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He was sitting on a bench at the corner of 9th and 9th, a normal man, a man that could be your father, teacher or uncle’s dentist. By all means, a typical, average middle-aged man. A man that you could’ve walked by every morning and not thought twice about, but for some reason, this perfectly adequate man had captivated my attention from my luncheon snack, my curiosity sprung a leak, and I was completely and utterly engrossed with him.
He was in hunched over position, elbows resting on knees, staring out into a world only he could see. For a moment he seemed entranced in thought then he reluctantly pulled himself back to the present, running a hand through a tousle of black hair sprouting from is exhausted features. His expression was one of loss; but not the kind most associated with the word. More of a loss of mystic, an intangible more personal flavor of the emotion.
My eye’s countinued to trace every inch of his body, taking in his well rugged suit protruding over his slight beer bully. His shoes were well worn, yet newly polished giving the appearance of a beaten yet still hopeful man. I watched as his left pocket lit up as he received a text, email or something of the sort. He whipped out his blackberry with the suave only a businessman can muster and heavily tapped away the message with his second finger, armed with a wedding ring.
His dark brown iris flicked in my direction, I dropped my gaze away from him quickly but not quick enough to share a harsh moment of awkward eye contact. I grabbed my belongings anxious to remove my self from the premises before I was caught staring again. I began a brisk walk back to school, trying to look natural as I sauntered by the bench he was sitting on.
Wether it was fate or my consistency of clumsiness, my notebook slipped out of my embrace, toppling downward on the cement just a step before the man’s bench. I stared at it a moment, honestly debating leaving it, then with a slight murmur to myself about fortitude; went to retrieve it.
Before I could reach it a hand slipped past mine, grabbing the notebook and flipping threw its contents. I stood back up and was only half-surprised to see the man gingerly leafing through some of my work.
“You’re a writer?” he said handing me back my journal after a moment
“I’m trying”, I said hesitantly, he gave me a questioning look “I’m trying to be, I mean”.
“What do you write about?” I cringed at the amount of sadness leaking through his voice.
“I don’t know.” I stuttered, “I mean nothing. Or everything”
He nodded, his eye’s returning to there glaze over state; we stood there for a moment, two average strangers lost in thought. “Will you remember me?” he says jarring me awake from my over analazation of him.
It took me a moment to collect myself enough to respond to his strange question what did he want me to say to this? What would trigger this sporadic thought? I skimmed through about a thousand responses in my mind, some long, some short some honest some lies. In the end I finally gave a simple nod of my head and replied, “Yes”. But when I looked up to meet his eye’s confidently with my response he had already began to walk away.
“I’ll remember you” I whispered, I waited for some impossible acknowledgement that he had heard my response, but of cores none came. I sighed and sat down on his bench, resting my elbows on my knees in the concave position I first saw him in.
On a whim I opened my notebook, scavenged for a pen and soon found my hand artfully crafting a story about this Man. My imagination took off and soon I had a wonderfully raw tale of this individual’s life, I smiled pleased with my work. I flipped back to the begging and began editing and switching words, making it more pleasant here more depressing there. But eventually my hand stopped, my mind drifting off to another thought.
That man wanted me to remember him; he presented me with such raw intense inspiration. Yet here I was selfishly claiming a scene in his miserable life and using it for my own benefit. I pursed my lips, and hesitantly ripped out my short fictional story about him, crumpled the papers and shoved them into my backpack.
My pen hovered of my notebook again, heavy with inspiration but far more hesitant. Cautiously, I began recording the scene I had just witnessed, milking my brain for every detail and murmuring angrily when I couldn’t remember the color of his shirt.
When my pen had dotted it’s last period, I was left with not just wily story but an honest one.
Inspiration has the uncanny ability to find you when you’re least expecting it, half the time it manages to slip away before you can even begin to capture it. All we can do is attempt to preserve those chilling moments before they morph into an incongruent memory. I’ll never know what the man was thinking or why I crossed paths with him that day, but one thing I know for sure he’ll always be remembered.