She was a small creature, no taller than a grown woman’s waist and with her limbs as thin and frail as bread sticks and her body almost nothing more than skin stretched over bone. Dressed in a grimy and filthy potato sack that’s supposed to pass for clothes, she walked on the hot pavement of the street on her bare feet. Her face, which might be beautiful if she were healthier, is skull-like with her eyes sunk deep in her bony face and her hair was tangled in greasy clumps. Barely a ghost among the bustling masses of people going to and fro, she pushed an old and rickety wooden cart filled with her find for the day: a dozen or so empty cans and bottles and a couple of wads of plastic bags.
Her father had been a great hero. At least that’s what her mother often told her. Unfortunately, she was very young when her father died and she remembered very little about him. He died in a war far away from the city many years ago and it seemed only her mother ever really remembered him. No one in the city knew or cared about one man fighting and dying in a place that was far away after all. Of course, sometimes people talk about it, but no one really cared as long as the troubles never really affected them.
The girl’s mother too had died just less than two years ago when a great storm came howling into the city. Their ramshackle home of cheap plywood and metal sheets could do little against the winds that could uproot trees. Her mother had protected her by covering her with her own body but lost her life in the process. In the end, the little girl had no one left and was forced to fend for herself in a cruel and unforgiving city.
After a few hours of looking through various garbage cans and rubbish piles, she failed to find anything of value. While her cart was filled with various items, it probably wasn’t enough to buy her a snack, let alone a decent meal. She continued her search, hoping that there may still be enough refuse out there for her to pick through and at least allow her to buy a loaf of bread at least. Unfortunately, this wasn’t her lucky day. Apparently other people, the destitute and the homeless, had beaten her to it and there was very little left that she could make use of.
So on she went, her stomach rumbling. It’s been almost three weeks since she ate a full meal. Perhaps if she did more searching, she would find something, anything that could at least get her some food.
After a long while of searching, she soon found a church where a wedding was taking place. There was much merry-making and happiness around it and people she only heard about were there as well. There they danced and laughed. The tables were filled with food whose smell deeply intoxicated by the girl.
Before she could approach however, she was immediately stopped by a guard.
“This wedding is by invitation only,” said the guard. “And I doubt the couple would invite someone like you.”
The girl had no real intention of getting in, she tried to tell the guard. She was just wondering if she could have just a little bit of the food. Not much, but maybe just enough to fill a bag.
“This wedding was paid for by the families of the bride and groom and their sponsors,” said the guard. “And no, I don’t think you’re one of them.”
The girl pointed to a tall cake she could see in the distance at the table where the bride and groom sat. The girl reasoned with the guard that there was too much food at the party already, surely a plate or so wasn’t much.
“Out of the question!” said the guard and pushed her away. “The food you see here is for guests only!”
Her stomach continuing to rumble, the girl walked on, pushing her cart along.
She was passing near a market when a policeman suddenly grabbed her.
“There!” a woman shrieked. “She must be one of them!”
The girl asked what was going on.
“Stop playing innocent you thief!” the woman slapped her hard. “You’re one of them, aren’t you?”
“Are you sure, lady?” the policeman asked. “I don’t see this girl here very often. I doubt she was the one who snatched your necklace.”
“For all you know she could be one of their new recruits,” said the woman. “Besides, my husband knows your boss. He might have some things to say if you skip out on your ‘duty’.”
“Ma’am, if you want me to arrest this girl, I can’t do that,” the policeman shook his head.
Then the girl ran off, leaving her cart behind. While the policeman seemed nice, she knew that not all policemen were good and that some would probably beat her and worse, so she ran as far and as fast as she could. Unfortunately, she failed to see an oncoming bus that was running in her direction.
A hard and sickening thud resounded when the bus impacted the girl’s frail body. There was the ever disturbing sound of wet cracking as the bus plowed her over. It was over in minutes.
The girl’s broken and bleeding body was quickly covered with newspapers as flies from the market began to hover around her. She was dead and gone and no one bothered to even remember her.
No one cared about the girl in the gutter. To everyone else, she was just an unlucky victim of circumstance. She had so much potential, but her life ended in one of the most worthless ways possible. Her glazed eyes stared into nothingness from her emaciated face. In the end, there was no one there for her. Not the cops, not the market-goers, the guests at the wedding or even her relatives.
In the end she died alone in the gutter…
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