Chapter 7: To let go is easier than to fight
The next day I woke up with a surprising feeling of optimism. I stood up from the grass and I entered the first gas station that was in my way. I used their bathroom for my personal hygiene. I couldn’t imagine it was so hard to dry your hair at the hand dryer, but I did it too. My red color of the hair started vanishing among the natural brown.
My stomach was making strange sounds, but it wasn’t the time to complain. I entered the first shop, thinking about hiring as a salesgirl. I was stopped by their refusal as soon as they saw my face. I didn’t give up, and I entered the second one, where they needed a woman to hire as a salesgirl. The problem was that I didn’t have an identity card, so I was refused again. Finally, I entered a bar, thinking about being a waitress again.
“Hi, young lady”, says the man. “What brings you here?”
“I need a job.”
“And I need to hire a beautiful and attractive woman. Are you used to working at a bar?”
“I’ve worked in the area.”
“Then all I need is an identity card and a diploma, or something, not a lot of acts. I’m making an exception for a beautiful girl like you.”
I’m disappointed again when I hear his words. I really thought that in this corrupted and full of the bribe I could find a job without having any acts.
“I don’t have my ID. I’ve lost it.”
“Oh, not even a diploma?”
My question was: why did he need a diploma to hire a waiter?
“Then I’m sorry.”
“Yeah. Me too.”
“I’m sorrier than you!” he shouts while I was leaving the bar.
I sit disappointed on the street in front of the bar, but I notice there’s a restaurant across the street. My eyes sparkle and I rush in there, to push my luck one last time, trying to bargain for a job, even if it was badly paid.
“Hello”, I say to the patroness.
I realize that she’s the one who’s the boss because of her way of talking with her employees. She’s dressed in pink, she has pink slippers with some fur, and her blonde hair ends her not very sexy look.
“What do you want?” I hear her talking with a superior air.
Or a éclair with a lot of chocolate… I add in my mind, trying to hide my irritation from my face.
“What do you know to do?”
“Good. I need a girl at the bar. Come with me in the back.”
“I don’t have any acts. Can we work this out?”
The woman turns around frowns at me.
“Don’t waste my time.”
“Don’t you have at least a bad paid job? Anything. I need to work.”
She looks at me again, more disturbed than before.
“I need someone at the dishes. Are you in? But you need to know that I won’t pay you much and I need you only for five days. Until my woman comes back.”
“Good. This is perfect. Five days are ok.”
She waves at me to follow her in the back, where she puts me into a dark room. There’s a stack of dirty dishes in the sink, and I can see some dishes on the floor too.
“Good luck. You’re leaving at ten tonight and you start at eight tomorrow.”
I look around and I wonder if the people eating there have any idea about the mess inside. Probably not, because if they had they wouldn’t have been there anymore. I don’t give a damn anyway because it’s not my health at stake. I don’t need to think about it for they have money for food at least.
I start working, while a sixteen years old girl keeps bringing me dishes. At nine o’clock, when people start leaving, I find out that her name is Nico and she’s gaining money to pay her school. She doesn’t talk much because she needs to be home at ten. When I finish up, I remember her words and I leave the restaurant nostalgically. “Home” is a word with many meanings, but it didn’t make a real sense to me. Or a stable one at least.
I find a place to sleep two blocks away, on the back of the market, in a gang. I sit on a bunch of boxes, trying to find a comfortable position, and keeping my backpack near me.
“Hey! Move away!” I hear a husky voice.
“There’s my place to sit! Move it!” says the woman who was about thirty years old, coming near me.
“Really? Do you pay for it or what?”
I can see behind her another two women, one uglier than the other.
“She’s got a nerve!”
“Let’s see how I teach her a lesson!” says the other one.
“Enough! Quiet!” says the woman.
By the way, it went quiet, I realize that she’s the boss around.
“You can sleep there”, she says showing me a dark corner.
I get up to walk away, but I feel a few drops of rain, so I don’t have another choice and I head to the spot she showed me.
“I’m Gina. You?” she introduces herself.
“Cara”, I grumble trying to sit comfortably on another piece of box, but the smell of dog urine doesn’t let me breathe well.
