The earliest memory I remember was when I was three years old. I was covered in dirt, waste, and other kinds of filth. My pure white hair, extremely greasy and filled with lice, slid across the sewer walls as I looked around to see my surroundings. That horrible stench suffocated my lungs. My stomach growled at the fact that I hadn’t eaten in a couple of days. As an ignorant, uneducated child, I thought that this was just a phase in life, hoping that the feeling would ease into a healthy state, or I would just go back into that dark, endless void of sleep and feel better. So I just laid there, waiting and waiting for that miracle to come.
After what seemed like forever, I felt a nudge. With the remaining energy I had, I turned my head lazily to the fluffy source.
A white rat.
I was too weak to react to anything, staring at it with no will to do anything. Then I heard footsteps.
There was this older boy, no older than thirteen, that approached me. He had jet black hair and deep blue eyes. The rat crawled up his sleeve. He had a white hospital mask that moved as he asked,
“Hey, can you stand?”
I had barely any strength. So I just stared at him with dull eyes, giving an I-Dont-Give-A-S**t-About-Anything look.
Surprisingly, he then lifted me up and carried my skinny body gently. He had a lot of stuff in his backpack, so I figured he was a traveler, or a gypsy. I thought that since he looked like he had food, I could put my worries away now. Thus, I drifted into a long nap.
When I woke up, I felt a surge of energy run through my veins. Not knowing what to do with it, I sat up, looking at what an unorganized place this was. Fresh breath filled my being as I exhaled the disgusting one. Then, I saw the boy again.
“Ah, you’re up Lucyna.”
That familiar name my parents would always call me had a strange feeling to it. Who was this person?
“Who are you?”
I asked in a raspy voice. I haven’t spoken in years, given that I was always isolated from humans.
“I am the King of Thieves! The Wonderer of Wonderers! The One Who Holds The Leadership Of The Little Furry Ones! I am…”
He went on and on about his glorious titles given to him by himself. He also had dramatic actions to describe his amazingness. I just sat there, watching the poor kid talking about his pitiful names. Honestly, I didn’t mind.
“…I am your friend, saver, and cousin, Vitomir Gronowski!”
“But uh… Call me Vincent. Doesn’t that sound better than Vitomir?”
I nodded, still confused about his names.
“I chose Vincent because I’ve always wanted to go to Venice. I mean, look at this!”
He showed me a picture of the Grand Canal, filled with colorful buildings and bridges with boats tied to them. I had no idea what is was, but it looked cool.
“You look like Torre de Mangia… Or a Siena. I’ll call you Ciana, is that ok?”
I nodded my head. It sounded prettier than Lucyna.
“I talk too much, sorry. Want some soup?”
My voice got better and my body got healthier. I was still underweight, but that didn’t matter. He introduced me to Matka, the white rat that had been feeding me since I was in this place. Vincent thought that I actually was chanting “Matka” over and over as a baby, so it stuck to her- according to Vincent’s and Matka’s communications. I could sometimes tell what her communications meant because of how long I stayed with her. He even said that she protected me from other rats that tried to consume me because of how attached we were. She found Vincent and followed him for a few weeks, but then they located me. He also told me that almost all albino rats or mice were lab rats. That’s probably why she obeyed us.
Vincent told me many things, like how we were actual cousins on our father’s side and how we were in Wroclaw, Poland. Or so he thinks. He taught me how to read and write in Polish with a pen and my skin. He gave me a black choker he created, stating CIANA with light purple bubble letters to keep me “safe”. In return, I gave him a mask made out of the markers, scissors, and mouse-outlined mask he shoplifted. He reminded me of the father I never had, except our ages were very close together. Matka was like a mother to me aswell.
We supplied food through Vincent going to the above and taking money from people’s bags and sometimes attacking them. We knew his actions were wrong, but he said it was for the greater good. He said that I and Matka were “allergic” to the light above, so we couldn’t go. But he said that he wore the mask I gave him when he went outside as a sign that we would never depart.
I lived with the two for an amazing seven more years. I was eleven now and we were in the Czech Republic. Vincent was about twenty. I never knew how Vincent or how the sixth generation Matka’s non-albino children were never caught stealing. Yes, once Matka dies, the next firstborn female was named Matka. Sometimes, we had to eat her male children to survive. They never disobeyed us because Vincent and I were like second parents to them. The father however, he was delicious. Anyways, when I asked Vincent why they weren’t caught, he said that he had a lot of friends above that helped him. That was a relief.
Everything was fine, until that one horrible day when I had to kill Vincent.
He hadn’t fed me or Matka in a couple of weeks and was making me a new choker. The old choker was getting a little small for me so I decided that he can make a new one. I was so hungry as I waited for him to be done. I was too hungry to fall asleep, given that it was nighttime I think. As I came closer to him, he smelled different. He smelled… Good. Like… Salt. I looked over his shoulder and saw him eating chips.
“Vincent, what is that?”
I looked at him with wide eyes.
“I’ll ask again, what is that?”
“Ciana, go to bed.”
“You know, Matka and I havent eaten in weeks… Can we at least have-”
“Ciana go to bed!”
I have never seen him get so angry over a bag of chips. As I turned to leave I heard voices in my head.
Why does he get food and not us? Why can he have more privileges? We do the chores and he just eats… He is selfish… He doesn’t care… He…
“…should be punished.”
I muttered. He turned around.
“What are you talking about? Anyway, I’m done-”
“Matka. Come here.”
She heard the whole conversation. She and her children swarm around Vincent and… Bit him.
“W-what the hell?! Matka stop! Ciana-”
I grabbed my old scissors on the table. The throbs of the hunger pains filled my ears. I grabbed them and stabbed Vincent in the leg, making him collapse unto the chair.
“You made us eat Matka, so why can’t we eat you?”
His painful shrieks filled the air as the rats kept eating him. I reached in and took a bite of his skin. It was good. Soon, we ate every inch of his body.
As we were finished, not a single tear of sadness went down my cheek.
“You said that the choker kept me safe. And I agree.”
Soon after, I grabbed the mask and the choker with some clothes. I left the sewers with Matka to the outside. It was bright af. Later, I was found by this British couple who was visiting a friend. They surprising took me in. I secretly hid Matka as a result of their rat phobia. We went from there to London, in which I learned how to speak english. The couple then abandoned me on a ship to the USA as soon as they found out I had a pet rat. At the age of fourteen I was taken in by the Harrisons.