(title links to part 5)
Sister Joan walked between the cots in the basement of the church, made over to be a temporary home and she checked on all its inhabitants. Everyone was still asleep, some snored, one coughed, another turned over and pulled the blanket over his head. She looked out the small rectangular window that was right above street level. It was early Christmas morning and the sun was just starting to crest. She could see the light starting to reflect off the buildings outside, it was going to be a bright, but cold day. She walked towards the door, turned her head back to her sleeping flock and smiled, very satisfied with another nights protection the church was able to offer up, if but to a few. She looked up to her lord, said a quick grace and left the room to go see about breakfast for them.
Even though Frank wasn’t quite awake yet, he heard someone walking through the room and then the soft swish-clunk noise of the swinging doors. Frank felt warmth on his face saw bright light through his closed lids and acknowledged the sunshine. He rolled over off his side and onto his back, stretched his arms wide and let out a big yawn. He delayed opening his eyes, as he wanted to enjoy the last few seconds of peace that was offered before he opened them and a big dose of homeless reality hit. He listened to the sounds around him for a few minutes, people sleeping, some soundly, some restlessly. He opened his eyes and sat up on the cot, wrapping the blanket around his legs and feet. It was Christmas Day today, the 3rd Christmas he had spent homeless.
“Home is where the heart is.” He said to himself.
He reached for his shoes, a well worn pair of Nike’s, and slipped them on his feet. He hoped Sister Joan had come through like previous years and gotten winter donations for everyone here. He himself hoped for a pair of warm boots, new or used, he didn’t care, as long as his feet where warm he was good to go for just about anything. He laid the blanket on the bed, grabbed his small bag and headed off to the bathroom in hopes of showering in peace, before others woke up and came in. He had gotten used to the loss of privacy, but relished any chance he could get to have a little of it. Frank pushed through the swinging doors and immediately smelled a combination of smells, bacon, cinnamon, fresh baked bread. All those great smells made his stomach growl and grumble. He headed off to shower quickly then he would go find Sister Joan and see if he could help.
Frank showered quickly, both because it was cold and he wanted to have some time alone with Sister Joan to talk to her about his promise he made to himself the day before. He looked at the haggard face starting back at him in the mirror. “Wow,” he thought to himself, “How I have changed in these last few years.” He rubbed his hand across his chin, feeling the roughness of his skin and his beard. He really didn’t care for a beard but it did offer up some warmth from the cold outside. He looked at his eyes, they looked much older now but then again wiser also. The blue was lighter than it had been when he was younger, which made them stand out even more against his black hair. He sighed and reached into his bag for his other set of clothes and dressed quickly, then headed off for the kitchen.