The Street Whistler

500 word entry to the flash fiction competition

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1. The Street whistler

~I stood there watching him in conflict; both wanting to go and drop my coin in his battered old hat and walk away. Everyone was too scared to approach him; his presence filled anyone who had heard his stories with displeasure. The rumours that followed him cut through his name like a knife on a chopping board causing people to turn their heads in fear and avoid him like a disease.
Each word against him hung heavily in his sunken eyelids and wrinkly skin. A jagged scar ran down the left side of his face running over his left eye and leaving it little more than a slit. His shaggy black hair was drenched in sweat with the short tufts spiking out in different directions frantically trying to give his head a way to breath.  His glassy brown eyes held a life time’s worth of pain and loss; they stared straight ahead at the overgrown field that was once the final resting place for the ghosts that haunt him every time he closes his eyes.  He was hunched over with his arms crossed tightly over his chest, as if they were trying to conceal his soul.
His overall appearance was twisted and tortured; he embraced the heat, like a piece of cloth hung out to dry in the midday sun, not seeming to care that it burnt his skin or cracked the lips he used to fill the street with a simple tune. He seemed lost in the melody he was sharing with the world, it was the only thing that reminded him where he was sitting. It meant he was safe, safe from the war at least. Now he was fighting a harder battle inside him. When you have no purpose it’s hard to find the will to live.
 The dry days that had hit our small village meant there was little water anywhere; people didn’t have the time or the money to help him. His unprepossessing looks were worn out, not one spark of hope was left in them. It was as if he had given up, given up on us and what he had once fought for. I didn’t blame him though. When you give up everything for a cause you expect to get something back. All he gets is dirty looks and stories told that do him no justice.
He was the hero forgotten by time, left only with the memories of the people who fell in the mud, never to rise again. Whenever he closes his eyes he longs for the peace they’ve found but the world only rewards him by forcing him to go on and endure the endless torment of a life time of bitterness. Is he really the monster though? Aren’t we the monsters for judging and ridiculing him?
My uneasiness got the better of me and I dropped the coin back in my pocket then walked away. Just like everybody else. We were all to scared of the street whistler.

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