Alison, Age 10, Fort Collins, CO

The rain beat down hard on my head, dripped down my neck, made me shiver as the cold water ran down my back. Where was I to go now? Should I go to a house -- any house and ask for a place to stay? Should I take shelter in the alley beneath that overhang I had secretly sheltered under these last two years?

I began to walk, shivering as the sheets of freezing rain soaked through my tattered and torn clothes -- the only clothes I had.

I continued to walk, trying to keep myself even a little warm.

I watched a little girl, about the age I was run, dripping and shivering in to a nearby house, closely followed by two other girls, one a little older, and taller, and one who looked as if she was at least two years younger than the first girl. I felt a sudden surge of sadness, like water rising in a flood spring up, hot and bubbling, settling into a lump inside my throat.

We get a lot of flash floods up where I live, and that's what I was solely worried about. So, I immediately decided to watch the water very carefully and warn people if it started looking dangerous.

I walked down toward the nearest river, and began my task. I kept my eye on the water even when I got tired... exhausted....Then I saw that I had probably fallen asleep. I had just woken up, shivering, my toes and fingers now numb. The river's waters were almost upon me. It was time. I began to run, and when I reached the first house, I rapped hard on the wooden door. It was the house in which the little girl and her two companions had run earlier that same day.

Someone finally answered the door, took one look at the rapidly rising water, and gave a loud call. She said: "Anna! Jessie! Mandy! Come here! now!"

I had done my job at that house. I ran away, on to the next house. the water had come closer still. I banged on the door, and waited frantically for a response from the occupants. After what seemed like hours, a girl, about ten, opened the door. She also looked at the water and called: "Mother! Mother! Get up! It's the river. It's rising... fast!"

My task was done at that home too so I ran on toward the next house. This one was closer to the bank of the river than the others were. I repeated my routine house after house, and always got the same response. Finally, I was at the last house. The water was ten feet away, and it was about ten feet high, too. I knocked on the door but this time, after the usual reaction, there came something I hadn't expected. "Run along home to your parents so you can get away too."

"Well... I don't have any."

"Oh. Oh, I'm so sorry. Come with us."

I agreed, and she told me to go get in their car. I did so, and after a minute or so, when the water was about five feet away, we were off. I rode in the back seat, along with her two children, but also along with the happy thought that I had done my job. Everyone was safe, and finally, after six years of being homeless, I had found someone to call my mother, and two girls I would, from now on call my sisters.

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