“Tina and Simone. But they are not important. I matter here.”
“You’re lucky she let you sit with us”, says one woman.
I look bored at them.
“Look. This is what I’m talking about! This is the spirit, girls! This is why I let you stay. Your fantastic nerve will be useful to me sometime!”
“I don’t plan on staying too long.”
“Maybe you change your mind.”
“Yeah”, I mumble while I was trying to sleep.
It’s silence soon and, at one point, I hear just the rain pouring down. I fall asleep quickly, but I noise wakes me up and I jump as burned. Gina was scattering through my backpack.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” I shout and I pull it from her hands. “What’s mine is mine, and neither of you is touching my things! Got it?”
“Told you!” laughs Gina. “We made some bets. Ha! You lost! Bring the cigarettes to me, losers!”
I should be terrified by the fact that these women were making bets on me, but I was used to living on the streets, so I didn’t give them attention. At some point, when the rain stopped, they left that place, and I finally fell asleep.
The sunrise woke me up, and as I didn’t have a watch, I started walking to the restaurant. I noticed that it was six and forty minutes, so I waited for it to open until seven o’clock. I entered into the kitchen where I found the blonde woman.
“You’re a morning person. I like it. Too bad you have to leave after four days. Here you go. The payment is daily”, she says and gives me some bills.
I continue my work on that day, noticing the details from the dirty kitchen. A couple of towels, papers and pens were thrown on the floor. I see a ragged blanket hanging on a shelf, and I was already thinking what I could have done with it.
Time flies because I have a lot of work to do. It looks like people have a lot of money because the restaurant is full and I have to work until late in the night.
At the end of the day, I go to the supermarket across the street and I buy some bread and a can of fish. I sit on the street and I taste the food, and it’s good because I haven’t eaten a thing in two days. When I finish the last drop of sauce from the can, I enter to buy a bottle of water, but I drink it before I reach the paying point, so I throw the empty bottle on a shelf and I walk out as if nothing happened. It’s time for me to save some money, but I know well I’m not going to step in that supermarket again, even if I had made a small prejudice.
I spend the night on the piece of cardboard that smells of “lavender” and it’s “rose” flavored, but I’m not upset. I prepare to fall asleep, not before I put my money into my bra, just in case my “friends” were going to make bets again. I didn’t see them that night though.
The next day I woke up thinking about Dalia. I remembered her address and I thought about paying her a visit that evening. I went to the gas station to take care of my personal hygiene, then I headed to work. The day passed fast because my thoughts were filled with fear about the big meeting that was going to happen that evening. Who is Dalia? A shiver goes down my spine. My mother? I get goosebumps.
In the middle of the day I get my money too, and time passes even quicker. I’m surprised by the boss’s way of paying, in the morning, in the middle of the day, but I don’t mind. When it’s time to go, I stop near the door, and I stare at the papers on the ground. I look around to see if there’s anyone paying attention, then I grab the top paper and I put it into my backpack. I add two pens as well, from the ones that are on the floor. I put a smile on my face and I head to Dalia.
When I reach the entrance, I start trembling and I gulp.
“Whatever happens so be it!”
I go up the stairs and I stop at the first floor, in front of her door. I don’t know what I expect to find here, but I need to find out. I can’t avoid it anymore, so I ring the bell. I can’t hear anything from inside. I insist, and only then I hear movement. At ten and thirty minutes in the night, people are sleeping.
“I’m not interested in buying anything!” I hear a hoarse voice.
“I don’t sell anything”, I reply.
“Then go away!”
“Dalia? Dalia Novak?”
“Yes. It’s written on the door! Go away!”
It’s suddenly quiet on the other side of the door.
“Please open. I just want to talk to you.”
After a minute of silence, Dalia opens the door. She doesn’t look like I imagined her. She appears to be a tall and black haired woman, with long and straight hair, and blue eyes. A beautiful woman in her forties. Maybe fifties, but she looks good. Then I realize that we don’t look alike and she can’t be my mother.
“How do you know my name?”
“I… I’m looking for my parents. I thought you are my mother. My name is Cara Vandis.”
Her eyes catch an unusual sparkle, like a trace of hope that waited for a long time to crawl from the mud. Then she wipes away that feeling, and she buries it deep inside. I see disappointment and fear.
