I can sense the terror in your bones.

You had it all figured out. You made all the right decisions. You came out swinging, with every turn, because that’s who you were. You did all the right things. There isn’t a single person out there who could fault you, because your actions were faultless. And then, one day, while you were sleeping, something happened somewhere that you had no control over. It was something that controlled millions of lives, and yours was just one more, or one less. It destroyed you. In less time than it took to build yourself up, almost overnight, it consumed you. The glass and the steel are almost mocking; self-important men and women in designer suits whose actions barely changed their own lives managed to destroy yours, and now, people pass you by in the streets.

You used to own these streets.

But not any more. Your life is no longer your own. You were just one more, or one less. They won’t look at you properly, and when they do, they see a broken man in a battered coat, dirty jeans, and filthy sneakers. They wrinkle their perfect noses. You want to tell them that you can remember the day when you bought these jeans. You remember when your sneakers were new. You paid for them with the money you earned, when you lived in your house, and worked at your job, and paid your own bills. You wish you could say something, but you can’t. They don’t care. They’ve decided who you are. You’re lazy. You’re unmotivated. You’re a scrounger. You’re a waste of their tax money. You’re barely human, and you’re not worth acknowledging.

I can sense the terror in your bones.

And you? You never had a chance. Nobody took anything from you, because you never had anything they could take. Born into poverty, dragged up from the gutter, you’ve never known anything other than this. Your terrors aren’t the nightmares other children have. Your terrors are real. They are hunger. They are fear. They are despair. Some people think despair is ugly, but I think despair is desperate. Despair is you. It’s your mother, unable to save your sister, who should never have died. There were medicines that could have treated what she had. Despair is your father, who barely works, and who drinks his paycheck when he does. Despair is the cold you feel when the weather changes, and your clothes are barely enough. Despair is the racking cough you can never get rid of, and despair is your grubby hands reaching out to people for a coin. Any coin.

I can sense the terror in your bones.

People don’t want you to touch them as they hurry past you. I watched someone throw a coin at you, behind you, so you’d chase the coin, and stop chasing them. My heart aches for you; my soul feels your pain. You have no dreams, other than food, and waking up tomorrow. You are just one more, or less. Your life is worth nothing here, where all life is worth nothing.

I can sense the terror in your bones.