Pencho woke up earlier than usual this day. It was a rainy and foggy Monday morning. He was all wet and was shivering under the thorn blanket he was covered with. He had lived in the streets for more than 10 years and was used to it, but this morning he felt a strong feeling of anger and helplessness that he has managed to keep quiet in the last years.
He has been wandering around the dirty and hostile streets of Sofia year after year, moving from one neighborhood to the other, surviving day after day. It would be inaccurate if his existence was called life, it was rather a struggle. He tried to keep his memories from entering his mind, because he knew they would bring him only pain and anger. However, sometimes he couldn’t do anything and the images of his previous life invaded his whole being. He had a wonderful family back in the time, two kids and a beautiful wife. They were still there, somewhere far away from him. He didn’t know what had happened to them.
This morning, he woke up in a dirty corner in Nadezhda, a dark, spooky neighborhood in Sofia. The name means hope, which was painfully ironic in the situation Pencho was in. He knew he had to stand up and go search the garbage-cans for some food, because he hadn’t eaten for more than two days. However, he was sinking in a sea of memories and couldn’t do anything about it. He remembered how he used to go home from work to see his two little daughters and his wife waiting for him, cooking something delicious to surprise their favorite dad and husband. As he remembered it he could feel the warmth of their hugs and the smell of the food coming from the kitchen. He remembered how he and his wife used to stay until late at night just talking about everything. The time was moving so fast in these wonderful moments. He remembered the Christmas cards his daughters made for him, saying “ We love you dad!”. He has been a good father, no matter what situation he was in he treated his daughters with love and gave everything he could to secure their happiness.
At this moment a group of teenagers walked past him talking loudly, and he came back to reality. He kept lying in the corner, wet, hungry and helpless. He closed his eyes and waited for the memories to come back and fill his mind. They came back, but they weren’t the same memories. He saw his two little daughters again, but this time they weren’t happy and cheerful. They were crying in their room quietly, squeezing each other’s hands. The pleasant smell from the kitchen was gone and the lamps all around the house were switched off. Then he saw an image that made his breathing stop for a few seconds. His wife was sitting in the living room holding her head with both hands and crying. She was trembling and whispering something to herself. Pencho tried hard to remember what was the reason for this situation, but he couldn’t. His memories kept projecting in his mind. His wife raised her head and he saw her face. Her left eye was swollen and dark blue, there was blood leaking from the corner of her mouth. Pencho’s heart was filled with anger. “Who did this to my wonderful wife?!” he asked himself and his memories answered as if the question was directed to them. He saw himself coming home late at night, drunk and not able to walk straight. His wife was still awake waiting for him. However, this time he didn’t hug her. Instead, they started arguing and shouting. She slapped him on the cheek and he punched her in the face. He hit her two more times. By that time his two little daughters were woken up by the noise and were screaming:
“Stop, daddy, please stop!”.
Pencho opened his eyes. He didn’t feel anything now. He didn’t feel hungry, cold or wet. He made an attempt to rise, but he didn’t have the strength to do so. He felt tired and sleepy. His eyes began to close and he couldn’t stop them.
“I’m sorry…” - he whispered and a tear slid out of one of his eyes. He took one last breath.
Two men passed by, talking, walking fast with their hands in their pockets; a dog’s barking fused with the noise of the traffic… Another lost soul left this world.