Written by Carl Malcolm
Art by Alena Aenami

The sun rose. It brought warm tones to the cold, grey smudge of city that stretched out before Charlotte. She tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear, but the bitter wind quickly freed it again. Her backpack hung heavy with clothes, food, a toothbrush, and a little bit of money, just in case this morning would be different.

The train clattered to a halt far below in its station, late as usual. Charlotte chewed her lip as she watched the people clamber around each other off and on the train, the whole scene looking like a disturbed ant nest. She wished that she could work up the courage to go down there and join them, let the train carry her over the horizon to new life. But she knew this morning would be no different.

The train pulled away and Charlotte hopped down from her perch. She swallowed against the ever-present lump in her throat and entered her building’s stairwell, promising herself that tomorrow would be different. Her mother was already awake when she reentered her apartment, clanging pans in the kitchen. Charlotte stuffed her backpack in the bottom of the closet by the front door, ensuring that the coats covered it.

“James, I’m making eggs for breakfast,” her mother called from the kitchen, “or do you just want cereal?”

Charlotte entered the kitchen. “Eggs would be good.”

Her mother turned and smiled. “Oh, you’re up already.” A frown spoiled her smile. “Gosh, we really need to get you to the barbers.”

Charlotte nodded her head and looked down at her feet. Maybe tomorrow would be different.