**Authors Note: A 'Gogo' is a South African term rendered to an elderly lady that is looked upon as a grandmother.**

Sweat glistened off of his brow as he hugged the wall and tried to take in what he had just seen. He had seen many things in his short life, but what he had just beheld had him in a complete state. He tried to slow his breathing down but found that it was a futile endeavour. His heart was beating so hard and fast that he was scared it would burst from his chest. The beat drummed in his ears.

"Think." He muttered to himself.

Dozens of half thoughts flooded his mind and for a few moments he found himself undecided as to what he should do. Finally, one thought pierced the veil of indecisiveness that clouded his thoughts.


This thought echoed through his brain as his limbs finally caught up with his train of thought, and so he started to run…

When many people hear of South Africa the images of jungles with various wild animals comes to mind. The misconception is that wild lions roam the streets with bushmen in the distance in loincloths. This could not be further from the truth. While South Africa does have a rustic beauty that is retained in many areas, it is actually an economic giant in Africa with cities bristling with activities.

Like most cities in the world fortunes are made and lost on a daily basis. The splendor of the successful is clearly evident in the upbeat sections of the city which shows that there is a lot of prosperity in this land of beauty. But, as with other cities, there are the deeper and darker sections of the cities. These are the areas which are "no-go" areas for the well-to-do people. It is in these areas that there is a throb of life that few care to acknowledge and yet many live in trying their best to survive. One such area is the Middestad area in the city of Bloemfontein.

Ask anybody who resides there and a person will find that an alarming amount of street children with various sad tales can be found there. Life is hardest of all for these young children who are already just about written off in life before they have even had a chance to start their lives. The life of those that are abandoned is never easy and is not surprising when some of these young ones turn up dead by some form of suicide. Recently many of the well-to-do people uttered exclamations at a news report of a young ten year old boy who was found dead with his wrists slit. He had used a piece of broken glass.

Young Reace was one such youngster who found himself on the streets of Bloemfontein. Many people who knew the youngster by sight would remark that he had a lovely smile when addressed. Currently he was busy foraging amidst the outside of the Middestad Sentrum. He was keeping a look out for the security guards who would chase him away. Winter was fast approaching in Bloemfontein and that meant that the nights would become bitterly cold. He was on the look for sturdy cardboard boxes to improve his makeshift dwelling in one of the alleyways. Trying to find what he was looking for proved to be a most challenging task because of his having to keep half an eye out for the security guards. He was about to give a sigh of frustration when his eyes spotted the exact kind of box that he had been looking for. He started to make his way towards his prize when…

"Hey! You! What are you doing here?" a voice yelled behind him.

In mid stride he changed direction, half scrambling and slipping as he tried to get away from the security guard that had spotted him. Inwardly he sighed as he knew that he had had his prize slip from his fingers once more. The security guard attempted to give chase, but it was a lost cause because Reace knew every nook and cranny of the alleys. Not to mention the fact that there were many shoppers and pedestrians that were walking about, so it was easy to squeeze his lithe frame between them and disappear.

Celest was a beautiful girl that oozed natural charm and was well liked by all. A top academic and good athlete made her the total package in the eyes of many. If one spoke to any of her teachers they would only hear her praises being sung. She was a quiet and polite girl who worked hard and never had any problems with her peers. Her only disadvantage was that she would often try to disappear and blend into the background, when in actual fact she belonged in the spotlight.

Many envied her for all of her ability and the ease with which she seemed to go through life. She was never boastful about her achievements and was always willing to lend a helping hand. What most missed is that the charming smile that bewitched so many boys rarely carried to her eyes. One or two of her more astute peers would say that her eyes appear as mirrors, and when the façade of a happy person falls, a deep sadness can be seen. What this can be remains as speculation amidst these individuals because it seems impossible for "ms Perfect" to have any problems.

Celest walked out of class with her classmates after having written what many believed to be a horrible test.

"That question that on the geometry was so unfair! There are far too many theorems for us to learn!" a girl called Ashley quipped.

"I know hey! I'm so getting zero for that question. I couldn't recall how to prove that the one angle would equal the other and think I ended up with a lot of rubbish." Another called Mandy said.

"What about you Celest? Even you had to admit that that test was horrible!" Ashley said.

"I don't know. It was challenging in some areas. But we were told to learn all of the work." Celest replied.

"Typical answer from the bof. No surprise that she found it easy. I wish I had your brains Celest, then I could cruise through school like you. My parents promised me a new dress if I did well on this paper. I can kiss that goodbye." Mandy said with a wave of her hand.

"Well, I did study hard. I couldn't have just guessed the work that was in the paper. My brains can only do so much." Celest said with a slight smile.

"Modest as always. I say we go and drown our sorrows at Milky Lane in a giant bubble gum milkshake!" Ashley said.

"Sounds like a plan to me!" Mandy replied with a jump of excitement.

"I don't know. We're writing Biology tomorrow. I think we should study." Celest answered.

