Written for Circulation One, Round Two, of the Newsies Pape Selling Competition.

Team: Kings of Brooklyn

Position: Newsie One

Prompt Used: Assignment Two: Write about a newsie who is trapped by an incident in their lives and can't get away from it. Any newsie can be used here, and any situation you feel is needed can be used to be their "chains".

He had always liked watching the trains come and go. On days when he finished selling early, he often went to the station to watch. They didn't let him into the grand, clean area unless he bought a ticket, but he found very early on that sneaking around the back gave him a better view anyway.

He loved the way the trains came and went, spewing their thick, black smoke and their wheels turning steadily until they glided to a stop. The trains seemed to be alive, they had their own language of bells and whistles and wheels clacking down the tracks that told everyone who listened closely exactly what was going on. Specs loved that it was something he could learn, how a certain number of bell chimes meant that a train was leaving soon, a certain number of whistle blows told the conductor to start calling for the last boarders to get on.

Specs liked to watch people get on the trains, the rich mothers holding hands with little girls wearing more clothes than he owned, with trunks full of more. They would climb up daintily, and he could follow a certain hat or dress through the windows until they disappeared. He liked to imagine who they were and where they were going. Sometimes, he could hear the men yelling about where they were leaving to, or hear women staying behind calling out and waving to their friends and family on the trains.

And he liked to watch the trains depart, the way he could see hands waving out the windows as they got faster and faster until the were too far away to see, and the way the people that had been left behind often stayed on the platform even after the train was long out of sight.

Specs often wished he could hop a train and go with the rich and poor someplace where it wouldn't matter who he was. Someplace where people didn't know him and he could pick a job and work hard at it until he actually moved up in the world. He wished he was brave and enough to run and hop on a baggage car, or determined enough to save up enough to buy a ticket. He wished that he could be one of the people on the trains for once, instead of being the boy hiding behind crates watching them leave him behind once again.

He wished. Wished weren't enough, they never had been and they never would be. He wasn't that brave, or that determined, or that hard-hearted.

Even though he wanted nothing more than to get out of the city, he knew he couldn't leave his family. His mismatched, messed up, mostly male, poor, street rat family that had picked him up and never let him go, and he knew he'd never be able to pack up and leave them behind, and he knew they'd never forgive him for doing that to them. So he knew his wish wouldn't come true, and he wasn't even sure he quite wanted it to. He was stuck in between desperately wanting to escape the life he had and being perfectly content in the life he had.

He could never get rid of the feeling that the life he had wasn't the life he could have, but whenever he walked back to the lodging house and was instantly surrounded by his brothers dragging him into a poker game or throwing a coin they owed him at his face or stealing his cap and running, he was happy. And when he was lying on a cot, sometimes with a smaller boy draped across him, he knew his family was good and good for him, and he felt trapped, but not trapped in some horrible way that was scary, but trapped in a way that he didn't exactly want to escape. He wanted to live the life he was living, in better conditions where he didn't have to watch his brothers suffer for existing, he wanted to run away with all of them to a place where they could work for enough money to live together without having to work themselves to death, and a place where people would let them live just like they were, a happy and complete, if not quite traditional family. He knew it was wishful thinking, wishful wishing, but that was what he was wishing for more than anything every time he was ducking from pile of crates to pile of crates, watching trains and people come and go, he was wishing that he could take his family and go as far away as possible, leave everything that had hurt them far behind in favor of a life where they could live and be happy without all the misery that came with how they were living right then. He was trapped because he couldn't take them with him, he couldn't get them all out, but he couldn't live on his own, either. They were too important to who he was.

He was trapped, he realized slowly the more he thought about it, trapped by his paternal instinct. His instinct to protect his family with his whole being that prevented him from saving himself without saving them, too. Trapped by the good things in a bad situation, meaning that however much he watched the trains, however much he wished he was on them, he never would be. He would forever be Specs the newsie, living in New York City with his dysfunctional family, stuck in bad conditions made livable by the people that were enduring them with him. He was a hopeless sentimental trapped by his emotions, and somehow he knew that this was the happiest he was going to get. Stuck in the stinking city, wishing he could get out, trapped by his family and glad he couldn't leave them behind.