A Passing Friendship This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   The train rattled along the tracks, bumping and bumbling through the hot, dusty countryside. Jim Harris, tired of watching the endless stream of trees and plains rolling by the window, decided to start up a conversation with his neighbor in the compartment.

"Where're you headed, sir?" he inquired tentatively. The man raised his bearded face, but any eye contact was interrupted by his dark glasses.

"Atlanta. How about you?"

"Same," was the slightly more confident response. "I'm just going home from my granddad's funeral."

"Oh, really? What happened to him?"

"Well, he was just gettin' old, really. He'd been sick for a while, and he just didn't get any better."

"That's too bad." The man paused. "My name's Adam Mitchell." He extended his hand, but Jim noticed that he reached out a bit to the left. He realized that the man must be blind. After a moment's delay, he grasped the man's hand and gave it a short, firm shake. Jim had always been proud of his ability to overlook someone's physical problems - such as blindness - in judging his or her personality.

"I'm James Harris. Pleased to meet you, Mr. Mitchell."

Their conversation went on to other subjects, such as professions and family life, and soon the train rumbled into the station in Atlanta. As he stood up, Mr. Mitchell produced a long, thin cane from behind the seats, confirming Jim's theory. Jim guided the blind man off the train, and they were leaving the station when a boy of about ten or eleven years walked past them.

"Ha! You damn nigger!" the boy exclaimed haughtily. Jim made no outward reaction to the insult, having found from past experience that it was best to ignore this sort of remark. But Adam Mitchell stopped dead in his tracks.

"You mean to tell me that you're black?!" he spat incredulously. Jim shifted uncomfortably, and there was an awkward moment of silence.

"Well, don't just stand there! Speak up for yourself!" came the blind man's retort, in a much less friendly voice than he had used in their previous conversation.

But Jim wasn't just standing there. In fact, he hardly heard Mr. Mitchell's words. He didn't need to; he'd heard it all before, too many times. He was already under the EXIT sign, walking quietly away from the sputtering man who didn't know what it meant to be white or black. fl


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

jord said...
Aug. 30, 2009 at 5:57 am
I think you should pick up on the irony more, how the blind man was blind from birth, etc. To convey to the reader more that he actually doesn't know what black and white mean.

Also, I think you should have prolonged the story a bit more.

But, all in all, I think it was a fantastic story, and has a great message behind it!
 
loosu replied...
Dec. 16, 2010 at 8:06 pm
it is very good bad
 
HBCdance This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 23, 2009 at 2:01 am
Short but sweet. It might have been a bit better if you HAD prolonged it a bit, elaborated on their conversation, per se. Then we would have gotten to know Mr. Mitchell a bit better, and would have been more surprised/insulted when he reacted negatively to Jim's color.

I think it was also lacking a bit of emotion. We didn't ever really get inside Jim's mind to find out what he thought of Mr. Mitchell at the end. Maybe if you had written it in first person...

A... (more »)
 
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