When in doubt, a stain is usually a good thing to compare yourself with. Well if you're me, at least. As one of the only people who seem to believe in common sense anymore, anyone else would be sure to throw a fit. We have a lot in common, stains and me, and it helps, especially during the soft times, to remind myself of the list:

5 reasons why I am similar to a stain
by Ketta Kopinski

1. We both make a lot of trouble for ourselves, just by existing. And I'll tell you now, that's not fun.
2. We both have strange and irregular appearances.
3. Because of our strange and irregular appearances, the grid-people we meet have one out of two reactions: they try their best to avoid us (which I really don't mind since I never liked those soft grid-people anyway) or they try to get rid of us (Which I mind quite a lot actually.)
4. Both me and stains are very persistent and stubborn, something that I'm pretty proud of myself, but perhaps I should try to control, just in case
5. It would take you a long time searching this city to find either me or a stain, because… well…

The city I live in is not the best place to call home. But this is only because every other city in the world has exactly the same standards. If they're all the same, how can one be the best?

The thing is, everything in this city has an identical counterpart in every other city in the entire world. Every street corner, every building, every park and every tree and every, you get the picture. That's what they tell us at least. There's no way of me actually knowing since I've never been outside this city, but that's what they say. That everything is same. Then again, they also said that everything is perfect. Man did they get that wrong.

If everything was perfect, then I wouldn't be here. I'm not supposed to be here. I'm not supposed to exist (see listed points numbers 1 and 3). I'm the one that grid-people either don't know about, don't care about, or find absolutely disgusting, and sometimes all three. I am the opposite of whatever it is a kid is supposed to be. Especially during the soft times. I am the stain.

So there cannot be a better without a worse. Incase you've never noticed calling something worse than another thing often upsets some people. So the Icons, the ruling power of our world, make sure that no city's better than any other. So that they're all the same. So they're all the best. They're all the worst too, but I might get arrested if I said that out loud, as if I wouldn't get arrested already. It must be nice, you might think, to live somewhere so rich and luxurious (and stain resistant). Yeah, sure, for the most part. And maybe if I wasn't me.

Right now I'm standing with the dark breeze in my flippy hair, on the edge with my eyes closed so I can't see anything. I take a deep breath in though my nose. Where I am I can just make out the topmost whiffs of the artificial air-freshner begging to seep into the atmosphere. I clench the iron railing beneath my hands. Every day it's a different flavour, effect to the word flavour. Down on the ground, the scent is s strong, you could take a bite out of the air and then need some chlorine to wash it down with. And it's always something sweet. Disgusting sweet. Today, it's soft and tangy pears with white-chocolate ice cream. Even when I'm way up here, the tangy bit pinches the inside of my nostrils, it isn't so bad. It's the sickly syrupy sweetness that makes me want to keep my eyes shut, then ball up all my saliva in my mouth just so that I'll have something better to taste. Considering what I eat sometimes, that's saying something.
"At least It's not cherry" I say aloud to myself, still with my eyes shut. I hate cherry.

At this time in the morning, the city is so completely silent, I can hear the wind blow through two buildings a few blocks away. The wind whistling in the plasti-glass. As soon as I realize this I instantly freeze. Had someone possibly heard me? I someone finds me up here, it's just a phone call away from capture. I have a dozen prices on my head just for being here. I quickly dismiss the thought, since no one is up yet, except me of course. Not even the dessentaphs (city workers created by the Icons)

I open my eyes to confirm my logic. I big dark expanse of cityscape looms out in front of me, the breeze pushing my hair in front of my face. I spare a second to push it out of my eyes. I'll have to cut it again soon, it's almost past my shoulders. Not a single light is on for all the buildings. It's a rare thing to see this city with out light. During the day, even when it rains the sun is out and shining. Eventually, dawn will crack and the day will begin, but now I can barely make out the first rays of the sun colouring a slightly lighter blue in the east.

Time to get going then.

I take one las look at the darkened city far below me and turn to face my makeshift room. It's not really a room, more like a hutch on a ledge on the side of a building hundreds of feet above the ground. I have hung a small tarp on a few metal pipes that I picked up a while back to make myself a roof. Under this, I've placed everything else I own, which isn't much.

Due to the nature and general theme of my life, I have learned to carry my life in a bag. The duffle bag in question is probably the cleanest thing I own, on the outside anyway. The colour is something the grid-people might call deep sea or worse navy blue. I don't even know what a navy is. Some kind of animal perhaps? Whatever, it's a softy term for what I call dark blue. Pretty intense right? Anyway, despite the colour, I try to my wits end to keep any blemishes off of it, which is where my persistence really pays off. Like I might have mentioned, me and stains tend to stand out involuntarily. I try to blend in as much a possible despite my nature, and obvious stains are a dead give away. I'll probably get fined.

Inside the bag, on the other hand, the blue (whatever you call it) fabric is almost unrecognizable. After so many years of squashing extra food in there and leaky drink containers, it's absolutely incrusted with stains. I disinfect it all of course, there's no need to go on and catch some disease just because of a few mouldy blotches. It's where I keep my food, so I've gotta keep it clean. Not only because some of my food might get contaminated, but also to keep out any pests that might be looking for a free meal. Only citizens on the grid get free meals. Excluding me of course. I'm not on the grid.

I pack up my tent, then the rest of my belongings.

Some stuff to pack when you live like me:
by Ketta Kopinski

1. Various sizes of tubber-wear containers.
2. Spray bottle of disinfectant
3. Home-made grappling hook
4. Super fibre sleeping bag (thin warm and durable)
5. Food

I stop for a sec and realize that I'm missing one of these items from my bag. Breakfast - food. All that's left in my tubber-wear food container is crumbs from yesterday's lunner.

Lunner: noun ('lŭn-nĕr). A term invented by yours truly, referring to a larger meal substituting both lunch and dinner, and eaten usually between 2:00 and 4:30 in the afternoon, on the best of days.

Yes I invented my own mealtime. If that surprises you, you should see the I actually eat. Sometimes, I don't even understand how I manage to keep some of that stuff down. I just do, and I like it too. It's way better then the pre-made stuff people on the grid eat. That stuff tastes like the air freshener: sweet to the point of inedible.

So if I don't get my food delivered to my doorstep (If I even had a doorstep) every day like the citizens do, how do I get my food? I might have mentioned this earlier, but I'm not exactly on the cozy side of the law. Most of the time I steal the photo-food that the civilians keep in their pantries for show. People just have that stuff to make it look like they actually make their own food from time to time. Stealing a bit of it from the show-stock isn't making anyone upset. I still have to be somewhat sneaky about it, so that no one notices. I'm pretty much the only one in this city who steals food, best not to leave a trail.

I grab my duffle bag and take a last look at my temporary home. I will not be able to use this place again a while. Curiosity may have killed the cat but it was routine that set'm up. Speaking of cat, I haven't seen my pet alley animal in a while. I don't have a name for him, since I only see him every once in a while. He's got his hiding to do too, but sometimes our paths cross and we exchange goods. I give him a bit of the dried meat that I keep for emergencies, and he'll give me some dead mouse he caught or something. If you ever have a pest problem, he's the cat to call.

I can see the first of the dessentaphs clearly marked by their luminescent hair and uniforms, they start to file into the streets to begin their day. I best get some eats before the lights get the juice flowing and the day starts officially. I say a last goodbye to my little pad, walk to the very edge of the building, and jump.

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