Emmy squinted through her thick outlined eyes across the courtyard. As she sat on the wooden bench, legs swinging, she reached for her packed lunch. She bit into the roast beef, tomato and pickled cucumber sandwich that although she detested, her mother continued to make for her.
The courtyard stood in the center of the city. Originally the outside structure of a Catholic Church, a wishing well stood on a green between four crumbling columns. Evergreen had grown plush up and along each of them, moss sticking to the time-worn concrete. Without a ceiling, all day the sun shone in a sphere flooding each corner in light. Wooden sticks had been hand woven into a braided trellis and attached to an outer wall to steady the plants growing along the top. The holes left by broken window were replaced religious mosaics of multicolored glass, an attempt of the local council to preserve the Church’s history and all the stories that it told, if only silently and if only to a few.
Emmy ate her lunch here every day on the hours break from school. Most in her class ventured out to cafes around the city, only to eat a little and gossip a lot, perhaps because discussing the ins and outs of everybody else lives fed her peers more. She would seek the yard’s sanctuary amidst the hustle and bustle of the city, where she was guaranteed a spot in the sunshine and a good hour of people watching. Her indifference failed to concern Emmy. She liked to think that she was different for a reason, and this she amplified in many ways. When she turned fourteen, she dyed the jet black hair that tumbled into curls all the way down to her lower back into a beaming blonde. Two weeks later, much to her mother’s dismay, she pierced a hole through her nasal septum and filled with a silver loop. She accentuated her voluptuous form with hip hugging jeans and tiny tank tops and bound golden chains around her tiny waist.
To the left of the largest window a man was sweeping away the Tuesday morning leaf fall. He was dressed in a brown cotton suit threaded with messy strands of blue, and a flat cap balanced on his crown. His sun-aged skin looked almost dirty and when he smiled, his rather large nose appeared almost hook-like. She had spotted him here every day for the past week, humming and sweeping, never uttering a word just nodding to passersby. Emmy took out her foolscap page notebook from her studded black satchel and started to draw. She tried to capture the way he swept, a thought behind every brush. She thought him either someone who had advocated every chance of happiness, or someone that happiness had never found.
© elenaxtina.com, 2015 in Skies over A Shanty Town