We know what happens to abandoned places in the world. Grass pushes through the concrete, vines climb up the steel. Birds nest in buildings. People seeking quiet; the misfits, the rebels, the dregs and drudges find their way to these places and settle. They spray the walls with their hopes and proverbs, they sit in cardboard boxes and bushes and consider this place heaven. Places where there are no rules or systems or doors. Animals creep in, their noses close to the ground, birds sit on branches and sing, shadows run easily and cockroaches scuttle between the debris. The air is filled with whispers and creaks. We know what happens in abandoned places even if we don’t visit them.
But what of abandoned people? What happens to those forgotten? They watch from windows above kitchen sinks, the world pass by. In the morning, they sit on the edges of their beds with their hands in their heads. They walk slowly and chew carefully. Their skin cracks open like pavements in the sun. Their eyes become transparent and their nails turn brittle. They settle on park benches and chairs in the corners of parties, always, always, looking for somewhere to sit, somewhere to rest. The world around them is an underwater ocean in which a few muffled sounds reach them. They worry about how clean their teeth are and wear the same pyjamas every night. Tomorrow, tomorrow, they will wash their hair, change the sheets, go for a walk, visit the neighbour. Tomorrow. They take to coughing at night, an odd, retching that fills their flat, as if something is trying to escape through their mouth, something large and bony in the lungs trying to find a way out. These people cough and cough trying to throw it out but nothing comes up. Only spit and tears and snot. They sleep restlessly at night and deeply in the day. They hold themselves still, like statues, in shopping malls. They do not smile and when they do it hurts everything inside them. The inside of them is sore, seemingly raw. Their joints ache, the elbows and knees feel like rusting window hinges and their teeth in their jaws throb. Abandoned people lie in their bed and remember their youth. They remember stumbling, as a toddler toward the ocean, and the sky seemed so blue and so bright.