"...And don't look back".
By Liz Bee
I did go home after a day. It was a hasty and terrifying experience, and any second I was expecting to hear his cold, flat voice or to feel his hand clamp upon my shoulder. Even opening the door took more courage than I knew I had. It was blessedly clear when I got in, dark and cool. I wanted to fall down and sleep so badly but knew I couldn't afford to. I grabbed only what I needed- money, a notebook and smokes mostly- and turned to leave when there was a dull thud. I froze for a full minute, and when I turned it was only a book. Spooked, I left, locked the door for what little use or comfort it would be, and didn't come back.
More than two months have passed since I went underground. I slept on the streets for a little while, not a new experience, but soon I moved further out to the edges, where you can see the sky- the older, grubbier suburbs, but you can't be choosy. I moved in on a warm winter's day, and as I was carrying what little I had to my new yet dingy room a rabble of neighbours appeared. One or two at first, but soon there were more than ten, a few of them kids.
"Help you out for a smoke?" a scrawny boy offered. He can't be more than fifteen, I thought, and I accepted. There were flashes of conversation, soon the others pitched in, and before I knew it my room was set up and we were satisfied with a job well done- I handed out smokes, as promised, and spare change also. The oldest one introduced himself as Art, and even though he was still in his teens he had the oldest eyes I'd ever seen. Then a tired-looking woman with a baby on her hip, Emily, offered me a smile and shook her head at Art's rabble apologetically. "They mean well", she said by way of explanation.
Then there was the man next door, Mister Baldini, who offered me tea and coffee, one lump of sugar or two, maybe a biscuit, and later we would repeat this twice weekly, and I'd learn of how I looked like his niece who lived in Sweden. Who were all these people that would actually talk to me? I was startled and pleased by their company. My life settled into a comfortable routine, and somehow I got a job at a fast-food outlet. It stank, but money is money, right?
Aside from that, it's been over two months and Alexei still hasn't found me- I don't think he will. There are so many places to look and he doesn't have the time or money, or at least that's what I'm hoping. I still keep a close watch when I need to go into the city, though, and some noises make me jump, so Alexei's not completely out of my life- I wish he were. There are other people now, though, and important in their way. They make up a portion of my life: Art and his rabble will sometimes palm spare change and smokes off me, and I don't mind. They need it more than I do, I suspect. Emily has cooked for me a couple of times, because she knows I'm terrible at it still. Sometimes she invites herself in under the pretense of a friendly chat, usually around dinnertime so she can offer me advice- I'm not offended, but thankful. Mr. Baldini likes my company when he makes tea, so I do that too.
I won't lie and say it's easy because it isn't, but I think we'll be okay. Sometimes, in a strange way, I'm happy. My days are safe at least and I have my routine, company when I need it, a place to be (shitty as it is). I have a world of my own now where everything makes sense, and for now it's enough.
a/n And there it is.
This was my major body of work for my Extension English Two course, and the requirements were that it be 8000 words approx. That was it. I was given a free reign to write whatever I wanted, and at first I didn't know what to write. So I read and watched a million movies, made a progress journal and eventually came up with an idea. I built upon it, and pounded out the 8000, but when I re-read it I realied it was terrible- cliche'd and full of holes, not balanced and without a clear resolution. So I wrote it again with major changes and what I have now is better.
I don't know if you think it's any good. I'm happy it's over and actually really enjoyed writing this despite all the stress that went into it, the rewriting, the deadlines, the need to find and fix every little mistake. This is the finished product- the longest thing I've ever written. Scriv (teacher) reckons it's gritty realism. I just wanted to write something where, for once, the female protagonist could be taken seriously and be as good as her male peers without there being the need for a 'you go girl' stench to it.
I'm happy with it.