The clock forever read, in vintage rust for hands and faded brown paint that could barely coat the small, silver and circular object with pale white hands clasping upon it, but that was how it always was, ever since she first got it. In a small antique shop far away; she never knew. Never would she ever. Coming from a ship that was supposed to take the poor to housing projects, she never fit in. Kicked out, an outcast to say the least. The government could only hold so many, like trying to grasp every single grain of sand that slips out from fingers easily. Here she ended up in a country she never thought she'd be in. Vienna, in Austria. All the way from New York, back where both her parents were, a Hungarian and an American who both really couldn't support each other very much. She did promise though, she would be back for them before she turned 21, which was 3 years from now, though it was bleak, she was living in the streets.
The cold gust of wind swished by once again, playing with her long, uncut wavy brown hair that reached up to her waist. Her only journal flipped open, with embossed words that said 'Lili Jones' in brown yellowed paper. A gift she had gotten from someone she couldn't quite remember. All she knew was that the person who gave it to her was a childhood friend, back in New York his parents weren't rich either, but they had a house. Something she hadn't gotten since birth, she's lived through storms under bridges and heat under trees. Right now, Lili was sat on a grey, cemented pavement that she had been staying on for a day or two, her hair in tangles, and her bright green eyes being the only contrast to her paling white face under the starting winter. Snow was already falling down, and that particular season was one of the hardest to cope up with. All she had was a dark green jacket, a black shirt and brown pants. The other thing she owned was a torn dress and of course, the journal.
Lili's eyes scanned the road with only a few cars that were out for the weekend. Some people were casually walking on the other side of the pavement, with thick warm coats. Some had phones held up to their ears and going in and out of shops. Must be some early Christmas shoppers. She guessed. It was still early in November, but it was always better than shop at the last minute. Not that she had much of an experience.
Lili continued to stare, thinking of what to eat for lunch; she bought a piece of bread with the few coins that was thrown on her for breakfast. Life was hard for her, she had only a faint idea of what they were saying, or what was printed on the signs. Some sounded like English, but she really couldn't comprehend the foreign language which was German. She only knew how to say 'hello' or 'thank you' and count 1-10 but that was it. Lili had some US dollars, but that was useless. She rummaged through her pocket hoping for some coins that could afford anything when a man in a black shirt tripped over her feet.
"Oh, sorry!" Lili quickly apologized, standing up to help the person who fell down.
"I'm fine, it's okay, don't worry!" The person assured her in English, standing up to dust his clothes and face her. The man looked young, somewhere by her age maybe. He had a fair complexion, slightly tanner than she was and had brownish-blond hair that was wavy and messy. His eyes were a dark shade of green that reminded her of a forest. His expression was a soft smile. An expression that was somewhat, familiar.
"Oh, alright then." Lili mumbled, slightly out of focus.
"May I get your name, miss?" Lili looked up to him, his voice was smooth yet a bit raspy from the cold.
"Lili Jones." She replies. Her gaze then follows him through his quick movements as the man walks past her and grabs her journal that was laid down on the floor. He hadn't said a thing, but his hands run over the torn felt cover, as he smiles with a look of nostalgia.
"Ah, it is you." The man says slowly, his smile forming into another grin. He takes a pen from his pocket and flips the pages, he scribbles on it and hands it to her.
"Oliver Wilson" Lili reads aloud. She remembers, that name she hasn't said or thought of for years. That was him; the one who gave her the journal.
Oliver laughs in joy, and soon, the laugh gets louder. He pulls Lili into a welcoming hug and whispers, "Where have you been?"
"You know where I always am.." She replies.
He lets go of her and smiles, ruffling Lili's hair. "Somewhere along the line, I did."
10:30 am "Hurry miss, the ship's about to set sail!" A panicked voice of the assistant exclaimed to a brown haired woman, urging for her to enter.
The crowded port located in Washington was chock-full of people pushing their way through to get to the ships that would somehow take them to a better place. The day was bright and hot, families dressed in tattered clothes bringing small bags and dripping with sweat were the first ones accommodated. Despite the rules given, there were too many people who wouldn't bother to listen and just stormed their way through.
The government had promised the poor to be greeted by ships that would take them to housing projects located in different countries built by the money of those who were kind enough to donate. The place would have job offerings and they would be given services for the first few weeks until the person has found a stable job. The offer was too great to be turned down so a lot had come, intrigued by this opportunity. Lili Jones was no exception, she was convinced, rather forced by her parents to go on the project alone. Mr. and Mrs. Jones knew that there would be too much people so they sent her alone holding on to their daughter's promise that she would come back before she was 21, waiting under the bridge for her successful return.
"Excuse me!" Lili shouted, passing through the people trying not to breathe in the hot air that smelled of sweat and gasoline. She got away, clutching her notebook in hand and clothes in a small sack. Her coins tucked away in her pocket making faint noises. Lili then smoothed her long chestnut hair that reached her bottom and dusting her clothes. She found a place to sit on and tried to ignore the noisy chatter of the others.
"Hello there." A blond man greeted, taking the seat beside her. "The name's Michael, Michael Smith." He introduced himself, holding out his hand to shake.
Lili stared at the hand for a minute before shaking it. "Lili Jones." She replied.
"What made you come here? You don't seem very happy about it." He paused. "Well not as much as they are, anyway." He pointed his thumb to the clusters of families singing and shouting.
"We just need to take the chance anyway." She sighed, averting her eyes. "You don't seem very enthusiastic about it either."
Michael smirked. "Like what you said, take the chance. I've got to make a living even if it's for my own selfish reasons."
Lili could only smile. "Selfish reasons, huh?"
"I want to be successful. I want to survive. I want to taste the sweetness of being alive." He said, a smile and a distant look on his face. "All of my goals revolve around me."
"Not necessarily, have you ever thought of who you could influence or inspire as you try to reach your goals?"
Michael gave a hearty laugh. "Probably, you've got to take care of yourself before you're ready to take on anyone. Anyway, I like your thinking." He finished, standing up to ruffle her hair and then walk away. Lili wondered how such an ambitious man ended up needing help from the government to get the basic necessities. Not that she was one to question, she had goals too.
Night time had finally come and some people were setting up their mats on the floor, some parents watching over their children. Lili took a mat that was stored in the ship's cabinets and carefully unfolded it, setting it on the wooden floor. With a yawn, she sat on the mat opening her bag and taking out an old watch. Eleven-thirty, it read. It was broken, but she wouldn't be surprised if it was already that late. She couldn't sleep properly in a place filled with people she didn't know.
She heard that the ship was going to stop by a place tomorrow as she heard from the others. There were rumours that it would probably be in London and the first fifty or so would be lucky enough to be dropped there as they could start early, before getting caught up in the winter. Lili honestly didn't know how long she was going to last in the ship, so she hoped she would be able to reach London at least. After some thinking, Lili felt her eyes grow heavy and she thought of going to sleep. She lay down on the mat with her almost-empty bag and closed her eyes, seeing the sun and stepping on land in mind.
(The prologue and 1st chapter is stuck together since I have no idea on how you can add a page.)
People age, things come and go but the clock does not tick and the day does not dim. When Lili Jones, a girl from poverty reunites with a childhood friend, they create a goal. To make up for the home that Lili never experienced and keep the clock moving. "'Cause it's the constant thought of avoiding death that makes us alive." After all, life is hard for a person living in a world with a language she does not speak and a currency she does not own.