AN: New story…IMPORTANT AN ON THE BOTTOM.
All things Twilight belong to SM.
I could hear the wind howling outside the strange car. When we had past the bank, the huge clock on top of the building flashed a temperature reading of seventeen degrees. If I wasn't afraid of literally freezing to death I wouldn't be sitting in this car with someone I met not ten minutes before.
We pulled into an all too familiar alleyway that was hidden in a crack-cocaine fueled neighborhood. I hated what this neighborhood represented in my personal life – failure.
When the man finally put the car into park, far enough into the alleyway to not be seen by other drivers or pedestrians, I got a good look at him. He was definitely a blue-collared worker. He certainly wasn't the most horrible looking man I had ever been with, but he had probably seen better days. His hairline was receding and a small beer belly was growing. He was also desperately in need of a good shave as he didn't look good with a five o'clock shadow. There was dirt underneath his fingernails and grease stains on his hands.
While his clothes didn't look particularly expensive, they looked sturdy, surely defending him against the cold. I always felt bad when I looked at these men - assessing them in my mind. I wasn't anyone to judge. My hair was matted with dirt and full of knots. My clothes were stained with mud, grass, and even spots of blood. My shoes even talked back to me. My ribs were more than visible and I sported scars and bruises throughout my body.
"You ready?" the stranger asked, causing my eyes to shift from his warm looking coat to his eyes. Without waiting for my response, he began fumbling with his belt buckle. I stopped him before he lowered the zipper on his slacks.
"Wait." I put my hand up to stop him. "I want the money first." He rolled his eyes but took his wallet out anyway. He handed me a twenty that I quickly folded up and placed in my sock. "Alright."
The stranger continued to lower his zipper and drag both his boxers and slacks to his knees at the same time. Thankfully, he was already hard and the deed would go by quicker.
I took a deep breath and mentally prepared myself to service yet another nameless man. I licked my lips to make it easier to take him in. I lowered myself and took him in my mouth. Luckily, he wasn't very big and gagging would probably be nonexistent.
I grabbed the base of his cock, making it easier on myself to keep his dick steady while I went up and down. I started out slow, having to get used to it in my mouth. Eventually, I picked up my pace, already wanting this to be over. The speed must have spurred him on. He began squirming in his seat, jerking his leg every so often. The stranger placed his hands in my hair, something that I always hated, and started guiding my head up and down, setting the pace that he desired. Another four minutes later, he was showing signs that he was almost finished. I could feel his thighs tense up and he slowed the bopping pace of my head. As he came in my mouth, he held my head down, not allowing any kind of movement and making it hard for me to control my breathing. I let his load fill my mouth, but refused to swallow it. As soon as he released the hold on my head, I quickly opened the door and spit out everything I collected.
It was something I was used to already – I didn't even taste in anymore. I would love to say that I fantasized I was with some famous Hollywood actor, giving him the best blow job he's ever had, but that wasn't the case. The moment I had someone's shaft, or on occasion some chick's twat, in my mouth I was like a robot. I just did what I knew they liked and did it until they came. I did it to survive, it was my only reason. Was I a whore? I guess, but if it's what I had to do to survive, then it's what I was going to do.
I closed the door to tighten my shabby coat before I left the warmth of the car. It wouldn't matter how close I hugged my tattered coat to me, it would do nothing to protect me from the dangerous cold.
I guess I was bracing myself for the cold longer than I thought because the man I just sucked off groaned next to me.
"What the hell are you still doing sitting in my car? My wife is waiting for me, I gotta get home."
If I was someone else, I might have been surprised that he sought out my services while he had a wife at home, but I heard it many times before. I got out of the car before the stranger could become angry. I had my fair share of beating after "pleasuring" customers. I learned how to handle them – to not show any pain, as it sometimes spurred them on.
I hated this part of my life, more than shop lifting, begging, garbage picking, and pick pocketing. However, this was something that provided both money and warmth at the same time. The twenty dollars that I just earned bought me a room for the night. I had to do it tonight. All the shelters were at full capacity and my only other option would be the alley that I was currently walking out of.
Fortunately for me, the motel that rented rooms by the hour was down the block. Since I knew the guy – fucked him for a room when I was desperate and broke – he would cut me a break and let me have the room all night for twenty bucks.
