God, it was an awful day; wet, dank and cold. He watched as people’s boots went by, his head bowed and shoulders slumped. Defeat was written into his very being.
In the last two years, he’d been beaten, spat on and had pretty much everything stolen from him more than once. Everything but the one thing that never left his person. It was a photo of the two most important things in the world to him; his wife and daughter.
It wasn’t until he was in the shelter and everyone was asleep that he took out the picture and ran his thumb pad over their faces. His daughter with a gap-toothed grin and bouncy curls. His wife was caught mid-laugh, her eyes sparkling with mischief. His heart twisted; he missed them so much.
In the morning he was fortunate enough to catch a warm shower, his first in a couple of weeks. A few days before, he’d used some precious coins to wash his clothes at the laundrette, including a “new” shirt and pants he picked up at a clothing bank to wear today. After packing his meagre belongings, he headed for the train station for a three-hour trip North.
He made this trip twice a year, begging all hours for spare change, not matter what the weather, all to buy the ticket. It would be a 30-minute walk from the train station. He prayed the weather would hold, not that God was in a habit of actually listening to his prayers.
The route was familiar; he’d walked down this lane twice a year and plenty more times before he’d ended up on the streets. I hurt his heart that this was as close to home as he got these days. Finally, he’d reached the end.
All he had left of his family now were two stone markers. A drunk driver on a dark highway and his whole world was gone. His throat burned and eyes filled with tears. Time was no man’s friend and it certainly didn’t make the grief any easier to bear.
Some people talked to graves if the people were still there. Not him. What would he tell them? His wife would be so disappointed in him now, he couldn’t even get it together enough to buy her flowers. Instead, he pulled out the picture and just remembered.
Hours passed until finally he looked up and knew he’d have to have to hustle if he would make the last train. The picture went back to its spot beside his heart and he kissed his fingers before resting them against the cold stone.
“I’ll see you both again at Christmas.”
Words: 443 words
Prompt: Picture prompt
PSA: Did you know that were are more likely to ask a stranger on the tube about their life than say a simple “hello” to a homeless person. Why is that? We freely judge a person whom we know nothing about. As you rush in life, next time you see a person on the street, shoulders hunched over and watching boots go by, stop and say “hello”. You might the first person to speak to them in many, many days.