"Oh my God!" the breath is knocked out of my chest when Geisha's petite body crashes against me. "I was so worried, I was... where were you? What-?"
"I'm fine" I mumble. Already I want to run back to the hotel, to all the luxury. It's incredible how I've spent my whole life in this rotten place and only a couple of days in a luxurious room had me forget the atmosphere around here. The way kids looked unhealthy and badly nourished and everything was sombre and depressing.
"You look so good. Are those clothes new?" she gushes, pulling back to have a good look at me. When I finally decided to get up this morning I was surprised to see a grey bag filled with clothes my size. No note was attached to it and inside I found a new pair of jeans, black and matching underwear and a soft blue shirt which marked 100% cotton. The underwear made me cringe, I had never stopped to think about what Cole thought of my worn bras and knickers.
"Yeah" I smile, almost apologetically. I finally come back home only to announce I don't have any work but still sport new clothes. Maybe she'll think I stole them but was too selfish to get her something too.
"Well that's... great" I see her smile feeble for a few seconds but she quickly manages to put it back on.
"How are you? I've heard they wanted to throw us out..." I trail off, hoping against hope that whoever Cole sent heard wrong and that Geisha will look startled and ask where I heard that rumour. My hopes instantly vanish when her face drops and the hand that was clutching mine starts trembling.
"Yes... you know I've tried to think that... that maybe..." she stops, voice trembling too much to carry on.
"Shh come here" I move to hug her and bring her closer. Sobbing, she tucks her head in the crook of my neck and lets it all out. I intercept some phrases every now and then but can't distinctively make out the words. I've been through the same break down less than 24 hours ago and I had someone to hold me. She learned the news before me and has had to keep it all in whilst reassuring her brother that they'll have a better life and it won't always be like this. She must be feeling like pure shit right now.
Guiltily I bring my arms tighter around her whilst muttering soothing words and assuring we'll find a way. Whilst I was enjoying myself, getting to know a new man, enjoying a good bath and savouring real food, not the cans we get around here, I completely forgot about here. That room, that room took me somewhere else, high in the sky and now I've fallen back on earth and it's harder than I expected. Geisha's tears make me want to throw my new clothes away and puke and get rid of all the expensive soap on my body. I suddenly feel like all the wealthy people who look at us as if we were little more than a piece of shit on the street; how could I have felt so well and forgotten my people in that way?
"I've tried to think that maybe it's better that way" she finally mumbles, pulling away and rubbing her face with the greyish sleeve of her worn shirt. "You know, maybe we just needed that little push to leave this place and try our luck somewhere else."
"They can't do this Geisha, they can't throw us out like stray dogs" I try to stay gentle because I can see how much the news affected her even when I feel anger bubbling inside of me. Yes I've gotten past the surprise and past the grief and now I'm just plain mad. We are people, human beings, we have our rights too and it's time for the Government to understand it.
"They won't leave us much of a choice" she finishes drying up her tears and stares through the open door and inside the house to see if Gill has heard anything. "And I prefer to leave before they force me too" her face scrunches again in a desperate attempt not to cry, "God knows what they'll do to us"
"This is our place, our home and I understand that you're scared but-" I stop, not knowing what else to say. But what? Do I really want to tell her that we have to stand up for our rights and face the guards and their dogs? Do I really want to be responsible for her death? Or worse, for Gill's death and having to see Geisha's look filled with reproach every day? This is so stupid of me I want to self-palm, how could I have thought, for one second-
"Tasha's right" We both turn at the same time to come up face to face with Kris and his brother Aaron. I slightly incline my head as a form of salute whilst Geisha finishes drying of her face and whispers a quick hello. I feel uncomfortable around Kris after everything that's happened lately and am slightly relieved when Geisha asks what he just meant and he finally tears his attention away from me.
"This is our place and they have no right throwing us out. We've accepted their laws for far too long already" he explains, settling his wrists in his trousers' pockets.
"You're scared and unsure and that's normal." Aaron interferes, "but we've got nothing to lose now, they're going to take our houses anyway"
"If we can call these houses" I add, waving at the old and mouldy buildings around us that threaten to collapse at any given moment.
"Exactly" Emma's boyfriend nods at me in approval and turns back towards Geisha, "We've got nothing to lose and I'm sure many people here are fed up with rules that have always been against us. It's more than time to make a change"
"We've got our lives to lose" a smile spreads on my face when I turn towards the newcomer. Amelia quickly hugs me and whispers a quick 'we have to talk' before turning towards the rest of the group. "From what I've heard you want to oppose to the new law that says our place pollutes, that there's no actual owner bla bla bla. And whilst I think this is bloody fantastic, have you guys gone mad? I mean, Aaron, you know they're armed and have dogs and reinforcement and we have... nothing."
"We have will and a sense of survival" Kris speaks up, remembering us all of his presence.
"But will that be enough against trained men that have no conscience?" my best friend insists, looking doubtful.
"Well it'll have to be enough because if they're enough of us... we're not backing down" I answer her. My voice comes out more firm and decided than I feel on the inside. I can't fathom what I'm getting into right now.
"That's the spirit" Aaron smile slightly at me and even if it's barely a tug of the lips it surprises me to no end. The middle Caulfield isn't renowned for his warmth. "They gave us three weeks to vacate the place, we have to know how many of us are willing to stay no matter what."
"We'll organize meetings. Find as many people as you can, the three of you" Kris looks at us, his eyes piercing mine before turning towards Amelia, " and tell them to come, tomorrow evening at ten at our house."
I nod, incapable of speech as he looks at me again and relieved when Amelia finally mumbles an okay and takes my hand to pull me away.
YOU ARE READING
Anastasia, 'Tasha' for everyone, is a suburb teenager at the City, worn clothes, matted hair and skinny she can easily pass unseen by the City guards and most of the population. Plan a future? No, she doesn't know what future is, her only preoccupat...