There was never enough food.
There was never enough food and the streets and people smelled the same – it wasn’t pleasant, and as I grew I became repulsed by my fellow country people.
So I watched, waited, learned. Like most of the other children I grew up around my schooling was minimal. I learned simple math, my letters, how to read the signs plastered to the walls outside buildings. Fresh Meat! Workers Wanted! Or less interesting ones proclaiming the end of the world was neigh or that such and such public figure was a fraud. I suppose I was lucky in that I grew up in a large city instead of out in the country, where the land was harsh and it was nearly impossible to make a living growing produce or raising cattle. In the city there were people to pick pocket, there were carts to pilfer from and, if you were very lucky, someone might notice you and teach you what they knew.
Such was my case, but it was a rough journey, to stand out in a crowd. One human among thousands. One hungry child in a crowd of hungry children whose blank faces all looked the same. But I had a skill most of them did not. I was patient. I was silent, watching and waiting. Where my formal education was lacking I filled the gaps with knowledge I found to be far more valuable – the daily routines of law enforcement (allowing me to plot and time my takings as to not be caught), how to rotate between stands and carts so that I would not be noticed, how to blend in seamlessly so that I could see everything and everyone without being seen.
As a child, those were the most important to me. As I grew older I added to my bank of knowledge, learning who the local few wealthy were, the names of the well-off merchants and news of the lands that stretched far out beyond my own. But none of that mattered as a child.
Nothing mattered but the hunger I felt and the desire I had to leave, and to never return.