It was in October. She just moved in her new appartment, in this new city where she believed she will have a potential bright future. The day she arrived, she decided to visit her neighborhood and check her way to school. She looked with wide eyes around her, memorizing every details. It wasn’t her first time here though. Two months before, she came for one day to search for a place and find one. The second time, she settled her appartment on her own and finally moved in. So she knew a little bit about where she was but she still looked around her as if it has changed during the night. Few days passed and on her way to her first day to school, she walked by a homeless guy. He was sitting straight, a smile on his face. He said ‘hello’ to everyone who’s passing in front of him. Most of walkers didn’t pay him any attention. But he kept his smile anyway. She saw him from afar and noticed his niceness. When she passed in front of him, a stranger stopped and chatted with him for few seconds, so he didn’t see her. The next day, around the same time, she took the same road and saw him again, saying ‘hello’ to eveyrone. This time, when she passed by him, he saw her and saluted her. She gazed at him and gave him a smile while nodding as a ‘good morning’. Days passed and now and then, they meet and politely greeted each other. Few months later, as they almost met everyday, the homeless guy asked the young girl how she was doing. She sweetly answered and asked him back. The small talk was installed. Every time he interrupted her walk to home, she had a smile on her face. This everyday small talk with this unknown man was pleasant and somehow innocent. Then, after a long day, she saw him, sitting at the same spot as usual. She always wondered : how can someone end up in the street? She walked towards him, few questions in mind. At each step, she gathered her courage and confidence and tried to find a way to interrogate him gently. When she arrived at his level, he winked at her as a greeting. She smiled and kept walking, thinking : it’s a bad idea. Around five steps later, she stopped, froze then turned around. She came back to him with a smile on her face. And boldly asked :
– ‘Can i ask you… How did you end up…’
– ‘Begging?’ He finished her sentence, paused a second then told his story.
Few years earlier, he was arrested during a protest in the East of France. He was accused for not paying his bills and spend some time in jail. When he got out, he had to pay a certain amount of money to the government. Because of that, he couldn’t get his own place as every cents he would earn will go immediately to the state’s pocket. So he didn’t search for any job and decided to live in the street. Because he had no job, he had no health security. His situation was precarious. When he told her his story, she stared at him, processing the informations. Then he explained her his plan for the next year : finding a job and getting back on track. He seemed hopeful and motivated.
As the new school year has began, when they met again, he shared with her a big news : ‘I found a job so you’re not gonna see me as often as before. Only some nights.’ The girl was truly happy for him. She thought to herself that he will be okay and she didn’t have to worry that much for him anymore. She felt relieved. He found his way back. Months later, as they met again, the young girl saluted him. He had a big smile on his face, smelling alcohol and laughing out loud. He stopped her and showed her a card. It was a green card with his picture on it. ‘You are secured!!’ she exclaimed. ‘I have a health security!!’ he shouted. He was celebrating his new accomplishment with some of his friends. She congratulated him then left, letting him feel the joy.
Few day ago, it has been some time since they ‘talked’. But they ran into each other where they usually do. They smiled like always but this time, she sensed he wanted to talk : ‘You gotta give me a finger!’ He held out his arm as if he wanted to make a pinkie swear. She imitated him. Then he grabbed her hand and put it on his forehead. She stood still. She didn’t know what to do or what to think. When he let go of her hand, he stared at her :
– ‘You know i don’t even know your name!’
– ‘Nobody.’ she said.
– ‘I am Vincent!’ She started to walk away, this pleasant feeling in her heart. ‘You know, we know each other for two years now!’
– ‘Yeah, that’s true…’ she realized.
– ‘Keep smiling… You’re always beautiful.’ She thanked him, embarrassed.
– ‘Good evening, Vincent.’