Sarah - New Beginnings

By six O’clock at night I had booked myself into a four star hotel, had a shower and swam in the pool. I didn’t know why I was doing this, I didn’t particularly enjoy mingling with all the rich snobs of society but I was in their territory. By dinner time I was suitably dressed and ready to eat, downstairs I was led into the dinning room where I was shown to a table. I was sat by myself with an empty chair placed opposite me, I stared at it longing for it to be filled with a friendly face, before the waiter had even taken my order a young man of around twenty one came up to me.

“Is this seat taken?” he asked,

“Oh no,” I shook my head, I thought he was going to take it to another table but he sat down,

“My name’s Luke,” he held out his hand, I shook it out of courtesy,

“I’m Sarah,” I said glancing around to see if anyone was watching…apparently this behaviour was perfectly normal, I looked back up at him, “Did you want something?” I asked quietly, a smile crept across his face and he leant back in his chair,

“Sorry do I need an excuse to share my meal with a young lady, who if I might add, looked hopelessly lonely all by herself?”

“What gave me away?” I asked,

“The vacant worried look, it’s written all over you,” he smiled, “can I offer you a beverage?”

“No, no I’m fine,” I smiled and sipped my water.

One hour later Luke and I had eaten our main meal and were about to start dessert, we’d chatted about Luke’s work – he was a banker – and how beautiful the location of the hotel room was. But with dessert brought with it the more gritty stuff,

“So tell me about you Sarah,” Luke said before placing a spoonful of pie into his mouth,

“There isn’t much to say really…” I muttered,

“I don’t believe that, tell me about your family,” he smiled,

“Well…um…they all died when I was young,” I told him, there was a silence which lasted one second too long,

“I’m so sorry;” he burst, “so what’s your situation now? Where do you live? What do you do?”

“I lived on the streets for about eight years, before that I lived with a man, and I’m currently at school,”

“Wow, you managed to go to school despite living on the street? Why didn’t you get put into social care?” he asked,

“I did but I hated it there, ran away as soon as I knew how,” Luke smiled and finished off his pie,

“And now? Something must have changed, you’re eating in a four star hotel for goodness sake,” he grinned and sipped his wine,

“I have a fairly well off boyfriend,” I told him getting out my wallet,

“No, let me Sarah,” Luke threw down a hundred dollars on the table and smiled, “Now I understand why you looked so lonely, why isn’t he here with you?”

“I left him for two weeks,” I said standing up and following Luke into the hallway,

“Why?”

“I…”I began, “I don’t know…” I told him,

“Did he do something? Us men are so clueless, you really need to explain if we did something annoying,”

“It wasn’t really him…it’s my issues,” I told him,

“Ah,” Luke smiled, “I guess I’d be fairly messed up growing up on the streets,”

“Too right,” I mumbled,

“Anyway, I’m going to hit the bar and I would invite you to join me but we’ve got the whole ‘you’re under-aged’ thing going on, plus you’re probably bored to death of me now,” I smiled,

“Maybe I’ll see you around?”

“How long are you staying for?” he asked,

“A week or two,” I told him,

“Well don’t leave that boyfriend of yours hanging, he’s probably in hell right now,”

“I won’t, I promise,” I smiled and hugged Luke goodbye, in the lift back to my hotel room I decided to call Josh. I took out my cell and dialled his number, it rang twice and then someone picked up,

“Josh?”

“Hello?”

“Josh is that you?” I asked, it sure didn’t sound like him,

“No…”

“Who is it then?” I snapped,

“This kid came by and swapped clothes with me, I didn’t even realise his cell was in his pocket,”

“Was the kid six foot two, have straight brown hair?” I demanded putting two and two together,

“Yeah…I guess he did,” he mumbled, I slapped my hand onto my forehead,

“If you see him!” I told the man, “Tell him to call me,”

“I won’t see him again; he’s probably lying in a gutter somewhere,”

“What?” I cried, a tear rolled down my cheek,

“Well he might not be, on second thoughts he probably did it for a dare…” the man sighed, “It was real nice of him though, I got his watch and all,” I slammed the cell down and threw it onto the bed.

