum blonde hair shimmered as the light of the sun touched his pale skin. He noticed a raven came from the East and flew back and forth above him. After awhile, it landed on the ground and turned into a handsome man with a dark complexion and soft black hair. "Prince Sitri," the fallen uttered.

Sitri spoke in a calm and gentle voice, "Who is it?"

Belial raised his long bony fingers and pointed at Aisha.

The prince with a handsome young face stood closer at the little girl and slowly nodded his head. "Hmm.." They stood still as they listened to the children's conversation.

"I'll be a doctor," Aisha said as she watched Angel hopped through the course that was scratched out in dirt.

Macey frowned, "Then..uhm, I'll be the nurse?"

Angel butted in when she reached the home base. " How could you be the nurse when you're older than her?"

"What's wrong with that?" Macey asked. "How about you?"

"I don't care about it. It doesn't matter," she answered. She hopped again and stopped on a left square and tried to retrieve her stone marker on the right side.

Prince Sitri smiled at Angel and said, "I like this girl."

"She's mine," a hissing voice was suddenly heard.

When Sitri and Belial turned around, they saw a four feet long gray lizard covered in golden scales hiding behind a nearby acacia tree, covered with heavy smoke hidden in human eyes.

"Oh," Sitri smirked. "No wonder why it felt so cold in here, Sauria. But what are you doing in Kafir's shelter?"

"I believe that the prince of passion and lust shouldn't poke his nose into someone else's business," the giant lizard hissed as it lifted its head to his side. He immediately crawled up the tree and disappeared. 

Belial fixed his gaze behind the acacia tree and heard familiar footsteps. Prince Sitri gently laughed and said, "It's about time."

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