Thursday, 18 July 2013

Looking past the cover.

"Oh God that man's stinking!" I whispered to my friend as we passed a man with messy hair and adorned in a worn out coat.
"I swear, does he not shower." She giggled back wrinkling her nose.
I heard those girls whispering about how I was stinking. I pulled my coat closer to myself,  slightly shivering in the cold air. I pulled out the keys and unlocked my car. I sighed at the dirty interior. A toothbrush lay on the seat accompanied by a stack of wrinkled clothing. I pulled the seat down and lay down, closing my eyes. Another interview blown. Sleeping in the car without a home, life was just slapping me in the face. And to top it all I was stinking. Brilliant.
"Hey Alice move to the right." I whispered, "That guy looks kind of dangerous." She nodded peering at the guy wrapped in a hoodie, supporting a cut lip and a black eye. We both moved a bit away as we walked.
The man had really done it now. I wiped the slightly bloody lip with the back of my sleeve and winced. And mother hadn't even done anything to stop her husband from beating me up! We were just an all around good family weren't we?
"Look at that girl man. How slutty can you get?!" I whispered to her as she glanced at the girl hanging on the arms of two boys.
I giggled at something Ben said from my left not really hearing what he was saying.
"Hey you want to go for that new movie? What's it called?" Jack asked from my right. I nodded with enthusiasm. Anything to stay away from home and all the fighting.
Ben turned to look at me, his eyes flickering with happiness. At least Someone was happy at something I did, unlike my parents who couldn't think of anything other than each other's fault.
"Want some ice cream?" I asked looking at the ice cream truck standing a few feet away.
"Definately! Who says no to ice cream?" Alice said looking at a mother and son. "Except maybe that kid."
"Probably too much of a snob to have cheap ice cream." I said standing in line.
"Prefers Baskin Robbins or something. Seriously it's the mother's own fault." She said seriously.
"Honey, you can get a lolly. Really it won't matter." Mother said looking at smiling. "I have some money from today's job. I rolled my eyes at her and pulled her on.
"Mom save it okay? We need every pence we got." I said.
"I'm sure a dollar won't harm Rory's stash on medicine." She said walking along.
"Mom, my brother's got cancer. I'm not wasting money on ice cream when we need each dollar to save his life okay mom? So quit it. I don't want a stupid lolly." I said firmly taking her hand. She smiled softly -a first in days.
"You're the best, kiddo!" She said ruffling my hair and we walked on.
"Hurry up man! We haven't got all day." I said to the salesman. I turned to her and said, "Man he's slow."
"I swear, the line's barely moving." She said frowning.
I wiped my brow, exhausted. Maybe I'll take a day off tomorrow and get some sleep. I've barely slept 3 hours in the past week. I took the money from the little girl who happily licked her Strawberry Surprise (the surprise was a lick of vanilla in the middle. What a rip off!). I thought about my wife at home and how she'd fight if I said I wanted to take an off. I sighed. I'd been selling ice cream all my life, she shouldn't have married me if it didn't suit her I earned so little. I worked hard at it, unlike her oh so 'rich' brother who got money for parking his butt on a chair all day.
We walked on eating our Chocolate Swirlies. We came across three girls sitting on a wall. They glanced at us and one turned to whisper something to the others. They all laughed loudly looking at us.
"They're talking about us." I said to Alice.
"I know! Totally judging us!" She said.
"People are so judgemental these days!" I said as we walked past them.
"Yeah! Why can't they just look at what they themselves are doing for like two minutes before assuming about others?!" She said. I nodded in enthusiastic agreement.
Nobody can guess a person's story with just a glance or even a few words, although we do try are best to do so. We all pass judgements here and there, not looking at what we ourselves are doing.
Just something to think about.
Ilma Zuberi.

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