It was nearly midnight, and the streets were empty, but something was lurking in the dark. The two of them walked silently down a long street and thought no one else was around. However, to their great surprise, as they drew near the town gate, there suddenly arose loud shouts.

“Aaahh! It’s the Hunchback of the Dump and his look-alike bride! Run for your lives!”

The townspeople erupted into a pandemonium of cheers and were having a roaring good time taunting these pitiful human beings. As the couple continued their long walk home, the children pelted them with rocks, eggs, and all kinds of things. Tears started streaming down the woman’s cheeks. She looked at her husband for comfort, but he turned his face away, hiding his tears. And then, they continued to walk in silence.

These two gloomy creatures were Theo and Mary born with disfigured faces and deformities, which made them the subject of daily mockery in their small town and the quiet farming community. Theo was hunchbacked and limped when he walked. He had big eyes, crooked teeth, and a large nose that looked like a giant tomato. Mary had big teeth and a hump on her back. Her cheeks were round, and she had a mass of scars, including one that ran from her forehead down to her left chin.

They lived in a dilapidated shack next to a landfill. Cardboard covered the holes in the wall. Their bed was an old stain-covered mattress they found in the dump. To cook their meals, they used an old and rusty portable gas stove, and for light at night, they used gas lamps. To make enough money to survive, they rummaged through the landfill or people’s trashcans. They took aluminum cans, glass, plastic containers, cardboard boxes, and cartons. They sold these things at the recycling center and bought what little food they could buy with their money. Almost every day they went to bed half hungry.

One night, as Mary and Theo were coming home from selling their goods at the recycling center, they saw the townspeople gathered around their tiny shack. Theo’s heart was pounding in his chest. He knew something was terribly wrong. They quietly hid in the bushes and listened to what the townspeople were saying. They saw a young man standing in front of everyone, asking, “How long do we let these kinds of people remain here and be a disgrace to the whole town? Let’s get rid of them. They’re freaks! They don’t belong here with us. We need to start cleaning our neighborhood, and we should start with those hideous creatures.”

Mary heard the townspeople cheering and applauding, and she could not help weeping silently behind her hands. After all, they meant no harm to the townspeople. They were quiet people, working hard, and not bothering anyone. Why would they be angry with them?

“What are we going to do, Theo?” Mary whispered as tears fell from her eyes.

Theo sighed deeply before he answered.

“It’s clear we are not safe here anymore, Mary. I don’t know what they will do if they find us hiding here. I am afraid we have no choice but to leave.”

“Where do you think we should go?”

“We would go as far away from here and from people as we can go. We need to find a place where we don’t have to worry about anyone hurting us again. Don’t worry, Mary. In time, we will find a safe place for us, and we will build a world of our own. God will protect and guide us.” Theo choked as he was trying the best he could to hide the pain and sadness he was feeling.

Meanwhile, the townspeople built a campfire in front of Theo and Mary’s tiny shack, and they even brought food and drinks as if it was a celebration. They sat around the campfire, roasted some marshmallows, and told spooky stories while the children held hands to sing, and they even danced in a circle around them. Then the townspeople anxiously waited for Theo and Mary’s return. However, as the night progressed, many soon grew bored and went home. A few people stayed behind and decided to wait.

And they waited.

After waiting for what seemed like forever, they got tired and finally decided to get a good night’s rest. They all agreed to return first thing in the morning to demolish Theo and Mary’s tiny house, and they would do it even without any consent or permission from anyone. Everyone laughed, and they all left, leaving garbage everywhere.

Theo and Mary, who were still hiding in the bushes, heard everything the people had said. They sat patiently in the dark and waited for everyone to leave, and as soon as they were gone, they quickly went to their house and packed a few of their things. They quietly pushed the wooden cart, and they didn’t stop walking until they disappeared into the darkness.

Mary took one final look at the town and the life they were leaving behind. She let out a frustrated sigh, and she asked her husband if he knew where they were going.

Theo paused, and sadness crept across his face. He shook his head in desperation, not knowing what lay ahead. For the first time in his life, he was frightened!

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