She was waiting for me as I exited the shop, I stepped off the shop’s step, looked down and there she was. Her eyes widened as she saw the warm cardboard blue box I was carrying with the two white dots. I lowered myself to her level and handed it to her.
She opened it slowly but picked a slice up and gobbled it so quickly, I realised she must have not eaten anything for a long time. Days, weeks, I wondered to myself. She pulled her legs in to a cross and sat the box on top of them allowing the heat to warm her grey skin.
I had never seen anyone look so happy and satisfied with food. My heart felt warm just watching as she clutched a slice with both hands and inhaled the scent of warm dough and tomato sauce. For the briefest few minutes, I forgot how little she had because she looked so happy and for the first time ever, I looked at her and saw what she did have instead of what she didn’t.
People continued to walk the streets not looking below their eyeline just as they always had. I looked up and saw shoes: heels, boots, trainers, some quickly pacing it and others walking more leisurely, the odd wobble of an ankle with slightly too high heels. It was not a freezing night or if it was, it didn’t feel it, I breathed out to test my theory but I could still see my breath.
Looking beside me, I saw her beginning to look tired, I urged her to slow the eating unsure of how much her starved stomach could handle. But she was starving and this was not greed but months of hunger finally getting satisfied.
Gradually, her head dropped on to my shoulder and she was asleep, the bruises on her arms revealed by the rolled up sleeves of her holey jacket. Gently I laid her sleeping bag out, wrapped her in a blanket in the step sheltered under the building and rolled her on to it. I stayed with her for a while… just watching the car lights speed by, late night revellers supporting each other on the way home and the sound of shutters closing as the bars on this Main Street in the city began to close, me wide awake from the noise but her sleeping soundly as if she were in a quiet place where nobody could ever find her.