by Jaimie Trussell
The kitten was hungry again. It mewled pitifully from inside her coat. A few more hours and the sun would be up – it would be warmer, and the people would start walking by. “sh,sh,sh. Be patient,” she chided him. She half smiled at the irony of her, of all people, telling another creature to be patient. And yet, there it was – the lesson she had to leave to learn, like everything, the hard way.
She had learned patience. She had learned that the day always took 24 hours, and that the dawn would come only at its own painful pace. But she also learned that if the first one said no, the next one might say yes, and eventually, she would have enough to keep going. But things were much easier now with the kitten. Something about the kitten drew them. They could pass by her without a second look, but the kitten they wanted to see fed and happy, and those warm feelings usually made their way into dollars and cents pressed in her palm “for milk”.
She had almost given up when the man took her guitar. Not even a particularly fine instrument – it was still all she had in the world and it represented everything she had left home to become. Her alone – a pitiful, powerless girl. Her with the guitar – independent, self-supporting, fearless. It was income, a best friend, a trusted confidant, a friend-maker, a tangible effigy of her dreams. It wasn’t a prop, it was her. Without it, she felt like a ghost wandering without a body, completely lost and alone. She was so far down inside that dark place from which she was always running – she had no idea how to get out, and finally, no desire to try. She felt the truck before she saw it. Her body resonating with the closeness of its path. She closed her eyes and became still – more still than she had ever been before. She committed herself to her sightless senses. It was so near, coming so fast, she realized that just one step stood between her and peace. She took a deep breath and willed her body to take that step….
A blaring horn and violent gust notified her that this avenue too, was lost, and she sunk on the sidewalk and cried, and cried and cried.
Her father had hated the defiance in her that caused her to glare at him dry-eyed even as he rained threats and abuse upon her. He could not make her cry. Her mother too, had tried, with guilt and shame and love, and yet she was unmoved. They would be proud today – she was truly broken. At this hour the streets were vacant, and she was grateful that there was no-one to witness her low. She rested with her face on her knees and her arms drawn around her legs long after she had stopped crying. She really had no-where better to go. She was aware when someone approached her, but she didn’t stir – hoping they would go away. Instead, she nearly toppled over when something was roughly shoved in her face. “You need to get over yourself,” an ancient and filthy street woman pronounced before dropping a terrified and squirming mess in her lap. It was a kitten. Black and grey on top with white feet, belly and chest. She had never been so surprised in her life. “Hey!” was the only thing she could think to say, as the alley denizen made her way back down the darkened street. The grim benefactor never turned around, never acknowledged she had heard, but if she had, she would see a new look on the girl’s face – Purpose. “I think I’ll name you Hope,” she said as she began to plan a life where wonderful things really did fall into your lap.
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