“It doesn’t sound familiar to me. What do you want from me? I didn’t have any children.”
“I want… I don’t know. An information. I want to know the truth, and if my investigations led to you, it means you know something. Please, tell me something. Anything.”
“I don’t know anything. Now leave.”
The woman closes the door in front of me, and I just remain there staring at nothing. I hear her breathing heavily on the other side of the door.
“Don’t come back again! Leave. And don’t say my name ever again, to anyone. I don’t exist.”
Her words make me shiver.
“I don’t exist either. I will die if you don’t help me.”
It’s again a moment of silence.
“If I help you I will be the one who dies. I’m sorry, kid, but we are on our own in this world. I’ve lost too much already.”
“I’m sorry. You have to leave.”
“But you know something…”
“I didn’t say this. Stop searching. Maybe they will let you live if you drop everything and run. Listen to me. It’s better if you don’t know and to be alive than to know and to die.”
“Something tells me that you know and here you are. Alive.”
“Leave!” she shouts.
I remain a couple of minutes in silence, at her door. She doesn’t want to help me. She’s afraid. I understand her somehow. On the other hand, I don’t. I sigh and I walk down the stairs. I get out from the block and I look up. I see a person pulling the curtain. Dalia. I’m troubled by questions.
I walk insecure to my sleeping place from behind the train station. This evening I have some company. A lot of screaming waits for me in the place I call now “home”. Gina is arguing with a bunch of homeless people. I thought that it was about to become a fight, but after a few swearing, they leave.
“Hi”, she says.
I respond and I sit on the wet cardboard. The drops of rain are pouring into a can in an annoying way. I hit it. The girls were lighting a fire in their sleeping place. Gina comes near me and she lights a cigarette. I stare at her when she gives me one, and I don’t refuse her.
“Tell me, my girl. What’s your story?”
“Story? Maybe a novel… in ten volumes. What an irony…”
“Because my dream was to write one.”
“Why do you talk in past tense?”
“Because look where I am. Let’s be honest.”
Gina sits next to me with the cigarette in her mouth. She’s not a bad woman. She’s just tired of everything.
“I will tell you what I told the two idiots over there. Do you want to hear my story?”
I nod my head.
“I had two children. They were taken from me by this corrupted government because I didn’t have enough money to raise them. I don’t know anything about them. But before this happened, the bank took my home and my husband left me.”
She wasn’t a good storyteller, but her words brought some tears to my eyes.
“You’re the first person who cries when I tell my story in such a cold way.”
“I’m an orphan.”
Gina looks surprised.
“They abandoned me in the orphanage.”
“My dear, I don’t know what kind of person does this, but I would give anything to see my children again. I wouldn’t want them to be like me, but I want them to have everything I couldn’t offer.”
“It seems that my parents didn’t give a damn about me.”
“There’s no parent who does that. There’s something you’re not telling me.”
“I don’t know why. I don’t know the story.”
“Maybe you need to find out. Tell me about that novel.”
She grabs my arm, with her dirty and rough hand. Her eyes seem gentle.
“If I were your mother, do you know what I would have told you?”
“Don’t give up. Do what you love, what you dream of. If you believe in what you’re doing, you will eventually come into the spotlight.”
I wanted to ask why she doesn’t apply this advice to her, but I didn’t bother to open my mouth. Maybe she was right. Maybe she had her reasons.
“What was that fight about? When I came here?”
“Some people from the other clan.”
“We all have our places around here. I did you a huge favor by accepting you in.”
I start laughing, and she can’t help either.
“I’m sure that there are undercover agents among them. That’s why I chased them away.”
Her affirmation catches my attention.
“Why would you think this?”
“They are selling drugs around. There’s a big clan, mafia, a business. Agents get inside the clans to find out about our stuff.”
This thought scares me and reminds me of the people who want to wipe me from this earth. I wonder if I’ve lost them for good.
“I see you are terrified when I talk about them. I won’t let them around, believe me.”
“I think we are on the same side here. I can’t stand this country, the people, the institutions. Nothing. Look where they brought me.”
