a homeless person - quotes and descriptions to inspire creative writing
Dressed in so many layers, brilliant scarlet cloth beneath the smudges of exhaust-fume pollution, her body silhouette bulged. The truth of her scant flesh was only thus told in the way her cheek bones stood so proudly from such weathered skin. She made an excuse to stand at my table a while, resting her belongings upon it as she searched her pockets and buttoned up her top layer, even though the coffee shop had many tables free. Sometimes folks simply need to talk, anything to anaesthetise their loneliness a little. She needed my smile, some emotional warmth and a listening ear. She needed someone to see her full humanity and worth, even if only for a little while.
The days pass by like shadows, waxing and waning like the edges of the moon, drifting by like the endless stream of people I watch.
They hurry by like they're gonna accomplish something, because today's the day, I'm gonna do it today. Them with their pretty purses and fingernails, ripped jeans because they're in style, cigarettes dangling from their painted lips. Fuck, I need a cigarette.
I watch you watch me, disgust in you eyes, as I take a quiet drag, letting the smoke drift softly into the air. It's the way you look at me, that truly hurts, the way your eyes are all pity and coldness. You can't give me money because I'm just gonna buy another pack. You feel sorry for me, but that's it, and somehow that's enough. Well, fuck you. I've seen enough to not let it get to me.
I watch as you go, like the others.
I watch as the night falls, smothers the earth so you can't hear me break.
There was a man on the steps. He would have been white if it weren't for all the freckles. There were so many his face was brown with small pale spaces here and there, like the tips of grass struggling to show through the golden-brown leaves of fall. His hair was a perfect mop of red, it would have been lion-like had he not been so skinny. His old maroon t-shirt was a small, but on him it was like his big brother's shirt, clinging where it shouldn't and hanging loose where it shouldn't. The concrete steps were damp from the morning rain, but he was sat right on them like it was summer. Already the frigid water was seeping in. Surely he must feel it. His arms were wrapped tightly around his knees that jutted up sharply. I took in his face for as long as I dared look, skeletal really. No-one's cheekbones should stick out so far. His face had no trace of life other than not being blue. It was like he was breathing without really being alive. In his hand was a torn photograph...
You can't tell from the clothes who's inside 'til they look up. They line-up for more clothes for hours and take the next parcel to come out of the window. Every thing is in extra large no matter what their size is so a length of rope is included to keep the pants from falling down, I've never seen a skinny roamer anyway. On the bench there's a jumble of sweat-pants and tweed jacket, both damp from the light rain. The head is under a baseball cap and the feet dangle sock-less in shoes about to fall off. We put down the bucket of breakfast sandwiches and call out, "Hey! Food!." He startles and sits in a split second, eyes wide and mouth hanging slack. He looks like my friend Joey when he gets a brain freeze. Then it hits me. He's about Joey's age, still suffering the last throws of acne. His hair was dyed black but now only the tips are, the rest is as brown as the wood he rests on. Jenny grabs a still warm foil wrapped cob and takes it over. "Thank you" tumbles from his numb lips...
The first day Lacy had opened her eyes she had been the most important person on earth, or at least she had been to the mother and father who welcomed her. She'd been taken home to their two bedroomed townhouse and raised on love and fresh air, never bathed in any riches but the ones life gives for free. Then her Daddy passed on after twenty five years service at the factory. His pay stopped the day he died, nothing was given to help them through. Mother started to talking to him like he was still there, having entire conversations and chiding Lacy should she interrupt. That was so long ago, though Lacy now counts her time on the streets in the number of winters she's endured rather than in days or even weeks.
The man was balled up like he was afraid to release his knees, rocking in time to the beep of a truck backing up, his eyes fixed on nothing at all. His clothes were once high end, but with enough wear and dirt anything can look like rags. His skin was hidden behind layers of grime and his hair hung as a tangled mop of brown and grey. Taylor assumed that if this homeless man stood he would be fairly tall but with limbs more wiry and fragile than a catwalk model.
The rattle of a supermarket cart shook Mac from his daydream, with no stores nearby it wasn't a normal part of the street's auditory makeup. An old cart, rusted and full of tin cans shook as it passed over the uneven slabs, a shrivelled old man behind it with a white beard travelling down his dark overcoat. Mac observed him for a moment, with the homeless it was harder to get a bearing on their age, one year to them was at least five for other folks, likely more. As expected the man averted his gaze, not meeting Mac's friendly eye. The harshness of street life taught them very quickly to stay isolated in every possible way, even a stray glance could mean trouble they'd best avoid.
The woman was dressed in untold layers of fragmenting wool, her hair tied back but still clumped with grease. She shuffled, her head moving this way and that, unsteady like there was a personal earthquake beneath her inadequate shoes. However she'd come to homelessness, whoever she'd been before she fell into the sub-human class, it was going to destroy her sooner rather than later. And what then? Would she have a burial? Or would she slip away as unnoticed as she had been during these final years?
Emily doubled over, the cough that had persisted since the end of fall becoming worse with every passing day. At times she broke protocol and made eye contact with another person in the overstretched hope that someone might take pity on her. Each time she did so they recoiled worse than if she'd been one of the dealers or pimps, lips curled and head moving away until they could safely redirect their eyes to the sidewalk or the person walking next to them. Their steps gathered pace as they suppressed an tinge of guilt, hastily beginning a vacuous conversation their mind was only half on.
Though the weather was now warming Emily's body grew colder and her breath had a rasping rattle she'd only ever heard on the other street dwellers before. Those were the ones who didn't last long and to think of it cast her into a blackness she couldn't fight. Her mind searched for a happy memory, something to cling to, but every one of them was attached to a plethora of bad ones. Folks say you can't die of a broken heart, but isn't that what happens when we have no love? Isn't it the only thing we can't live without other than shelter, food and water?
Derek was crumpled on the cobbled streets, a tattered mess of ripped clothes and muck. A greasy grey mane surrounded his haggard face and intertwined with the long grey whiskers protruding from his upper lip. The sandstone bricks of the building felt cold as he pressed his back firm against them. He sat a polystyrene cup just inches in front of his shins - that contained only a few coppers and maybe a pound coin - hoping the hear the gentle jingle of some stranger parting with their coin.
“Please,” he croaked to some, “spare change,” to others. Just enough money to buy a bottle of whiskey that could warm his chest and cloud his mind. That was all he needed, a couple of drinks to make the night pass faster.
Instead of money he received averted gazes as the passers by tried to avoid looking upon his desperate face. Some tried to look sympathetic, but he saw through the facade to find their disgust. Children looked at him with a youthful wonder, their little eyes littered with questions, “why does the scary man sit on the ground mummy?” “Can we help him?” and “will he hurt me?”