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Avery Tollin and That Old Man
Avery Tollin was sitting on the park bench. His knife in his hand.
He cut at his arm once.
Around the corner came an old man.
He cut again.
The old man looked at Avery hard. Long. With searching eyes.
Avery Slashed at his arm a third time.
“Why do you cut yourself. Why harm your own flesh?” The old man with searching eyes asked.
“That’s none of your business, old man. Leave me alone.” Avery answered bluntly, through teeth gritted in pain.
Blood stained the blade of his knife. Avery wiped it on his jeans leg.
“Go!” he shouted at the old man.
Avery pocketed the knife. He was done for the day.
“It is no business of mine, I’m sure. But that makes no difference whether or not I asked a question. And any polite young man should always answer to their elders.”
Avery pushed his long black hair from his eyes. The old man sat right next to him on the bench. Avery scooted from him.
“I told you once old man. It’s none of your business. Now beat it. I’m not in the mood to talk to old men. And,” he added with a smirk, “I’m not supposed to talk to strangers. Especially old men.”
Surprisingly, the old man did not take offence. In fact, he laughed. “Oh, I’m no stranger to you, boy. And you may not remember me, but I remember you.”
Avery just stood up and left, calling from behind his back, “Whatever, pedophile.”
Avery saw the old man again walking to school the next day. Monday. He would have normally just shrunk into the crowd. Been hidden in his friends.
But Avery didn’t have friends anymore. Not since he became who he was. He was always in a bad mood. Quick to anger. Not fun to be around. He had lost his friends. Only two had stuck around for a while. His best friend, Clay, and his girlfriend, Catie.
Even they left eventually.
Nobody was near him, he couldn't hide from the old man. So naturally, the old man walked over to Avery.
“Avery, I’d like to talk to you, if you don’t mind!” Called the old man.
“What! I don’t give a crap what you want from me! Leave me alone before I call the cops!”Avery exclaimed, becoming desperate.
“Avery, listen to me. You must not harm yourself. Depression is the key from happiness. People are the key to go back.” The old man said, his eyes pleading.
Avery noticed something. He had not told the man his name. When He realized that, he turned and ran. When he looked back over his shoulder, the old man was gone.
That night Avery went back to the park bench.
Again he took out his knife. He ignored the old man when he walked up to Avery.
“Avery, don’t you recognize me?” The old man asked.
“Yeah, I do recognize you. Now get away or I’ll call the police! I don’t need a creeper stalking me!” Avery replied.
He took his knife and cut his arm. He pocketed the knife. He stood up. He walked away.
The next time he saw the old man was the next Friday. The old man was talking to some little children, but he somehow didn’t seem in the slightest bit sketchy. The old man pointed the children towards Avery. The small girls and boys ran at Avery.
“Will you pway wif us mister?” The child was probably two. She was wearing a little dress, and somehow, the whole thing made Avery smile. He decided that playing with a bunch of toddlers felt better than cutting that day anyway.
Avery looked up at the old man. Who smiled. Then walked behind a tree, but did not come back the other side.
Avery became himself again. He threw away his knife, and his friends came back to him. He never saw the old man again. But he realized that people, they are the key back into happiness. And Avery could name one person who he knew was definitely the key back to happiness. He never forgot that old man.