Gina shows a little smile in the corner of her mouth and she stands up. She goes near the fire, and I take out from my backpack some papers and a pen. I start a fire with the garbage around me to make some light. Maybe who will see a homeless person writing would be shocked. But I had been to school. At schools, anyway. Even if I had changed them a lot, I’ve stolen or I’ve worked, and I managed to pay the taxes. Until the final year. That was the thing I was proud of. Of course, I wasn’t some prizewinning pupil because I never wanted to learn what they were feeding us. Lies and brainwash. But it was an interesting experience to see how the government creates robots which they can easily manipulate. Not my case. I considered that history was false, I wasn’t a religious person, and I never had friends. Shortly, I was a freak. I had learned to read, to write, and I had a brain to use it to survive, not like that kind of children who paid for a ten mark in school.
The part where I had to pay for some facilities in school didn’t please me, but I saw it as an investment in myself. The state shouldn’t take money from children to teach them to read and write, but I’m too small to make myself heard, so I keep my complaints to myself. Many will say that it’s not a big amount, that’s normal to pay, but it was a lot for me because I worked so hard to pay the taxes and the books they were forcing us to learn from the beginning to the end.
I find myself a comfortable position and I start writing down my ideas. I start again.
“I see people walking impassive on the street. I think that you are among them. I look for resemblance in every person. I miss you, I love you, but at the same time, I hate you with all my heart. I spill the hatred on the blank pages. I spill it here because this is all I have left. And, somehow, I keep being strong. I don’t tell anyone how I feel for I don’t trust anyone. And it’s your fault. This is the reason I am like this. I want to tell my story, but I have no idea if someone would listen to it. I need someone by my side because it doesn’t matter how strong I look, my soul is still torn into a million pieces. And again it’s your fault, for you broke my heart the first second I was born. I blinked and I woke up on the streets. That fast passed my childhood. But I really had it? Of course not. Maturity came too soon to me. I want to remember, but I don’t have what to remember. Because you never gave me the chance. So, tonight I’m telling you goodbye. But I can’t, for I have a million questions to ask. I don’t want to stay another minute, but I have to wait. Tears are useless cause I ran out of them a long time ago. From four years old to eleven. Why then? Because I couldn’t understand this ‘why’. Well, now I don’t understand either, but I got used to it.
I wonder if you ever miss me; if you regret what you did; if you are curious what happened to me; if you have any idea when I first fell in love. Or when I started my sex life. Oh, yes. That’s right. I never felt love because it was taken away from me. Maybe it’s better this way, maybe love is a weakness. Maybe I don’t even want to feel it. When you love you’re vulnerable. I don’t afford this in my situation. I wonder what would you tell me if you could see me now. Would you be proud of me? I sometimes need someone to say: ‘That’s my girl!’. But I’m asking for too much now.”
A tear drops on the page where I’m writing my thoughts. Gina looks at me, but she remains silent. I wipe the page, but the letters taint and remain a bunch of unreadable words. Words filled with feelings. And a drop of soul on the page.
The morning finds me with the pages in my hands. I can’t stop writing. Maybe because I never had the time to be myself, because I never got the chance to talk to anyone about my feelings. So I let my hand feel free to write. I felt released.
I get up, I put the things inside my backpack and I walk to the restaurant. The last day of work. As soon as walk inside, I get paid for the day before and the present day. I go in the back and I continue my job, while I fall into a deep thinking. The clock shows nine o’clock soon, and I spend the last hour trying to fit a ragged pillow inside my backpack, and a bunch of useful stuff I found around. I get out on the back door and I disappear in the night. I can feel the cold on my skin.
The girls are not in our place. The rain starts soon, so I get out the blanket and I put it around me. The morning caught me with a pain in my throat and with a hoarse voice, even if I put on me all the clothes I had. I refit my voice and I go to the shop from the corner. I have the money from the dishes, so I can afford a hot coffee. I search inside my pockets and I find half a cigarette. I sit on the street, in front of the shop, and I savor both.
