She spent her mornings hidden in the cart return of a closed grocery store. The alcove provided shade and gave her some privacy to just be, away from the judging eyes she dealt with the rest of the day and away from the predatory eyes that came out of the night. Sometimes the patrons visiting the neighboring stores would catch a glimpse of her and hurry their steps away. Other times they would stop to talk, or offer money and food and she accepted those. She never asked for their charity, though. She didn’t stand out in the open with a sign, announcing her presence and begging. That wasn’t really what she wanted even if it was what she needed.
Her only possessions were never out of hands’ reach, in an old and battered backpack she had picked up somewhere along the way. When she found herself with extra cash, for one reason or another, she would go to a laundromat and wash her clothes. Once she even splurged on a hotel room so she could have a proper bed and a hot shower. That had been a long time ago, though, and she couldn’t remember when it exactly was. Just as she could no longer remember the story that went with each of her missing teeth. She knew some had rotted out and some had met more sudden ends but that was the end of it. She kept her nails long and her hair short. Occasionally she would pal around with others like her but for the most part she enjoyed solitude. She found it hard to trust people and she had found there was usually more safety in being alone. Everyone has issues and when she was by herself she only had to deal with her own. But humans are social creatures and when she felt the craving for someone to talk to she would visit the places where she knew she could find someone. Then it was only a matter of striking up a conversation and finding someone to pal around with for a couple days.
As the foot traffic in the shopping center picked up, she would pack up her bag and wander off. There were a series of parks nearby where she could sit in the shade of a tree to pass the hottest part of the day. Then as they heat began to dissipate, when the nightly marine later rolled back in from the coast, she would head towards the spots she knew she’d be safer during the long hours of darkness. Just safer. There was never a guarantee of absolute safety no matter where she went. But, as she had realized when she made the decision to live on the streets, homes only provide the illusion of safety as well, there is no place that is and will always be completely safe.