General

Behind the counter was an old woman, snoring into her tightly folded arms, a shawl draped over her sagging shoulders. Hayden turned to leave when he saw a pair of eyes looking out of the shadows between the sacks of grain. He bent down as if to tie his shoe and placed his newly purchased raisin loaf on the ground near the eyes, letting the fresh baked aroma do what no amount of words could. He pretended to tie the lace wrong and start over until a small scuffle sound told him the bait was taken. He shot out an arm to grab the child that must be no more than two. He was as lean as a super-model and his skin bore the tell-tale blues of bruising. His face buckled and he raised his hands to protect himself, squirming as to lessen the impact of the blow he expected. Hayden scooped him up and held him until he gave up. Then he bent down for the bread and passed it to the kid a chunk at a time. "Another street kid," he thought to himself, "born into poverty, ill-health, starvation..."

General

Even through the grime it isn't hard to tell that the kid's skin has more abrasions than a knocked about stray mutt. On my side of the bridge it would be a honeyed brown and softened with that "puppy fat" that makes small children so adorable. Instead I can see it stretching over cheekbones like a thin tarp over a rail. He stands there like his physical state is nothing, like he's in charge - but then he has to. This isn't a place where those who stay down are coddled. His only chance is to stay alive until he's big enough to be on the other end of the beating.