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Copyright 2011 by Mary C. Moore

Smashwords Edition

The girl who is almost a woman sits on the edge of society. The cement is cold there, cold and hard. It stinks like booze-filled urine. She sits there and watches the crowds of housies walk by in their clean, warm clothes.

Her face is covered with months of unwashed pimples. Her hair is filled with dreads made from snarls and dirt. When you pass by her, she looks up at you with a dull, trembling expression. The cardboard sign in front of her is a plea, yet she looks as if she would disdain your help. You walk by quickly, averting your eyes. You can’t figure out why you avoid her. You don’t think too much about it, and you soon forget her.

Forgotten, she will sit there long after you have returned to the warmth and comfort of your home. She will sit there while the shadows of the tall buildings elongate, and then disappear. She will sit there until night falls—a night that is not silent or dark, but is filled with orange streetlamps and leering men and screeching sirens and shadowed alleys. Then, as the nocturnal city life crowds around her, she will finger any coins in the paper cup and know if she can eat from the McDonald’s down the block.

The girl is tired. She is more than tired; she is bone weary exhausted. The only sleep she has had in the past few months is what she could catch while the sun was high in the sky. Only then could she risk curling in a ball on the unforgiving cement to sleep. She cannot try to find a place at night, she cannot go to a shelter, she cannot sleep without the sun because…

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