I walked into the disheveled lobby and up to the bulletproof glass that separated me from James.
"I got twenty bucks," I told him, not bothering with any formal greeting.
He smiled a sly grin that I've grown to hate; I knew what he was thinking. "Wouldn't you rather save that money?" He licked his lips and looked as if he was trying to see through my shredded coat and clothes.
"Not tonight. I'm tired and cold. I just want some sleep." He would be disappointed, but physically and mentally I was exhausted. I probably wouldn't even shower tonight. He tossed me a room key then turned to ignore me, watching whatever was playing on the scrambled, black and white television.
Looking at the room key, I saw that I was staying in room seven tonight. I knew this motel like the back of my hand so I found the room quickly. I unlocked the door, throwing the key on the bed and headed to the bathroom.
I hated looking in the mirror, but I always did it anyway. The girl staring back at me was someone I hadn't recognized at first but came to know her very well. My cheek was now a yellowish color from a bruise that was now fading. My neck had claw marks on both sides – marks that I knew would become infected - if they weren't already. My eyes were hollow and lifeless, my hair was thin and falling out.
I could only take my reflection for so long before I felt the need to throw up. I wasn't always like this; at one point I was actually doing very well for myself. Once upon a time, I was a college student, only a year from graduating. I would have even considered myself pretty. Once upon a time I was happy.
Turning from my reflection and memory that were openly mocking me now, I reached out for the travel toothbrush and toothpaste that was always supplied. It was the only amenity that this shitty place provided.
I brushed my teeth quickly and scrubbed my tongue until it felt raw and tasted of blood. It was the only way to ensure that I was totally rid of my night activity. I rinsed my mouth and spit, let clean water wash the cheap, plastic toothbrush, and put it safely in my pocket along with the toothpaste.
I removed my coat and rested it on the chair that was placed near the door. I took my shoes off and put them under the bed. Hopefully, tomorrow I could say bye to both of these items. Every first Sunday of the month, St. Mark's Church gave away clothes that they collected from the parishioners. It was actually the only way I received "new" clothes. I had no business in that area, except to collect whatever I needed and leave. Not only was it across town, but it was the good part of town. The half hour or so that I was there, the neighborhood people would look at me, and the rest of us who needed the assistance, as if we were lepers and our homelessness was contagious.
I threw myself under the rough, stiff duvet; letting the little warmth they provided envelope me. It was only just after eight at night but it could have been two in the morning with how tired I felt. Plus, I had to get up early if I wanted to get to the church in time to be there when the noon mass let out. It was after that service when donated item were handed out. I set the wind up alarm clock for seven, giving me enough time to walk the five miles to the church.
I fell into a dreamless sleep, as usual. I couldn't even remember the last time I dreamt. Nightmares came easily, but dreams were something that evaded me.
I woke the next morning to the annoying bell like sound coming from the clock next to me. I slapped my hand down on it, effectively silencing the offending object. Even though I slept about eleven hours, I always woke up feeling like I hadn't slept enough. It was never enough.
Slowly, I got out of bed and walked over to the bathroom, turning on the hot water that was never very hot at all. Stripping out of my grimy clothes, I stepped into the shower and stood under the spray, hoping it would wake me up and wash away the previous day. When I felt that I was standing there too long, I scrubbed my body and hair with the tiny bar of packaged soap that was left on the soap dish in the tub. I washed my hair as best I could without shampoo or conditioner. I felt somewhat satisfied when I saw the water that washed my hair turn brown and swirl down the drain.
After I dried myself, I redressed in the clothes that I'd worn for the past month. Brushing my hair wasn't an option, so I ran my fingers through it as best I could. It was rough, feeling like I had dreadlocks, and I grimaced at the sorry knot that sat at the nape of my neck.
I grabbed the key that got knocked off the bed sometime during the night and walked out the door. Walking into the lobby, I tossed the key to James who was preparing to leave from his shift, and didn't bother with a goodbye.
I tightened the coat close to my body, hoping to fight off some of the cold. It wasn't snowing, but when I looked up to the sky, the clouds held that grayish color that meant snow and not rain. I had miles to walk and I silently prayed that whatever snow was going to fall fell well after I had my new clothes.