I let the tears roll out in anger, frustration and sadness. What did he think? That swapping his clothes with some homeless man would make everything alright? I wasn’t looking for him to turn into one of us…all I wanted was for him to drop everything and come and find me. Show that he loved me even when I was mad at him, or upset at him, show that he would be able to put up with me when I was having a bad day and wanted to storm off. All he was doing was swapping outfits with the nearest bum and maybe lying in a gutter for two weeks. The only change I’d see when I came back was that he’d smell bad, and possibly be laughed at by all the other pupils at school for turning into me. Josh needed to show that his pride was in himself, his dignity was who he was and who I was, he needed to show that he didn’t care when someone threw an insult at him or me. Why? Because it was going to happen a whole lot more. 

*

A week later I’d calmed down, I’d relaxed into the luxury spa treatments and evening meals on the patio, and I was ready to go back. I had also run out of money and even though this didn’t bother me, I couldn’t pay for another night, so really I had to go back. As I walked home that late afternoon I decided to take the quick, but less scenic, route through the back alleys. I knew them well as the drugs trade thrived in these areas of desolation, but as I turned into yet another back alley, I saw a lump of clothes on the floor. Immediately my mind raced to conclusions,

“Josh!” I cried running at him, “Josh, it’s me!” I shook the body awake and then took a step back, “Sorry…I thought you were someone else,” I muttered at the angry, but still half-asleep homeless man. I made round another corner and stopped in my tracks, a huge smile crept across my face and I ran as fast as I could. I wrapped my arms around the familiar figure and didn’t let go,

“What in the world are you wearing?” I demanded as soon as Josh’s smell had become too much, “And why do you stink like…excrement?”

“I got a job in the sewers and traded clothes with a homeless guy,”

“You stink!” I cried as Josh took a step towards me, I held out my arm as a barrier, “No offence or anything,”

“I’m just so pleased and surprised to see you,” Josh exclaimed, “what are you doing here?”

“I was on my way back from my vacation,” I told him, “here a better question…what areyoudoing here?”

“I knocked a guy out today, then walked as far away as I could and then crashed on a pile of garbage,”

“Seriously Josh!” I cried, “Can’t you act like a normal person for once?”

“What do you mean?” he smiled, “I was showing that I had no dignity,”

“You’re so weird,” I muttered walking to his side and continuing our journey back home, this time the situation was reversed – I was the clean, tidy one and Josh was the dirty, smelly one.

“Am I forgiven?”

“I was never mad at you,” I told him, “I just wanted to see how you’d prove to me that you cared aboutme, not about who society thinks I am,”

“What do you mean?” he asked,

“I didn’t want you dating me out of pity; I mean that’s still love, in a way…but not true love. I could adopt a stray kitten because I took pity on it, and I’d love it because it had no mother and was on the verge of death. I wanted you to go out with me for who I was, not because you wanted to help a homeless girl get back on her feet,”

“You suck at explaining stuff,” he told me, “but I think I get it… For the record I never went out with you for pity, I didn’t even know you were homeless until not long ago,”

“Am I forgiven?” I asked,

“For what?”

“Being such a lame girlfriend and turning you into a tramp and deserting you again when I said I wouldn’t and pushing you away because you smelt bad and spending your money in a hotel…” I said in one breath,

“Whoa, you did a lot of things which should annoy me, but you know what?”

“What?”

“They don’t because I love you; I love you for who you are!”

“Hey when we get back will you take a shower?” I asked him,

“Sure,”

“And then after another week of suspension maybe we can go to school in disguise?” I asked smiling,

“I don’t know about disguise…” Josh muttered, “But we most certainly can go changed.”

The End

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