Tiffany & Jude
There’s an aching in my stomach, one which won’t go away
I haven’t uttered a word, because no-one said hello today
My feet are throbbing and wet, but I haven’t finished my shift
I’m a wandering, tired nuisance. From place to place I drift
Someone finally answers the door, he goes to look the other way
His anxious face softens; perhaps he’ll listen to what I need to say
He might talk to me for a minute, if he’d be so kind
I’d really appreciate some company, if he doesn’t mind
Why is this girl out so late? She should be getting home
She shouldn’t stand at my door like this, vulnerable and alone
There are a pile of leaflets in her hand, what does she want me to sign?
She’s going to make me join something and I really don’t have the time
This girl isn’t dressed for the season; her hands are mottled and blue
I’m shaking myself, but I can’t let her suffer, what am I to do?
I recall something I bought earlier, and hand them over to her
They’re a pair of cheap, £2 gloves. My head is starting to whir
He didn’t want to sign up, but he offers a one-off donation
I force a smile, put on the gloves and take note of this location
All I can do is thank him, as I have to go on my way
I cherished the five minutes of his company. I was all alone today
Perhaps he wasn’t very well. His face was pale and drawn;
His expression was tired and unhappy. I rub my arms and yawn
I trudge along the streets as I reminisce in the memory and smile;
I recall the man who showed humanity; and stayed to talk for a while.
An extract from ‘The Defeatist’, Chapter 25 :
This young girl is observing me with care. I wonder what she’s thinking. Maybe she thinks that I’m a druggie or alcoholic because I’m starting to get the shakes. I take deep breaths and compose myself for the next ten minutes as I finish filling in my details, passing it up to her. I should stand again, that would be the polite thing to do. I wonder if she’s scared. I should probably warn her that I’m not contagious.
“You can’t catch anything. Look, I’m sorry for being horrible.” I mutter. Despite her confidence, I can see that her fingers are off colour and these are goose pimples on her neck. It’s only 6pm, I’m sure that she still has a long way to go.
“I wasn’t worried. Thank you so much for your kind donation Jude Reed.”
It’s the way that she says my name. It gives me chills. She steps away from the door with my £20 promised on her form. She’s been struggling for hours; I don’t think anyone has given her anything. This girl knows my name and I cannot take my eyes off her reddened hands. She glances back over her shoulder at me.
“Only three hours to go.”
I remember something I bought for myself. They only cost £3 from the supermarket, I reach into our telephone table and pull out the one size fits all, knitted navy gloves.
“Put these on before your fingers go numb.”
“Gosh, are you sure? Thanks!” She seems delighted with the tiny gift. I mean, anyone would think that I’d just given her something really exciting and meaningful. Perhaps it was, to her. I nod.
The girl pulls the cheap, woollen gloves on, adjusting the material. The gloves don’t stretch much, she has teeny hands and she steps away from the door.
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©Sophie Bowns 2011-2015