By Joanna, age 20, South Wales, United Kingdom
Sweet Designs Featured Writer
Shambling towards her is a man she has had many interactions with over a course of many long years. He is homeless, half her age, and a pitiful sight to behold. There is a stale stench emitting from his clothes, breath, and skin, yet she greets him warmly.
The unwatched two round unpredictable corners, keeping up pace with one another as they journey. Though she had wished for peace, she did not dislike the man's company, and as always, she felt a great empathy towards him that she could not ignore.
They reach a park, a symbol of the city's end and country's beginning. Beyond a defensive line of trees lay a plethora of beautiful yet neglected fields, forgotten by days that no longer value farm culture. This vast landscape is a home of sorts to the woman. In her many years she has spent unforgettable nights finding much sought refuge from kindly trees that shelter and hedges that hide. Without words, she knows that this man seeks the same kind of refuge as she once did, and she knows why he has approached her.
The two begin to trek through the overgrown grass, towards their mutual but unspoken destination. She pictures the disused barn in her mind's eye and anxiety floods through her. It is already brimming to full with those who seek refuge away from the unforgiving glares of city high-flyers, and she is powerless to refuse entry to those she so easily relates to. Especially the man who wanders beside her. For years, ever since she offered him solace from the daily beatings of a nearby street gang, she has been helping him on a road to another life. For years, he has had the worst fortunes of anyone she has ever met. Rejected by job after job after being taken in by a kind landlady, he was forced back on the streets after the recession, and since then his personal sufferance has been vast.
They approach the barn, and as they enter he is greeted by many friends and acquaintances. The homeless faces fill up his field of vision with questions about years that have stretched between them and streets they have been calling home. She retreats in to the shadows, leaving old friends to catch up and giving herself peace to think about her predicament.
The recession has hit her hard. She had always thought she was untouchable, a homeless woman who managed to find work at a small farm which left her this old barn in return for her services. Being kind in nature and empathetic to others, she had chosen to share her home with the local homeless, making her something of a heroine in their eyes. They relied upon her, and she could not allow herself to let them down.
She needed time to weigh up her options. A local solicitor had informed her that the barn was never rightfully hers, and the farm's deceased owner could not verify her claims that it had been left to her. With little money, she could not afford a lawyer if the case were to visit a court, and even if she could her only proof existed in the mind of a dead farmer. Heartbroken by her turmoil and the prospect of losing all she had worked for, she could only think of one way out.
She slipped quietly from the barn, tears sliding down her face. With blurry eyes, she lit the match and began her journey through the overgrown fields. Casting a cautious look over her shoulder, she saw the barn engulfed in flames and flung herself to the ground in hysteria. By morning, she would be dead. A week later, she would be found. Never would she be remembered.