Flashlight

Quinn knew they couldn’t ignore the flashlight for long. Ignoring footsteps was easy. Ignoring cars was even easier; their rising and falling noise could be almost soothing. Voices were tricky, especially the boisterous ones spilling out of the pub at the other end of the alley. But they always moved on eventually.

The flashlight didn’t move. “You can’t stay here, son,” a gruff voice declared.

Quinn finally opened their eyes, glaring into light. It was impossible to discern any features of the individual, but even so Quinn knew exactly what sort of person was staring down at them. “Fine,” they croaked, and began hauling themself up from the makeshift bed. The spotlight never left. They almost felt like taking a bow.

“You need a place to go?” the officer asked.

Why else do you think I’m sleeping behind the dumpster? Quinn thought. But they simply mumbled, “I’m good,” and began shuffling down the alley. The flashlight followed.

“It’s going to be cold tonight, son” the officer offered. “Better to be somewhere warm, with four walls around you.”

Quinn kept walking. “I’m nobody’s son,” they said without looking back. They followed the shadow ahead of them, moving resolutely into the unknown.

* * *

Story by Gregory M. Fox

Cold

It’s cold.

‘Course it’s cold, what’s the point of even commenting on something like that? It’s colder than usual though. And usually I’m not walking around in it. But he took my spot.

So now I’m cold. Cold and scared.

No, I’m not scared. It’s not worth it to be scared. Only thing to be is moving. Keep moving. Just gotta make it to the bridge, then I can rest. It’s dry under there, and no wind.  Not as good as my spot, but better than nothing.

Where’d that guy come from anyway? Never seen him around. He shouldn’t have taken my spot. It was the best spot, especially when it’s this cold. Can’t fight. No sense in fighting a guy like that. No more spot. And I can’t go back to the tents. No more tents either. Just the cold.

Snow’s starting again. Headlights coming fast.  There they go. Almost to the bridge. Lots of folks know the bridge, but maybe some of them are inside tonight. Maybe I’ll be able to stay there. Just for a bit. Then I’ll keep moving.

It’s getting colder. But I’m not afraid anymore. I’m not moving anymore either. When did I stop?

* * *

Photo by Aditya Vyas on Unsplash

Story by Gregory M. Fox