The boy knew only what he’d been taught. He knew not how to read, how to get a job, nor how to get out of his hopeless situation. All he knew was that money was the driving force of this world, and it was for that reason that he sat here on this street peddling for spare change. The traffic was thin as the older people had kicked him out of their turf, so his income was beyond limited. He sat there day after day, month after month, some days able to afford a single meal, others nothing at all. His auburn eyes were glazed over with hunger, a feeling that he would never satisfy. One day changed that. On that day, he had not eaten anything the prior, looking incredibly withered and pale. The clatter of change shook him awake. Looking around, he saw no one, not a soul. Peering into his coin jar, he went wide eyed as a full $2.00 and a rose rested inside amongst the few spare bills. Looking to the skies, he fell back against the wall, clutching the can with his life. And so it continued, day after day after day. Always the same amount delivered in the same fashion, quickly and without a trace. The boy didn't question it, content with his savior’s offerings. Though after awhile, he began to wonder who it was. Keeping a lookout after several months, the boy eventually fell asleep. Upon awaking the next day, he’d find the same $2.00 and rose in the jar, nothing more, nothing less. Accepting he’d never know, the boy returned to his original pattern, and so the years came to pass. After some time, a new gift was dropped off on him. A single book, a dictionary. Flipping it open, he found the inside studded with notes and drawings on post-its, labeled with math lessons. This time the boy thoroughly questioned the new gift, the only change in pattern the past few years. With an eventual shrug, he began to learn more words, more basic skills. Returning that night to his spot in the nearby alleyway, he found his tiny make-shift shake with a new addition. A thin red blanket washed and folded lay upon his stained mattress. Tearing up a bit, the boy became determined to one day repay the one who was helping him, at any cost. But the chance never came. Years passed and the best he could gather was their hair color, a golden brown that left him even more interested. The boy soon grew into a teen, his chin barely shaved from salvaged junk, his hair cut to a spiky black style. His hunger was less satisfied by his age, but not completely unappeasable. His torn stained clothes were covered by a black hoodie someone had thrown away long ago, he cared not for the girly design on the back. And as always, the same $2.00, the same type of rose always awaited his day. And then winter arrived. A harsh blizzard plagued the city, snowdrifts covering the streets and burying anything not in cover. His shack was much the same. Having dug out his doorway, the boy barely had the protection of work warmth to survive the night. As the storm raged on, he lay shivering in bed, his cheeks red and teeth chattering. And yet somehow, despite the roar of the wind and freezing of his ears, the faintest knock at his door woke him. Carefully opening the door, he saw the faint visage of a jacketed person leaving, gone before he could say anything. Looking down, a single bowl of steaming soup lay in the snow. Taking it inside, the taste and warmth was more than enough to carry him through the night, his mind filled with that single outline. Deciding to stake out the next day, he was gifted with the chance. The storm raged on again, the snow piled high again. Through a shifted wall piece, he peeked out into the alleyway. As the hour approached, he saw the faint glow of a cell phone illuminating their approach. Staring into the darkness, the boy saw the figure kneel down, a dish of chicken and corn resting in the snow. Looking into their face, he was rendered speechless. A girl, a beautiful one at that, eyes a vibrant blue and her skin a tanned white. Faintly blushing, the boy could do nothing but sit back and watch as she left. What was this feeling that stopped him, this emotion that now poured from his very being, the overwhelming sensation that compelled him. Nothing like this was in his book, nothing at all. What was this feeling, and why did it overpower him so? Stepping out to collect his meal, he looked around for her, spotting the end of her jacket as she returned to her home. That face would be the one to give his dreams a bright glow. And so it came to pass, their secret exchange. Each time she came, he’d watch and view her with a blush, the feeling that filled him compelling him to never speak. As the storm was finally thinning