With about one mile left until I reached the church, I spotted a five dollar bill. It was well hidden, and abandoned, behind the back tire of a parked car. I looked around me, hoping that no one was watching, even though no one had any interest in looking at a homeless girl. Deftly, I swooped up the bill and continued in the direction of the church, very quickly this time.
I must have been walking faster than I realized because when I arrived at the church, mass had yet to be let out. Because I didn't know what time it was, I had no idea how long I had to wait. As I stood in front of the closed doors of the church, I spotted the small deli across the street. I never had any money to venture in there, so I never paid attention to it. I began shuffling my feet where I stood, deciding if I should go in or not. I hadn't had coffee in so long. In fact, I couldn't even remember the last time I did have it. My wind burnt face and the thought of coffee on my tongue eventually helped me decide. I ran across to the deli and ordered a small coffee - light and sweet. I was only allowed to take one glorious sip, before I caught a crowd forming across the street.
Anxious to be one of the first people in line for new clothes, I dashed across the street. In the mist of making a beeline toward the area that was designated to form a waiting line, I bumped into something hard, spilling my hot coffee in the process.
"Aggghhh," the man yelled after my coffee splashed his chest, burning him. His white, button down, neatly pressed shirt had a huge brown stain right on the center of it. The excess coffee dripped off and splashed unto his expensive looking black shoes.
I was absolutely mortified when I looked to see the man's face. Angry didn't do him justice. I had seen this man come out of church services many times. He was absolutely breathtaking. I had never gotten close enough to see any specifics, but his hair color had an unusual brownish-red thing going on that seemed like it was a styled disarray. Though, at a closer look, it didn't seem styled at all. His eyes had an earthy-green color.
What made the matter worse, though, was that I think knew this man's mother…kind of. The lady that I believed to be his mother was the same lady that ran and supervised the clothing drive. She was there every time I went get a new "wardrobe". She was a nice lady, but I had no idea about her son.
"Seriously, do you have any idea how much this shirt cost?" he whispered-yelled while peeling the shirt away from his chest and shifting his eyes to those around us, not wanting to make a scene.
I found myself talking at the same volume and looking to those around us, too. Not for the same reason, though. I hated being around at lot of people for a long period of time. It wasn't unusual for them to point and make faces or whisper loudly enough so I can hear their cruel remarks about my looks or odor. I knew that I was dirty and smelled; I didn't need people pointing it out to me.
"I don't, but…I can pay for it." I don't know what the hell made me say that because…I couldn't. I couldn't even afford to keep myself fed for two consecutive days.
He quirked an eyebrow at me, knowing full well that I couldn't. "Okay, what about dry cleaning?" I amended my statement.
"Dry cleaning? You want me to leave a three hundred dollar shirt with a dry cleaner that I don't know? Because you surely can't afford my dry cleaner." He laughed humorlessly. "Ugh, just…just get away from me. And while you're at it, take a bath – you reek."
He turned from me while holding his soiled shirt away from his body. I stood grounded in my spot. My thoughts were jumbled and I couldn't utter a single word in my defense. I couldn't tell him that I had showered and it was my clothes that probably smelled. I couldn't tell him that we all weren't born with a silver spoon in our mouths. I couldn't tell him to fucking get over it, it's a shirt. Once upon a time I could have told him all of that – when my words actually mattered.
What I could do, though, was start to cry. I already felt worthless. Hell, I knew I was worthless, but to have someone basically throw it in your face hurt. Not only was I hurt, but I was determined to show him I could do something besides take hand outs. I wiped my tears away with vigor. I had a new goal – I would have three hundred dollars by next month to pay for his stupid shirt.
With renewed "confidence", I headed toward the line that already had a few people on it. After I left here and went back to the part of the city that I belonged in, I would start collecting the money.
Waiting on line took longer than usual – and was quite torturous. Not only was it freezing, but the more I thought about what happened with the handsome stranger, the more depressed I got. The little determinacy I had began dwindling the more I thought about it. I was still going to pay him back to show him that I could do something despite my lack of…everything. The only thing I really feared was wanting to spend any money once I got it. It wouldn't be on frivolous things like getting my hair done or having a drink at the bar, but rather eating to survive.
I spent the rest of my time waiting on line to think about the different ways I would manage to get the money. I didn't have anything personal I could sell, so that was out of the question. Picking pocketing would probably be the quickest, but selling myself would guarantee me something. I would probably save begging for when I needed a little spare change for myself.
