The Alienated Comer
creative partner Sînziana Cojocărescu
reader Shala Nyx
The air outside is so fresh!
That building is now ready to be moved into.
Last time all you could see was big trucks going in and out.
No time to dream or I will be late and that will not be good.
At the traffic lights;
Robot controlled cars
in each a driver… in each a child…
Just like me and my child.
Just me and my child all the time.
Red flash: top up oyster.
‘Excuse me, excuse me.’
Smartly dressed lady in work clothes talking to me.
‘Let me go before you as I need to rush off.’
She sees I have been waiting in line all this while and in her mind…
‘No, you cannot as I am in a rush too.’
I tell the station attendant it is the highlight of my day chatting with him.
‘You must be desperate then!’ he jokes back.
Please stand back, fast train approaching.
This train is so full. Everyone is rushing, to go somewhere, to do something.
Yet all alone.
Two girls sharing pictures on their phones.
I smile, they notice.
They start to murmur to themselves.
Nice to see people laughing.
Nice to see people happy.
I escape from the cruelty of being new to this country, knowing no one,
the harshness from the Home Office
‘Why is she smiling at us…?’
The giggles now sound mean.
The girls are laughing at me and not with me!
I slide back into my isolation, back into my reality.
‘You should go back to your country….’ The black one murmurs as the girls get off the train.
She is the same colour as me!
At some point someone in her family was just like me, new and alone….
I’m grateful they left without a scene.
Change at London Bridge
A lady smiling, looking at me…
Just like I would smile to my child.
Is that smile meant for me?
I look around.
No, no one behind me.
Should I smile back at her or….?
I don’t want a confrontation, so let me just look down.
Bond Street, my stop.
Rush into work for another eight hours; for what?
Well, work experience is the best to come out of it.
And interacting with people.
Some of them will be good, others rude.
Some will be delightful, others spiteful.
In all, it sums up as ‘work experience’.
And for the minimum wage this company should have paid us?
Well, the work experience that will be reflected on your CV is way more valuable…
Minimum wage is £8.21
I work eight hours a day
Instead of £65.68, I get minus £40 for childcare daily
Not to mention £30 weekly for my utility bills.
What shining career can I achieve after eight hours working for free in a supermarket I can’t afford to shop in?
I ring the doorbell to be let in.