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MORNING SERIAL.

Byline: By RICHARD COLLINS

I go to an attractive square that I passed through earlier and wander around. The smell of food from the cafAs is a real problem - my stomach starts churning like it's eating itself. But there is a middle-aged couple walking towards me and I can tell that they're English - they look a bit like my mum and dad. 'Excuse me. Are you English?' I say. 'Yes.' They look at me uncomfortably. 'I'm in a bit of trouble and I haven't got anywhere to stay the night. I wonder if you could lend me some money?'

The woman looks scared but the man laughs.

'Yeah, sure,' he says and I feel a tiny moment's relief before I realise that he's being sarcastic. I can't think of anything else to say as they turn and walk away.

Now all the uncomfortable stuff hits me at the same time: hunger, tiredness, cold, fear, and loneliness. And more. I've got a feeling that I'm on the outside of things, there's a barrier between me and other people.

I don't want to be on this side of the barrier. I'm going a bit crazy and it feels difficult to approach anybody else.

I wander around the square hoping to find some dropped money or a wallet. Some chance. Perhaps I should steal.

I leave the square and walk the streets of the small town. What do I hope to find? Only food, warmer clothes, money, somewhere to stay the night, someone to talk to.

Or a way of magicing myself to where Oliver is waiting.

But that won't happen; I have to stay the night here somehow and hitch in the morning. I come to a well-lit park where people are sitting around talking.

Children play. Old women watch them and chat to their friends. I follow a small path into the trees hoping to find a pile of leaves that I can curl up in later when I'm really tired. Of course, the place is immaculately tidy and inhospitable. I leave the park and walk the streets again. Maybe I'll find some thrown-out cardboard boxes to keep warm in. Nothing doing. Hard cobbled streets, hard pavements, parked cars, foreign people walking past talking a language that I don't understand. More unbearably, good smells from restaurants. And then I see a policeman standing on the street corner ahead of me, very smartly dressed and intimidating like they all are round here. I turn off down a side street before I get to him and hurry away guiltily. That's strange as I haven't done anything wrong. Continues tomorrow
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Aug 29, 2006
Words:436
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