How strange it felt to be lying next to such a young temptress, after years of lonely dejection. The waif had entered my life unexpectedly, with loud attire and greased hair that was strangely out of place for the delicate features it crowned. Lost and lonely too, she fronted an indifferent attitude and a vehement distaste for authority. One third my age, her speech was filled with colloquialisms I'd never heard of, while her mannerisms reeked of immaturity.

Beneath her oppressive front, however, I could sense her fear. Leaving the remnants of her tattered relationships with her peers, she had determinedly set out in search of herself, only to find a world of coercion and ambivalence. I had found her alone at the grease burger dive, having spent the last of her worldly savings on caramel colored bubbles, fumbling with some cheap jewelry that dangled from her dirty yet delicate neck. There were tears still forming in her eyes.

I sat across from her with my normal complement of the morning rag and a pink bubbly concoction that vaguely resembled the homemade lemonade on the menu. I glanced at the forlorn figure from time to time in sympathy, seeking the redeeming attributes in her behaviors with futility. The sport page held far more allure once it was encountered, and soon all of my attentions were focused there. I never saw her slide in the booth next to me, and was quite unaware of her presence until she burped noisily. I glared at her, molested and somewhat surprised.

"I need some money," she blurted abruptly.

Ignoring the request to return to the latest scores, she shook my arm pensively, and tried to capture my gaze in her own desperate one.

"How much?"

"Hundred or so."

Not knowing her desperation I retorted; "Go ask your Mommy." That hurt her and she began to withdraw.

"I'll fuck you!" She was reaching.

"IRS beat you to it kid, excuse me." I started to fold the paper.

"I'll scream rape."

"Let me plug my ears."

She muttered something that almost made me blush, effectively dispensing the last vestiges of my sympathy, and I stood as best I could to seek refuge at the park just around the corner. Maybe my local chatting companion Mabel would be there, and we could share our wisdom whimsically as her wiener dog tried to hump my leg unceremoniously.

"Look Mister; I'm hungry and tired, and I just need a little help."

"That's better," I breathed while still attempting to get around her. "All I got is a five." I took out my wallet and emptied the bill that I had been saving for a movie later in the week. "Get a bite and call someone, OK?"

"I ain't got nobody..." Her voice trailed.

"Good song - Santana, isn't it?"

Her smile was genuine. "Yeah, thanks."

"Despite dating myself while robbing my recreational resources in less than a minute, I felt relieved as she moved her legs and allowed me to escape.

Smiling at her briefly, I headed for the park bench that was all too familiar, unaware that she was just a few steps behind me. Mabel wasn't there; probably had to bake something for the church. Musing it was a good thing since I was scantily clad in walking shorts and her dogs' claws were never trimmed.

Glancing towards the little house that I owned across the noisy street from the park, I recalled I had virtually raised my daughter alone there after my betrothed left for a stud with a much higher bankroll. There was comfort in its worn stucco and creaking hardwood floors.

With a sigh, I crossed the busy street and walked across the small yard to the comfort of the enclosed porch where I had spend many an evening watching the cars scurry past and the children playing on aging swing set that was raised shortly after I set up housekeeping. The little waif stood on the sidewalk watching me; not unlike a lost puppy in search of a new home.

After watching her for a few moments, I slid into my favorite lounge chair and gestured for her to come on up. There was enthusiasm in her steps. An offer for a real soda and some home made cookies enticed her life history with such fervor that I found myself at a loss for words. She needed a refuge to rebuild her self- esteem, and she needed discipline to cope with the many personal defeats that had previously all but destroyed her.

Not about to enter into forbidden territory, I coaxed her parent's phone number from her, and while she took her first shower in days, I gave them a call. It was brief, and the message was quite clear; dispelling any doubts I had in her blatant honesty. Semi-educated, and as stubborn as my great grandmother, Anna had literally alienated herself from her family and was learning that life was far more than trend setting attire and Hip Hop musicians. I could feel her desperation as she came from the shower wrapped only in a towel, and knew what she sought even before she vented.

