Categories > Movies > Newsies > Dream to Dream

To Be Free

by Raeghann 0 reviews

I lived my life in a dreamed up world far from the harshness of reality. Where my few virtues were far outweighed by my faults, and the pain of learning the truth about myself was almost more than ...

Category: Newsies - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Angst, Romance - Characters: Mush, Spot Conlon - Published: 2005-10-14 - Updated: 2005-10-15 - 3702 words

"Ow." I snapped, as I looked down at my hands so soft from lack of use now slowly becoming cracked as I scrubbed the upstairs hallway. Molly had been right, any halfwit could do it; it was not a mentally draining task, but physically it was exhausting me. Molly had called me from the parlor for lunch and I had attacked it ravenously, glad for a break and food. However, I was quickly pushed upstairs to finish scrubbing the rooms and the hallway once my lunch was gone.

I had finished the rooms in an amazingly short time, my mind wondering as my aching arms worked. The good thing about this job was it left my mind free. I quickly learned the joys of daydreaming while I worked, since none of my whining had freed me from it. I smiled as I remembered my parents' garden and the sweet smell of roses on the late summer wind. I remembered picnics on the lawn of our estate in upstate New York, swimming in the pond in the back. I had been taught by one of the servant's children, much to my governess's dismay.

I remembered being dragged inside dripping wet into my father's study; my governess had waited for my father's anger, but my father laughed and had waived away her worries telling her at least I wouldn't drown. I remembered our short little trips in the family sailing boat. My memories registered as an ache and I blinked away tears; tears more for the loss of such innocent happiness than for the memories themselves. I had enjoyed my parents' companionship, but there was no bone aching loss at their demise. I missed them as one misses a friend that has moved away. Perhaps callous of me, but still I have the fondest memories of my parents and no deep affection. For there were no deep bonds between us, just easy camaraderie, as my parents did not acknowledge my presence until I was of an age to amuse and speak with them.

I did not resent them for their lack of motherly and fatherly love, for I did not know what it was. I still do not resent them, for they gave me affection as they could. I was a doll to them, a small person they could dress and play with as it suited them and I am thankful they had at least a small care for me. Love, however, was an emotion I had yet to learn or even feel in it's entirety. It saddens me as I look back on it to find how little I knew and how starved for it I was.

Darkness was starting to fill the rooms with a gloomy light as I trudged down the stairs struggling with my bucket, my arms so sore with scrubbing I didn't know if I could make it. Molly smiled at me from where she stood in the doorway wiping her hands on a dishtowel. She made her way forward to help me with the bucket; the water was murky and a dark gray with dirt, I shivered wondering how I had gotten up the courage to touch it. I remembered then that I hadn't been thinking much, just dipping and scrubbing.

"Good job lass." She said gently as together we made our way out to the front stoop. I let her heft the bucket and toss its contents into the street. "I want to show ya somethin'."

I looked at her in surprise as she grabbed my hand, her eyes twinkling at me for the first time since I had come to the boarding house. She pulled me into the parlor and stopped; she turned and gestured for me to remain where I was. Tiredly, I watched her move through the dining room and into the kitchen. I could hear her rummaging around and moments later she returned with a box of matches. She grinned impishly at me as I watched her in utter confusion. She struck the match lighting the hurricane lamp that sat on the wooden table near the door. Slowly she made her way around the room lighting the wall sconces and the other lamps as well.

"Look at the floor lass." She told me as she made her way back to my side. Through eyes burning with my exhaustion, I looked around me at the soft glow of the rich floor. It gleamed as if it had a life of its own. "Ya did this lass, look at how beautiful ya made it look. I'll admit, I had me doubts, but ya sure did a wonderful job."

I looked around me in glee at the shining stair posts, the gleaming floors, all glowing in the soft light of lamps.

"I did this." I said softly, the unfamiliar feeling of pride coming to me. I had plenty of pride, but never before had I felt it over something I had accomplished. The sparkle and smile on Molly's lips told me that she was proud of me as well. My moment of glory did not last long however, as the front door flew open and three individuals stumbled in.

