In 2013, as part of my GCSE English course I had to do a creative writing piece on homelessness, as AQA, the exam board chose this. Many people in my year complained about this because they felt like they had a lack of freedom due to the topic being chosen for this but I was happy that we were given this topic. It gave me the chance to write something that reflects how strongly I feel about the topic in general.
Have you ever heard of the Scandal of Europe’s 11 Million Empty Homes? Essentially, Europe has over 11 million homes that are completely empty. This is more houses empty than there are homeless people throughout the entire continent! I know that it’s not as simple as giving a house to each person, however it does make you think… The distribution of wealth in most countries is diabolical and we see good, upstanding, intelligent people on the streets out of sheer bad luck and a string of often untimely and unfortunate events. Something that really annoys me is the fact that people are quick to judge a homeless person: They are dirty, scummy, badmouthed, there for a reason, they drink, they take drugs: That’s why you shouldn’t give them money.
In my time I’ve had quite a few encounters with homeless people. It goes without saying that everyone is individual and that everyone has their own story. Therefore, how can you generalise someone’s traits simply because they are on the streets? I used to ignore homeless people in the street, however now I try to do the best I can. If I have no money, I will give in commodities whether that is food or… cigarettes, failing that, just giving the time to say hello or have a small conversation with someone. It does stand to reason that there are people in this world that are deceptive and will lie… perhaps if someone says they will use the money for food they will put it towards cigarettes… Which is why I prefer to give commodities. Either way it is a gesture, but that is not the point.
This piece I will present to you now, is called “Unheard Voices”. Looking back at it now, I can see how much my writing style has changed in the last two years. I feel as if I have become more effective in writing precisely what I would like to express and that my older style of writing was far too heavy, at times, in terms of imagery. So much so, it makes it seem a little overcooked.
The intense moonlight illuminated the sleepy town below. Downpour thundered down upon the houses as hard as rocks being dashed by hoodlums. An eerie resonance accumulated the atmosphere as there was no sound but the constant, monotonous patter of raindrops.
However, not everyone was indoors, tucked up and in a distant world of dreams and slumber. Mad men roamed the streets at late hours such as this. They’d have you battered for mere pennies, put it this way, you wouldn’t want to set out for an exciting excursion after dusk droops over like a screen of smoke.
A shady figure who seemed to have a limp in their step sluggishly made their way across the street. A street lamp flickered and glitched and its light was seemingly indecisive about staying on or off. It almost appeared to be communicating in Morse code, maybe warning those who passed by of what was to come. As the shady figure proceeded, for split seconds they were visible under the light. It was a young woman, in her twenties at least. Her hair cascaded down onto her shoulders and it gave off an intense blue colour with a tinge of green because of distortion from the absurdly intense yellowness of the grotesque looking street lamps that towered over the footpaths. Even under the light, you could tell her skin was as pale as the petals of a lily and this contrasted with her dull, grey and black apparel.
Her posture was slumped and her shoulders were almost caving in forwards as If she had lost all motivation to carry on with her, what seemed miserable and cursed with a spell of melancholy, life. She fell into a trance, trapped in her own mind. No one could judge her there, it was a haven. Her own personal space where anything was possible. Reminiscing on the past, she remembered that these very streets were once fertile land where she would play with family and friends. The laughter and voices of children filled her head to the extent where she just could not take it any more. All of her worries and stresses accumulated in her throat, making a horrid lump that made it impossible to swallow the bitterness of reality.“It’s all broken,” she croaked, struggling to put out any audible sounds. “…all of it, it’s all broken.”
These words spiralled into her mind and the gushing waterfall of worry that flooded her mind ceased to flow. She was mentally and physically exhausted so she settled down wherever she could, in this case a disused bus shelter with graffiti tags scrawled all over. At least she was dry, she thought as she drifted off into a dormant state.
Her dreams played like a feature-length film, however they came to an abrupt halt as she was rudely awakened.
“Get up!” a hoarse voice ordered, like the words of her mother trying to get her of bed in the mornings, only more sinister.
“Wha… huh?” her soft voice cried, confused.
“Get up now else I’ll stab yer and that aint a threat neither, that’s a promise!”
She couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Not knowing what to do, she screamed. The next thing she knew was, she had the arms of a stocky and brutish man grappling her neck.
“Stop! P…please, I b…beg y…” she screeched like a siren, but gasping for air.
The lack of oxygen meant her body was shutting down and her consciousness slipped away. She stopped wriggling and kicking to ward off the evil, grubby man and laid lifelessly on the floor, as dead as the stone cold slabs. The sole of the man’s boot left an imprint of grime and dirt as he kicked her soft and pale face.
“Now… let’s see what treasure you hold…”
These words reverberated in Lotta’s mind and as she awoke, she shot up gasping for air, taking in deep breaths. Numbness and hunger were the only feelings she had. As she touched her face, she knew it was just a horrific dream. Having lost the will to carry on, she steadied herself on the crumbled wall of crockery behind the bust stop shelter where she lay the night before with great effort.
Clueless as to what hour it was, with the drowning sense of confusion, she tried to make the best guess she possibly could. The dusk absorbed all life, like a great magnet drawing it all away, the sound of a churning motor engine aroused her attention. As her vision was somewhat blurred from the tears, along with her inadequate ability to read, she struggled to read what the logo said on what turned out to be a van eluding down the road. As it sped past, Lotta felt like she was being sucked in. She noticed the back door of the van was jammed and not correctly closed, something fell out, flapping in the wind like a rabid, feral bird trying to ward off danger.
Trying not to lose grip and topple over because of the thin ice that collected on the abundance of road overnight, she sprinted towards what she identified as a fresh, however slightly crumpled, newspaper.
“SCOURGE OF SOCIETY AS HOMELESSNESS LEVELS ROCKET TO THOUSANDS.” read the headline.
Lotta was struck by the ominous force of prejudice. Falling to her knees, onto the frozen asphalt, she buried her head into her arms.
“Hey! You! Quick! Car!” a passer-by yelled from the adjacent side of the road, in broken just-woken-up intonation. Lotta was clueless yet again but terrified by the urgency that beamed through the stranger’s voice, almost like a crack of lightning.
When she realised, it was but too late for her. Lost in the deepest recesses of her mind, she was not aware of the car that was thundering down the road at ludicrous velocity. The passer-by was in turmoil at this point: “Do I risk my own life for this hobo?” he pondered, the question racing in his mind like the car coming ever closer.
The driver slammed his brakes, putting all of their weight down like a ship’s anchor stopping a vessel immediately. Although, it was to no avail. The ice made the car lose all of its traction and it swerved, with a painful din of a sound. Not almost as painful as the screams of Lotta, who had been knocked from her knees and suspended in the air. Her body graciously fell but then crudely smacked the ground, lifelessly.
The driver washed his hands of the situation and sped off. Who to turn to now? Was the passer-by to help or enquire for police? No, it would be a waste of time. One less “hobo” did the world a favour. This sick and ominous occurrence was a common one. This was the state of the times.
or maybe not, as the case may be…