After watching Anna devour two man-sized TV dinners, three large tumblers of milk, and the remnants of the spaghetti I'd thrown together during the previous weekend, I set her up as comfortably as I could in the tiny bedroom that used to be my daughters, and stumbled to the sofa with a glass of wine for my daily dose of sensationalism compliments of the local news network.

Despite the clips designed to hold my attention through the battery of commercials, I found my thoughts straying towards an uncertain future with Anna, and the lifestyle changes her co-occupancy would evoke. Barely able to support myself on my meager retirement, the only apparent resolution was for my young house guest to accept her immediate initiation into the working world and her share of household responsibilities. I could offer her little outside of the security of a caring environment which would probably be far too little for a rebellious cast away.

The bed beckoned comfortably, and I slid between the sheets with my mind in overdrive. As the reassuring waves of rest overtook the remnants of my minds chaos, the vision of angelic innocence appeared at the doorway. Stray rays from the street light illuminated the delicate creature wrapped only in a tattered white sheet, stirring the sleep from my eyes and a nagging warmth in my groin.

She slid beneath the covers wordlessly, and within moments she was asleep with her armed wrapped around my torso and her head tucked securely in my armpit. A kiss to her forehead as my hand moved to her soft and slender forearm, and I, too, forgot the world for one more night.

When I awoke, Anna was gone, the sheet she wore still crumpled beside my bed. The faint smell of ham and eggs drifted through the air, as I rose and showered to confront her with the financial dilemma her presence evoked. The kitchen was empty; but there was a warm breakfast with a small dandelion on the plate and a scribbled note on a paper towel that stated simply: "C U LATER."

Perhaps Anna had figured out from her meager surroundings and the lack of food in the refrigerator, that there were much better places to be. It was one of the best hand and egg omelets I've had in years, and her bed was neatly made with a several dandelions bunched on the middle, but the thought of her leaving without a word saddened me.

She was young and pretty, and she'd do well I thought, as I threw the laundry into the machine a brought out some chicken to thaw from the freezer. It wasn't until I pulled the clothes out of the dryer that I recognized her tattered skirt and blouse. Maybe there weren't better places to be.

The video store just down the street had been looking for help for several weeks until I walked in and offered my services. The work was easy and the pay a notch above minimum wage but the owner was desperate and so was I. Starting immediately, I tagged a note on the door letting Anna know of my whereabouts and struggled to absorb a multitude of terminologies and new technologies. One of the perks was free movies to view and the hours offered minimal conflicts with my normal routines.

By eleven in the evening, I was relieved to go through the lock down procedures and stagger home on feet that had doubled in size. She was waiting on the porch in a waitress outfit she had borrowed from one of her new co-workers. A half eaten pizza lay in a box beside her along with several bags of left-over entrees she rescued from their apparent demise in the dumpster.

Anna began to babble of her day and her dreams until I stood her up and hugged her with all the love that welled up within. As we withdrew, a silent tear graced her cheek, and words were lost. Staggering into the shower, I began to lather my aching limbs, unaware that she had disrobed and snuck in to the steaming refuge behind me. Her gentle hands began to lather the soap residue on my back as gentle kisses followed down my spine.

Turning to behold the firm, fragrant waif whose eyes glowed with love, I found the strength that comes from a thousand lonely nights filling my hands, as I caressed her delicate lines and explored her intimate recesses. She orgasmed almost immediately when my trembling hands cupped her vulva; she was a virgin. I hurriedly left the steamy stall ashamed and frightened. Locking my bedroom door as I hurriedly entered, I slept alone, chiding myself for violating the confidences I was trying to create.