"We'll take the next ten people on line," a small girl called out. She was new. In the two years that I've been coming here, I had never seen her here before.
Since I was part of the ten granted access, I made my way inside the church. When I passed the young girl, I realized that she wasn't young at all. While she was on the short side, her facial features were quite pronounced and mature. She had green eyes that seemed to sparkle with ignorance. Her smile never wavered as one by one we all passed her to claim our treasure. I wish I was I blind as her. She probably felt good about herself – helping the less fortunate – but at the end of the day she went home to fall blissfully asleep, cuddled under a warm blanket on her memory foam mattress.
Oh, to be her for a day!
As usual, I stopped at one table at a time, trying to decide if there was anything offered that I needed. At the table that offered shoes, I spotted a pair of winter boots that I desperately wanted. However, before I could reach out for them, an elderly lady snatched them up, glaring at me while doing so. I tried searching for another pair of boots that would fit, but nothing turned up. I was even willing to go two or so sizes up; I could stuff some newspaper in them to make them fit properly. However, I was only able to find smaller sizes, and I knew from past experience that going even a size smaller could be horrendous on my feet. In the end, I wounded up with plain, white, cheap looking tennis shoes that were two sizes too big. I just hoped that they would get me through the month.
My next stop was at the table that held t-shirts and tank tops. I quickly grabbed one of each, wanting to move on to the next table – the sweaters. Specifically, I was looking for a hoodie as I always found them to be the most comfortable. Searching the disheveled pile, I finally spotted what I was looking for. It was pink and apparently, the owner went to NYU as the front logo indicated.
I made my way over to the table where the pants selection was. I searched through the pile looking for the sturdiest pair of jeans. When I was finally "happy" with my selection, the girl from before was standing in front on me, on the opposite side of the table.
"Those jeans look like they might be too big on you," she said frowning. If my situation was funny, I would have laughed at her. She really was blissfully ignorant.
"Yeah, I know, but they never have my size," I replied, shrugging and ready to move on.
"Well, what size are you? I'll help you look." She began digging through the pile without waiting for my answer.
"Two." I watched as she halted her movement to look up at me.
"Get out," she replied, almost longingly. "I'm trying to get down to a size five, I'm a six, but I can't stop eating," she continued rambling on. It wasn't until a few seconds later that she realized what she said. "Oh my god, I can't believe I said that. I'm so sorry."
I waved her off as if I didn't care although the reminder that I went to sleep starving on a habitual basis stung a little.
"It's alright. Anyway, I have a belt," I lied. My belt was actually I rope I stole that someone was using to dry their clothes on.
"Oh, um…alright. I'm just gonna go," she said awkwardly. "I'll be over there if you need anything."
I gave her a small smile and continued on. I only had one more thing to get but couldn't find it anywhere. I had spent another ten minutes looking before I decided I should ask one of the workers for help. I tried looking for the girl, but when I found her she was occupied on her cell phone. The only person that looked available was the lady who ran the whole operation and who I believed was the mother of the stranger. I started over to her, hoping that she hadn't seen the accident from earlier.
"Excuse me, miss?" I said, getting her attention.
"Hi, dear. What can I help you with?" she asked, offering me a bright smile. She didn't seem like she was aware of anything, making me feel extremely relieved.
"I was trying to find the coats but I don't see them anywhere," I answered.
"Oh, I'm sorry, you're not from the church, are you? There was an announcement in the newsletter."
I shook my head. "I'm from the south part of town," I informed her.
She nodded knowingly. "Well, because of the huge demand and donation of coats, we have a separate day solely for the coats. The coat drive is tomorrow. Can you come back then?" She seemed genuinely upset that I didn't know about the change.
"No, don't worry about it." I waved her off. "I'll get by. Now I know for next month. I'm just going to be going now. Thanks for the clothes." I held up the clothes in my hand, showing her, and began turning to the bathroom to change into my new acquisition.
"Wait!" She held up her hands, and began walking backwards. "Just hold on one second." It wasn't until I nodded my agreement that she turned around. I wasn't in a hurry to be anywhere, especially in the cold weather. At the same time, though, I didn't want to stay in this part of town longer than necessary.
