The Cold City



Eliot A (Year 12)

To sit unbothered, on another cold grey morning in the city, to watch the rain patter on the grey umbrellas of the grey humans that present them, sinking deeper into the sidewalk. This was James. There, against the concrete side of a building he lounged, the freezing ground and sharp air eating away his condition. He sat on the side of a main road, towered over by the high-rises of this modern bustling city. James would spend nearly all day, every day there, seemingly unaffected by the tens of thousands of unconscious humans marching over him to work.  


James stunk of mould and cigarettes, yet he didn’t smoke. Long curly hair lay on his broad shoulders – he was somewhere in his early 30s. His eyes lost under dark looming circles – it is hard to rest in a city that never sleeps. Sometimes James would hobble off, fetching an urgent drink from the pool of an old fountain, or scavenging a wet, half-eaten muffin from the top of a bin. James continued walking, limping along the teeming streets, and staring into the tall glass buildings. There, he was met with rows of hunched humans, and over their desks with wide eyes. James watched, waiting for a sign of life, like the twitch of a muscle, inviting them to do so much as blink. As he walked, he looked at couples and families with an envious gaze, his eyes following them as they take the next corner. The distant warmth of a connection, makes each passing second chill. As he stared toward the bustling traffic in search of that heat he was met with blank faces and the hum of automated walks.  


One day, as he lay on his throne, a youthful girl approached him. She looked at him – actually looked at him. James had stiffened in preparation for her mockery, his expression bracing tightly. However, she surprised James by sitting next to him, her large brown eyes picking him apart. Her clasped hands opened to reveal the colourful confectionary that she presented him. He smiled widely, ear to ear. His cold hands trembled as the brightly coloured sweets rained upon his open palms. She grinned and continued to snack on the bright candy. She reached into her puffer pocket and pulled out a small yellow blanket and rested it upon James’ crossed legs.  


The trembles that followed James for years seemed to stop. “Why?” he asks her softly. The young girl grinned and tilted her head, confused by the question. “Well,” she started, her quaint voice touching his gated heart “you seemed cold”. James chuckled, her comment so genuine, so honest, so warm. The young girl then hopped back to her feet, waved a kind goodbye, and ran off to grab the hand of an older woman, not stopping to look back. If she had, she would be met with the radiant, beaming smile that she pulled from the depths of desolation. Something changed in James, as he looked at the bright blanket on his lap, clutched it and walked away.  


This was the lifestyle that James had chosen to live; free from conformity, although facing the frozen landscape in the hope to retain some warmth. James avoided becoming another grey figure in the crowd, another shade in a picture absent of colour, or another “human”. For twelve years, I watched James from my stand – surprised when he was never to be seen again. James had no right to disappear, I did. For twelve years, James was my constant, and every day since then, I have observed him. He made me feel like I was not alone in being alone, but now he is free, and it is only me left, in the cold grey forest, devoid of life.