Walking down the street, your breath visible in the chill on the wind, your overpriced coat wraps tightly around your healthy flesh. As you round a busy corner you notice a shell of a human peering up at you beneath ragged clothes. Her naturally straw colored hair is highlighted with punk colors vaguely bringing back memories of Rainbow Bright from your childhood. Her face is a thin tanned leather with worry lines far past her years already creasing the corners of her purple lips. Looking up at you with sky blue eyes sharp and bright like peering into a reflection pool, she holds out sock covered hand and asks simply, "Could you spare some change?". With disgust in your face you utter back ,"Get a job" as you scramble past her like running from the plague to your warm awaiting home. Briefly, your mind wanders through questions,"Where are her parents at, she must be older than she looks, Society is falling apart from all these leeches Why don't they fix it themselves?." Yet, You never stop to ask. So I will answer your questions.
Once, in another part of my hundred lives, I was that girl, here is what she was thinking as you hurried past. I am not invisible, am I? You approached and I could hear the change jingling in your pocket. The hunger pain in my stomach had become a constant reminder of the absence of the people who had brought me into this world. It was almost a comfort in its persistence as if to say it would always be there for me. Part of me envied what you had achieved in life, the security, the steadiness of your gait, you must have friends waiting for you. The friends I had made on the street where running through my mind as you walked by. Street Kids, Uptown throw aways, we knew the names.
It was one of those disposable people that weighed so heavily on my mind that particular day. She was two years younger than me at the time. Her story was far worse than mine, she had fled a sexually abusive home, to this. I had to protect her, to keep the world from hurting her anymore, but I was running from my own demons. She had become sick that week. The condemned apartment building we squatted in provided minimal resistance to a northeast winter chill and pneumonia was known to claim more that one each winter. The fever coursing her body had us all worried, but we had no where to go for help. If we took her to the doctor, like a few had done before, they would contact authorities who would either send her back to the abusive home she left or to kiddie lock down for being born into a crappy environment. No she was one of ours and we weren't going to let her down. She needed medicine, we had a guy that could get us the antibiotics we needed, but it wasn't cheap.
We tried the safe house for help first. They were always great for letting us shower, giving us a warm meal, and helping us find education and yes even jobs. Rebuilding a life when you're not old enough in the eyes of the law to have one can take time. Time that you have to spend keeping yourself alive. Wewere an odd makeshift family of lost souls.Kids and throw aways to the world, to you. Inside I still held hope that someone out there could look past thebag of bones that carried my essence through this world to my heart. Someone willing to see the diamond in the rough that was me. I digress, so back to the moment.
As you walked by in your Armani suit, leather shoes casting a high polished shine to the sky, breif case clutched tightly by your side as if protecting the hope diamond,the chain in your pocket gave a sweet ring. The ring of hope. By the sound it was a few quarters, a couple of dimes, and a handful of pennies, not much in the grand scheme of things. When added to an entire family of misfits, six at the time, willing to sacrifice what little dignity they had left in this world keep another alive, it would have been plenty.
We made enough by nightfall to get the medicine so your scoff did no harm. It did strike a cord in my soul I carry with me to this very day. I no longer wear rags, or sleep under the stars, unless I want to. I am now the person the hand is held out to. Each time I find myself confronted with that multilayered raggedy shell of a person I offer my hand out. It is not a hand out I give them, but a hand up. A tug back to their feet so they can walk on their own once again.
In this life we can be the change we want to see in the world, we can ignore the need, or we can the lift the weak that they might once again stand on their own two. You never know they might be the one to carry you some day.~R.M.Brandon~