A Home For The Homeless
Amber Shums, Grade 6, Wheelers Hill Primary School
Finalist in the 'The Inside Story 2020' competition
“Whaddya think ya doin’ ‘ere?” a gruff voice growled. He swore through his teeth.
Amaya awakened with a start. The wind lashed against her face like an icy sword slicing through her flesh. An ominous-looking figure loomed over her. As she peered through her half-closed eyes, Amaya could faintly make out the silhouette of a broad-shouldered, hefty man.
Great. That’s all she needed.
“‘Gettout’ve ‘ere!” the menacing figure was staggering closer. “Tis my spot.”
Discarded, crumpled up pieces of paper careened angrily across the deserted street. The pungent stench of sewerage wafted through the air.
She pulled herself up reluctantly and rubbed her hands together vigorously. Melbourne weather was being a step-mother again. Even worse, it seemed as if a whole orchestra was performing inside her stomach, demanding for food! A spicy burger would be heavenly. But, she would settle for crumbs right now.
Life was always a challenge, being an international student in Australia. Coming from a poverty-stricken family in Sri Lanka, Amaya was used to life being a desperate struggle for survival, but this was a new low. The University scholarship that had offered her a magical hand of hope wasn’t panning out the way it was meant to.
The COVID-19’s tentacles of death had shut-down the salon she had worked at, to support herself. When she missed the rent for her student accommodation, she had been evicted.
Homeless. Life’s fangs of misery had gripped her soul and slurped it up with its suction of fate.
‘ya deaf or what?’
Snapping back to reality, she realised the man’s face had suddenly softened like an overripe plum.
“ New ‘ere, eh?” he grunted with a toothy smile.
The man plopped himself next to her.
“ I’m Wilfred,” he introduced himself breaking the awkward silence. “ Hungry? Y’know there’s a soup kitchen not far from ‘ere.”
Amaya’s eyes lit up with hope. This was music to her ears. She gave an eager thumbs-up.
Wilfred ambled ahead of her, while she quickly slung her bulging back-pack across her shoulder. Her entire life packed into a worn-out bag.
The stars shimmered, like little pinpoints in the sky, yielding just enough light to camouflage the dangers that lurked in the dark. Amaya glanced furtively every time she heard a rustle from the whispering trees. A car came to a screeching halt in the distance; the sound piercing the deep silence of the night.
‘Homeberry for the Homeless’
They were welcomed by a lady wearing a wide, warm smile.
“Dinner‘ll be ready in twenny. The mobile shower and laundromat are open. Wanna have a shower first?”
Perfect. She had finally been rescued from the labyrinth of fear that had engulfed her.
As the lukewarm water trickled down her skin, washing away the grit and grime of her hopeless life, a sense of optimism enveloped her.
She knew in the depth of her being that she would get through this.
Everything was going to be just fine.