A Hard Life

A short story by Ron Brewer of the Attleborough Writers’ Group

My life has been pretty hard in the past but things have sorted themselves out and now I am living in relative comfort.

Hopefully things will stay this way for a long time so I’d better make the best of it.

Family life meant that I didn’t get the best of starts in this world. My father had disappeared off by the time I was born. Seemed he was looking for another woman, well that’s what we were told. With two brothers and two sisters at home as well, mum was always on the scrounge for more food. She did her best but just trying to get enough nourishment to even put on weight was difficult.

Even worse, we lost our home because of some local development, were separated from each other and it was a matter of the survival of the fittest. I was wandering around, having to just use my wits to get by. No one seemed to have any sympathy for those who were down on their luck. I soon found it was easier to hide away during most of the daylight hours, perhaps spending the time sleeping and then to travel around at dusk. I’d pick up odd bits of food that I might come across, even to the point of eating stuff that had been left around for pets and farm animals.

But as time went on I got weaker and weaker, even walking around was getting too difficult. One day I found my normal route had been blocked off and I had to cross a busy road that I was not familiar with. I went as fast as I could but I was injured by a passing car as I couldn’t get out of the way quick enough. The car driver came back to have a look and kindly put a blanket around me, carefully positioned me in her car and took me straight off to hospital.

The staff at the hospital were wonderful. They must have dealt with many similar cases before as I was cleaned up, given some nutritious food, something to drink and settled down in a comfortable bed. I think I fell asleep almost immediately and woke up later feeling much, much better.

I was determined to try to turn my life around, to grasp this opportunity to live in a more normal world. My past life had been hard and I was determined not to go all through that again. So I was a ‘perfect patient’, co-operating with the staff, putting up with the regular baths and the weighing routines. The great day came and I was discharged, taken away from the hospital and given my freedom in what seemed like a countryside heaven.

I’ve settled down now, even found a girlfriend. And I’ll always be grateful to those people at the Tiggywinkle’s Hedgehog Rescue Centre who made my past life into a thing of the past.

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