The Train Ticket Girl
Long Nights, Little Sleep
It was just another winter night; inch deep snow rested just down stairs and out the door of the old building I was living in. Snow flakes drifted pass the broken and shattered windows on the wall, and even a few flakes found their way inside our bunk room. A chilly air forbade anyone to try and live through this winter without shoes on their feet and a jacket on their back, let alone a warm bed to sleep in and a roof over their head. Lucky for most people, they had all those things. All the rich, hoity toity people at the top of the food chain; what with their three story houses, maids, butlers and fancy food. But I wasn't one of those rich snobs, thank God. I was one of the thousand newsies living in New York, trying to scratch a dime a day with out starving to death, or freezing in the snow. And if I do say so myself, I did a damn well good job at it! I had made it this far, hadn't I?
I was only fifteen; nearly old enough to start a job, but still too young to find a wife and start a family. Not that I had the money to do it.
As I had said, it was just another cold December snow, drifting through the window a few rows from my bed. And even though I was a good few feet away, I still felt the nipping cold biting at my uncovered face. The blanket tucked over and around me did little to keep the warmth in and the cold out, and no matter how many times I tossed and turned, I could not find a comfortable spot on my thin mattress.
Usually I didn't find it this hard to sleep; I'd get into a bed before anyone else, wrap the towel I call a blanket around my too large body and think of better times. If I felt hungry, I thought of piles of food on a large banquet table. If I was cold, I thought of how the hot summer ahead would melt the snow. And almost every time, I could fall asleep. But tonight... tonight, something pulled at my stomach. It wasn't hunger (no, I knew the feeling of hunger all too well), and I definitely wasn't over fed. It was... anticipation. But for what, I couldn't tell you.
For the millionth time that night, I rolled over, facing away from the window, to hopefully keep myself warm. Unfortunately, I was met with an unpleasant surprise from my bunk mates. Snitch and Itey, who shared the top bunk of the bed across from me, were both snoring to the high heavens like there was no tomorrow. If there was one thing I couldn't stand, it was snoring. Just my luck. So, sending a glare their way, I pulled my pillow out from under head, and rested on side of my head on my mattress as I plopped the pillow over my other ear, hopeful it would keep me warm and block out the snoring. Yes, it kept my face warm, but the snoring just seemed to grown louder. No doubt it was Tumbler, who slept below me. Although he was a small kid, he could sure saw logs in his sleep.
So, letting out a growl of dismay, I sat up, both my pillow and blanket falling from my body. I was soon quite awake as the cool air rushed over my body, and I shivered as I jumped from my bed to the ground, my feet making a light smack as I hit the wooden floor. I then began to blindly search the ground for a shirt to cover my bare chest. Unlike most of the others, I slept without a shirt on, even in the middle of winter. I finally found my shirt crumbled just under Tumblers bed with his shoes, and as I slipped the blue button up over my shoulders, the small kid let out a deep snore and rolled over. I rolled my eyes sarcastically to myself as I began looking for my shorts. I would have reached for pants, any sane man would have, but I didn't have the money to buy any new clothes, so I just lived with what I had; shorts. Finding them, I slipped them over my white underwear before I began slipping my shoes on and tying them blindly. They were probably tied wrong, but I didn't care. The last thing I grabbed was my jacket. Although, like everything else I owned, it was thin, it helped.
With that, I quietly began my way through the rows of boys, my hands out in front of me as I tried not to run anything. By the time I made it to the door, I had banged my knee twice and almost fell right on a sleep Racetrack, but no harm had, luckily, been done. Once at the door I began to slowly open it, sneak through it, and close it quietly behind me. I then carefully made my way down the stairs, fearful I might miss a step. But once at the bottom, I let out a successful sigh and ran my hand through my curly brown hair. I then cursed softly; I had left my hat sitting on my bed post upstairs. Turning around, I looked fearfully up at the stairs as my eyes began to adjust to the dark. It wasn't worth it. If I did go back up, I might wake someone up. Then I'd be interrogated and yelled at for wanting to sneak out in the middle of the night and waking someone.
Before going for the door, I stopped at a small, rickety bookshelf with a couple of old, worn books. Since I was still partly blind and unable to see the faded blue book, I brought my hands up to the dusty books and counted the books from the left side of the shelf wall. Once at the fifth book, I slipped it out. It was a fake book, made by Kloppman to hide the key so we couldn't sneak out late at night like I did. Fortunately, while I was trying to find a way out when I was younger, I made a racket, and Kloppman came running. I then, from the shadows, watched as Kloppman got the key from the book and opened the door to see if anyone was out there.
So once the old key had turned the lock, I placed it back in the book, and replaced the book to its' rightful spot on the book shelf. As I left, I locked the door behind me. I probably wasn't going to be back until it was time to sell papers any way. The only let down of my nightly trips was Kloppman yelling at me when he didn't find me sleeping in my bed. He released all his old man fury on us if he catches us out of bed in the morning, but he only tells us to not do it again (which never does stop us).
Once out on the lodging house steps, I looked down the snow covered streets. Like every other night I had been out, they were completely empty. Who else would be taking a midnight stroll like I was? Just by seeing the pale light on the snow, I could tell tomorrow was going to be a hard day to sell. With the snow so deep, few people would be venturing out to grab the news, and few newsies would be out selling, so why bother with the news? All Pulitzer's headlines would be, "Snowstorm Drags on for Months!", and nobody needed to pay a penny just for news that was, literally, hitting them in the face.
So with another glance around the shadows, I began a slow, but steady pace through the thick snow. In no time my shocks and shoes were soaked through, making every step agony. But I didn't stop. Anything would be better than just laying in bed, trying to sleep. Even this was more exciting. Not having any idea where I was going, I took off down a shadowed alley way. All my nightly trips started like this; choosing a random direction and just traveling that way to see where it led you. So for a few hours, I just walked through the snow. I went through Central Park, went over the Brooklyn Bridge a couple of times, and even went right by Sheepsteads Races once. Before I knew it, I had made it all the way to the train station, which was clear on the other side of New York from my lodging house.
Letting out a sigh as I continued my walk, I watched my breath billow around the air for a moment, before it vanished. Moving myself from the middle of the street to the sidewalk across from the train station, I walked in the light that streamed from the side walk lights. Finally deciding it was time to give my feet a rest, I plopped down on a stair that wasn't covered in snow, I took in my surroundings. It was a pretty narrow street with a couple of stores along the side I sat on with the train station across from it. The street was actually lit up fairly well, and I found myself finding less and less shadows.
Suddenly, the wind picked up, and whipped something just at my side. Letting out a little gasp, I jumped up from my seat, my dark brown eyes flying to the object whipping in the wind. I wasn't usually a person who got scared easily, but once in a while, especially when I was alone, things would make me jump. Peering down into a large mound of snow, I saw a small piece of paper buried in the snow. Moving around so the lamp light could better show what it was, I noticed it was a train ticket. It wasn't very surprising, seeing as I was right across the street from the train station, but why would someone just leave a train ticket in a mound of snow. Cautiously, I reached out toward it and grabbed hold of it as it whipped around in the wind. I tried pulling it, but it seemed frozen in the snow. So, giving it another, harder yank, the ticket was free of the snow.
Along with a pale, blue hand grasping the ticket.
So... Is it alright? Do any of you like it?
Review please, and if you have any questions, feel free to ask them and I'll answer as many of them as I can!