Dawn arrived too early. The Sun shone its rays when no one was ready. Light painted the scene when the canvas was not yet prepared. All things became visible. The wet grass beneath their thin matrresses. The cut outs of soccer stories stuck to the cement pillars. The endless pile of trash surrounding their sleeping heads. The corners of their blankets being flipped up by the freezing wind.
Peacemaker lifted his head from slumber and knew all that he must do today. Make his bead. Gather everything he could on his trolley. Circulate the surrounding neighbourhood. Get recyclables. Bring them back here, under the bridge. Flatten them. Take it all and sell it. Rinse. Repeat.
Yet today had started differently. Something was odd. He couldn’t place his finger on it. He looked around from the two pillars that he had slept between at everyone else. They all seemed to be accounted for. Tea was being made by the ladies over a small fire. The river was no fuller than it had been yesterday. The scrawlings of spraypaint all around were no less inspired. Yet today had started differently.
He lay back down and looked up at the bridge. Cars were screaming past already and had been for some time. It was always a soothing sound. Something that let him know that he was a part of a massive moving machine called Jo’burg city. A mighty beast who hated him and fed him. Who loved him and made him cold. Who accepted him and rejected him every day. A mighty beast who served herself and never him.
Folding his blanket and mattress to be stowed he paused. “That’s it,” he uttered out loud to himself, “I know what it is.” Peacemaker looked around to see if anybody else may be experiencing the same thing. No one seemed any different. He stopped what he was doing and stepped down to the fire where 3 ladies and 2 of his friends were waiting. He didn’t bother with niceties. “Do any of you feel it?” He asked the circle. Only his friend Eric who was standing closest to him bothered to look up and reply, “Feel what?”
“Today, there is hope.”