It was a dark and stormy night.
Little Ling was all alone.
She was scared.
The only thing that kept her at peace was the little charm on her wrist.
That was because every time she moved it, it made a subtle and soothing sound.
However, that sound was quickly muddled by the storm outside.
The winds grew fiercer than ever, and the windows rattled to the point where Ling could no longer hear her charm.
All she could do was cower away in the corner, her head buried between her knees, shaking her wrist hoping to hear it once more.
Ling wasn't sure what she was hoping for — she couldn't hear her charm anymore, and she was sure to be alone until the storm ended.
But then her thoughts grew deeper inter despair, most likely due to the already desperate situation, and she was reminded that even after the storm, there was no one to comfort her.
She didn't always have thoughts like these, and generally always wore a beautiful smile across her face, but the facts of her situation were undeniable.
After all, Ling's family was never there for her, and she spent much of her life away from them.
Thunder struck right outside her window.
The light was blinding, although it wouldn't be a lie to say that it had a tinge of beauty in the was it cast shadows across the room.
However Ling didn't see any of that.
It didn't take her long to notice that the dark outside slowly got a bit brighter though.
As she observed the window, she slowly started seeing it have more of a red tint.
Furthermore, the holes in the floorboards started spewing trails of black smoke.
She imagined the worse, but she didn't know what to do.
Suddenly, the door burst open.
A firefighter came rushing in, and yelled several times to see if anyone was there.
Due to the building smoke though, he didn't notice little Ling in the corner, and after no response, he left.
Ling was horrified that she was unable to cry out to him.
She desperately tried, but her voice didn't come out one bit.
She shook her arms, trying to get his attention, but she wasn't quick enough.
She thought it was all over. Her legs wouldn't move, her voice wouldn't come out.
She was so scared that she couldn't even cry.
Just as she thought her life was about to end in such an unfortunate way, she inhaled the surrounding smoke and quietly passed out.
The fireman knew there was someone in the house though.
He double check that room on the second floor once more, lifted up the girl, and rushed out of the burning house.
It took a while to put out the flames, despite the heavy rain outside, but the fire team completed their duty.
Ling slowly opened her eyes.
She slowly lifted her head from the padded bench and looked out the window across the hall.
It was bright blue outside, and the strong rays of sun momentarily blinded her.
Unaware of her surroundings, she took the situation for what it was, and sat upright.
She looked to her left, then to her other left, and didn't see a single person, so she decided to wait.
She was sure this was the hallway where her soul must pass since she certainly died, but wasn't too sure what to make of it.
So Ling decided to wait. She rocked her short legs back and forth on the bench, patiently awaiting someone, something.
One hour, two hours passed…
And as she was sitting, her eyes started to close, and her head started to nod.
She was so out of it that she didn't even hear the footsteps slowly approach her.
Once the man was right in front of her though, her keen scent caught the faint sent of ash and woke her up.
She looked up and saw a firefighter.
She figured he must have died looking for her in that house she lived in.
"I'm glad you're OK", said the fireman.
OK? Ling tilted her head in confusion.
"It took me a while to find you, but it seems I made it just in time! hahaha…" the fireman nervously laughed.
"Sorry you had to wait out here… I took you to a doctor, but he said you had just fallen asleep and would wake up soon, so I took you back to the station."
"We don't have any beds here unfortunately, but since I couldn't find your parents or family, I figured I might as well keep you here for the time being." he said with enthusiasm.
The fireman was worried at first that the girl didn't say a word, but he noticed that as he rambled on, her face grew brighter and brighter.
She wasn't dead after all, someone had saved her last night, someone had come to her rescue for the very first time.
Ling started moving her arms and hands in front of her, gesturing full of energy.
At that moment the fireman realized that the girl could not speak.
Suddenly nervous, he realized that she seemed to understand what he was saying, so he continued to speak.
"That'a a very pretty charm you have on your wrist!" he said out of desperation.
It wasn't entirely a non-sequitur though, since it was thanks to that bell that he knew someone was in that house.
He lived nearby it, and although it looked old, the leaves in front of the door were always brushed away, and he could always hear a soft, calming sound ring as he past by.
"You know, it was thanks to that charm of yours that I was able to find you!" he continued.
"Right after I checked the room, I heard that same lovely charm amidst the roaring flames, and I knew I had to check again."
Upon hearing this, Ling smiled in excitement.
"What's your name?" the fireman asked after a pause.
Ling quickly gestured a pen drawing on the palm of her other hand, and the fireman immediately understood to get out a pen and paper.
Ling wrote her name down slowly, but in an elegant handwriting.
Below her name, she wrote down two more words and put on a huge smile: "means charm"
"Ling, huuh? Nice to meet you! Do you know where your parents are…", but as he said this, Ling's smile progressively vanished.
Stumbling on his words, the fireman quickly some again: "You know, that smile of yours is really pretty! You need to smile more often ok? It'll keep you happy!"
Ling grabbed back the piece of paper and wrote two more words: "no parents"
Shocked by what he saw, the fireman thought for a moment.
"I'll tell you what… If you show me that smile one more time, I'll let you live with me! My place is a little small, but…"
His words were cut off by Ling suddenly jumping in excitement.
"I'll take that as a yes." he finished with a smile.
Instead of taking back the pen and paper, she flattened her fingers, brought them to the tip of her chin, and pushed the air away with the back of her hand, a gesture meaning thanks.
"I have no idea what that meant, but I'll have to catch on soon enough it seems! Lets go home kiddo!" the fireman said laughing.
And so she grabbed his hand, and never went a day without smiling since.
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