Not ten minutes later, the lady came back with something in her hands. It looked like a coat, but I couldn't be sure.
"Here, try this on. It looks about your size, give or take." She thrusted the black coat in my arms and held the items I had in my hand. Trying on the coat, it was a little on the big size, but I knew that it should last me all winter. The inside was lined with wool that I found itchy now on my bare arms, but would prove to be very warm against the cold, especially when I had on my sweater.
"This is great! Thank you so much." I was smiling – really smiling for the first time in a long time. And for the first time in a long time, someone had done something selfless to help me out. Granted, it wasn't like she went out and bought me a brand new coat, but she could have told me to come back tomorrow like everyone else if I wanted the coat.
"Can I ask you something?" the woman asked me, hesitantly. My smile wavered as I saw her nervous expression.
"Yeah, sure," I whispered. I didn't know what she could possibly want to know about me, but I was nervous, too, none the less.
"Well, I've seen you every time you come in here and I notice that you only take one thing off each table. You're allowed up to three articles of each type of clothing. Why don't you take more?"
I guess she didn't remember the very first time I had visited here, but then again it was a long time ago and there was nothing about me that would stand out to her. The first time I was here I took the maximum of everything I possibly could. Like every other time, I went into the bathroom and changed into what I picked out. That time, the extra clothing that I did have was stuffed into a backpack that I carried at the time. I had been back to the south part of town for maybe about two hours when I was jumped and robbed. My bag was taken along with all my possessions. Not only were the new clothes in that bag, but there was also a toothbrush and a bar of soap I stole from the pharmacy, rope, a lighter, a can of soda, and about fifty bucks.
I was actually beaten pretty badly since I put up a fight for that backpack. Since I couldn't go to the hospital, I practically crawled myself to an abandoned warehouse that was inhabited with the usual suspects – the homeless, drug dealers and users, and prostitutes. I found a relatively quiet corner and nursed myself back to health. Really, I just slept. I was too weak to do anything else and it wasn't like I had the means to do anything else. I couldn't even afford a small bottle of water to clean my wounds. Eventually, I gathered the least bit of strength to go stand in the rain to wash off any dirt that was willing to come off.
From that day on, I never carried anything extra with me that would stand out, that included the clothes I changed out of. Any money I earned or stole went into my shoe or underwear. If by chance I came across a bar of soap, toothbrush, or anything that I deemed valuable, I hid it behind a loose brick from a building in the alleyway that I frequented often.
"There's a lot of people with families here. They need more clothes than I do; let them have it." It wasn't an absolute lie, but not the complete truth either.
"Oh, well that's nice of you, but it's really not necessary. We actually have a lot of clothes. When our stash gets low we bring more out from boxes."
"Maybe next time. I really am fine right now."
The lady smiled sadly at me, but I think she was trying to hide it. "Of course. Well, I'll let you get going now. Make sure you bundle up; it's supposed to be really chilly tonight."
Great! All I needed was another cold night. My only saving grace was that if I got back downtown quick enough, I could snag a bed at the shelter.
I gave the lady a small wave and began heading in the direction of the bathroom. I turned back quickly to ask her one more question before she went back to business.
"Excuse me, do you have the newspaper? If you're done with it, that is." I figured that if I knew what the weather was going to be like for the rest of the week, or at least the next few days, I could plan accordingly.
"I might. My son takes it sometimes and I don't know if he did today. Give me one second to look," she answered. I could have told her that he didn't and I knew for a fact because I literally ran into to him.
She returned not two minutes later with a visibly disheveled newspaper. "I'm sorry it's such a mess. My daughter was digging through it for the coupons and she can't put a paper back together to save her life." She chuckled at her own joke and it made me want to cry. She reminded me of my own mother and how she used to laugh at her own jokes all of the time, whether they were funny or not.
"Thank you. Do you want a dollar for it, or however much it cost?" I searched for the front page, looking for the price of the Sunday paper. I didn't want this lady to think I was mooching off of her generosity.
"Oh, no. Don't worry about it. They get delivered to my home every Sunday." She waved me off, smiling as she turned her back to me.
I continued back to the direction of the bathroom to change and start heading back to where I really belonged.
