I walk alone through the empty streets, it’s early and the street lights haven’t gone out yet. I plod on under each cone of putrid yellow light, raindrops reflecting bright shards of it, stabbing my sore, red eyes. I take another drink; the bottle is almost empty, I’ll need to find a way to get another soon. The liquid burns as it goes down, a nice comforting warmth, chasing away the chill from the damp emptiness that otherwise fills my cavities.
My back cramps and I stumble a little on the uneven, littered pavement. Kicking an empty can out of my way I think about the night I’ve just been through.
The usual shelters were full… Again, they always are this time of year. So it was another night out on the streets for me. I thought through all of my usual spots but I couldn’t be bothered with the long walk, I was in no condition to go far, I thought I’d check out this new spot one of my mates scouted out, I’m not usually one to risk a new place on my own but the promise of being out of the elements drew me towards it. A boarded up house up the top of Downsview road just around the corner from my former, family home but as late as it was, I knew there was no chance I would bump into my anyone I knew.
I stumbled up the hill, one step at a time, it felt like time had slowed almost to a stop, a thick sludge I had to battle through. I finally saw the building, perched at the top of the steep hill, a chain link fence surrounds it with a matching padlocked gate, barbed wire tops it off but I knew how to get in. I slipped through the slim hole in the fence, just around the corner to the left, behind the oak tree, exactly where Aliesha said it was. I quickly ran in a crouch towards the relative safety of the shadows cloaking the house.
I hopped through the broken window around the back of the house onto the dusty kitchen counter inside, I jumped down, landing as quietly as I could. As soon as my feet touched the floor, I knew I had made a huge mistake. The house didn’t feel empty, it just didn’t feel safe, call it intuition or instinct but I knew I had to get out of there.
Stumbling back down the hill, I go straight to the offie to buy a cheap bottle of vodka, it cost me nearly all my hard earned change- begging on street corners doesn’t pay well. I spend the night walking around and around the neighbourhood, slowly slugging my way through the litre of vodka; so strong it could strip paint. I guess I finally passed out in a shop doorway, stupid of me to sleep so out in the open but I couldn’t bring myself to go back to that house.
I walked back passed it this morning and saw all the police cars and I just knew.
I asked anyway.
A young homeless woman was raped and murdered; did I know anything about it?
I mumbled I didn’t and stumbled off, bottle held under my jacket.
Bringing myself back to present I notice I’m standing in front of a phone box, I jingle the few coins left in my pocket and stare at my reflection.
I should call someone, tell someone.
My reflection starts to vanish.
A frozen tear creeps down my cheek.
I wish I could call someone, I wish I could call home.
You never know when it will be too late.
I wrote this especially for a writing competition on: http://www.creativewritingink.co.uk/resources/writing-prompts/
So cross your fingers for me!