He sits on a bench on 72nd and Broadway. Feeding the pigeons. He smiles at them because they are so simple. They depend on him. For years New Yorkers have been feeding pigeons and have slowly revolutionized the way these birds survive. They depend on people like this man now. He feeds them his stale white bread and watches the vicious creatures fight for the crumbs. This makes him feel important. A little girl sits next to him. She is wearing red shoes. He smiles at her, his gold tooth glistening in the morning sunlight. The brisk air stings his lips as they stretch out into a bigger and bigger smile, until he can’t hold it any longer. The corners of his lips drop and suddenly wrinkles and a frown return to his face. His eyes remain smiling. The little girl has thin blonde hair and a purple jacket. She kicks her feet up high, pumping them in the air because she is not yet tall enough for the bench they sit atop. The man’s feet are firmly planted on the pavement. He reaches in his pocket. He pulls out a wilted flower and hands it to the little girl. She doesn’t want it. He sets it on the bench in the space between them. There they sat. Side by side without saying a word. Soon the man grows cold and gets up. As he stumbles away he feels a thick pain coming from his knees. The pain of old age, constant and heavy on his knees. He rears his head around and out of the corner of his eye he sees the little girl pick up the flower. The smile returns to his face. This time ear to ear, forgetting the pain in his dry lips, and enjoying the crisp air. Leaving a little less lonely than he arrived.
Without Saying Much
February 18, 2012