The Queue

Creative writing class homework of the 29th October 2019. The theme was telling lies.

He moved a few paces as the queue shuffled forwards. He’d been standing in it since midday. The light was fading now but he knew the doctors from Médecins Sans Frontières would keep going until they had seen the last. He shivered. He was wearing all the clothes he possessed but they were wet from the earlier rain. It was getting colder and the wind was cutting straight through. He knew there was a limit to what they could do but he was hoping they would take out a tooth that had been painful for several weeks and do something with an open wound on his hand that wouldn’t heal. It was this that prevented him getting work from the American gang masters when he joined hundreds of others early each morning hoping for a day’s pay in the fields. His wife was going to the Oxfam compound to get rice or flour to supplement what she had managed to forage. They had never expected to depend on charity but now they had no choice.

If only their children were still with them. When they fled the city to avoid the wars of the rival gangs and the predatory beggars their son and daughter decided to try their luck abroad and emigrate to Europe. That was over seven years ago and they had not heard from them since. He and his wife had joined the thousands who had walked north for days to escape the city and seek a new life in the countryside. Despite their poverty this had worked for a while but now the gangsters were in charge everywhere. The police were unwilling to deal with the gang bosses but in any case they were in the pay of the local politicians and their business backers.

He could now see into the old derelict barn that the doctors were using for their makeshift surgery. It wouldn’t be long now. He was not hopeful they could do much. Getting rid of the tooth would be a blessing but he knew there was little prospect of his hand being fixed. If it needed drugs or surgery neither of these would be available without money.

Bitterly he cast his mind back twelve years to when all their troubles had started. Where was the health service they had been promised once 350 million pounds a week would be spent on it, and Britain was great again?

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