Finally changed into the new clothes and free of the old, grimy ones, I started the trek downtown with the newspaper under one arm. As I walked through the streets, I observed my surroundings – more like the people surrounding me. Everyone seemed to be in a hurry to get someone, even on what's supposed to be a lazy day. And although I didn't see any form of relaxation on any passing face, I couldn't help but wish I was one of them. They all seemed to have a sense of purpose, of belonging. Even on this Sunday, I saw people who had a look of authority on their face, ready to reprimand anyone who stepped out of line or hadn't turned in their status reports on time.
I saw mothers dragging their children along, maybe to the grocery store to pick up something for dinner, or the rebellious teenager on their way to meet a friend to cause some type of mischief. I would pick any of those roles instead of my own.
If I died right now, no one would be none the wiser. I would have no one to mourn my death and tell others what I good person I was. I had no one to remember the time when I used to volunteer at the animal shelter and organize some kind of drive to raise money to keep the animals alive. No one would know that I loved to read or horror movies were my preference. While my body entered Riga Mortis, no one would know that my name was Bella and I dreamed of being a famous artist one day. I would be just one less person on line at the soup kitchen and shelter.
Realizing that I was depressing myself, I shifted my thoughts to where they should be. I needed to make three hundred dollars by next month and keep myself alive in the process. I took another look at my surroundings, trying to find someone I could make a quick buck off of. I didn't have to look for long. A young girl stepped out of a Starbucks, distracted with the task of digging through her gigantic purse that probably wasn't even half full.
As she is walked in my direction, still searching for something in the cave she called a purse, I sped up my movements toward her. When she is merely feet in front of me, I moved slightly to the left, bumping into her as we passed. Just like I hoped, her bag and its contents spilled to the floor.
"Oh my God, I'm so sorry," I quickly apologized and kneeled to help her gather her things. When my knee hit the floor, I made sure it landed right above her wallet. I placed my newspaper down, successfully shielding my knee and the wallet it's rested upon.
"No problem," she replied, distracted. She didn't offer an apology for not paying attention where she was walking, and I guess I really didn't expect one, either. Although, technically I was the one the bumped into her, it could have been her fault, also.
When everything was back in her purse, she stood up and walked away, not saying anything else. When I was convinced she wouldn't turn back, I stood up, quickly stashing the wallet in my coat pocket and stuffed the newspaper under my arm. It wasn't until I was finally in my part of town that I felt slightly more comfortable. However, it wasn't until I reached my own personal spot that I would even dare search through the wallet.
German Street was a small dead end off a fairly busy business street. Nothing but a parking lot, two apartment buildings, and a forgotten billboard rested on this street. Behind the billboard was where I made my home on nice nights. It was the only place where I actually had the smallest tinge of privacy. I had no idea why, but no one else seemed to know about this dirty, little oasis. No one ever came here, at least when I was there.
I placed the newspaper on the ground and tried getting as comfortable as the moist dirt below me would allow. I reached into my pocket for the wallet. Having the sudden urge to know about the owner of said wallet, I held off on counting the money in the wallet and began looking through the rest of the items. The wallet belonged to Bree Tanner, a twenty year old female with brown eyes who reached five feet five inches. She took an amazing license photo, but more importantly, she looked healthy and I instantly hated her.
Along with her license she had a few pictures with a handsome guy, who I assumed was her boyfriend, and a few credit cards. Stupidly, she also had her social security card in there. Shaking my head at the ignorance of the girl, I gave up on going through her Coach wallet. Widening the slot where the money was held, I reached in and grabbed every bill it contained. My eyes widened at what I saw. There were twenties, tens, and a few singles. I hadn't counted it, but I could tell that there was easily more than a hundred dollars resting in my hand. Curiosity finally got the better of me and I counted it. In total, there was $153!
I was ecstatic, to say the least. In just a matter of hours I was more than half way to the three hundred that I needed. If my luck kept up, I could have the stranger's money in about a week.
After I counted the money for what seemed like the twentieth time, to make sure I wasn't just imaging the amount I held in my hand, I began to notice the wind picking up again. It would be too cold to stay behind the billboard tonight. Stuffing the now folded money into my underwear, I stood up, grabbed the newspaper and wallet, and started the short journey to the local soup kitchen for an early Sunday dinner.