The next stop is at the gas station, where I wash my hair and dry it with the hand dryer. I get out and I head again to the place I call home, but when I arrive I find a huge fight. Gina and the girls were fighting with some women. I take a look around and I realize that they are outnumbered. I think about Gina and her life story, while I see her lying on the street. I decide I have to do something, so I scream out loud, then I run into the bunch of women who had attacked them. They are five, but three of them are already fighting Simona, Gina, and Tina.
The other two rush to attack me. I put one on the ground when I hit her in the nose, a trick I had learned in the orphanage home. The problem becomes bigger when the other one takes out a knife. I go a step back, but I see the metallic dumpster near me so I grab the cover, to make it a shield against the weapon. After three hits, the fourth scratch my arm, in spite of my intelligent shield. I hit hard the woman with my leg, and she falls on the ground. The knife slips to Gina’s hands, who is on the street under a bunch of hits. She grabs it and stabs the aggressor in the back. Her screams alert the others, who rush to lift her.
No one passes through that area, and they are right to do so, for the image is a terrible one every time. Gina stands up, full of wounds and blood. The others look the same. The blood flows on my arm, and Gina throws me a piece of rag.
“Thanks for that”, she says.
“What did they want?”
“They wanted us to get out of here. They said they were first. We are here for five months. The problem is the police is going to show up around here. The cops haven’t set foot here for a while. We will be in trouble.”
That word makes me think of Dylan, and I refuse to be seen by him in a place like this or looking like this. I don’t want to be ashamed again in front of him. The girls leave, but I don’t ask them where. The rain starts again, so I huddle in my corner. I put the rag on my wound. I need two stitches, but at the hospital, no one talks to you if you don’t have insurance or acts. They let you die. So I decided to pour some rain water on it, and I put the rag again on it. It hurts me, but I close my eyes.
It’s been three hours and my homeless friends are not back yet. My blanket gets wet, and it’s getting cold. I take a look at their things. But they don’t have any cardboards left which I can burn. I have one and I’m sitting on it, but it’s also wet. I find a dried place behind me. I crouch there and I start trembling. I’m cold, hurt, angry, anyway, I’m shaking badly. I notice a dumpster that was not wet yet, so I get close to it. There is garbage inside, so I try to light a fire. But I don’t succeed. The cold is getting unbearable, maybe because of the wound, and I desperately need to get warm. I need some paper to light the fire. At that moment, a painful idea crossed my mind.
I take out from the backpack the written papers. I think about it for a few seconds, then I light the first page. But it’s not enough for the fire, so I light the second one, then the third. And this is how I burn my life. I finally feel warm. I don’t tremble anymore, but I’m crying. I’ve lost my dream again, but I survived the night. I fall asleep sadly, near the warm dumpster, with dark thoughts on my mind.
When I open my eyes I’m alone again. I can see the sun trying to get out from the clouds, and the rain had stopped for some time. I get up to stretch and to squeeze my wet clothes. I hang them to dry, and the backpack too, because inside it gathered the water overnight. I sigh. I feel disappointed and my face is swollen. My arm hurts so badly and I have a hoarse voice. I try to make some voices but without success. I like singing, but when no one hears me. Some would say that I have a voice, but I wouldn’t be so sure.
I start walking on the lonely streets, leaving my things to dry. I end up in the park, on the shore of the lake. There, the parents are walking their children, teaching them things like parents are supposed to do. I’m covered by a melancholy state.
“Mom, look! This girl has a dirty and torn blouse!” I hear behind me.
I expected the woman to take her child and run away from a homeless person like me. She doesn’t do this.
“Daria, my dear, it’s not nice to yell like this about a person. You don’t know their problems.”
“This is the fashion this year”, I smile at the girl.
“Maybe she has ugly clothes, but she’s beautiful. Look at her teeth, how white they are!”
I burst into laughter. The woman takes her child into her arms and she apologizes for her behavior. But I remain there, smiling because I had received one of the few compliments in my life. And it came from a child. Children are always honest.
I lay on the grass, with my face to the sun. I fall asleep again. Something wet wakes me up and I jump like burned. I see next to me a huge brown dog, from a race I don’t recognize, and it has its ears cut. He was licking my bandage. I get up and carefully push it away, while the owner is shouting at it to go back, but the dog isn’t reacting.
“Felix! Oh, God!” I hear him.