Sleep did not come easily that night, and the steady rainfall that heralded the morning was a mere precursor to one of the worst days of my life. Anna was gone, her bed never slept in and a one word note on the kitchen table that merely proclaimed "Sorry." I searched for her everywhere but she was unheard of; a shadow that had swept through my life like a spring breeze and left without closure.

By the time I entered the video store, I was tired and saturated but determined not to fail as I had so recently in my own home. Another sleepless night followed my labors, and the dawn found me searching the local establishments with new fervor but to no avail. By the time I stumbled onto my porch, I had accepted my failure and vowed never to ride the "rescue" train again. That was until I glanced across the street and spied a huddled figure on my favorite park bench.

Fearing it was Mabel, I hurried across the wet pavement, getting doused unmercifully by several cars as they raced through the puddles. Approaching the huddled figure, I paused when I noted the leg humper was nowhere in site. That is when Anna turned to face me with such overwhelming sadness written on her face that me knees almost buckled. Recovering quickly, I ran to her and swept her tiny figure into my lonely arms. The attempt to carry her home in my arms failed miserably within the first few slippery steps. Undaunted, she grabbed my hand and we raced through the park and onto the patio. Between tortured breaths we kissed for an eternity, melting our fears with the warm passion we shared.

I pulled her through the front door and into the shower. As I detached the house key for her to use, she fumbled through her pocket and thrust a handful of wilted dandelions into my face. As we traded tokens, she excitedly babbled of the loneliness she felt and the significance of the wilted flowers that followed her everywhere. For her, dandelions were beautiful, rugged, and enduring; able to adapt to most any environment and make the best out of it.

With a knowing smile at my response, I cranked on the hot water and slowly began to uncover the beautiful charms hidden beneath the dripping wet rags. She was beautiful and sensitive despite what the cruel world had thrown at her.

Exploring her tender beauty under the steamy spray, I let my mouth descend first on to the hardened nipples, once erect from the cold, but now engorged with anticipation before descending down on to the sensual lips that my hands had anxiously caressed several night earlier. The sweet nectar of her youth flooded my mouth with just the lightest caress of my tongue, and I continued to suckle her intimate treasures until her knees buckled from orgasmic overload.

From her kneeling position, she quickly recovered and eagerly began exploring the intimacies of my unique masculinity, probing and caressing new life into the tired flesh that had long ago resigned itself to the companionship of my hands. Her tiny breasts were a delight to caress and her long sinewy legs were as smooth as silk as they encircled my own. Touching and teasing, she brought me precipitously close to my own orgasm before I could withdraw and escort her to the comforting confines of my bed.

I took her virginity that night with all the gentleness and sensitivity my wisdom and experience could afford; delighting in the forceful spasms of her sex heralding the onset of her numerous orgasms. It was only after exhaustion overcame her, that my seed erupted within her with more force than I thought capable of delivering. We slept soundly in each others embrace.

I stirred early, and disentangling myself from the delicate spread eagle waif I had ravaged the night before. The sheets were awash with our drying passions and my muscles were alive with agony. I brought her breakfast in bed, as it was her day off, and played with her treasures until she could bear no more. Once more entering her delicate essence, I watched as she twisted beneath me in orgasmic torment, mewing and gasping until she finally collapsed amidst a pool of her delicious ejaculate. My shift arrived far too soon, and the sadness in her eyes was painfully evident until I reassured her that I'd "C U Later."

That was some time ago; there were many challenges in our way, but her gentle untiring love and my dedication and experience brought us through. A cautious friendship was soon established with her kin so that when they passed away tragically, Anna was left with more than enough to support her comfortably with her thoughtful investments.

Mabel latched onto a retired trucker who didn't seem to mind the dog, and they joined us every Thursday for dinner. Anna took my position in the video store and within six months became the manager of a thriving business that recently added two new locations throughout the city.

I spend my time keeping Anna happy, and writing, realizing that a new beginning was somehow forced into my life and that I've somehow become the rescued rather than the "rescuer." We always have a bowl of dandelions on the kitchen table.



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