I woke up.
Dacey kneeled over me, his hand shaking my shoulders firmly. His eyes peered into me.
"Dacey?" I looked behind him, recognising the alley of my sleeping.
"You fell asleep." Relief had come over his face , sweet relief.
"Oh." What else was there to say? "I was tired."
"Are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine. I was tired," I repeated. I went back to my dream, was it one? I shook my head when I no longer wanted to remember it. So many stares. "I guess I'm more self-conscious than I thought."
"Don't worry, when your hair looks like a windy day and you smell like a dove then you'll stop thinking about it."
"Quite poetic." I smiled, strongly.
"Well it wasn't me who made it up."
I was surprised at this, though it quickly fled my mind as other matters returned. Dacey stayed right next to me as night began to close and the others trembled back. I didn't feel their stares, nor start at their footsteps. I just smiled, and waited for them to ask how my day had been. I was thankful when they didn't.
I barely talked that night, just sat there and slipped into sleep easily. And when I woke in the morning, I felt nothing had changed. I was ready to start a new day. The first thing I saw when I opened my eyes was John. He was sitting there, back to me, talking to Ian. But I somehow I felt he was listening behind him. I shuffled a bit and he turned around, smiling. He came over and sat beside me.
"I thought someone else ought to say hello to you in the morning."
Was this John being friendly to me? Although I had not known him long, and though he had he shared time with me no one else knew of; I still didn't see him as one to talk. "Well thank you John, you've just made my morning." My chance to be as kind as I could. I wanted this man to warm to me, for some reason I felt his appreciation would be worth the effort.
He grunted. "Gonna be a hard time convincing Dacey to take you out again."
"What if I don't want to go again?" But I knew that I did.
"You're not gonna want to spend the rest of your time in this little hole." Guess we both knew it.
"Do you think he'll take me out today?" I was hoping a yes would come in answer.
"Maybe." He lingered for a moment, as if wanting to say more. "Have you changed your mind?"
I knew what he was talking about. "No. I'm staying here."
A nod came to his lips. He seemed a man of changing opinions, and I almost expected him to throw his arms up and convince me to leave whilst shouting that I should say. But he remained silent, and stalked away.
I moved myself and joined the cluster of men forming in their traditional circle.
"Ah Miss Celie awakes."
"Good morning Lawrence."
"Good morning Miss Celie, a beautiful morning don't you think."
I looked up where he was gesturing his hand. Storm clouds were already covering the sky. Alarmed I changed my sight. "What happens when it rains?" There was no cover above us, just bricks rising high.
Dacey smiled, pulling himself away from talking to Dan. "We use you as an umbrella. You don't mind that do you?"
I shot him a cheesy grin. "I never thought about being an umbrella as a profession. Ah well, beggars can't be choosers I guess." It was odd to use the word beggars in truth, something I had never thought I'd be. I had made the ultimate choice to be this, my last choice.
"It'll start raining soon," Dan mused, considering the sky with a thoughtful gaze. "We should get moving."
"And where will we be moving to?" I tried again.
Nick was the one to answer. "There's a small alley a few streets away with a small cover. Well wait there till the rain passes."
"Thank you Nick," I shared my appreciation.
We walked through the streets, a 'few' streets turning into more.
"This is still one street," Nick kept saying, justifying his comment before every time I complained.
"What happened to the girls who would walk three kilometres just to get water, and then walked back?" Questioned Dan.
"They weren't trying to get away from getting wet, they were going to it," I shuffled. I knew I shouldn't be complaining, but I couldn't help it.
Then, after what seemed like hours, we reached it. A small dead end, a brick roof covering above.
"There are apartments above." Someone told me.
Cosy it seemed we settled down and waited for the rain that took not long to come. And as I found with these men, when there's nothing to do, we talked.
Dan had wandered off, dipping off to the shops to buy some food, leaving the five of us to wander with our words.
"Hey Celie, how old are you again?" I was been drifting off, my mind elsewhere. I shot back suddenly, hearing my name, taking a moment to consider the simple question.
"I'll be eighteen at the end of August."
"Ahh," Lawrence leaned back. "Good old eighteen. The age of freedom."
"We'll have to throw a party."
"Oh no Nick, you don't have to throw a party."
"Yes we do," Nick contended. "You'll be eighteen, you'll be able to do anything. We gotta celebrate that."
"No really you don't."
"Don't try and stop him Miss Celie, he's a determined young man. Your best luck is to hope he forgets."
I waved my arms about in front of Nick's face. "You will forget," I said mystically.
He chuckled. "Fat chance."
Conversation merged off into a different tangent, my mind soon forgetting the party as it became enveloped in rain and Thursday's.
Speech stopped when Dan came in, streaming with water, breath coming fast.
"Is something wrong Dan?" Dacey asked, worry etched across his face.
Thick gasps came from him, but still he spoke. "They're looking for Celie."