But when he comes closer he realizes that I’ve been spending my days on the street lately.
“Oh”, he says with contempt and walks away.
I have this feeling too, for his dog and for the sound he had made when he saw me. I wanted people to be kind, not so indifferent, not necessarily to me, but between them. Maybe I couldn’t have a reaction like that in my entire life because I’ve been spending my time on the streets, but I was sure that if I was a normal person, I wouldn’t have treated homeless people without respect. For every person has a story behind, and it’s often a sad one. Of course that no one wants to get into this kind of situation. I get up and I head to my sleeping place from the train station, with the last sunrays. I’m thinking about the other women if they are there or not.
A noise makes me stop a street away from the train station, where I see an old man scattering through garbage. Terrified, I see myself after ten or twenty years, if I’m lucky enough not to die from an infection or a disease. I put my hands on my head, while the old man comes near me.
“Do you have a cigarette?”
I look at him sadly. He has a brown blouse, torn in the elbows, and a vest. The dirty and ragged pants hang over his cut out shoes. He has a specific smell, of cigarettes and dirt. His face is full of deep wrinkles, but his eyes are honest, kind. Under his hat, I can see long and white hair.
“Why don’t you ask for money or food?”
“Girl, do you have money to give me?”
“I don’t have… Can’t you look at me? I’m one of yours.”
“People nowadays don’t offer you food or money anymore. You’re lucky if you get a cigarette. Well, there are a few with good hearts, but too few. A disappearing kind. If you’re one of mine, I don’t have any advice to give you. Have a nice day.”
He lifts his hat and walks away, leaving me there, with a trace of shock on my face. I walk slowly to the train station. I can see a thick smoke coming from there, and I realize something is wrong. I run to the shelter, and I see there a disaster. Our place is on fire, so are all of the things, and everything smells of gas. I feel the tears in my throat as if I had paid for that place with my own worked money. Then I hear a shout.
Gina was held by two cops, and an assistant from the ambulance was trying to lift a woman who was lying on the ground. Simona. Tina was trying to talk to an officer too, and a few steps away, another group of cops were pushing some women inside a police van. I quickly recognize Dominic and I think that’s not right for him to see me there.
“There’s another one with them!” shouts a woman before she’s put into the van.
I get behind the wall because I don’t want Dominic to see me like this, or to ever see me. I can hear the car of firefighters and I catch the moment to run across the street.
“There she is! There!” shouts the woman.
I hear footsteps and I start running between the dumpsters. After a few steps, I realize that I’m in a dead end. I see two flashlights coming to me, so I make myself small behind a dumpster.
“Take that corner!” I hear a voice.
A flashlight comes near me and I put my hands on my head. “They will find me. They will drag me to the station and I will embarrass myself again. I don’t want them to pity me.” This is all I can think of. The flashlight lights my face, and I take a moment to get used to it. I see a familiar face. Dominic.
“Is someone there?” asks the other cop.
Dominic stares at me shocked, at my dirty and bloody clothes, at the bruises and the wounds on my face. I open my mouth to say: ”Please no.”
“No one is here”, he says before I can say anything.
He takes a step back, and I nod my head as a “thank you”. HE turns off the flashlight.
“Let’s get out of here. If someone was here, he’s long gone by now”, he says.
My heart is still racing into my chest. I go near the wall, and when the police cars drive away, I start running between the blocks. The tears are on my face again. I’ve lost everything. I put my hand into my pocket and I find some money. I arrive in front of a small shop, who was preparing to close. I ask for a bottle of cheap whiskey. I pay all my money on it and I go where my legs take me.
After some time, I realize that I’ve already drunk half of the bottle, and I was on a bridge. It’s a running water under it. I was at the border of the town. The area is deserted. There’s no trace of cars or people. Weird, but good. I bend over the bridge. I find the sound of water peaceful. I can hear frogs from time to time, and I burst into laughter, then into tears. The alcohol takes control over my body. I shake and I climb on the ramshackle balustrade. I drink another sip of courage, then I move on the other side and I sit. Under my ragged shoes flows a deep water. It’s so dark and I can barely see it. I know there’s water by the sound of it. I take another sip.
