Street Rat

     -My head smacks the wall, and everything goes dark.

Cold water strikes my face, forcing me to my senses. I feel so dizzy and disorientated, like a rabbit caught in headlights. My eyes are desperately scouring the area for something, anything, to revive my memory.
Finally, I manage to focus on the face in front of mine. I hear things, but it’s almost as if I’m underwater. My ears struggle to decipher the voices directed at me.
“Hey, she’s waking up!”
“What’s your name?”
“How did you get here?”
“Are you alright?”
I absently swivel from one voice to another, barely considering their words. They must have noticed, because they instantly died down.
“Let me handle this.”
She shook my shoulders, and I rotated to meet her gaze.
“Are you alright? Sorry about Maxie, he gets a bit funny in the dark. He couldn’t see who you were.”
“Huh?” I’m not yet thinking straight.
“Christ, Maxie! How hard did you push her?!”
“It wasn’t my fault! Let’s have someone sneak up at you during the night, and see how you react!”
I started taking some deep breaths.
“Where am I?” I asked simply. Then I held my hands to my mouth. Almost 4 years had gone by without me uttering a word. It is a strange sensation, not to recognise your own voice. I was surprised that I remembered how to speak; I was so used to being alone, talking only with my mind.
“Well, at least you haven’t killed her then!” She grabbed my shoulders, and pulled me to my feet. I almost collapsed, but she supported my weight.
I smiled politely as I was introduced to everyone. The girl holding me was called Kat. I didn’t take in much else.
“So what’s your name?”
They stared expectantly, but I didn’t know what to say. With every care home I’d lived in, I had renamed myself. My original name had died with my parents, I thought. I couldn’t bear others to call me the same as they had.
I wasn’t sure whether to trust these people with my true identity, but I think that they could see I was struggling. I wasn’t pushed any more, and as everyone filed away, Kat lent me a blanket, and I fell asleep. With all the travelling, and having to deal with the tennis ball sized lump on my head, I was exhausted.

“What were these children doing on the streets?”
“They were runaways, like me. Others were orphans.
I stayed with them for almost a year, and we considered
each  other to be family. But that didn’t change the fact that
We were fending for ourselves.”
“But how did you get by?”
“A few of us had jobs, and we used that to buy food and essentials.
Everything was shared out.”
“And this worked for you?”
“Not everything was perfect, but our main concern
was that we were all in it together. We created a system, and
It worked. But not everything lasts forever.”

The End

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