Squalor (Romance)

Part I

Meredith sat quietly near the entrance to a shopping centre on a busy pedestrian street in the beating heart of Dublin. Most shoppers wouldn’t even notice that she was there. Occasionally, one would stop and hand her some change. Rarely, would a word be said between them. Not that she wanted to talk. Her worst fear was that someone, even a remote acquaintance might vaguely recognize her from her old life. The shame of being seen living like this. Her once beautiful jet black hair was now frazzled and dirty, her jumper and jeans, old and ripped. Once her life had seemed so full of potential, she had never envisioned that she would end up living like this, especially at twenty-five years of age. That is what brought her all this way from the county of Cork.

This was her favorite spot during the day. An excellent view and a small bit of shelter. Later, she would find somewhere more secluded for the night perhaps in the doorway of an apartment block or in an abandoned building. Somewhere relatively safe, compared to the homeless shelters where she would be hassled for sex and face the temptation of drugs. She was clean over two months now and that was something she was quietly proud of. But the pull of heroin was never far from her thoughts.

It was a warm summers day, which Meredith preferred to the cold but it brought its own problems. The scorching heat of the ground and the intense glare of the sun. The smell of burgers from the McDonald’s restaurant down the street tormented her. It would be a few hours till the soup kitchen opened, she would just have to wait.

She spent a few minutes just watching the various people go up and down the street. They all seemed happy or at least content in their lives. There was a group of girls giggling, two men holding hands in a romantic embrace and a a group of african men among the milieu. Then she spotted a man in a wheelchair buzzing past on the opposite side of the street. She had seen him several times over the last few weeks. He was around her age, always immaculately dressed in a suit. and always in an apparent rush to his destination.

She thought of asking him where he was in a rush to but he wouldn’t want someone like her talking to him. The smell alone would make him run a mile, if he could run that is. Oh, how she would love to have someone in her life, even just for a chat but who would want her?

Part II

Aaron had taken to the city centre living as well as he had envisioned. He had always liked the city life and still wanted the hustle and bustle, despite now being a quadriplegic. There was nothing he liked more than whizzing up and down the busy streets in his wheelchair. Just looking at all the different people and the goings on.

The only thing that saddened him were the homeless people he would see. It shamed the great people of Dublin that people lived in such destitution. But most people of the city were living good lives filled with cappuccinos and vegan sausage rolls.

Aaron was on his way back to his apartment block when he noticed something that he found concerning. It had been a sweltering day but it was now somewhat cooler in the evening. There was a man dressed in rags that seemed to be bothering a homeless woman. One that he had seen regularly about the place. He anxiously looked around the street to see if there was someone else to intervene but the once crowded street was now far more deserted.

He felt compelled to act. He turned the cursor of his controller and headed towards them.

“Hey leave her alone!” Aaron shouted.

The man looked visibly stunned.

“Mind yer business, this has nothing to do with you,” he replied angrily. The woman was now visibly upset with tears streaming down over her red cheeks.

“Leave her alone or I’ll ram you!”

There was a sound of people approaching in the distance now.

“Oh, fuck the lot of yez.” With that he quickly walked away much to Aaron’s relief. Any ramming would probably have injured him more than the other guy.

“You okay?

“Yes, am fine. Thanks for that.”

For a few moments, a silence descended between them.

“Will you be okay? He won’t come back tormenting you?”

“No, I’ll go to a safe spot. I’ll be fine.”

With that she got up and quickly walked away.

Part III

Merideth was so thankful that the gentleman in the wheelchair had intervened when he did. Her knight in shining armour, with a wheelchair for a horse. The thought made her smile. That was Garrick that had been bothering her, pestering her to do a trick for him.

“You did before. What’s wrong with ya? And ya can get yourself some dope. You like that, don’t ya”

He knew I had changed, but he wouldn’t listen.

“Too good for me now or somethin’”

Yes, she had done it before. Not just with him but with many others. Men of all ages and the odd woman. It sickened her, brought to the fore all the reasons that she had fled Cork in the first place. The touching and the fear of hearing footsteps during the night in a place where she should have been able to feel safe, by someone who should have been protecting not tormenting her. In desperation, she fled. But in her despair, the draw of the next fix had been too much and she submitted to further torment by strangers in return. She wondered what would that nice guy in the wheelchair think of her if he knew? Would he have bothered to come to her aid?

She had been quick to leave. Not, because she wasn’t thankful but because she was embarrassed by her appearance. It was different because he had really seen her, something that hadn’t happened in so long. Afterwards, she fled to the only spot where she could feel secure, under a disused bridge. It provides shelter and the heaps of rubbish along with the rats dissuades any threat of company.

It pained her to think that this might be the closest thing she would ever have to a place called home. She tried her best never to think about the future, because it was something that didn’t exist for people like her. There was no future, only future torment.

