Living in the streets was like taking a deep breath, jumping from a high cliff into deep dark cold waters, struggling to emerge on the surface, feeling that you are running out of oxygen and just when you feel that everything is lost, your head is out of the water and you are breathing again.
After escaping from the orphanage, we found ourselves lost in this vast cruel city, with no means to support ourselves and no one we could turn to for help. Every day we would wander in the streets, stealing what we could – to survive. Many times we had to flee police patrols or enraged shop owners. It was during these times that the skills Alex taught us saved our skins.
What I hated the most was the way people were staring at us. Three lonely kids in rags, skinny and dirty, walking aimlessly here and there. Sometimes, when we would stop to rest or to plan our next move, some by passers would take pity of us and toss us coins. Oh, how bad I wanted to take these coins and throw them back at their faces – but I restrained myself, for Max’s sake. We needed the money; we needed the things money could buy for us. So, I gathered every coin and saved it away, focusing hard on what I could buy for my little brother, to make his life less miserable.
Stealing became easier in time. And whatever reservations I might have had ―it was one thing to steal from the orphanage’s staff and quite another to snaffle clueless people― evaporated with every mouthful of food our loot provided.
The hunger and the cold were our worst enemies, especially during nighttime. We run to the eastern and poorest part of Virtus to find a place to sleep. This part of the city is dominated by gangs and ruled by its own laws; a separate state within the city. Not even the police forces dare to venture there. Which is why we chose it. The risk to get caught and forced back to the orphanage was much lower there.
But most poor, desperate people often are mistrustful and guarded, suspicious with anyone new, or anyone that are afraid seem not to be one of them. Often we were chased out of abandoned warehouses and basements in the middle of the night, because we were deemed as intruders, and ended up sleeping under some bridge or, worse, squashed at the entrance of some shop, fearing every sound and shadow around us, freezing to the bone.
One thing kept us: we had one another. We drew strength from each other. It was a common fight. A fight we were determined to win. The only alternative was to end up back to the orphanage. And that was unthinkable.
I’ll tell you more, next time!
Take care guys!