"THERE'S NOTHING MORE DANGEROUS THAN SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE" - BANKSY
“Spare a little change,” the homeless man on the corner called to an apathetic audience of pedestrians. He waved a disposable cup before him, hands clothed in holey black gloves. What must have once been a thick cotton cap graced his head, the type that might have been knitted by a mother or grandmother. It was grey. Maybe after a wash it was beige.
Andrew watched him from across the street, protected behind the glass of the local Starbucks.
Andrew used vegan friendly body wash. He knew that everyone had a story, that everyone deserved to be listened to, but didn’t have enough courage to listen to them himself. He envied people who were better than he was, then went back to his safe existence behind regularly washed windows, and flavors of latte that he couldn’t pronounce.
“Is this seat taken?” a girl asked. She had curly brown hair, and wore a thick winter coat above tight blue jeans. She couldn’t have been older than sixteen.
“Don’t you have school to go to?” Andrew glanced at his watch.
“Is this seat taken or not?”
“It is,” he said. He was lying. “Sorry.”
She stared at the guy in front of her, cheeks flushed.
“You ever read a comic book?” the girl suddenly said. She sat in the empty seat, heedless Andrew’s response.
“Once or twice,” Andrew said. Another lie. He wanted to be the type to like comic books. Just like he wanted to be the type to like expensive whisky. The latter he was still working on. “Why?”
“They’re beautiful texts.” She spoke like someone who was most definitely not still in school and most definitely not skiving class. “They say a lot about human nature without actually making accusations. Bad guy becomes bad because he is actually, at the core, a Good Guy who just wants what’s best. Good guy gets shat on, rises above it, takes on the bad guy and sometimes wins. Sometimes loses.”
“Why are you telling me this?” he asked.
She cocked her head and stared at him for a while. Maybe he should repeat his question.
“You know, I don’t think you were actually listening,” she finally said, then got up and left the shop. Walked across the street and gave the homeless man with the thick cap and black gloves a cup of coffee. She stared at Andrew pointedly, then walked away.
Shari Levine, a DPhil alumna of St Edmund Hall, is a maths teacher by day, writer by any other time she can spare. She has a particular love of apocalyptic science fiction, and hopes to help continue the tradition of scientists and mathematicians producing high quality fiction
"I'M ME MAN. I AIN'T TRYING TO BE NOTHING ELSE" --Moonlight. To enter next week's competition, submit responses to firstname.lastname@example.org