I tossed the muddy newspaper in the trash can that was placed in front of one of the apartment building, after I checked the weather for the upcoming week, which promised to be cold Monday through Wednesday. I made sure to take the long way to the soup kitchen in order to pass the post office. I deposited the money-less wallet into the mailbox and kept on walking.
When I finally arrived at the soup kitchen, I saw the line of people waiting outside begin to walk through the now open doors. Reaching the very back, I fell in line with the rest and slowly marched along. It was a lot quieter than usual, but it was also a Sunday which funny enough was a "slow day" for the soup kitchen - as if there were a sudden influx of well-off people on Sunday suddenly having compassion for us homeless, taking them of the street and feeding them.
When I was closer to where the food was stationed, I grabbed a tray and began following my fellow starving comrades. One of the items on the menu today was soup, probably to help against fight against the blistering weather and the colds and flues that were sure to follow. If it was five years ago, I would have groaned. I hated canned soup, and I was positive that what looked to be chicken noodle soup was from a can. However, after spending almost three years on the street, I quickly learned to eat whatever deemed edible, and even things that could be considered questionable. Canned soup was an extravagant luxury when you lived off of browning lettuce and rock hard bread.
I grabbed my soup, an open-faced roast beef sandwich, and luke warm water with a tea bag swimming inside. When I entered the cafeteria, I had spotted Old Man Marcus, so I headed in his direction. He was sitting alone and I couldn't be more grateful. I wasn't in the mood to have to make nice with a lot of people.
"Bad day?" he asked in greeting. I had only known him for about a year, but he was able to read me so well.
"You could say that," I answered as I began ripping open a sugar packet I found on the table.
"It could always be worse." I looked at him incredulously; although I can't say that I was surprised to hear him say that. He was a glass-half-full kind of guy. I wouldn't say we were exactly close, as I never allowed myself to get close to anyone, learning my lesson after what happened with Jane, but I was closest to him than I was to anyone else.
He flashed me a big, innocent smile and I couldn't help but chuckle. He was right – things could be worse, I could be sitting here right now with Aro, the slimy old man who constantly tried to become my pimp.
"Eat your food, old man," I giggled. He looked at me with mock offense, but turned to eat anyway. We sat in silence and ate our only meal of the day.
When I was cleaning up my area, Marcus turned to me with his own tray in hand. "So this is good-bye, kid."
I looked at him questioningly, not at all knowing what he was talking about.
"Remember what I talked your ear off about? California?" I nodded my head in remembrance. He told me that he had gotten in contact with some grandchildren that lived in California. They told him that if he found a way over there, they were willing to put him up – get him back on his feet.
"Well, I leave tonight. I have a buddy that's willing to drive me to Portland. From there I'm going to try hitchhiking. Either way, I'm hoping to be in California in about two weeks." He was smiling ear to ear. As much as I would miss him, as was still so happy for him. He was doing what I dreamt of doing for the past six months already.
Without thinking carefully, I dug into my pants and grabbed the cash that was hidden in my underwear. I counted out some money and handed it over to Marcus.
"What's this?" he looked at the cash he held in his hand as if it was pure gold.
"I want to help you get there. I might be leaving soon and hopefully I'll find someone to help me out. I just want you to get there – be happy, you deserve it."
In a surprising move, Marcus dropped his try on the table and scooped me up in a hug. After getting over the initial shock, I hugged him back with as much strength that I had.
"Thank you," he whispered, tears in his eyes.
"Just go. I don't want to see your wrinkling face in Washington anymore," I laughed, trying to lighten the heavy mood that surrounded us. With one more parting hug, he grabbed his try and walked past me.
I stood in the same place and watched the only person I could probably consider a friend walk out of my life forever.
AN: Thanks for reading. So this one chapter is un-beta'd, but will be getting beta'd. I want to see what kind of reaction I got from this story to see if I continue it or not.
For those of you who are reading either of my other two stories, Silent Sufferer or Fighting Our Fate, this story is one of the reasons why I haven't updated as fast or frequently. It won't leave me alone. BUT…there will be a lemon in the next chapter of FOF.
Lastly, none of my stories will have posting schedules. I wish I was one of those authors who could pump out chapter after chapter, but I can't. With working full-time and taking care of my family, I don't have a lot of extra time on my hands.
Leave me a review and tell me what you thought of this chapter. I'll take anything you'll offer.
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