Foil Parcel

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The small things matter...Enjoy the little things

A lady pushes a shopping trolley. Walking down the aisles of life, picking up bits and bobs that could help her in the next few days. Days, weeks, years. She has no idea how long she is going to be pushing this trolley. All she knows is that she is pushing it now, and right now is what she is dealing with.

The sky darkens and the wind blows colder. The street is silent, all the shoppers are in their homes drinking tea and cooking their meals. The lady settles in a shop doorway, escaping the bitter cold winds from the street. She wedges the trolley into the side of the door so that it doesn’t roll away. Her thin frail hand reaches into the trolley and pulls out a few newspapers she had collected throughout the day. Carefully she lays them into a neat patch on the floor, making sure they are not blown away. Again she reaches into the trolley. This time she pulls out an old thin sheet, a blanket. She wraps this around herself and proceeds to sit down onto the newspaper pile. Hugging her knees she hums a little tune.

‘hmmm mmm mmmhh mmmhh, la da dee bah dee dah doo.’ She looks at her frail bruised hand and whispers

‘I can’t keep doing this, this shouldn’t have happened to someone like me. I’m meant to be above this.’

She tucks in a strand of grey hair back into her knitted hat, and then she repeats

‘I am above this. I’m better’.

Her shaking hand retreats back to the thin blanket where the lady hugs her knees, hoping for an ounce of warmth. She closes her eyes and exhales deeply, frosty breath vapours from her.

Opposite her a homeless girl rests up in a shop doorway. She looks up and smiles at the older lady. Slowly the girl stands up and walks over to her.

‘Umm, excuse me.’

The lady opens her eyes and squints. The girl is crouching beside her.

‘Here. Take this, I’ve had some tonight, you look like you need some too.’

She hands the lady a foil parcel, smiles and walks back to her shop doorway, gets into a sleeping bag and stuffs a backpack in with her.

The lady looks to the girl and smiles. She feels the warm foil parcel and a faint scent of cooked meat lingers in the air. She carefully opens the warm foil parcel. Inside she finds four potatoes, three slices of beef and a piece of crispy bread. She looks up to the girl and grins. The girl nods. The lady begins to eat from the parcel and looks back up to the girl.

‘Eat it all, I’ve had my share tonight. Go ahead.’

Once finished the old lady folds the foil parcel and places it into her trolley, where it will stay until it is reused.

The nights are always the worst. Dangers surround the two women. No matter how young or old, the frozen air will attack anyone who consumes it. The ground glistens with frozen puddles, a sheet of beautiful danger glazed over the street. Weather isn’t the only danger they face. A crowd of drunks stumble across the slippery ground.   Yelling, jeering and cheering among themselves. A can is thrown, it hits the girl across the street from the frail lady. More cheering is heard.

‘OI OI LURVE, FANCY SPENDING THE NIGHT IN A WARM BED?’ The drunkard winks at her. ‘BUT ONLY IF YER DON’T ‘AVE ANY DISEASES, IF YER KNOW WHAT I MEAN…HEH HEH HEH. ‘

The girl turns to face the shop window, away from his face.

‘OI, I WUS TALKING TO YEW!’ he bellows. The drunken man stumbles towards the girl. He kicks the side of her sleeping bag.
‘Barry. Oi Barry! Leave that girl alone; you dunno where she’s been! C’mon we’ve got another bar to go to yet!’

The man looks down at the curled up heap and kicks her one last time.
‘Ackh. I can dhu better than yhu anyways!’ He turns and stumbles towards his friends. The voices get quieter and the lady and girl are left alone once more.

‘Are you okay’ the older lady asks over the street. The girl turned around, her breath turning into puffs of white mist. She looks at the older lady.

‘Oh don’t worry. That sorta thing happens often. You’ve just gotta ignore it, otherwise the situation could get worse. I mean I’ve had a couple of cracked ribs before now. But at least I had a couple of weeks in a hospital. It’s the one with guns you’ve gotta look out for. Guns and knives. I can take it. Don’t worry miss. I’m just glad they left you alone. You look like you would snap if someone gave you a beating.’

‘How do you stay so…positive? This isn’t right. A nice girl like you shouldn’t be on the streets.’

‘I’ve found that things happen for a reason. Some people have luckier starts than others, but I feel that everyone will be and do what destiny and fate guides them to. You have to keep positive, otherwise you’re adding another person to the list that will beat you up. You need hope. I have hope, don’t you?’

‘Hope you say? I guess.’

‘If you don’t have hope, then you won’t survive living out here. You must have some hope, or faith. Everyone has a different name for I guess. Some call it fate, destiny even Gods will, but everyone has the strength to keep going. It’s the ones that don’t that lose, it’s the ones that don’t that die.’

The older lady looks to the girl who had spoken with such maturity, she nods at the girl, smiles and lowers her head into her blanket hugging knees. She closes her eyes and lets the cold take her.

The girl stares at the frozen motionless lady, she thinks for a moment then closes her eyes. Her breath forms misty clumps that hang in the air. She smiles. All is quiet in the street.

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