"Damn it Jack." A familiar voice cursed. I looked wide-eyed at the three; one was Mush, I looked my savior over and wrinkled my nose. His eye was starting to darken, his lip was split in the corner of his mouth, a long slash in his shirt was tinged with a crimson color and he was limping. I turned my attention to the next, his eyes bored into mine, their hazel depths seeming to grab my notice and force me to continue to keep the contact. He gave me an endearing lopsided grin before Mush groaned and he looked back at his friend in concern, those eyes disappearing beneath Mush's unruly mop of rich brown hair; the lamplight catching shades of red and gold in its depths.

My eyes turned to the next person, almost unwillingly, and I met a pair of cool gray eyes. They appraised me, one delicate brow raised in a mocking gesture. I found it belonged to a beautiful girl, her long lush hair a rich brown touched with red. It made her companion's hair look like dirt; she raised one graceful arm and brushed back the shining mass with a practiced toss. Her skin was bronzed to a light gold, still more cream than tanned. My eyes travel down her length, the woman in me automatically seizing up the competition. It was something I had done all my life, for competition amongst the wealthy for the title of the most beautiful was highly coveted, and I had basked in its glory. Yet for all the praises that had been sung, I felt insignificant next to this girl. She held herself with the cool calmness of a woman that knows she can have any man; one that has made sensuality an art form and is not afraid to use what ever was at her disposal to gain power.

Finally, I pulled my gaze from hers to look at the cause of the commotion, it wasn't as if he had changed over night, but still I studied him as well. My eyes met his and found they were rich chocolate color tinted with a touch of gold here and there. A brief smile hovered on his full lips, as he looked me over, his mind momentarily taken off of the pain he obviously was in.

It was as if the world had frozen and we all stood waiting for it to start again. Molly started forward, breaking pausing the spell, to take the arm that had been draped over the girl.

"Ya ain't lookin' so expensive." He said to me, and I looked away, unsure of how to react to his comment. It sounded like a complement, but at the same time managed to rub my nose in the fact that he still looked down upon me.

"Leave her alone." Molly told him as they moved slowly past me, Molly offering what support she could. I could see his male companion attempt to take the brunt of Mush's considerable weight. I glanced back at the girl who shrugged at me, her eyes burning as they looked me up and down. I wondered what she saw. "What've ya done this time? Honestly Mush, what makes ya think ya got to fight all the time?"

"Ya think I want ta feel like this?" Mush growled as they half carried him into the kitchen; I followed them wondering what I could do, my exhaustion forgotten in the excitement. My eyes widened as I caught that train of thought, I had actually thought of trying to help. I found that it caused a feeling of self pride to run through me, for Molly would be pleased if I asked. No one had ever been proud of me or pleased with me as Molly had been when I had finished cleaning the floors. I found I wanted more of it.

"Molly, can I help?" I asked tentatively. She looked back at me in surprise before that smile that had been on her lips earlier, before we had been interrupted, returned.

"Aye lass, that ya can." She responded. "Where I showed ya the cleanin' rags were earlier today, that's where I keep the rags that are bandages. There should also be a bottle of witch hazel in the cabinet just over there."

I nodded as she turned back to poking and prodding at a very disgruntled Mush. I turned away feeling important as I left the room on my mission. I located the rags she had been talking about and returned to the kitchen to lay the treasure I had found on the table. Molly gave me another one of her smiles as I turned to go to the cabinet. I dragged a chair from the small kitchen table and stepped up on it, my hands resting on the edge of the cabinet as I rooted and peered into it.

"Do ya need some help?" I looked down to find Mush's male companion at my elbow, watching me with a gleam in his eye not unlike my cousin's when he had looked at me. Though I sensed none of the malice, merely the simple interest, it still made me rather uncomfortable. I shook my head as I found the witch-hazel and stepped from the chair to return to Molly's side. She poured a healthy dose of it to one of the bandages and applied it to the corner of Mush's mouth. He winced as the liquid touched him, Molly just pursed her lips and finished cleaning it.

"What did ya do this time?" Molly queried, looking at him briefly before returning her gaze to the cut just above his eye. Again he winced, but that was his only outward sign that he hurt.