"Listen bookworm, even you need a break every now and again. Lighten up. Admit it, you'd love to have a mouthwatering bubblegum milkshake. We can catch up then. We hardly ever chat because your nose is always in the books!" Mandy said and hugged Celest with one arm.

"She has a point Celest. You need to unwind a little." Ashley remarked and looped her arm over Celest as well, making her pinned between herself and Mandy.

"I don't know…" Celest said with a slight frown.

"Good, then it's decided. To Milky Lane!" Mandy shouted.

The evening was fast approaching and the streets of Bloemfontein were filled with both human and motor traffic. People were both anxious and eager to get home after a day of work. For the people in the Middestad area this often meant it was time to pack up their roadside stalls and make their long journey home to the location outside of Bloemfontein. Reace was at this moment busy helping one of the older ladies who was a fruit vendor. Her wares was far too heavy and burdensome on her own to carry and if it were not for him, she would surely have had to leave her wares at her stall at the mercy of the various thieves and prowlers of the night.

After helping her to put the last of her goods in a nearby room, where many of the vendors kept their goods overnight, Reace smiled as the old lady gave him a hug of gratitude. He could not suppress a smile as she held him as an inner warmth grew in him from the kindly contact.

"Thank you very much my child. You are so good to this old lady. I don't know what I would do without you." The kindly old lady said with a smile as she stood back and looked up at him.

"It's ok, I'm glad I can help." He replied.

"Now, I know it's not much, but here you go. I saved it for you." The old lady said as she reached into her large handbag and handed him a pastry in a paper packet.

"Gogo! You shouldn't have!" Reace exclaimed in delight.

"It's too rich for me and I know how much you like them." She said as she handed the package over to the eager lad.

Reace hugged her in appreciation and took the pastry. With a final thank you, he ran off. The old lady looked fondly at his retreating back, knowing that the pie she had just given him would most likely be his only proper meal of the day. Her heart was saddened at the fact that such a fine young man counted himself among those that called the street their home. She drew her shawl closer around her as a cold wind blew through the air. Tonight was going to be cold, the approaching winter freezing, she could feel it in her bones.

Celest stood outside of her house with a feeling of anxiety and trepidation. It was late in the afternoon and she had just been dropped off at her house by Mandy's mother. She had enjoyed her time with the girls and the milkshake had been delicious. The afternoon had been a joyous one, but she knew that she was going to have to pay a price for her merriment. Her heart began to pound in her chest as she tried to coax herself into moving forward towards her house. The decision was made for her by the door that opened and a large and dark figure that was silhouetted in the doorway.

She moved forward knowing that things would only get worse if she lingered any longer. Celest made her way down the cobbled pathway that led to the front door. The pruned shrubbery that flanked the pathway was in impeccable condition considering the time of year it was, indicating the utmost care being given to it. The rose bushes were bare save a few leaves that had not yet fallen. She reached the threshold and stepped in as the figure moved back to let her in. She swallowed hard and tried to control her fear as the door slowly closed behind her.

Reace had found his hideaway for the night and looked about him. It was at the end of an alleyway and just out of the way from a light that shone on the back entrance of one of the local shops. It was dim, but provided a false sense of security for the youth. He shivered from the cold and watched how his breath formed misty wisps in front of him. He looked up at a large advertisement that looked down on him. He smiled as he looked sadly at the advertisement. It was one of the few times that people would have seen him look sad or unhappy. It was an advertisement for a headache powder called "Grandpa" and depicted a smiling family hugging each other.

They all looked so happy and carefree. Reace would often fall asleep looking up at the advert, imagining that he was part of that family and that they cared for him. He fought back a sniffle as he felt his throat constrict. He hated this part of the day, when he would go to sleep alone. He pulled up his two tattered blankets that he had gotten from a drive of a local radio station for the homeless and pulled it over his face. He knew nobody would see him, but he felt ashamed about what he was going to do.

Celest lay on her bed and tried her best not to move. Her body ached all over and she tried her best to control her emotions, but her tears continued to spill from her eyes. They ran down her cheek and fell onto her pillow. She knew that she should not have stayed afterschool, but it had seemed so appealing and, while now she wouldn't acknowledge it, she did have fun. But, enjoying herself always seemed to come with a price.

A loud snoring from the adjacent room startled her and she almost leapt from her bed. But, after a moment or two, she realized that it was her father. He had fallen asleep. She couldn't understand why he resented her so much. It wasn't her fault that her mother was gone, she didn't even know to this day why she had run off, but thinking of her own treatment it wasn't difficult to guess why. When her father started to snore she knew that this meant that he had finally drunken himself into a stupor and fallen asleep. She buried her face into her pillow and started to sob. She wished that somebody would help her, care for her, hold her and tell her that everything would be alright.

But she was too smart to be lured into such delusions, because she knew that if somebody told her that then it would only be a lie. Sometimes she hated being clever and able to understand reality so well. The world was so dark and she didn't like the fact that she was part of it. Celest also knew that to think somebody would hold her just for her own sake was a futile thought, because all the guys she knew only wanted to get into her pants. She continued to sob into her pillow, feeling ashamed of the way she was acting, until she had cried herself to sleep.