They line the battered footpath of the blue-gated entrance to the St Vincent De Paul, like leaves scattered after an early morning storm. There is the usual bunch of down-and-outs mostly men, some young, some old. All share the familiar look of hunger and shame behind tired sunken eyes. Their faces marred with the dirty glean of worry and regret. All heavy with the understanding that life can be unfair.
The women sit quietly waiting patiently with their men. Some are bruised and scarred. Years of neglect etched into their auras, eyes diverted from the passing morning traffic.
A young man, no older than twenty four walks unsuspectingly towards the group. His mousy brown hair peeks out from beneath his black cap. He walks purposely forward, long lean legs stretching hungrily towards the familiar rusty blue gates – here he knows he can nourish his girls with at least one meal today. He is tired. The young girls cling to his dirty shorts. I cannot tell their age. Both share the same delicious shade of freddo frog skin, and although the man with them is lighter, it is obvious he is their father. The youngest sits in a worn and buckled pram and is comforted by a small sweet looking bear, the older girl walks along side, her once pink sandals struggle to keep pace. Faces so serious yet something about their arrival lightens the heavy mood of those they pass.
Squeals of delight break the still morning air as the girls break away from their father’s tight grasp to skip along side a convoy of Green Ants. Slight smiles peak at the lips of those who quietly watch.
The man and his girls never sit with the others, instead they walk past, and up and down the cracked concrete entrance until the blue gates open. Then quietly, and quickly they slip in, lost to the eyes of the world. Happiness as the warmth of the room engulfs them.