“Love your neighbor, all of ’em.” -Christine Clarity McDonald
The winter wind was bitterly cold. I was curled up, with no shoes or coat, barelegged and in a skirt. I was too tired to get up from the spot I had found beside a cold brick building. I was alone. There was no one bugging me, no one wanting anything from me that I was not willing to give. I longed for rest…sleep…a friendly word…a rescuer. Could someone find me?
The concrete was so damp, the cold causing my frail, 88–pound body to ache. Yet with my head against a vent, where part of my body found warmth, the brisk aroma of ground coffee beans brought me comfort of sorts, transporting me to a different world. This aroma was occasionally overpowered by the stale, musty smell of urine, reminding me of my reality.
Was I invisible to the world around me? Was anyone trying to find me? Wouldn’t someone please take me home! I wanted a kind person, someone who didn’t want me as an object, a thing, but someone who would allow me to belong, who would keep me safe and warm. I wanted someone to see me as a person.
My body ached; my stomach grumbled for food. Eating food is such a seemingly basic human need. Yet out here, even food came at a price. I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t turn another date just to eat. The thought of what I had to do for the money to eat revolted me. I couldn’t dare to put food in my mouth. Instead, I’d get high to make it all go away—the hunger pains, the shame, the hurt, the despair. Tonight, however, I was too weak and frail to even ponder the idea of standing, much less putting on the show necessary to earn money for food or dope.
This corner, this building, the warmth from the vent…if only I could meld into the bricks for a rest, a long rest. Oh, to sleep safe, to sleep without expectations of my body. To sleep in a clean, safe bed with no one touching me, no one expecting sexual deeds for that sleep—another basic human need. A shower…oh, just to soak in a tub. Oh, my! And with bubbles to wash away the filth, the grime, the smells of all those men, of all the shame.
No. Not in my world. Not in this life…
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