Talara: Scalded

They let me out with a "warning". I am now the bearer of a "deserved, just and fair punishment". They scalded my right hand with boiling water, so that everyone will be able to see that I am a thief. It will heal a shiny red colour, if it doesn't end up getting infected from living on the street. Being wounded is a dangerous thing in these places.

It will be a warning to innocent retailers. It will also prevent me from ever getting a job, from ever being allowed into a Workhouse, from finding friends or romance. I won't be allowed into the hovels that rent out a bed space for a penny. But it's just, I deserved it, I did try to feed myself. 

As I leave the building, kicked out with nothing but agonizing pain, I realize I have more than I came with. The man, with the Orange eyes. He gave me something, slipped it into my hand, I didn't have a chance to investigate yet, but whatever it was should still be in my pocket. Holding my throbbing, roughly bandaged hand up to my chest, I slip my other one into my pocket, praying that there isn't a hole in it. He'd mumbled something too, about chewing. Pulling out my hand, I look in disgust at a few dried flowers. They're small and a faded light blue, with brown and yellow tips from being dried. As I'm about to toss them away, I suddenly think "What harm?". There's not much that could happen to worsen my situation, so with a shrug, I toss them into my mouth, and chew. 

My first reaction is horror, they're so bitter! But then my mouth starts tingling and I'm not sure if I can taste them anymore or if it's my imagination. And then as I am jostled down the street, dirty with litter and crowded with street vendors, I notice the horrible pain that is my hand subtly fading, gentler now, less a pulsing and angry injury, and more a dull, distracting stinging.

I walk along aimlessly, buffeted by the crowd, safe in the knowledge that no one will try to pick my pockets, no one will try to steal from me, or tempt me with anything. Not because I live in a wonderful safe environment, but because I am the one who would be doing the stealing, the tempting. I am the lowest of the low.

I'm still in a daze. I can't believe that this happened, and I can't believe it means so little to everyone else. Back at the Bruiser station, they had cauldrons of water constantly on the boil, casually ruining the lives of countless Purples, casually, yet with definite malice. 

I'm not sure where I'm going. I still need food, I'm weak with hunger. How my body is going to fight off infections when it has nothing to draw energy from, I don't know. 

With a start, I recognize where I am. Near a school, and although I don't often chance it, I decide to investigate the bins, as the cafeteria dumps a lot of leftover food that's fine for someone like me.  I don't know who I fear more.; if I'm caught by the Higher Colours I'll been in deep trouble, but if I'm caught by a gang, I'll be in trouble too. Scavenging is a business that requires large portions of diplomacy-getting caught will need quick thinking and talking, but I'm desperate.

I hope nobody sees me.

The End

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