By Mary Lou Fletcher


Ellie sighed heavily as she walked across the crumbling tarmac of the street. The streetlamps were just beginning to flicker on as the shadows of the grubby wheelie bins around her stretched out across her path.

It had taken her a while but despite the unanswered phone calls and ignored messages she had found her.

She was perched on one of the low walls, her scuffed trainers scraping against the brickwork as she stared off into space. A cigarette was held loosely between her fingers and she occasionally lifted it to her mouth before breathing the smoke out into the cold evening air. Ellie could see the tremors shooting through her body, her shoulders hunched and tense.

Clearing her throat, she saw her immediately stiffen before taking another long drag of her cigarette. “Hannah, you can’t keep going out like this- people are getting worried about you.”

She said nothing. The night was still- only occasionally broken by the distant sounds of police cars and drunken shouting that echoed down the alleyway.

“You need to start pulling yourself together. Getting into this state isn’t helping anyone- never mind yourself. You have so much,”

“Don’t.” Her voice was low but raw. Her throat bobbed as she swallowed before her dark eyes met Ellie’s. They seemed empty, lifeless- gone was the light and hope that once dwelled there. “Don’t tell me that I have so much going for me when we both know that that’s not true.”

Ellie shook her head. “You know what I mean- things will pick up soon and,”

Snorting, Hannah dragged herself off the wall, her feet landing with a heavy thud against the ground. “You’ve been saying that for the past six months.” Taking one last breath of nicotine, she dropped the cigarette to the ground and stamped it out. The smoke curled in the air as she exhaled. “Don’t tell me how everything’s going to just fine and I’m going to have a job soon because we both know that I won’t.”


“No!” Her voice was sharp, cutting through the air and disrupting the peace. “I won’t ‘look’! Don’t you get it Ellie? I’ve got nothing to look forward to! I can’t get a job, I’m not smart enough for uni- what have I got going for me?”

“You have your whole future! Surely, that counts for something.”

“Yeah and what future is that?” She shrugged a shoulder. “What future? Every single job I’ve gone for you need experience and if they hear that you haven’t got any, they don’t want to know. No one is willing to give me a chance- no one, Ellie! As long as they’re alright in their nice houses and their secure jobs they don’t care! I’m no one to them.” Her voice trailed off and her head lowered, her hair falling around her face. “I’m no one to anyone…”

Stepping forward, she grabbed her shoulder. She could feel her shaking under her strong grip. “You have us- we’ll stand by you no matter what but you’ve got to keep fighting. You can’t give in!”

Hannah looked up. Her eyes shone in the dim lighting, the yellow gleam highlighting her pale pallor. Dark circles marred her face. “What’s the point? Things are never going to change. People don’t care about us, Ellie. They’re too busy making sure they’re alright to care about us.”


She gave a sad smile, the gesture not reaching her eyes, before pulling herself out of reach and making her way further down the alley. “They say all of this stuff about ‘Broken Britain’… the truth is, we’re the ones that are broken.”


About the author:

Mary Lou Fletcher has been writing for as long as she can remember- one of her earliest memories of writing is sitting in a chair for three days scribbling out a story about a couple of runaways who find somewhere they belong. Mary’s main focus is to write about life- or more specifically, human emotion and how we interact with the world around us.


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