Wednesday

His Last Night (429 words) by @UncleSpong



The rain was coming fast now. Trickling at first, now a torrent. Warm too.

He was struggling to find a comfortable position. The unevenness of the floor was an annoyance, but that was always the risk when sleeping in the doorway of a Georgian shopfront. The canopy offered little protection from the elements but the width of the doorway was unusually generous, enough to adopt a foetal position and nod off.

But tonight felt unusual. On the face of it, everything was familiar. The cardboard boxes, pilfered from a compacting machine in Sainsbury's car park, were in sound condition. Likewise, the bubblewrap was wide and generous; only two pieces needed give him almost complete coverage. And his hat – his trusty black and burgundy beanie – was pulled over his eyebrows. God knows when it was last washed. He was immune to his stench, but he knew he couldn't smell good. The general reaction of passing shoppers told him as much. Sometimes the kids, especially the small ones, couldn't help but gush with honesty. The innocence of their statements heartened and hurt him in equal measure. A glimpse of what he once was, tempered by the reality of what he had now become.

And still he couldn't get comfortable.

He closed his eyes. Thoughts turned to his brother, killed when he was just six years old. And then his mother, consumed by the guilt and overtaken by anger. The stony silences, the smell of stale cider on her breath, the arguments, the beatings, the burns on his back, the decision to leave.

And still he couldn't get comfortable.

His body jolted. A pain in his arm forced a grimace and a contortion of his body he could barely believe was possible. His arched back sunk back to the uneven doorstep and he breathed shallow, gasping breaths.

The noise in the distance had grown louder. Three – perhaps four – had approached from the traffic lights. He guessed they had been drinking and wondered whether they would kick him, as had happened last night, or steal his cardboard like the night before.

Another stabbing pain in the arm forced his eyes wide. It felt like an electric shock. He closed his eyes and prayed for mercy to a God that he had never really believed in. He drifted towards what felt like comfortable sleep.

The footsteps stopped. He felt the shadow of a male envelop him and recognised the unzipping of a fly followed by an alcohol-fueled laughter. His mind slowly faded to black. And then the rain. First a trickle, then a torrent.

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