A story to pay the rent

overcoming fear of the blank page

He stopped me in the street and he said “Hey love, sorry to bother you, but I had a car accident… and I can’t work anymore… and my wife died… and my daughter’s got cancer… and I can’t afford to pay the bills…”

I laughed and laughed.

“Oh god, mate,” I said. “Seriously. What’s your real story? What do you want?”

His crinkled grey face crinkled some more as he smiled, and his eyes twinkled a little.

“Aww, nothing,” he said. ” I just want some change.”

“Then why didn’t you just say?”

“Oh people, you know.” He waved his hand to show me the people, the footpath, the street. “They always want a story. They want a story for their money. You gotta have something to tell them.”

“Well, here’s $3,” I said. “It might get you half a beer, or maybe half a meal.”

“Thanks love,” he said. “Have a great night. See you round.”

“Yep, you too,” I said, and I walked home to my warm bed.

But I woke up in the night and I thought, what if he did have an accident? What if his wife really did die and his daughter really does have cancer?

How can I laugh about that?

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Nat Newman - portrait

Nat Newman

Nat Newman is an award-winning writer of short stories, content, podcasts, feature articles, drunk text messages and, soon, a novella.

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