The Underprivileged City

He gazes forlornly into the crowd. Surrounded, but alone. They pass him by, day after day without a glance or a smile. Talking intently on their mobile phones, seemingly cemented in their hands. A dull drone emanates from their blank faces, changing pitch, but never the song. Forever pushing forward against the strings that hold them back. They are the puppets of society. Buzzing like flies over dead meat, they never settle. Their mouths painted in lipstick. Their bodies clad in uncomfortable suits and skirts. Their feet follow the same route every day. They will not change.

Nobody falters, or pauses in their stride. Do they even know where they are going?

“Gucci”, “Dolce and Gabana” and “Chanel” are all burnt into their wallets. From them trickles a rigid evil, into their fingertips, seeping into their bloodstream. They march relentlessly to jobs they hate and to home to people they once loved. The desire, the scalding need for money, urging them on like slaves. They have lost control, they are addicted. To avoid an inescapable silence at home, they discard their time at bars. They fling their treasured money at bartenders, and foist drinks on co-workers. Silently begging for happiness, a friend, someone they can trust. Their laughs are hollow and awkward and their eyes empty. Prisoners to their jobs; policed by money.

An unsteady silence fills the city. They stagger back to the trains and buses, ashamed and disappointed. Slouching through the park, they avoid jagged glass and pointed rocks.

He lays less than a metre from the path, mistaken for a mound of rubbish. He groans and shifts, each tiny movement sending spasms of pain up his spine. Surprised, they shriek, terrified by the monster that lies near. Their nostrils sting; offended by the stale smell of fake leather. The clothes covering him, devoid from any brand labels, fill them with disgust. They sprint off into the park; the loud thumping of their heart is all they can hear.

They slow, breathing returning to its robotic rhythm. Glancing behind them, they can just make out his feeble figure. Their wallets begin to burn their leg and they become increasingly aware of its size. Their eyes lower to their scuffed leather shoes, the morning polish still shining in the street lights. They slink towards the station, their keys clinking loudly from their pockets. Shaking off dirty memories, they clutch their wallets reassuringly. Their touch cools it, as they remind themselves “I work hard. I deserve this.” Their eyes glaze over, and their minds forget.

They fall into a tattered train, another day done. Heading home to their cold couches, a cruel reminder of the choices they’ve made. The blanket of sleep falls heavily on their eyes. Sleep knows no wealth.

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