A story about my first ever night of living homeless. Written in grade 12, and dug up from my archives just now.
Up. I can see no light through my eyelids. My poisoned stomach and heavy muscles tell me I’ve slept little if that. My tongue rolls around my sour mouth, striving to escape, forcing the stagnant taste away bit by bit. Stinging eyes open to the world, and bring to me a scene of twilight.
Cloudy sky – kissed by the foremost scouting rays of sunlight – a faint purple, a shade brighter than the night. All of this, the generator, the sky, the rocks, and the roads, are encompassed by a formidable silence. A hand, charmed by the simple serenity, loosens it’s grip on the primitive rock pile, forgetting this simple weapon and the fears that created it. Into a sit-up position, arms clasped around dirty knees, I survey my territory. This is my sanctuary, from the dirty Buddhist garden rocks, to the metal grills of the generators, and I have marked it a refuge for wounded souls. My gaze wanders to the nearest generator, the soft metal screen in which determined fingers carved the word SAFE. That single word, a physical embodiment of the emotional bubble I have created upon this suburb oasis. Flanking this gentle proclamation, like guards against the world, stand my two aliases at cocky angles. Raza to the left and Rodrigo to the right. My true name is not here, held back by an unexplainable terror of discovery. I am no longer here, my thoughts have returned to the night.
The taxies. So many taxies flanking my castle, like vicious guard dogs intent on testing my determination. I cannot be seen. I must remain a ghost, a specter, or else risk discovery and it’s dire consequences. I flow from my hiding place behind the billboard, sandals whispering across the pavement, and steal to the ladder. Stone calves propel me upwards, fingers grace the cool metal bars and slip, and relentless gravity slams me back to earth. Panic. I can almost hear the taxi’s growl as it comes back into view, accusing headlights flooding into my crime scene, blinding me and forcing me to flee my only refuge. NO! Again I leap, hand grasps metal and feet slap against wall, propelling me upwards. I scramble, monkey like, and haul myself out of sight and into safety.
For a moment, nothing, and then a mental tidal wave. Safe! What if I’ve been seen? I can rest! No, not yet, I must be prepared for the worst. I am stricken by pleasure and fear as my eyes register the shattered electric blue bottle. This place is known, and has been used before. Demons posing as teenage mobs and mechanical policemen torment my imagination. Carefully, I scuttle to my barricade behind the ideal generator. My spot is perfect, hidden from the ladder’s sight and close enough for a mad dash towards my only escape.
I must be ready for fight and flight. The hunted homeless live in constant flight, and all wanderers must guard against the fingers and heavy boots of their companion night-time vagabonds. Worn fingers form two piles out of the cool and grimy rocks, close projectiles against all who dare to approach. In my mind, a lightning reel of scenes flit across a blank screen. I wake up to fling my defence against my noisy foe, crunching across the sentient stones. No, for he is not loud but silent, until I feel the blinding impact of his boot against my head. No, he is another wayward friend, curious to hear my story and glad as I to have an understanding companion. The occasional car buzzes by on a solitary mission, and the words and wheezes of the taxies drift intermittently into my ears. I lay down beneath the stars, leather jacket serving the role of pillow, and watch my thoughts careen through space, colliding and drifting and whipping up emotions.
Ouch. Sharp pain yanks me back into the morning. Body shifts and searching fingers find the metal imbedded into my shirt. Yanked out, the staple’s cruel edge beckons a powerful and silent humour. Eyes follow it end over end, catching the light, to crash into the distant rocky field. The rocks, bathed in the calm pre-sun-light, speak of a cold hard freedom: a painful and brokenly perfect state of life.
The plastic bottle peeks out of my backpack, and suddenly my throat is a barren and poisoned desert. I lunge towards the softly blue bottle, and the white cap gives way to incessant twisting. The sour dryness is suppressed by a tasteless cold flow, twisting soothingly down my throat, only to resurface, weaker, as the bottle is lowered. Again, not spilling a drop, knowing that the next bottle will have to be won or stolen. From the open zipper emerges a gleaming black laptop, a beautiful anchor connecting me to homeless knowledge, living friends, and myself. I put on soothing music and clamour atop my barricade/signpost/generator. The notes, hinting at renewal and beautiful life, circle around me, a constant reminder that all will be okay, even as my thoughts return to the troubles that caused me to flee.
I close my eyes on the glistening birth of the red sun, and sit back to examine my thoughts in my sheltered and chilly valley, surrounded by powerful mountains of protective music. My eyelids slowly redden and I calmly observe my anger. My house mates, my setbacks, my scattered plans, my dashed hopes. I sooth the jittery, roaring beast, knowing that somehow I will succeed. I must. Open again, I look across my vast world, electric fear and delight zapping my nerves as I contemplate my boundless freedom.
This world holds an endless supply of powerful emotions. The yellowing sun soars higher into his empty sky and I stand up, staring straight into the heart of my heavenly companion. It’s time to get up, live, and enjoy the now.