Tell A Tale in 500 Words

Echoes By Louise Davison

“Josh kicked the bucket last week.”

The girl sighed. “I knew he wouldn’t last long – too careless.”

She stared emptily at the brick wall in front of her, holding her sleeping bag tighter when the wind became sharper. It wasn’t ideal, but they were dry.

The tracks have been out of use since they built the new ones about a mile east, so no-one should be passing by the bridge at night unless they’re making a deal or are teenagers without a curfew. Most of the nearby industrial buildings have long been abandoned, but they managed to find a few with some empty cardboard boxes outside before they settled down for the night.

For a while, she and the boy next to her sat in silence, only moving to pass each other the bottle. When it was a third empty, she turned it over in her hands a few times before trying to squint at the label.

“It’s a lie, you know?” She held up the bottle to him. “It doesn’t make you warmer; it only makes you think you feel warmer. Something about your blood vessels, I think.”

“That’s not why we drink it,” he said, taking it from her. “It’s not why I drink it.”

She nodded, pausing to pull her knees closer to her chest. She didn’t know, but she didn’t need to ask. It was the unspoken rule they had set up the day that he found her.

“Is that what finished off Josh?”

He smiled at her and shook his head. “Josh finished off Josh; drink only sped up the process. You can’t see an empty man until he has nothing else to lose.”

She turned to look at him with fresh eyes, and for the first time, she was scared.

“I’ll get us out of here, you know?” She cast her eyes to the ceiling of the bridge, as though seeing the stars there. “We’ll find a nice room somewhere and start living.”

“I’ve seen a few more winters than you, sis.” His smile waned. “It’s nothing I haven’t heard before.”

She knew he had a point. Whenever she’d heard that said before, they were alive and hopeful for a few days. They’d try harder, try different places in the city. In the end, she saw them on the same street corner praying to the same people. With every person passing by, the light would slowly fade out of their eyes until you don’t see them there anymore.

Some people get out, some people don’t.

“It’ll be different this time,” she insisted. She heard the pattering of beginning rain, and she shivered again. “You’ll see.”

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