Fringe of the Festival

She woke up, shivering, the cold wind blowing her newspaper bedsheets around, sapping her last ounce of warmth. She staggered up from the doorway, shaking leaves from her hair, and wrinkled her nose at the stale smell of sweat and urine that emanated from the bodies lying across the alleyway.

She stepped out onto the main road, forming a space in the oncoming pedestrians hurrying along the road; side-stepping and flanking her with an unspoken sense of pity and disgust. Crossing, she came to the small bakery and adopted her usual position snug between the lamp-post and the entrance. She set up her tools: a slightly dented tin can, small battered cardboard sign, and a sad, pathetic yet warm smile.

As the day drew on, with coins ringing their soft, melodic jingle into her can, she leant back against the cold stone and watched the street performers across in the square, juggling and laughing, catching notes instead of coins thrown by fat Americans. Only two more weeks to go, she thought, and scolded herself.

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