Cold, rough concrete beneath my burnt yellow hands, ash under my nails. I hold the butt of an already smoked cigarette in my mouth, looking hopeless. Not even the phrase, “Any spare change?” will get anybody to notice me, the old tramp of Brixton, sitting on the side of a busy main road. Every day I get unhelpful comments from young school kids, such as, “The local druggie! Ha, ha, ha…” These don’t make me feel better. It’s not my fault I’m unemployed, homeless and either drunk or high most of the time. Or is it?
People ask me how on earth I find all the money to buy over fifty cans of beer a week and a rather large variety of harmful grasses from drug-dealers. Sometimes I wonder too. I’ve only ever stolen something once. Twice then. OK! I’ve stolen eight times! Where else am I supposed to get money from (not including vulnerable children’s purses)? But, I’ve been thinking… Maybe, just maybe, it would be a slight possibility – just a slight one – that I could consider starting afresh. By ‘afresh’ I mean a new life in which I give up all my addictions, that are slowly rotting my bones, and make lasting friendships, that won’t break. Ever.
Is it hard or easy? Hard is the answer. Giving up something that’s unfortunately been part of your life for years is hard! I have made a start by cutting down the amount of beers I drink weekly and am now only downing thirty cans. Can I keep it up?
It’s been a long day today. I’ve just climbed into my torn sleeping bag… I’m exhausted. I know I’m not in for a good night’s sleep though. My dog, Ruffles, will not shut up. I make myself cosy in a urine- soaked corner. This is quite a struggle. Relaxing is hard. For me the definition of ‘relax’ is to forget about all your worries. This is almost impossible for someone like me, as every ten seconds I have a new worry, like where to settle down for the night and whether it will be safe or not.
For the last couple of weeks I’ve been sofa surfing in locals’ houses. I think people are starting to invite me to their warming homes because I’ve started to look after myself. Instead of just spending my money on alcohol, I’ve been buying food from McDonalds. This may not be entirely healthy but is building my bones slowly and effectively.
I’ve also had a wash and am feeling fresh!
Yesterday I was asked how money I wanted for Ruffles. My reply was that he wasn’t for sale. The man angrily told me I was not looking after him properly and he needed a caring family. I felt bad. This was a young dog that needed a new life. I could only keep him if was willing to have a major life turn-around. What I have achieved so far is only the beginning.
The writer of this short story is Violet. She is 11 years old