Rodney walked under the overpass and was immediately struck by the smell; too many unwashed bodies too close together. The slight chill that had formed once the sun set wasn’t helping either, but he knew he had to keep going. He’d finally found someone who recognized Jamie’s picture and they had directed him here. He couldn’t help feeling that he’d finally found her, but he’d felt that way before so it was hard to really know.
He walked past a barrel spurting flames near the outstretched hands of four people covered in layers of clothing. He glanced from side to side at the bodies lying on each side of the small walkway, some of them huddling in threadbare blankets and some taking cover under cardboard boxes.
He was almost near the back when he finally spotted her. Could it be? He hunched down in front of her, almost daring to hope.
“Jamie, is that you?”
She was staring off into space, but at the sound of his voice her eyes shifted slightly and met his.
“Jamie! Oh my God. I can’t believe it!”
He grabbed her limp body and hugged her as hard as he dared. Her hair was a tangled mop surrounding a face that looked like it hadn’t been washed in days. Her cheek bones were more prominent than they used to be and her eyes looked sunken and hollow. There wasn’t much left of the girl who’d run away almost a year ago.
“Rodney?” He watched as tears came to her eyes, but instead of sinking into his embrace, she pulled back. “Why are you here? Go away.”
“Jamie, I’ve come to take you home.”
“I can’t. Please…” She covered her face with her hands.
Rodney gently pulled her hands away from her face and looked deep into her eyes. “I love you, Sis. It doesn’t matter where you’ve been or what’s happened. Take it from your older brother; home is always a good idea.”
“Home.” She made the word sound foreign, almost as if she’d forgotten. “I don’t think I can face them, Rod.”
“I’m here now. We’ll do it together.”
He helped her to her feet, but she was so weak, she immediately started to collapse. In one quick motion, he grabbed her legs and picked her up. Wrapping her arms around his neck, she held on tight as he carried her to his car and the promise of home.
#fictionfriday is brought to us by Simply Marquessa. The lyric prompt she chose was: ““I’ve been all around the world and as a matter of fact, there’s only one place left I wanna go…”