I am Steven

You think I’m less than you don’t you.

You pity me.

You walk past me and inhale the stench of my unwashed hair, my Salvation Army jacket and my body odour. You screw up your face and wonder when I last showered.

I don’t even have to look at you to know that you’re doing this.

I am Steven and this is my story.

See these men behind me?

Their names are Steven too.

Well, not really, but would it matter to you what their names were?

You walk past us every day.

You’re glancing down the dirty lane way on your way to the corporate world.

Clicking your heels on the concrete pathways that lead from the train to your place of work.

You scuttle past and glance toward us.

We are horizontal in the lane way and huddled in the doorway of the old tailor shop.

You speed past that guy in the old brown plaid dinner jacket, the one that might have belonged to your neighbour or pharmacist.

The jacket that Steven loves.

The aid worker from the Salvation Army gave him that jacket on a rainy August day when there was no where to hide.

On a day when the forty-four gallon drums that we use as fire places didn’t get turned over and became water tanks for rain and insects.

The community park has a rotunda where we all sit most days.

We drink bottles of mentholated spirit, cheap wine and stones ginger wine.

We drink whatever numbs the cold, boredom and memories.

But we’re not sad.

This is family now.

We surround ourselves with each other and there is plenty of laughter and camaraderie.

We gave up our lives for something else.

It wasn’t this.

But it was something.

You think you know the answers don’t you?

You think you know why I’m here.

You think you know how to get me out of here.

You think you know who I am.

You don’t know who I am.

But I do.

I am Steven.

© ryan

I am Steven

PJ Ryan

Melbourne, Australia

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Artist's Description

A short story for competition inspired by David Malcolmson

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