It didn’t matter that they were both on opposite ends of the bus stop. He has a wild, unkempt look that made her sit at the edge of the seat, alert and aware. She couldn’t help keeping both eyes subtly on him, watching and observing his slumped form. His clothes seemed of good-quality, but were washed out and soaked in rainwater, smeared by mud and torn – because of a brawl in the rain? Or because of a fall?
But it was his face that held her attention. It was etched with some strong emotion, could it be grief, fear, anger, even despair? It was impossible to single out a clear feeling. Perhaps it was a mixture of all of them, for there was agony in his eyes as he stared blankly into the rain. His jaw was clenched, and he looked from the dark sky to his empty hands as if praying for a miracle to fall into them.
She shook her head slightly. Her imagination was getting away from her. Whatever that was in his eyes must be from one drink too many. In everyone’s eyes, he is nothing but a drunken beggar. She smoothed the folds of her crisp, well-ironed black skirt and checked her watch. The rain continued to pour. She went back to her book, but her thoughts were on him. After a while she sighed to herself. Whatever he looked like, he was wet and miserable. That was undeniable. Would he get sick? Can he afford medicine? Would he be ok? She grimaced. You are not his mother! She chided. Mind your own business!
A car stopped in front of her, distracting her from her conflicting thoughts. She rose up as the window of the car rolled down. Out of the corner of her, she noticed the man shifting his gaze towards her.
“Thanks so much for your umbrella! Did you wait long? You wouldn’t believe how many of us at the office didn’t bring umbrellas.”
“No problem,” she smiled, groaning inwardly was she wondered whether the cheap umbrella survived more than half an hour of the pounding rain.
“See you Monday.”
The window rolled up and she raised a hand as it disappeared into the rain. She glanced down at her umbrella and winced when she saw at the cracked handle. Rolling her eyes, she turned back to gather her things and found the man with his face in his hands, a soft moan from his lips.
She stared at him.
Don’t bother…don’t talk to strangers…mind your own business…he’s up to no good…walk away! Her brain screamed at her the advice she heard her whole life.
You believe too much in people for your own good. Her mother’s words came sharply into her mind.
Sensing her stare, he turned to look up at her. For one long moment, they stared at one another.
Then she took a breath and stepped forward.
She took another breath, held out her umbrella and asked him the question.
Bright sunlight hit her face, waking her. She groaned and turned over. She hurt everywhere. She sat up on the bed and stretched. Ow! She thought to herself as she heard her bones protest. Her eyes widened at the mess strewn on the floor – her shoes flung far from each other, her work clothes lay crumpled in a corner. She put her hand up to her hair and moaned when she felt the hair pins she forgot to pull out. This was going to be a painful morning.
She hugged around her arms around her knees, stared at the window and remembered all that had happened. Tears fell as she saw the thin faces of his daughters, pinched and worn by hunger. Her heart ached when she remembered the look on his wife’s face. She couldn’t hold back her sobs when she realized how blessed she was.
She looked up again with a smile spreading across her face. Her feet were blistered by running around town the whole of yesterday, but it was worth every minute. The joy that came after made every minute of the tiring day precious.
He found a job, finally. The smile on their faces was the miracle that she knew he needed. His family didn’t need to wonder how and when the next meal would come anymore. He didn’t have to beg any longer. He didn’t have to feel worthless, a failure. The anguish that was in his eyes had disappeared.
She slid off the bed onto her knees, a prayer of thanksgiving in her heart. Thank You, Lord.
Thank You, for urging me to take the chance. For opening my mouth. For asking the question:
Can I help you?
~was thinking about the commonwealth essay competition...and also remembering a man's face i saw during christmas. This is rather predictable though. Hopefully it's not too long or tedious for you to read =)