The coins clinked in the paper coffee cup as people spared what change they could, a penny here, a nickel there. Every couple of hours she would empty the change she had collected into a secondary location, leaving only a few lonely coins at the bottom.
It was a name that she had heard spoken in hushed tones around the fires at the train yard since she was a very young child. It was a brand that followed her wherever she went.
Hobo, gypsy, vagabond
These were words that were thrown at her on a daily basis with a viciousness to them that ran deep in her veins, but most days she would just grit her teeth together and pretend she couldn’t hear them. Her mother used to tell her to let the words roll off her skin like raindrops.
She would think about how much rain actually soaked into your being before it started to roll off.
Shifting her weight from one side to the other, she rocked gently back and forth on the ground, the cement briefly scratching her numbed skin, sending tendrils of pain across her thigh. For a moment she thought about her life, thought about all of the things that could have gone differently, and wondered if the people who taunted her were right.
A bright flare of light reflected off of the building across the street as the door swung open, blinding her. She put her hand over her eyes to shield them and watched as the great afternoon departure began: line after line of people filing out of the doors of all of the businesses in the area.
Very few of them looked at her, and she would still get the occasional clink in the cup. Most of the time she was a ghost, a part of humanity they would rather forget. To her they looked like ants on the sidewalk, a flow of people from one point to the next, strung together by obligations and jobs.
She leaned her head against the brick and closed her eyes and thought of the sound that the train would make when it moved through towns in the dark of night, how the wind would roll across them through the openings in the car. She thought about humanity and how they were all just passing through this space and about the idea of abstract items acting as concrete barriers.
An eternity might have passed behind her eyelids, considerations of all things great and small, but time and space were not barriers that mortals would be able to overcome in her lifetime.