Riches to Rags

Chapter 7 (Asami)

It’s raining, and each droplet feels like a tiny bead of ice, seeping through my clothes and into my bones.

All I wanted to do was read today’s paper, but it’s coming down so fast that the paper would turn to mush in seconds. So I’ve stuck it under my jumper, or what passes for a jumper, since I’ve lost count of the holes in this damn thing. The paper actually helps to insulate me from the cold a little, but I’ll probably end up with newspaper print stuck to my skin at this rate. Still, that’s the least of my concerns right now. I’m hungry, and I’m cold.

I try to squeeze back further into my spot, pushing myself against the wall, making the most of the two inches of pavement that pass for an almost dry spot. I guess it’s not as sheltered her as I’d hoped, certainly not when the weather turns to shit like this. I clutch my knees to my chest and grimace as my stomach rumbles again, like it has been doing all morning. I’m actually starting to feel light-headed from the lack of food, and the last thing I need is to pass out, and probably be left to die. I fumble in my pocket to check it’s still there. It is. The card, with the coin still fixed to it. It’s been a week since I took it, and the woman - Korra - has been to see me a couple of times since then, bringing food, drinks, and idle chit chat. I suppose, if I’m honest with myself, I’m starting to like her, and I’m starting to enjoy her visits.

The rain slows to a cold, miserable drizzle, and I pull the card out, turning it around in my hand. I’m not much of a believer in the gods of this world, but even I find it a little peculiar when the sun starts to come out and a single ray of light just happens to fall on the small square of card, almost deliberately, like it’s highlighting Korra’s number.

“Heh,” I say out loud. I’ve found myself making little noises to myself lately, sometimes even talking to myself. I tell myself I’m just doing it to keep my sanity, that it’s normal, and I really hope that is the case.

The sun comes out in all of its glory, seeming to push the rainclouds away. I squint upwards at the nearest skyscraper, and that’s when I see it… there’s a new advertisement stuck on the billboard up there… and it’s… it’s a gigantic picture of a very fierce-looking Korra, promoting some new action movie.

She looks kind of hot, actually.

It’s weird that that’s my first thought, rather than “what the fuck?” but hey, my mind works in mysterious ways, and I’ve learnt to accept it. I look at the card again, this time feeling more confused than anything else. Why the hell would some movie star do this; why would she even have the time of day for me, when barely anyone else does? I’m half-tempted to call her right now, because I’m curious, despite my reservations, and despite my distrust of strangers. What’s her game? Maybe it is a game. Maybe she’s researching some new role for her next big movie. Yeah, that’s probably it. I sigh, putting the card back into my pocket, and trying to push thoughts of Korra-the-hot-movie-star into the back of my mind.

I haven’t seen Earl in a couple of days, and I really hope he’s okay. He’s quite old now, and the crazy weather can’t be helping his bones. Take today for example - until the sun came out it was freezing, and the rain earlier was ice cold, colder than it should be this time of year. Most of my clothing is drenched, and although the sun is shining, I can barely feel its warmth.

As though to spite me for my internal complaint, the yellow orb suddenly vanishes behind a new, thick layer of clouds, and I’m quickly feeling colder, shivering so hard that it hurts. My belly growls again, a long, deep grumble, and it’s actually painful this time. Just when I’m grimacing to myself at the tummy pain, a passer by looks down at me with a suspicious look in his eyes, and I can’t help but snap, “What are you looking at!?”

He quickly scurries by, completely oblivious to the fact that the only reason I’m grumpy and snapping at him is because I’m literally starving to death. I curse the fact my body needs food, it’s nothing but an inconvenience after all, and I squeeze my eyes shut, trying to will away the despair threatening to take over.

And to think that I told myself I’d never give up. But here I am, a mess, unable to find any answers, or any way to get out of this plight. I absent-mindedly fumble at the card in my pocket again, making a decision in that very moment. Well… it’s got to be better than starvation, I think, standing up, and heading to the address of the nearby shelter. Sure, I’ll lose my hard-earned spot, but hopefully it’ll all work out, somehow…

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