Rey played with the little doll in her hands. It was a small, ragged thing that couldn’t be recognized as anything but a barren thing waiting to be given some substance of character and depth in a factory. Except it was made by the creativity of a bored and tired girl seeking some sort of comfort in anything. Rey made it with old, torn clothing of hers resulted from fights with other orphanage kids, as well as other items she had found around the orphanage and trash cans she could manage to peek into. It was her only solace in the life she lived.
Rey’s stomach growled with hunger. She hadn’t eaten since the day previous, but she hadn’t wanted to bother Unkar Plutt that morning. He had been in a very bad mood, as he usually was. Rey didn’t want to annoy him again with her existence to simply ask for food when she knew he could easily yell at her and not give her food for another two days to teach her a lesson about bothering him when he didn’t want to be bothered. It was always a risk asking for it, so Rey usually kept to herself unless she was so hungry she was lightheaded or couldn’t bear it anymore.
Rey decided she should take the risk. She stepped up to her feet, clutching the doll to her chest, as she stepped out of her shared room and into the hallway. The whole orphanage was white, with broken plasters along the wall and cracked paint. Though it was somewhat well kept, it could be kept cleaner.
Rey’s small feet tread down the stairs, her mini buns bobbing along with her movement and her steps sending the wood under her feet into creaking shrieks. The orphanage was quiet despite this. It was the middle of the afternoon, so most of the children were outside playing, fighting, or wandering around the town. Something Unkar Plutt didn’t seem to mind much except if Rey were the one wandering around or playing; he only seemed to not care much when Rey was the one dragged into a fight she didn’t want to be a part of.
Rey stopped before Unkar’s office door, fear beginning to seize her. It was closed, thankfully, but nothing changed the intimidation it had. It was the door into the room of a man that had not given Rey the temporary home he was supposed to provide. Orphanages weren’t perfect, but Unkar’s was the worst Rey and anyone could imagine. He cared so little for the children and their health, and he would not bat an eye if any of them were to be seriously hurt. It would be a blessing to him because it would be one less mouth to feed.
Rey gulped down her fear and knocked on the door. Immediately, there was an annoyed voice on the other side that yelled, “What?”
Rey closed her eyes, praying for a moment to whoever would hear that food would be given to her. Any food, she thought quickly. Just something so I won’t be so hungry, please. Rey placed her hand on the doorknob, turning it and peeking her head into the open door. She was faced with the lumpish shape of the orphanage’s owner, eyes squinted tightly in annoyance. “What is it you want, girl?” Unkar sneered distastefully.
“I-I’m hungry,” Rey replied nervously.
Unkar kept his eyes on her and for a terrifying moment, Rey thought he would refuse her again. Instead, he said, “Very well.” He looked over his desk before picking up a foam plate and holding it out to her. “Take this and don’t bother me again, will you? I’m a busy man.”
Rey restrained herself from running forward in excitement to finally have something to eat. She slowly stepped forward and took the plate from his grasp across the wooden desk, gripping her doll in her opposite hand. “Thank you,” she whispered, before leaving his office as quickly as she could, shutting the door behind her. She didn’t allow herself to look down at the plate until she ran all the way back up the stairs, afraid he’d change his mind.
On the plate was the residue of eaten food, most likely from Unkar’s lunch, and a sole piece of bread with a rather large bite taken out of it. Rey looked around the hallway, making sure there was no one around to steal her only meal. She then placed the plate on the ground with her doll beside it, close enough to grab it in time in case a fellow orphan wanted to take it from her for a laugh. Even if she lost the meal, she could probably manage to salvage another one in the coming days, but the doll was irreplaceable. Rey tore off the bread around the bite mark with her small fingers and took a bite of the bread. It was stale and hard, but she still cherished it, taking her time with every bite.
After she threw away the plate, Rey returned to her room to find the window open, allowing the summer wind in. She was confused for moment, sure she hadn't left the window open, but the thought faded when she saw an owl perched on her too-thin mattress, a letter alongside it. The owl looked at her, blinking momentarily before flying out the window again. Rey ran toward the window to see where the owl was flying off to, but it was gone. She turned to the letter on her bed, picking it up curiously.
Rey was surprised to find it was addressed to her:
Although Rey still had no idea what was inside, she had the overwhelming feeling that everything was about to change.