Food For Thought
From her vantage point, high above the tables, she could see everything going on without being seen herself. Normally she wouldn’t come out with so many people around, but they all seemed distracted by something happening at the far end of the street, and the smell of the food had been too much to ignore. Besides, they were unlikely to spot her on the high balcony above the street.
It was nice to be up on the balcony. It was a clear dry night and it was quiet up here. A rare moment of calm in her hectic life and a whole world away from under the railway bridge where she now stayed with her family. They once had a lovely home, with regular food and warm beds. But recessions hit some harder than others and all that had changed. At least the bridge gave them cover from the rain, and the homeless people that stayed alongside them often lit fires and were happy to have them join them, so they could usually find a warm spot even on the coldest of nights.
On the tables below, several plates of food were now unattended, and she was sure no one had any intention of returning to finish them.
It was amazing how people could leave so much food when her family were starving. Having to spend each day working hard to try and get together enough to fuel her rapidly growing family. Make sure they were brought up healthy and strong. Desperate to ensure their survival. And yet these people were allowing good food to go to waste. She knew it would end up in a secure bin and be left to rot. At a time when she needed it the most.
Some people were going round the tables, picking up the empty (and not so empty) plates and taking them back towards the kitchens. If only she was able to go round and take just one of the fuller plates and walk away with it. Normally she would never be so brazen, but her belly ached with hunger. It had been three days since she had last eaten. She had managed to bring home food each day, not a lot, but always something. But with her growing sons eternally hungry she had not been able to deprive them and so had gone without herself. If she didn’t get her strength up soon she wouldn’t be able to bring any food home and they all would suffer.
The need overcame her fear. She had to at least try! She scurried along to the stairs and quickly ran down them, staying close to the back wall and hoping not to be seen. Once at the bottom she crouched in a corner of the building and looked out onto the street where the tables were set out. The nearest was only a few meters away and the people were now standing up and milling about, chatting and laughing as though they had no care in the world.
She knew she had to act fast, before the last of the food laden plates were taken away. She dived for the table and for the nearest bowl of food, cramming as much as possible into her mouth. Then she froze! A pair of eyes were staring straight at her. She had been spotted. The reaction from the eyes was initially surprise, but then changed to amusement. They were kindly eyes, understanding eyes. She swallowed, and quickly went on to finish the rest of the food from the bowl. Then as the food hit her stomach she no longer felt any fear. All that mattered was the food! She furiously went from one bowl to the next devouring the leftovers from each.
Then the shouting started. She had been spotted!
‘Someone get that mutt off the table!’
‘Stupid dog! Get out of here!’
She dived onto the ground, feeling bad for not having got any food to take back to her puppies. Then she saw it. A bread roll lying next to one of the tables. Grabbing it she ran as fast as she could back to the safety of the railway bridge. Soon her pups had demolished the bread roll, and then they snuggled next to one of the fires and their ever changing homeless masters. Full, warm and content. Another day survived.
©Kirsty Newton-Kirby 2011