I’m feeling nostalgic, tonight. My mind is wandering back to another time, in a very different life. When I get like this, I often browse through old writing or photos just to get a taste of where I was ‘once upon a time’. This one stood out. I’m just an amateur who occasionally writes down thoughts or scenes in my head, or scribbles down the rare poem. This is one of my scraps… a not-exactly-autobiographical introduction to three characters that will probably never see their story finished… It’d be a pity to just forget about them, though. Enjoy.
Life As We Know It
Avalyn enjoyed the familiar rhythm of the rain. Living in this city, you got used to it or you moved on. It was a far cry from the sweltering heat of her childhood home and she liked it that way. The gray clouds and abundance of shadowy corners were a comfort to her.
“I got us something to eat.” The young man came around the corner carrying a half smashed box from a local pizza shop. His oily, black hair only served to enhance his wild, grunge look. His oversize corduroy blazer extended halfway over the hand that eagerly presented Avelyn the abused pizza box.
She didn’t hesitate to snatch and open it as she spoke, “Awesome! I’m starving.” As the scent of the pizza hit her, she coughed and shook her head before shooting a nasty glare toward her companion, “UGH! Anchovies?! Really, little brother?”
Tony’s head flew back as he laughed and slid down the wall to sit next to her. Avelyn rolled her eyes and grabbed a piece of pizza, delicately picking off the anchovies and flinging them into the street.
“You can try to foist the rest off on Rynn, but…”, she interrupted herself with a big bite of food. Tony had no retort to this, so the two sat in silence while Avelyn ate. They watched the people mill about on the sidewalk while they waited for the downtown train to arrive.
The train screeched to a stop in front of them and as the doors opened, swarms of people poured out onto the sidewalk. Avelyn giggled in delight as one of the discarded anchovies was squashed on the tracks. She and Tony pulled their feet up close to them and kept their packs tight against their sides as the platform was overrun. Tony’s eyes darted over the crowd curiously. He moved to stand up and Avelyn grabbed his arm, pulling him awkwardly back to the ground. Her eyes flicked toward the edge of the platform where a cop had just stepped off the train and was surveying the crowd. Tony sighed deeply and nodded, pressing a little closer against the wall. It never ceased to amaze her to see how tiny the big guy could make himself.
Almost as fast as it had filled, the platform was clear and the safety of a blanket of people was lost. The cop sneered at Tony and Avelyn, but as he approached them, a man in a fancy suit stomped up and began yelling about some kids skateboarding outside his office building. They seized the opportunity and swiftly gathered their things, scurrying away and deeper into downtown.
The soft rain of the morning faded and the sun began to peek through the clouds, casting dancing light patterns on the bricks of the square where the two now found themselves. Some people milled about the square idly, while others hurried about their business. None of them seemed to notice the scruffy boy in his oversize clothes or the girl in her tattered coat and fraying jeans. Tony explored the crowd with his eyes, his focus flitting from person to person. When Avelyn chose a place to sit down, he tossed his pack down next to her. She looked up, mouth open to speak, but only sighed and pulled her knees up to her chest. He was gone, lost in the sea of people.
Avelyn’s hair fell in tangled curls over her face as she watched and waited. From here, she could see most of the square. This was one of her favorite places in the city. Sometimes they showed movies on a big screen for anyone who cared to sit and watch. On one corner there was a coffee shop and on the other, the travel information center. In the winter, the city would put up a giant Christmas tree in the center of the square. Today, it was busier than usual. Tourist season was beginning to pick up.
In all the hustle and bustle, Avelyn didn’t notice the approach of the brown-haired beauty in tight black jeans and a black t-shirt with the words ‘CAN’T SLEEP, CLOWNS WILL EAT ME’ written in white across the front. The newcomer brushed her straight, shoulder-length hair behind her ear and leaned her weight on one leg, placing a balled fist against her hip.
“Hey, Av! Where’s Tony?” She gestured with her free hand toward his pack on the ground.
Avelyn jumped, and her startling blue eyes shot up at the girl. Her features instantly softened and a bright smile crossed her face, “Rynn! Sorry I didn’t wait by the mall like you said… cops…”
Rynn shook her head, “No problem, love. Now where’s Tony. I owe him something.”
“Will it involve a hospital?” Avelyn quirked a brow at Rynn.
Rynn smirked and shrugged with one shoulder, “Maybe.”
A few moments later, Rynn squealed and whirled about to land her fist right in Tony’s jaw, knocking him back a step. “What the hell was that?!” Panting, she held a hand to her chest and glared at him.
“Shit… Was that really necessary? It was just a love tap.” Tony rubbed his jaw, which was already beginning to bruise.
“Well keep your hands to yourself, little brother, or the next one’ll break it.” She gestured toward his face.
“Would you two stop fussing already? I don’t wanna miss the feed.” Avelyn held out the box with the anchovy pizza to Rynn who took one whiff and brushed it away, wrinkling her nose and shaking her head emphatically. “See, told you she wouldn’t eat that crap.”
Tony shrugged and leaned down to scoop up both of their bags by the straps. He held out a black leather wallet to Rynn, who sifted through it and tossed everything except the credit cards and the cash into a nearby trash bin. The trio started walking, talking back and forth about the mundane happenings of the day. Together, they caught a bus and met up with more friends along the way, all heading to the same place.
This was the way of life for them. With the street as their home, they’d learned to keep moving to keep the cops off their back. Tony had found the girls soon after they’d wandered into town with the shirts on their backs and a few books. He taught them who to play nice with and who to avoid. He showed them the city and they showed him friendship. They’d become fast friends, nigh inseparable. Most days, they wandered the city together, stopping for food at one of the homeless feeds at mealtimes. Sometimes they’d sit in the parks or bookstores and talk about all the amazing things they’d do when they got off the streets, though not one of them was sure they’d ever get that far.
To the rest of the world, they had absolutely nothing, but in their eyes they had everything they really needed.