I was born on the streets and had lived there ever since. I made my way into Unpleasantville a year ago. Each morning I dove under the nearest porch and slept out the sun, and at night I’d scour through each trash bin and garden for a decent meal. Spring provided me with a plethora of new plants to taste. I’ve never seen most of them, wild or grown, but I licked each and every one. If it didn’t turn my guts to liquid, I’d pick it for my meal the next night. The summer was sweltering, but the porches provided enough shade- and who needs clothes when no one ever sees you. The critters, both loud and silent tended to stay away, except those who stenched of rotting rubbish as well. By Autumn I reached the circular end of one of the cracked asphalt streets. One house, slinked back into the forest, had chipped paint and a Swiss cheese roof that screamed of the decade before my birth and nothing since. The front door had hung on its last hinge and the porch so collapsed I felt it was safe enough to venture inside. I hid with the vermin when smoke overran the air. It got so thick I was tempted to retreat into the windowless basement whose darkness seemed to float right at the door’s threshold, but if the other animals of this house didn’t dare go near, I didn’t find it best to challenge their judgment. Soon the snow replaced the ash. Meals became harder to retrieve, so I stopped straying too far or varying my hunting ground. A house three fences down from mine became my favorite. The couple inside often bickered during dinner- they woke me with their squabbling when I slept beneath their porch- meaning much of their meal was thrown away. One particularly chilly evening I found what appeared to be wax coated cheese. I ripped off the shell and licked the soft, cream center. It tasted of fish flavored salt, the best thing I had found in the past week- even those love birds began to keep their scraps. I swallowed the whole square, the gentle bitterness left behind masked by the frostbite creeping down my tongue. Digging a little further in the can, I found a whole bag of those squares. Miss-high-and-mighty must have decided the fancy soup flavoring belonged in her kitchen as much as she did. I ripped into another three, shoved the last dozen in my crudely sewn pockets, and dragged my numb legs back to my decrepit shelter. I sat in the warmest unclaimed corner and cherished my meal. Every once in a while, one of the house’s bandits tried to steal one from me, but the kitchen knives I found in a drawer- each one rustier than the next- kept them from succeeding. Soon wax casings littered the floor and so did the entirety of my blood, spewed from my mouth. This cold felt internal, the air around me feeling like one of those blistering summer days. All I wanted was a meal, but instead I received the long, dark sleep courtesy of poison set to eradicate the family of mask wearing rats that now feast upon my body.
Sam Kaufman is a writer from Connecticut. She started avidly writing in her sophomore year of high school doing both novels and short stories. She mostly writes dystopian tales but occasionally slips into fantasy as it is her favorite genre to read.