"What makes ya think I did anythin'?" Mush answered with a question of his own. Molly cocked an eyebrow at him telling him she was not about to stray from getting an answer to her earlier question.

" I've known ya since ya were a wee sweet little thing." Molly replied. "Now stop dancin' around the question and answer it."

"Do I need a reason Molly?" Mush sighed, "I ain't even too sure how it started, just that I ended it. Probably another boy tryin' to prove himself."

"Ya should've seen him." Jack added in excitement in his eyes, he mimed the actions as he told us what had happened, "The kid swung the first punch and Mush blocked it. Then came in with a right straight into the kid's yap..."

"Spare me the details." Molly said her voice sharp.

"How barbaric." I whispered unable to help myself. "How uncivilized."

"What's the matter honey, ain't you ever seen a fight before?" A new voice sneered. I looked to the owner, the girl who had made me feel so insignificant in her presence.

"Where I come from men settle things in a civilized manner." I gasped, still too shocked to see the shake of Molly's head. Until this moment Jack and Cinnamon might have brushed me off as haughty, but one of their class, however I had just given myself away and I did not have enough sense to even realize that.

I knew I had a horrified look on my face and when Mush glanced at me, for a moment I thought I saw a look that seemed to be of sorrow and shame. He turned away before I could discern for certain. I felt this odd urge to comfort him, but I doubted he would have allowed me to. Jack looked at me smirking at my obvious dismay about the fight. Cinnamon gave me a disgusted look as if my shock at Mush's activities was stupidly ridiculous.

"There ain't nothin' civilized about the streets." Mush told me. "The sooner ya learn that the better off ya'll be."

"Off with ya shirt." Molly said, breaking into the conversation and effectively rescuing me as she finished bandaging the cut on his brow. Mush obliged as quickly as he was able to, the impatient snap in her tone telling him that dallying would only irritate her more. I gasped and obverted my gaze having never before viewed the naked chest of a man. I heard two male chuckles; Molly just patted my arm sympathetically. I looked around the room trying not to look at him, which of course made the urge to look at him even stronger. Curiosity had long been a downfall of mine and knowing the object of my curiosity was only inches away from me only heightened the compulsion to look.

"What's the matter, ain't the sweet little angel ever seen a man before." Cinnamon questioned, her voice saying that to respond in the affirmative would be a sin. My reaction was to treat her like I had all the other girls that had fought and scrambled with me to be the best. I had found that to be cold and cruel was the swiftest way to squelch any such advances. Still, I found at first that I did not know how to respond to her other than give a disapproving look.

"Back off Cinnamon." Mush hissed through his teeth, I glanced to find Molly applying a bandage to the ragged cut that ran along his upper ribs. "Just cause she ain't spreadin' herself around ain't nothin' for her to be ashamed of."

My eyes caught and I found I could not look away, I could feel his gaze on me as I looked at him. I could feel it's burning, though I did not look up at his face. All thoughts flew from my mind, even the one that had registered shock at the fact that he had just defended me. I stared wide- eyed at his the muscles that bunched under Molly's hand contracting against the pain that he was so calmly dealing with. I would have been crying like a baby. His skin looked so smooth, like satin spread over steel, I had to fight not to reach out and touch it to see if it was as I imagined. That must be why women did not see men with out their shirts on most of the time. He seemed to be willing me to look him in the eye and reluctantly my eyes flicked up to his. The smoldering look and the soft smile that quirked up one corner of his mouth made me blush for reasons I was not yet in understanding of.

I obverted my gaze to the wall for a moment before looking at the people around Mush. Jack just raised an eyebrow; Molly just shook her head, a small smile playing on her lips. Cinnamon gave me a knowing smirk; I gave her my best arrogant and cold look. Molly glanced between us for a moment giving me a smile of encouragement as I drew myself up to my full height, which wasn't much, but gave the impression I was taller than I was. I raised my head in a pose that told her exactly how inferior I found her. She brushed past me, her eyes continuing our silent battle, and laid a hand just above Mush's pant line. I recoiled in shock. Her look was rather possessive as she gave him a brief caress.

