Nobody *chooses* their life, by any means we don't. is it decided. Our lifestyle-our world.Is it luck? Is it chance? Is it something to do with a past existence? Is it out of our control. I always thought it was. I thought that, if this is all fate cares for me, what am I doing trying to climb higher? Why should I take the road, when I'm going to be lead back to the place I started in? Why...why?

My mother died shortly after my birth, behind Gibler's All-Around-The-World-Fruits and Vegetable stand, on Rochester Avenue, besides the dumpster, at 4:42 in the morning. It was a Thursday and it was damp. That's how my father told it to be, how he told it a lot. He was always telling me stories about his life and things about my life my memory's too old to recall. Mostly before the alzheimer's settled in. Maybe he wanted to empty all of his memories and stories into my recollection and my conciousness so they could keep on living. I wouldn't put it past him. He always had a secret, somewhere hidden behind those hazel eyes, just the color of the walnuts lying in the street we used to pick up for breakfast. I didn't inherit those eyes, just my mother's. Empty and grey they were like the atmosphere in the aftermath of a storm only without that break of sun that makes everything alright again. What I do have is my father's chameleon hair. It can be almost completely blond with undertows of brown or pure chestnut with strays of gold. It deponds on sunlight exposure. For the most part my appearance is mundane. Not particularly tall, not some one you ahve to bend at the knees to make eye contact with just...there.

I didn't go to school-I didn't bother to try. There was always a woman who'd walk by our cove(the basement of an abandoned department store) and she used to teach troubled teens or something of the like...She always started conversations with me. She didn't try to book teach me.She would just slide the things I needed to know into our talks and I knew it. I remembered it. Over time everything she said, all the stories, all of her breaths just stuck somewhere in my head, building and waiting for the next time I need them.
I was named Jesse Chessidy. I wasn't named 'Jessica' just Jesse, my parents didn't really think of what Jesse was a nickname of when they thought of it so...My name is Jesse.

So, there I was, sixteen and with no official education to speak of. I had no direction in life, not any standards for myself but to breathe. What was I to do waking up every morning...What place did I have...anywhere. I didn't know. So how could anybody else?

It was Friday morning. This meaning the end of the week, the bakery's inventory was due. All expired bread got thrown out so a free breakfast was served to any one who showed. The iron rusted back door swung open violently and I could have sworn it cracked the building's red brick structure on contact. A disgruntled looking middle-aged man in a ridiculing uniform emptied two trays of muffins and a pan full of croissants in the trash. The corner shop produced enough delicassies to feed a small country but all of it's buisiness cancelled out it's potential left overs and therefore left little for people

I abandoned my corner and bent over the dumpster, pocketing as much of the bread as I could. Not a lot of people always show up but you can't every be sure. Stuffing one last croissant in my mouth I retreated to a narrow alley and took rest behind a couple trash cans and layed out my feast of stale bread products. The smell of garbage never bothered me so my appetite wasn't put out at all, it's an adaptation of mine I guess.

"My favorite's not here, Momma." A hight pitched and mildy annoying voice shrieked.

"Honestly, Malery ya' know beggars are not choosers. Now just eat will'ya." An older, more authoratative voice chastised.

Paused with a muffin inches away from my lips I was distracted from my breakfast. I raised my head slightly above my silver shields and saw a brunette child, of about eight or nine. Dressed in an old winter coat a few sizes too big,a torn scarf and old boots, she stood not four feet tall. She was standing on her toes, her dirt layered hands gripping the greasy rim of the buffet dumpster. Her nose just resting between her hands as she peaked inside.

The woman, whom I assumed to be her mother due to the identical hair and thin face, was digging deep into the trash. Pulling out a few bites from crushed boxes that people hadn't bothered to finish. She was dressed the same as her daughter only her clothes were unfitting in the opposite extreme, some good sizes too small which seems unlikely considering both thier small frames.

"But I love strawberry muffins." The girl said resigningly as she released her hold and sulkingly leaned against the surely cold metal.

I licked a thin layer of strawberry jam from my lips. Histatantly I raised the strawberry pastry to my lips but stilled it there, less than an inch away from feeding my hunger. I look after only myself and my father, I don't give up meals for anybody just because they're short a meal. This girl was different. It was like she could *feel*. She had emotion in her voice you just don't have when you're fulfilling your existence here. And I felt a sudden urge to protect her. From everything...everything *bad* that could every take her happiness away from her. She needed to keep that, she *had* to stay happy, even if it left her for one moment it could never return to her, but fade slowly and dissolve like everything else.

With all this in my thoughts, I aimed a careful shot at the dumpster. Small glops of strawberry jam fell to the dirt as it became airborne and landed soundlessly on an empty box of donut holes.

"Well here you are," The small woman said soothingly. She handed the strawberry mess to the girl. A spark reignited in her baby blue eyes and she started to nibble the large crumb as I've seen children do to a slab of chocolate from the candy store down the road.

It was a bit stupid, I know. To throw a muffin across a back alley. But people don't like charity downtown. They don't like being pitied. Pride is a big thing, I mean if they're living around here, they don't have much left do they?

I gathered up my remaining breakfast and headed back to our cove.

"Hey Jess." A kind faced man greeted me warmly. He was sitting in a torn, moth-eaten chair in the corner of the basement apartment. There was worse places we couldn've been. We had a refrigerator with a little crusted dirt on the sides under a bare light bulb. The bathroom being sometimes functional on the other end of the small cellar. The sink against the stone wall adjacent to the heater. Another light stands next to my father's chair.

At the moment he's smiling at me. He looks older under the light with the deep brown of his hair overthrown by the gold and white in his mane,too. He's got laugh lines around his mouth and crows feet around eyes that slant in a way that always make him look sad.. He just has the look every one else has. That worn and tired look that wants a rest from buffet dumpsters and little girls with dirty hands. 'But he isn't like every one else.' I remembered thinking. He had light. I probably obsess about them but his eyes never aged. They only got wiser and at times I wanted to know everything behind them. And I could only sometimes pray I could hold on to him long enough to find out.

"Hey Papa, I got breakfast." I emptied out my pockets on the old lawn table in the middle of the cove. Gathering up excess crumbs getting one last taste before I left the rest for him. He needs his strength after all.