Street Rat

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Dark clouds loomed overhead, a gloomy backdrop for the rain that fell onto pavement and metal.

The city streets had been empty for years, the buildings crumbling around them and tumbling into the avenues and walkways.  Wires hung from odds and ends, making the place look like a lifeless jungle, still and wet and cold.

From the shadows of a loading dock that had known better years, a girl stood with her arms folded, watching the silent streets.  Her muddy blonde hair had been pulled to the side in a loose braid, and the rain boots she wore nearly came up to her knees.

This was her father’s building, and it would always be her father’s building, even now that the big garage door for the dock was gone, along with most of the store.  Most of the city had moved on by now, but not her.  She was among the last to stay in the abandoned city, with no plans of leaving this place that was her father’s greatest dream.

A breeze pushed the rain farther inside the gaping structure, causing the girl to take a few steps back, gripping her arms tighter.

A street rat.

That’s all anyone would see her as now.  A street rat in a place where even cats had stopped their play.  They would wonder why she stayed.  Why she didn’t leave the skeleton of her father’s shop.

The best years of her life had been there.  Watching her father build and fix, tinker and take apart, hold carefully or bang on the counter in frustration.  She glanced over at the back wall, the one place still mostly intact, where the counter sagged beneath tools and boxes of odds and ends.  She’d learned fast, and figured out which tools were needed before her father could, bringing them over while he considered banging the object against a hard surface.

Her eyes wandered back to the silent, wet streets.  When everything had fallen apart, she’d only been able to think of her father’s words.  There will always be someone who needs help.  There will always be something to fix.

Unfortunately, she’d never learned how to fix walls, or what to do if a piece of the building next door falls onto the shop’s structure.  But she’d kept the counter safe.  She’d protected her father’s tools.  She’d stayed, watching the city fall apart.

She straightened as a dark figure emerged in the rain, walking quickly towards her.  The figure was holding something close with their coat wrapped around it for protection.  Another person who had stayed behind, clinging to something dear to them.

Something broken.  Something needing to be fixed.

To anyone outside of this crumbling city, she was a street rat, left to scavenge whatever was left.  But to these people, the ones who stayed behind, she was more than that.  The stranger ducked into her father’s shop.  He was an old man who looked up at her with fragile hope in his eyes.

She was the only one left who could fix the broken things.

Gently taking the item from his hands and reassuring the old man, she lead him to the counter in the back.  They made light conversation as she looked over the piece and selected her tools.

Thunder grumbled outside as another piece of the city yielded to the elements, falling into the tangle of metal, cement, and wires.

There will always be something to fix. 

Her father’s shop would be the last to stand.

 

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