"But Mushy darling, ya love girls like me. Girls that ain't so innocent they don't know how to please a man." She replied to his earlier statement giving him a sultry look that caused me to blush.

"Get your hand off of me." The words came one by one in a tone that stopped us all dead. I looked to him to see his face expressionless and as cold as the marble floor in my parent's home.

"What's the matter Mush, we had some good times." She pouted prettily and I saw Molly stiffen. I could tell by the way she was holding herself she did not like Cinnamon.

"Sure did." Mush responded the icy bite in his tone still. "I like my women pleasantly informed, not too innocent, not too well practiced. Looks like we've got both of the women I don't go near right here."

"That's enough talking from you." Molly growled, her protectiveness toward me coming out and surprising Mush. He nodded at her in understanding and looked at the wall. I was again unsure of whether to be insulted or indifferent. Molly stood after wrapping Mush's awkwardly swollen foot.

"He should stay here tonight." She said to Jack "Possibly even for a few days, his ankle's been sprained badly and if he goes back with you he'll be out sellin' tomorrow whether he should be or not."

Jack licked his lips looking at Mush to see what he had to say. Mush shook his head obviously not wanting to stay.

"Alright." Jack sighed, coming to a decision having already weighed the options. "Ya'll stay. If ya leave here before Molly tells ya otherwise I'll soak ya myself and ya know I'm one of the few people that could."

I glanced Jack over, he didn't seem like he could take Mush at all, but then I knew very little about fighting. Cinnamon even seemed to be in agreement with the last of the statement as she nodded in affirmation at the end.

"Jack." Mush groaned "I got pape's to sell, I don't wanna loose my place at the Lodgin' House."

"Ya ain't gonna loose it." Jack promised. " Kloppman will understand."

"I don't take charity from nobody." Mush growled.

"It ain't charity." Jack assured him. "Ya can pay Molly when ya able."

"I'll expect my payment in full." Molly replied in agreement. Mush looked between them, neither was going to cave and let him go, he knew it, so he shrugged by way of agreement and let it go.

"Do what Molly says." Jack told his friend as he started for the door. "Stop sulking and let's go Cinnamon, I'm sure we can find ya someone back at the Lodgin' House to take ya mind of Mush."

"Ha, I can't belive ya think I'm still thinking about it." she sniffed while starting after him, making a big show of turning her back on Mush. Mush smirked after her, not buying her act for a moment. He also seemed to relish the fact that she wanted him and as far as she knew he wanted nothing to do with her. I wondered what had happened between them. She pushed past me knocking me off balance. I reached out blindly, grabbing for a tabletop or something to keep me from sprawling ungracefully on the ground. Something caught me around the waist and pulled me back. My hand drifted down to touch warm skin.

"Steer clear of her." Mush said his voice husky and rich so close to my ear. Hastily I stepped away from him and fled the room as swiftly as I was able. There was something about him that frightened me, frightened me more than the idea of my cousin finding me, though not in the same way. I could not understand my emotions, but it made me angry that he threw them into such tumult. It angered me that he confused me. Usually I understood men, I understood what they wanted and why they wanted it. With Mush I could read nothing. He was warm, he was cold, he was kind, he was cruel. There was nothing that did not contradict something and for once in my life there was a man that did not want me. For years I had been petted by the male race all vying for a chance with me and I had brushed them off not really interested. Yet here was this street rat that tossed my emotions about as easily as I had tossed theirs. I shook my head, what did it matter, I had no interest in him. I couldn't have an interest in him, he was a common worker, I .

I hung my head; I no longer was one of the elite. I could no longer raise my head and pretend I was better than him. If anything, I was worse, for he was useful and I had never worked a day in my life. It was that realization there that would start me on a new path, a new road, a new life. For with that realization came the vow that I would learn to work, I would learn to care for myself, and live with an independence I had been deprived of. I could and would survive; so far I had been guided, I had been saved, I had been given a chance to live. Now it was my turn to take that gift and do with it all I could. I smiled while looking out the window in the small neat room that was now mine. The stars twinkled down on me as if encouraging my vow. I breathed in the warm night air, enjoy my first breath of freedom.
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