I was hyper aware of everything, every one of my senses was on overdrive. Even through my closed eyes the ugly, orange light from a streetlamp bled through my lids. I smelled the sour tinge of sweat beading on my unwashed skin. Hell, it was so strong I could practically taste it. The air was so heavy and saturated, like a blanket weighing down over my body.
The worst part however, were the sounds. The street was quiet, all of the shops on the street had closed hours ago. You couldn’t even hear cars in the distance. The night would probably be considered peaceful by another person, that is if they had a warm bed and roof over their head. No, they were the sounds only I could hear that drove me mad.
Every thud of my heart was an entire drum circle inside of my head. The blood in my head felt thick and sluggish moving through my veins, like curdled milk through a coffee stirrer.
I stood up, too fast, and brushed the gravel and dirt from my clothes. It was useless though, every inch of me was covered in grime. It was ground into my very skin. It’s who I am now. It’s all I am.
I started to walk in no particular direction, leaving my few belongings on the ground. I could feel the uncomfortable stabbing of pebbles and glass under my feet, but I was used to bloody feet. I’d worn out the soles of my shoes weeks ago. Soon it would be easier though, my feet would toughen up and I wouldn’t need shoes. I just had to make it until then. I used to be good at living paycheck to paycheck, now I lived callous to callous.
I turned an unfamiliar corner and was stopped in my tracks by the cramping in my stomach. I nearly began to drool as I smelled cooking food wafting out of a tiny chinese restaurant.There were a few college kids sitting in the booths enjoying dishes of fried rice, chicken and eggrolls. I remembered when that was me.
I knew not to linger long, but a tiny spark of hope burned in my stomach. I crept around the side of the restaurant and found what I was looking for; the dumpster. The smell was attrocious, but maybe there was something fresh on the top, or at least edible. I began carefully picking through the trash, hoping not to touch anything too offensive.
“Hey!”, someone shouted as the alley was flooded with light. I squinted and blinked, frozen like a deer in headlights. Or maybe more like a raccoon in the trash. The driver was one of the college kids that I saw in the restauraunt. “Go get a job, junkie!”, he yelled at me. He and his friends chortled as they pulled away from the curb and drove off.
Dont you think I’ve tried?
My appetite disappeared, which was funny since I hadn’t eaten in days. I began walking again, still no direction in mind. The sky began to brighten, and soon I began to make out my surroundings. Somewhere nearby I heard the crashing of waves. I weaved my way through the streets until my feet hit the soft sand. I nearly sighed in relief.
The sunrise over the beach painted the sky and water red and orange and yellow. It was so beautiful. It looked like the paintings I’d tried to sell when times were tough, though I could never create anything so perfect. That spark of hope in me reignited.
Today was the last day I would go hungry. Today was the last day I’d sleep on the ground and be snubbed by those who couldn’t understand.
I walked down to the shore and walked in the gentle tide. It soothed the ache in my feet and washed them clean. A stone buried in the sand caught my eye. It was a bright aquamarine shade struck through with black fissures. I placed it in my pocket and began picking up stones that caught my eye. Big and small, shiny and colorful, I stuffed them anywhere I could. It was the first time in a long time I smiled.
Sally sells seashells by the seashore and I’ll sell sea stones by the sea shore.
I stepped deeper into the waves, finding more and more stones. They were bigger here. I tucked my shirt into my pants and began shoving them down my collar. The deeper I went, the prettier the stones became. I even saw a few fish and crabs darting around my toes.
I can sell my stones on the beach, and when I get hungry I can catch some fish and crabs. I’ll make enough to put my life back together, pay my debts, go back to school...
The water was now up to my neck, and I was weighed down to the seafloor by my stones. I bet the most beautiful ones are even deeper down. I needed to see them, I needed them.
This is it.
I took a breath and went under.