“I’m telling you goodbye!” I shout. “Ha-ha-ha! You’ve won, you bastards! No, wait! Actually, I’ve won! You couldn’t find me to kill me, but I’m making it easier for you!”
I stand up, dizzy, keeping only one hand on the balustrade. I feel the iron bar getting heavy under my weight. I can’t stop my tears.
“I’m ending this now! I don’t have anything left! There’s nothing I can do in this life! I’ve done a lot of bad things. I’m a bad person. I deserve this.”
I take another sip, and then I throw the bottle into the water. I hear a loud bang when it hits the water. I close my eyes, but I’m dizzy when I open them again. I sit down.
“I’ll do this. I will jump. I’m ready to do it. I spare myself of a miserable life.”
I couldn’t understand how some people could spend their whole lives on the streets, for I was at the end of my powers and patience. I think about Dalia. She didn’t want to help me. She wanted to live. She had warned me not to search anymore. I was doing her a favor. And Dylan too. Maybe this is the only way that those who are after me would leave alone everyone who ever talked to me.
I take a deep breath and I let go of one hand. The iron crackles under my weight. I’m ready to let go of the other hand, and I do this, and I remain there with my glorious balance, just sitting on the edge, while the bridge grits under me.
At that moment, I hear a voice screaming on the street. I ignore it. I’m too busy ending my life. I hear it again. Maybe someone sees me and wants to set the alarm. I hear it the third time, and then some steps.
“Wait! Stop!” shouts the feminine voice.
I look up and I see someone running in my direction. I put my hands on the balustrade again, and I notice a person with a hood, running and carrying a purse.
“Please! I don’t have anything left and I can’t get home! Give my purse back!”
‘At least you have a home’, I mumble and I get up. I put my leg between the bars and I stop the thief from running. ‘A thief stopping another thief. What an irony’, I think. He falls on the street and so does the purse with all the things inside it. The hood falls and I see that was a woman, who gets up and runs away when she sees me climbing back on the bridge, leaving the purse there.
A young woman comes near me running. She’s not older than twenty-six. I bend and pick up her purse, while she gathers the other thing from the middle of the street.
“Thank you! Thank you so much! I just don’t know what I would have done in this area without a phone or money! It’s horrible around here!”
“What are you doing here?”
“My car broke down and I couldn’t get any signal on my phone to call for help, so I got out of the car and I figured I might catch some if I walk a little. But the thieves caught me instead!”
I hand over the purse.
“What are you doing here?” she asks me without noticing I’m from around there.
“I’m out for a walk.”
“Weird area for a walk. Do you have any signal?”
“I left my phone home.”
“Oh, fine. I’m going back to my car. Thank you again. Is there something I can do for you?”
“No. It’s fine.”
“I would offer to give you a ride, but it seems that I have to wait for someone to save me. Again!” she laughs.
“No problem. I’m going in the opposite direction anyway.”
“I can offer you some money”, she says handing me a few bills. “It’s all I have on me.”
I want to take it, so I stretch my hand. But a thought stops me, and that’s the fact that she doesn’t see me as a homeless person, but as an ordinary girl. The darkness plays with her mind. I smile and I push back her hand.
“There’s no need for this. Go back in the car and lock the doors until your rescue arrives. It’s dangerous out here, as you can see!”, I continue and I leave.
I look back and I hear her yelling at someone on the phone, probably boyfriend or husband because I hear the “idiot” word. She heads back to her car, which is on the right side of the street. A small and white Audi, probably the latest on the market.
I pass by the place where I almost left my life, and I realize that I am awake from my drunkenness. I was about to do the dumbest thing from my entire life, but something had stopped me. Another sigh from the Universe or whatever. “Some fallen angel who wanted to do good deeds”, I laugh.
When I leave behind the spot where I stayed all night, I hear a crack, then another, then a loud sound, as if the bridge has fallen. I turn around and I look over the balustrade. The bares on which I was sitting half an hour ago were hanging above the water, broken and detached from the bridge. Other pieces were hitting the water. I turn goosebumps and I put my hand on my head. “Well, this is a sign”, I say. The Universe is trying to scream at me, to tell me what a big idiot I am.
I continue my way on the bridge, back into the town.