“This kind of place needs to disappear! With the devil!”
William exclaimed as he picked up a long iron rod.
“That doesn’t make any sense.
If that part collapses, it’ll be dangerous for you too!”
It’s okay because I’m only going to break the door so you can’t go back in.”
I slapped my forehead with my hands in exasperation.
No one could predict what would happen if this small neglected building, which had narrowly maintained its shape, continued to be destroyed.
The children were holding tools, and the building was so old.
“Stop it right now.”
Theo stepped up to grab William by the collar.
His hand, which held enough strength to punch him right away, was shaking finely.
“Will you kill me? Well, I wouldn’t doubt it since you’re the devil.”
At William’s words, Theo’s fist rose.
Now, Theo only had to hit William in the face.
I dashed to Theo, who raised his hand.
Quickly clasping his hand, I said.
“Theo, you can’t do that.
You were never the kind of person William talks about.
Theo’s gaze drifted towards my hand, squeezing tightly.
“If you get caught up in his provocation, you’ll have to admit William’s words.
William, who was watching Theo and I, suddenly stepped in and said.
“Hey, you touched it, Iris.
You’re going to get it from Theo too.
The devil could be transmitted to you.”
I felt my patience crumbling at his words.
Thanks to this, I uttered something completely different from what I originally intended to say.
I bit my lower lip slightly.
Then I smiled brightly and grabbed William’s ear.
“I’ll take care of it for you.”
William’s scream, in an instant, drew the attention of the children who were destroying the building.
I pulled William’s ear toward me, keeping a smile regardless.
“Oh, it hurts! Iris!”
William quickly shed tears, promptly displacing the look of cruelty with the face of a 10-year-old-child.
I let go of William’s ear and spoke calmly.
“What did Theo do wrong? Just leave him alone.”
“Don’t interrupt me!”
“I thought you would be like an ordinary girl, but if you keep involving yourself with him…!”
I burst into laughter at the children’s words.
The children, left alone on the side, were quick to become hostile to me who harassed William.
No matter what happens, violence is not allowed.
I felt an ache in my heart as I vowed to do so.
Sometimes, you just have to face it head-on.
“That’s funny! Theo, don’t move and stay right there!”
As I shouted, the children all dashed at me.
From that moment on, it became a fierce battle.
The children and I began a childish fight consisting of biting and pinching each other.
I was lacking in numbers, but I steadily returned the punishment being delivered.
“Let go! Let go, you girl!”
“See! What’s this? My nose is bleeding!”
“Hahaha! Have you heard of the legend at the orphanage?”
Of course, there was no such legend.
As the fight got longer and longer, the children stopped rushing at me, exhausted of their energy.
Some children had already left the building as a means of escaping..
I blew my breath, causing my bangs to fly from my forehead.
“Are you going to give up now? Or do you want more?”
The boy who was about to clench his fist and run towards me suddenly stopped.
The child’s anxious gaze was directed over my head.
Naturally, I followed the gaze and turned my eyes only to discover the ceiling shaking precariously right above me.
How fateful it was, only the part above my head was battered and torn down.
Perhaps it was due to the iron rod William was holding.
This time, I’m really in trouble.’
It’s dangerous so don’t break it!
With that in mind, I reflexively closed my eyes.
But what I immediately felt was neither the fear of getting hurt nor the pain of my skin being torn.
A warm embrace.
It was that warmth.
“Theo, Theo… Are you okay?”
I quickly got out of Theo’s arms and looked at his face.
Blood was dripping down Theo’s face, probably from the large cut on his forehead.
But nevertheless, Theo nodded his head at me without saying a word.
“What is this?”
From afar, the director’s sharp voice could be heard.
It seems that one of the children who ran away reported it.
With tears in my eyes, I buried my face into Theo’s shoulder.
“Sorry… Does it hurt a lot?”
“It doesn’t hurt.”
The director, who soon found Theo and I, shouted loudly.
“Oh my God, what is all this? What the hell happened?”
I couldn’t even answer his words, and I just cried.
It was because I was too ashamed to see Theo hurt because of me right in front of my eyes.
Theo’s soft voice whispered in my ear.
In the end, the director punished everyone in the abandoned building.
‘Get down on your knees and raise your arms for an hour.
Never enter the waste building again.’ Those were our punishments.
I initially argued that I shouldn’t be given the same punishment as William was for harassing Theo, but my opinion was simply dismissed.
It was because we were in such a dangerous building.
With our hands up, the director warned that we should not enter dangerous buildings and fighting with friends is not acceptable.
The issue that you shouldn’t bully your friends was omitted.
I kept trying to inform the director, but each time Theo stopped me with a stern look.
‘It’s an unwarranted punishment.’
It felt so unfair.
But I couldn’t correct it.
The reason being that Theo’s eyes were so sad looking at me.
A hellish hour of lecturing from the director passed before we were finally permitted to lower our arms.
The director did not leave immediately, but instead came up to talk to me.
You’ve always been nice and good to your friends.
Why are you fighting this time?”
“I just did a good deed of my own standards this time.”
The director sighed in response to my blunt answer and placed his hand on my shoulder.
Then, looking into Theo’s eyes behind me, he whispered.
“Did you discover Theo’s weakness? Otherwise, why did you suddenly become friends with him? Iris, you’re a great kid.
You shouldn’t be hanging out with someone like that.”
At the director’s cruel words, I reflexively turned my head to look at Theo.
But, as if Theo had already heard everything, he hurriedly left the place with empty eyes.
It was a desperate and sad gesture, as if he was running away from something.
I turned my head to the director.
There was no way to gently correct his words.
I grabbed his hand and flung it off my shoulder.
“The director shouldn’t be doing that.”
I smiled weakly at the director who looked at me with embarrassment.
His words really drained me of my strength..
“They’re just kids… It’s really bad, but they’re still young.
But the director is an adult.”
Tears welled up in sorrow.
I didn’t know exactly what was so sad, but it was so heartbreaking that I couldn’t stand it.
“Iris, what are you…”
I knew very well that the director would think I was strange because of what I said.
An ordinary ten-year-old would never say such a thing.
But I couldn’t stand it.
I felt pity for Theo, who disappeared as if he had committed a crime.
“As an adult, don’t hurt a child so recklessly.
To young children, a word from the director has a much greater impact than the director can imagine.”
I looked into his eyes and continued.
“Please remember this.
Theo saved me.”
I turned around and started running after Theo.
My breath hit the tip of my chin.
My forehead was soaked with sweat.
But no matter how much I ran, I couldn’t see where Theo was.
I stomped my feet in a hurry and frowned.
The sun was already setting.
‘He hasn’t received treatment yet…’
I was worried because I couldn’t properly stop the bleeding on Theo’s wound. Eventually, I had to go to Miss Haley to grab some first aid kits.
When I opened the door to the ward,Miss Haley jumped up from her seat, startled.
“Who else did you help this time?!”
This isn’t my blood.”
“Aside from that, your face is full of scratches.”
I hurriedly grabbed the arm of the teacher who was examining my body.
“More than that, we need things that can provide first aid.
Ummm, please give me antiseptics, wound medication, and some bandages!”
“What the hell is going on?! Where is the injured child? I will treat them myself.”
“No!” I instinctively shouted.
Miss Haley looked at me in shock, surprised by the words spilling out of my mouth.
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