A few days later, she spotted her Knight. She was walking behind him, but no sound would come from her mouth. Not just the one time either. Better to stay in the shadows.

Part IV

Aaron thought that he had prepared for everything. That his life was now perfectly in order and that there was no impediment that could get in his way. Not a bad achievement for a quadriplegic, he would often think to himself. He had managed to get his life back on track after his accident. The large payout helped, but so did his own determination and resolve. Now, he had a lovely two bedroom ground floor apartment and made extra money trading shares online, something that he had gotten very good at. An older Lithuanian lady called Martha would come and look after the cleaning, cooking and some personal care.

Yeah, so he had it made. Or at least he thought he had. He still remembers the first time he heard about the coronavirus, later called Covid-19. Being a trader, he needed to know everything that was happening around the world, especially things that might move the markets up or down. There were just news reports about a new mystery flu breaking out in China. At first, it didn’t cause him or the markets much concern. But that dramatically changed as the months passed. He had managed to trade well and avoid the losses that had destroyed others. But now the virus was in Dublin, directly threatening the safety of both himself and those around him.

The entire country was due to go into lock-down that night. Martha had rang him terrified that morning to say that she was too scared to leave the house and would be unable to come. This was a major problem. There were certain things that he required assistance for like shopping and cooking that would become very problematic fast. It didn’t sound like Martha would be showing up for some time.

A huge flaw in his whole strategy was now apparent. He had isolated himself too much since his accident, moving away from his friends and aging parents. Martha was an informal worker too so there wasn’t going to be any disability organizational inquiring if he would be okay.

The stress suddenly was becoming too much, so he decided to drive around the streets in his wheelchair to clear his head. The bustling streets now had a quiet and eerie feeling, they were all but deserted. Then he saw her in the distance, the homeless woman that he often called his shadow to himself. They had never spoken since the incident but would often see and smile at each other. Aaron had thought it best not to approach her, she might have a drug and alcohol problem.

But this was a disaster scenario and he headed straight towards her.

“Hey, hows things?”

For a brief moment she seemed stunned.

“Yeah I’m good.”

“I know this is going to sound really strange but I’m in a bit of a crisis. You’ve probably heard about the virus and that. My helper isn’t coming later. Would you be able to help me out for a day or two. I’m not a perv or anything.”

“Yeah I’ll help you. Just tell me what you need me to do?”

“Thanks a million. What’s your name? If you can just follow me.”

“Meredith and yours?”


Part V

Meredith knew exactly where Aaron was leading her, but decided it was best to pretend that she didn’t. Cause well, that would just be creepy and she didn’t want to weird out her new friend. She had often thought what it would be like inside his apartment. On long, cold nights she imagined it almost as a palace. A palace of plenty and warmth where they had no time for the likes of her.

But in reality she knew that it had to be smaller than her dreams. This was Dublin city centre with its sky high rents after all. It only took them a few minutes to reach their destination. The door automatically opened as they approached.

“There’s a sensor in my coat pocket that sends a signal to open the door.”


She had seen it occur numerous times before but often wondered how it worked. She had falsely come to the conclusion that it must be a camera that automatically opened the door.

Somewhat strangely, she felt nervous at the prospect of going inside. But this was not an opportunity that she could let slide, and so she forced herself on-wards.

“Well, what do you think?”

“It’s beautiful.”

And to her, it truly was. Two large bedrooms, an open plan sitting room/kitchen, with a large tv, then a computer on one side with an oven on the other. A large mahogany table took pride of place in the centre.

“So the thing is I need someone to cook and do a bit of cleaning for me. Can you cook? There’s food in the fridge. I’m starving.”

“Yes, I can do that. What would you like?”

“Maybe some rashers and sausages, with a bit of potato. Make some for yourself too.”

Meredith wasn’t going to argue with him. It had been hours since she had a bite to eat. She just hoped that he wasn’t going to sit and watch as there were one or two knobs that she had to figure out.

“You can watch the tv, if you like? I’ll be fine.”

“Yes, I’ll do that.”

Aaron turned on the news. There was only one item being discussed.

Part VI

For almost everyone, Covid was a time of dread but from Meredith’ perspective, rarely had life been so good. To feel the drops of warm water splashing against her face as she had a shower felt like pure luxury. That and the fact that she didn’t need to worry where her next meal was coming from, at least for now. It had taken some doing to readjust to sleeping in a bed, it was just so soft. In fact, she couldn’t sleep at all till she tried the floor on her first night there. Hopefully, she’d get back to sleeping in a bed for the full night at some stage.

Two days had now passed since he had taken her in and it had been pure bliss. She still had no idea what Aaron did for a living, just that it used words such as “leverage”, “call” and “put”. He had insisted on buying her some new clothes.

“I can’t have you going round the apartment in rags. It just wouldn’t be right.”

She didn’t argue.

