The Woes of a Despondent Nobody

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I am a nobody.

Well, perhaps I’m not a nobody. Aren’t nobodies invisible? And I am not invisible. I am in plain sight for all the people who point and laugh at me as I walk down the street. I walk with my head hanging, my back hunched, so that I don’t have to look into their cruel, mocking faces. I try to ignore them. But I can’t.

They make fun of my tattered clothes. They make fun of my scraggly hair. They make fun of my scuffed-up shoes that have holes in the front where my big toes poked through. I don’t want to see them. I don’t want to see their affluent homes with the beautiful landscaping. I don’t want to see their clothes and their shiny shoes and their jewelry and their clean, freshly-combed hair. It will only make me feel worse. It will only make me envious. It will only make me feel like an even smaller speck of dirt.

But still, I have to suffer it everyday. I have to walk through the wealthy neighborhood twice every single day.

Every morning, before the sun even rises, I have to climb out of my cot and get ready for my lowly job. None of the rich children have ever had to raise a hand in their life to do any work, and here I am at age twelve, waking at dawn to go to work. I scrape together any measly substance in my house for a breakfast, put something in my pocket for lunch, and set out for a long walk all the way to the other side of town. With my eyelids still drooping from sleepiness, I force my tired legs to take me out of my poor neighborhood, across the middle class part of town, and into the opulent area. I stick out like a horse in a pigpen; I am so extremely out of place in my thin, ragged frock. I don’t belong here. These people seem to have everything. And I have nothing; well, nothing that anybody would consider anything.

The morning isn’t that bad, because all the snobby children who berate me are still in bed. But in a way the morning is worse, because I still have a long day of work ahead of me.

I go in the back door of the Westmarch house and into the pristine, high-ceilinged kitchen. Mrs. White, the listless cook, has already started breakfast. I scurry around nonstop for three meals a day, cooking and washing dishes and setting the table. When I’m not in the kitchen, I am waiting on Lady Westmarch, who treats me like a slave. Sometimes she is in a decent mood, and sometimes she yells defamatory things at me until her voice gives out. It is just plain awful. But I am sort of used to it by now. I’m not sure my meager salary is worth all the hurt, but I am too nebbish to do anything about it.

Sometimes Lady Westmarch sends me to the market to fetch some things. It is good to get away from her, but I face much ridicule at the market.

“Hey girl, I doubt you have any money for that!” people shout at me while they laugh among themselves. They tell me I am too dirty and that I’m going to contaminate all the food.

After supper, I am finally free to return home. I walk as quickly as I can, hoping to not run into too much derision. Once I pass into the poor side of town, I breathe out a huge sigh of relief.

My sad little house may be cold because of the thin walls, but returning home gives me a warm feeling. When I go into my dilapidated dwelling, I am happy to see my older brother who has returned from his job at the farm. He can sometimes cheer me up, but sometimes he needs just as much cheering up. Being poor takes a lot out of you. It can drain your spirit. My mother doesn’t have much left in her. She just sits and stares at something intangible; the conspicuous, empty void left by my dead father.

I sleep restlessly every night. Between the cold draft blowing through my house, the constant ache of hunger in my gut, and the turmoil that plagues my mind, a peaceful slumber is almost impossible. I lay awake and think. I think of how insignificant I am. I don’t matter. I don’t have any important role in society. Except for my small family, nobody would notice if I just disappeared. I am all by myself; just this unknown little person, in her own diminutive corner of the vast world.





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