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The Sighting

July 19th, 2010 by the_lifer

Willow has borrowed her flatmate’s car for a grocery run. On her way home, she pulls over to put some petrol back in the tank. At the pump, she notices that the ordinary car on the other side of the petrol pump has a back seat stuffed with quilts and pillows and duffel bags.

Who moves house on a Sunday night? More likely, the driver is living out of their car.

Willow is disturbed.  Is he that poor? Has he fled flatmates? Been thrown out by his wife? Whether he’s good, bad, or just unlucky, it’s a cold night to be dossing down on the back seat.

It’s one of the few moments when she can see someone’s poverty in Wellington. It’s there, but it’s hard to see in a city where walking, not driving, and dressing in jeans and polarfleece don’t stand out, where the cheaper stores have all moved out to the suburbs.  Most of the time it’s tucked away in the council flats here or there, hidden behind brave faces.

The driver catches her peeking and flinches. She wants to say something innocuous to him, like “Laundry day, eh?” But she knows she can’t with enough conviction. She’d smile, but he’s not going to look at her again.

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