By Vita Forest
I was waiting at Central when he approached me. A young guy, articulate, clean, homeless.
“Can you spare some change? I’m hoping to get some accommodation.”
I thought for a moment.
He smiled and nodded and I fished in my bag.
“How is your day going?” he asked.
“Pretty good,” I answered, “How about you?”
“OK,” he said, “I’m tired.”
I nodded, “Well, hope that helps.”
“Cheers,” he said and raised his takeaway coffee cup to me. “What’s your name?”
“Olivia,” I answered, “What’s yours?”
“Nice to meet you Quentin.”
“Nice to meet you.”
He moved away, flashing his smile at the pedestrians waiting for the lights. Adding to his housing fund before the lights changed.
I waited, leaning on a column. Looking for the people I was supposed to meet. Looking at my phone to see if there were any messages. Checking I was in the right spot, checking the time.
Quentin came back.
“Are you waiting for someone?”
“Yes,” I answered, “They are late.”
“Are you from Sydney?”
“Yes, are you?”
“No, Wollongong. South Wollongong.”
I nodded and watched the stream of people ascending from the depths of the station.
“Do you work?” he asked, pulling his cap down over his neat hair.
“Yeah, I’m a teacher.”
“Oh! You like kids?”
“Yeah, most of the time. It’s school holidays now, you know?”
“Hmm,” he was looking out at the crowd too.
“English or History?”
“Primary,” I answered, “So – everything.”
“I work too, when I can, labouring, building, that kind of thing. But it’s hard to get a break. I’ve been trying to get accommodation for a year and a half now. You know, a room. A bit of privacy? But the wait is so long. So I get a hostel when I can, hopefully soon. I’m so tired. My eyes are killing me. I just want to sleep,” he flashed me his smile again, his perfect teeth.
“What was your name again?”
“Good luck Quentin.”
And he went back to work, looking through the faces of the people that streamed up the ramp and stopped at the lights and caught his eye for a moment. While I slouched against a column and checked my phone for any new messages.