The cold, wet spray of the river Thames hit ‘that weirdo’s’ dirty, partially covered face. Joey had been regarded as ‘that weirdo’ or ‘freak’ from a very early age. This was because of her left eye. Her eyelid permanently half-shut and only revealing the dark almost hollow glint of what was inside.She had been given a sheltered childhood, a fussy mother and a father old enough to be her Granddad. When she was younger, she had always been smartly dressed and clean and on appearance, quite happy. But beneath the fragile surface lay an undercurrent of anger and hatred for all people. She had few friends. She never fitted in and her mother forcing her to did not help in the slightest way. Her father did not care about her at all. She always felt in the way. Never relaxed. At the age of about 12, her clothes also reflected this; old jeans that were too baggy and just a little too short, and trainers that looked as if they had never been washed. An old jumper that was full of holes and smelt of cigarette smoke that her mother had breathed on her kept her warm. In addition, at this early age, she realised that her life was turning into a downward spiral that she could not control.At the age of 13, her father died of a heart attack. Her mother lost the will to live. It was then that she ran away.Living on the streets for the first two years was hell. Getting use to the dark cold nights and always being hungry became a way of life for her. Her daily intake of food consisted of cold leftover pizza and cheap packets of broken biscuits. She was dirty and cold. She had few clothes. A dark blue flea infested jumper; an old pair of jeans and a tatty diary was all she had to call her own. The trainers she had worn as a child still kept her feet warm. They were of good quality and despite the fact that she never took them off they had few holes in them. She lived, no, she didn’t live, she survived on whatever she could. Handouts from passers by provided her with little money. Most of her days were spent walking the never-ending streets of London. There was little light and no matter where she thought she was safe, she was turned away. People did not like beggars living in their doorways. Her nights were often spent in fear. She had little sleep. She was always exhausted and did not know how to stop herself falling asleep during the day.In the summer, she would wear little as the piercing heat penetrated her thin clothing but in the winter, she would cover herself in whatever she could. An old scarf kept her head warm and her ever-growing hair added to the insulation.One day in mid-autumn, that could have been any other day in her pathetic existence, dragging her exhausted feet along the path she reached into a bin and got out a piece of left over pizza. Gorging the pizza, she watched onlookers looking at her in disgust. Their faces resembled that of a jury at a witch-hunt condemning an innocent girl. She was accustomed to the stares. Out of the bin she fished out a packet of crisps, half eaten and very soft. As she continued to eat she noticed one man in particular staring at her. He was about 54 and looked as if he had never worked a day in his life but had been born with money. He wore a long camel coloured coat that still had the original creases in it.Underneath it was possible to see a grey suit with crisp white shirt and purple tie. He reeked of money. Slightly overweight and quite small for his age he waddled over to her and sat on a nearby bench. They were in the park, there were quite a few people around so she knew that she would be saved if she were attacked. As these thoughts raced through her head she turned and walked away. It wasn’t that she wasn’t use to men approaching her it was just that this time he wasn’t a drunk. He looked to be a gentleman that’s what scared her the most. She walked for a bit and after checking a few times to see if he was following her or not, she relaxed and walked out of the park.By now it was dark and the stars that blanketed the sky reminded her of her previous life. She would often sit in her tree house in her back yard and gaze at the sky as soft summer breezes flowed over her like melted toffee. A cold breeze awoke her from her dreaming. She pulled her rags tighter across her chest. As she tried to get back to her dreams a shadow covered her grey eyes. She opened them with fear and as she did her heart skipped a beat. It was the stranger. He looked paler in the moonlight. He was now wearing more relaxing clothes. Tracksuit bottoms and a Nike T-shirt, still stinking of money. It was obvious he had been working up a bit of a sweat. Sweating money. She stole a breath from the cold night air and gathering up her strength she asked in a timed voice: “What do you want?” Her voice trailing off at the end. She was trying to avoid eye contact with the old man. Covering her face with a scarf as best she could.”Nothing…I just thought I recognised you” As he spoke her eyes drifted to his hands. She could not see a wedding ring, which suggested that no woman would want to live with such an arrogant man. “Don’t be afraid,” he insisted “I wont hurt you”. His hands were begging her. “Let me look at your face.” He pleaded. Slowly he uncovered her face and he gazed into her eyes for a few seconds.She broke into a cold sweat and fainted. Entering a state of unconsciousness. The man started to panic and he scanned his eyes over the girl. She awoke and let out a big sigh. When she turned back…he was gone. No man, just herself and her empty stomach crying out to be fed. She felt a brush of cold air over her body and fainted. Entering a state of unconsciousness that was so deep, she could feel pressure flowing over her entire body. This was not a good thing to do when living on the streets.An hour passed by before she awoke again. The air had grown colder and the doorway she was sleeping on had somehow become harder. Pulling herself from the floor she dragged her rattling bones to the nearby park and reached an unoccupied bench. She laid her head down and from sheer exhaustion fell asleep. Within the next few hours she slipped away. Dead. Stone cold. Never to be burdened with the weight of loneliness and hunger again. Dead at the age of nineteen. What a waste.


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