The apartment was the ideal size for them. She got to see plenty of him during the day, but there was still somewhere for them to go if they wanted some alone time, which was never for her but she knew that he needed to work.

She loved the time she got to spend with him, he was quirky but they shared the same sense of humour and that made the days fly-by, He also had a warm side and seemed to be genuinely concerned about her. They had spent hours discussing obscure sci-fi shows and they both loved nature documentaries, although he would laugh when she didn’t want to see the lions hunting. But, at least he would switch the channel. That was what she liked most about him, his tender side.


Aaron looked shocked when she entered the living area after the shower and putting on some of her new clothes.


“You look amazing Meredith. You really do spruce up well.”

Mededith suddenly felt herself hotting up. It had been so long since anybody had paid her a compliment, not to mention from a handsome man her own age, part of her just wanted to cry. It didn’t matter to her that he used a wheelchair, she wanted to run her hands through his hair, to touch those thin arms. To get lost in those brown eyes. She quickly went to the couch to regain her composure.

Aaron suggested they watch a film for the rest of the evening. It was at best only somewhat entertaining. Parts of it, a terrible bore.

“I think I’ll let you pick the film next time.”

“Yes, I think so, it couldn’t be any worse!” she laughed.

But all she really wanted to do was to snuggle up to him.

Part VII

Aaron found that he was enjoying having Meredith around and was surprised by how well they got on together. True, she still had no idea of how he managed to make money over the internet trading stocks and calls, but the same was true of almost everybody he knew. It wasn’t something that he could hold against her. And anyway, he didn’t want female company so that he could talk about stocks and calls anyway.

It was the fact that they could talk about almost everything else. He found that he looked forward to the beginning of each day whereas before he had been pretty ambivalent. She had really blossomed since her arrival when she would barely speak a word.

“So what is your favourite film?” he had asked tentatively the previous night.

“The Dark Night.”

Her cheeks turned crimson.

“No way, I love that film. Definitely, the best Batman film eva! Pity that the Joker actor died afterwards, such a great actor.”

“Yes, I was gutted when he died. So you like Batman too?”

She really was his type of woman, most of their interests were similar. And he couldn’t believe how good she looked after she had showered and put on some fresh clothes after her first day there; her piercing blue eyes, flowing dark hair and warm smile. He would love to kiss her and run his hands through her hair. To feel her warm breasts against his chest.

But it wouldn’t be right. She was a vulnerable woman, he didn’t want to take advantage of the situation and the circumstances that she found herself in. He liked her too much for that. Then again, if she did tell him to get lost it would make everything awkward and he still needed her to help him, at least for another while.

He would just have to try and keep his amorous thoughts to himself.

It would be difficult. Tonight they were going to watch a film and have some drinks afterwards. She had made him promise.


It was time for them to decide what film they were going to watch. Aaron had finally finished trading for the day.

“What about contagion?”, he inquired.

“Ya must be joking. Sure we’re practically in that film. We don’t need remindin’.”

Well, if she likes Batman, she’ll probably like Marvel, he thought to himself.

“What about “Wonder Woman? Have you seen that yet?”

“No, that would be excellent.”

Meredith sat down on a chair in front of the television and Aaron pulled up his wheelchair beside her.

Aaron was quickly able to find it on Netflix and the film began to play.

There was an air of excitement in the room.

During an early fighting scene Meredith turned to him and said –

Would ya like a woman like that protecting you from the bad guys?”

“I think I’m screwed.”

“Not at all, I’d protect you.”

Aaron found the comment somewhat erotic as he glanced at the beautiful woman sitting beside him.

The film was long but entertaining.

“Sorry, can you adjust my backrest.”

She had done it many times before but not while she was sitting beside him. She leaned over pulling him forward while she pushed it over. Aaron could feel feel her soft hair against his cheek and the smell of sweet perfume.

“Wow you smell nice.”

She turned and looked at him straight in the eyes.

“Just for you.”

Then they kissed. Her lips were soft. It was gentle at first but then the passion grew. Arron began to stroke his hands through her hair. He could feel her hands upon his chest.

“Let’s go to your bedroom,” she whispered in his ear.

“Yes, lets.”

It didn’t take long for them to get undressed. She didn’t ask him about the colonoscopy bag, protruding from his body. Aaron felt her ample soft cleavage, then she sucked on his nipples.

“What next?” she asked seeking direction.

“Stand next to me.”

Then he went down her, twisting his tongue this way and that, and afterwards she on him. He explained that he couldn’t get fully hard since his accident but she told him that everything was great with a wide smile and enjoy as best he could.

Exhausted, they then fell asleep in each others arms.

(Note from Author – If you enjoy my writing, don’t forget to follow me on my blog by signing up, my twitter @markahern2000 or on facebook – markswritingcorner. I also currently have four novels for sale on Amazon

Should I turn this into a novel? Would love to hear your thoughts!)