"Go away! Why are you still here?"
"He stinks! Does he even clean himself?"
"Grass! What makes you think you can be here!?"
These are the words that I have to hear every day.
"Come on! Kick him! Burn down his house! Break his legs! Let's see how stubborn you are!"
"You are 'Grass' right? That means even if I beat you to death, you won't die. So why don't you just stay still and let me relieve my stress."
And these, are the actions that I have to endure every night.
My name is Do and I am a garbage collector.
I don't know who I am or what I did, but people in the South City despised me and tried to avoid my presence.
I came to this city seven years ago when I had with me only injuries and starvation.
I have lost all my memories, the only thing I could remember was my name, Do. It was the only possession that I have.
The day I came to South City, barely survived, the only hands that reached me were of a young lady of a well-known family, Ly. She treated my wounds and gave me bread. That was the first and only encounter of us.
And so, to find a chance to repay her, and to be able to see the young lady often, I decided to stay here and took a job as a garbage collector. Since no one wanted to hire me, and people around kept calling me 'Grass,' collecting garbage was the only job that was left for me to do.
But even with that much hate and discrimination, I didn't take it to heart because staying at South City and being able to see the young lady often was my purpose.
Every morning, after the usual curses I had to hear, I would wait outside her family's residence to see if she would go out with her maid to play around town. I tried my best to hide my presence and follow them.
I knew that it was stalking and creepy, but I couldn't help myself. Seeing her face smiling while wandering the streets and being in awe at things that are being sold. Her happy face so early in the morning helped lighten my mood after a rough morning.
After a day of work, I would check to see how many scraps I had collected that day and put them in the storage room so that I could sell them all at once on the weekend. I tried to keep the room very hidden so that when any of my neighbors decided to burn down the house, they would still be fine.
Then, I prayed that no one would show up to beat me. My prayers were rarely answered. I would usually end up with bruises and swellings. After those hellish moments, I tried to stay positive by cooking some food and enjoying it with a cheap tea.
That was my life every day for the past seven years. Until that night.
That night, that fateful night. I waited, prepared mentally to be beaten up again, but no one came that day. Happy that I was safe, I cooked something delicious and ate while gazing at the night sky. Not far into the meal, suddenly, yells and screams began to rise outside of my house. Curious, I put down the bowl and moved toward the sound. Peaking through the small crack of the door, I looked to see what was happening.
"Why are people running?" I wondered and came out. Seeing a guy running past me, I grabbed him and asked, "What's happening?"
He spoke panicky, "Didn't you hear? The Ly are attacking us right now! I need to get out of here!" He then pushed my hand away and continued running.
"The Ly got here already?" I panicked as well, but not because of my safety. In my mind was only the face of the young lady.
I immediately ran inside to grab my cooking knife and took down a side of the door as a shield. Going against the crowd was hard. But eventually, I arrived at the lady's family's residence. It was wide open and my heart raced faster than ever. I quickly moved close to the gate and leaned my head in to see if it was safe inside.
The sight of what I saw almost made me puke. Bodies of the family and servants lying in the yard. Every nerve in my body and every primal instinct wanted me to run away from the scene as far as possible, but I used all my courage to stay. I won't leave until I know what happened to the young lady.
As I cautiously moved inside with my eyes squinted and hands covering my mouth, I could feel and hear the blood splashes on the ground because of my steps. The strong scent of blood violently seeped through my fingers and entered my nose. I couldn't take it, but thinking of the young lady, I have to make sure she is fine.
I looked all over the residence but couldn't find her. A sigh of relief from me knowing that at least she could be alive.
"She must be running away out of South City already," I suspected.
Now my mission was to get out of there, flee, and find her. I walked back to the gate but then heard a strange sound.
"Horses! They're here!" I quickly looked around to find somewhere to hide. Not good. I was in the front yard and it was as open as it can be, there was no place to hide. As I was running out of options, I noticed that there was a bush at a very hidden corner, and behind it was an old well.
Without hesitation, I dropped the door and ran to it as fast as I could, praying that the sound of splashing blood from the running would be hidden by the horses' steps. I jumped in and closed my eyes, praying that the well wasn't shallow.
Lucky for me it was full of water, and I landed safely after a few seconds of falling down. But then, I noticed there was a person alive and hiding as well. It was too dark to see their face, but I quickly covered their mouths because they were about to yell in shock.
"I am not an enemy," I quickly assured them. Feeling their breathing had stabilized, I felt relieved as well, but I didn't remove my hand. I couldn't risk them accidentally yelling and revealing our position.
A long silence passed and my mind was stressed to the max.
"I heard them coming in, but not out, so they are still here. But why wasn't there any sound?" As I was thinking that, I heard footsteps coming closer and closer to the well. I quickly told the person, "Deep breath," and we both submerged in the water.
I looked up to see a glimpse of light above us. The soldier above didn't move for a while, and our breath was getting dangerously close to the limit. The person next to me started to move around, struggling. They were almost out of air. Afraid that their movement would reveal us, I moved behind them and held both their arms down. After about five seconds, they moved less and less. I instantly knew that wasn't a good sign. We need air quickly, I am at my limit too. I looked up, but the light above us still hadn't moved.
"Don't know if this will work, but that's the only choice right now," I thought and placed my lips on theirs to transfer some air. Their lips were soft and full, but I didn't really care about it much. It didn't matter right now if the person was a man, a woman, or even if it was my first kiss. Saving their life was more important.
As I was transferring my air, I began to run out of breath myself. I planned to only give them a little bit since I was at my limit as well, but as I was about to move my head away, they grabbed my head to keep it in place and began sucking the air out of me. I didn't know if they were acting intentionally or just instinct, but at this rate, I would faint.
I quickly pushed them away so hard that they hit the well wall. Afraid that the sound of it would give us away, I looked up to see if the lantern was still there. Thank god it was gone, otherwise, the soldier would see the violent movement of water of us struggling.
I moved toward the person and pulled us up. It was the first time in my life that I was grateful to breathe. I checked to see how they were doing. Luckily, they were still conscious and were breathing heavily like me. Remembering that the enemy might still be around. I let out a quiet "shh" to tell them to breathe silently. After a time like an eternity of not hearing any sound, we were able to relax.
"I think it's safe now. Let's climb up." I told the person.
"I don't know how to climb," it was a woman's voice.
"I will climb up first and find something to pull you up," I said.
"Okay," she agreed and nodded.
I then put my two hands and feet on the wet stones horizontally and slowly moved up. The stones were slippery, but I managed to get myself out of there. I quickly found a rope in the storage room and pulled the lady out.
The moment her hands grabbed the well, I grabbed it and pulled her up. We were finally out. Both of us sat down to catch our breath. I looked over to see the face of who I was with, and I was stunned.
It was the young lady that I loved. My head blanked out, and my heart felt like it had stopped. A feeling of joy rushed into me but at the same time fear as well.
"She's not out of the city," the realization frightened me.