out, the boy knew he’d be back to the normal exchange, and she’d be gone again. He choose to change that. Using the snow, he wrote a single message. A simple phrase, something he’d wanted to say to her for several years. “Thank You.” Pausing to read the message, she barely noticed as the boy slipped out of his shelter, a flower in hand, a few day’s savings but a world to him. A single crimson rose, brilliant against the dark alleyway and vibrant white snow. Turning to face him, she immediately backed up in surprise. But upon spotting the Rose, she blushed faintly, her face already rosey-cheeked from the cold. “To the girl who gave me my life, who gave me knowledge, who gave me comfort, who gave me food in this harsh winter…” Pausing, the boy knelt and offered it to her. “I don't know why you did it, even after all this time, but after 12 years of waiting, I want to be the one who gives something to you.” Smiling and looking up at her, he froze as she took the rose from him, her touch soft and soothing. “12 years huh...It hardly feels like anytime has passed to me. That lonely, young boy I knew long ago, without a home, without a family, without hope...We know nothing of each other, and yet we’ve grown up together.” Chuckling lightly, she knelt down and hugged him briefly, pulling back and smiling. “You're welcome my little street boy. But something more precious you can give me, is your name.” Blushing vibrantly, the boy barely managed the words, her embrace leaving him consumed by the emotion. “My name? I-I don't remember my name.” “No name huh? Well, if you don't mind me asking...Would you like a name?” Nodding vigorously, the boy smiled brightly, like a child at a birthday party. “How about...Jack. Jack Arcwire?” “Jack Arcwire...Jack Arcwire. Yeah, Jack Arcwire, I-I love it!” Smiling even brighter, the girl grabbed his hand before he bounced off in excitement. “Well, Mr. Jack Arcwire, my name is Lilith, Lilith Castovin.” Pulling him close, she kissed him on the lips, to his pure shock. Taken aback by her actions, Jack felt a wave of calm fill him, overwhelm him in fact. Kissing back, it felt so right, the feeling inside him telling him what to do, that it was right. Pulling apart, their breath foggy in the cold, their eyes met, and like two long lost friends finally reuniting, a bond was forged. “Jack...Do you know what Love is?” “Love? Yes, I read about it in that book you gave me.” “No silly, I mean do you know what it feels like? What it means to love someone? And to be loved back?” Pausing to think, he eventually came to a result. “No...I don't think so.” Drooping like a lost puppy, Lilith sighed sadly. “Oh, I-okay.” Taking her hands in his, he held them tenderly as he leaned in closer. “But I don't need to know what it feels like, or what it means. Because I already know. Lilith, I love you.” Brightening up immediately, Lilith smiled and hugged him tightly, her eyes starting to become wet with joyful tears. “I love you too, Jack.” Dropping the rose, it landed in the snow, in front of the shack that Jack had called home for so long. And as the flower began to sink deeper into the frost and chill, the alley was empty, a couple slowly walking away, silhouetted in the darkness, their love shining bright. And in that silhouette, a moment of the past seemed to appear. The days of a young girl, worriedly helping a boy she never knew. The many days she walked home from school just to help him, the roses she'd buy from the store everyday, the many days spent late waiting for him to sleep so she wouldn't get caught. For even while she cared for him, she was scared of him. Years passed, and a perky teen continued the routine, her fears over, her schooling done. And while she had little money, she made sure he had just enough. The flashes of her smiling as he rested on the sidewalk, her remembering the frail shaggy-haired boy that caught her eye, and the realization it was not pity that compelled her youthful actions, or compassion that drove her still. It was love. Love for this boy without a name. And she cherished it. And here they stood, his thin arms around her, his skinny frame masking the durability one finds only on the streets, and it comforted her. Her hair smelled of flowers, lilac in form. Her vibrant eyes soothing and cute, her subtle curves of little concern to him. He felt at home with Lilith, almost as if they had lived together for years at a time. And as he left the street that had granted him safe haven for many years, tears stained his eyes, and he smiled, for the future he saw in that instant, it changed his whole life. Together on the street, the Alley Boy and His Wife.