Keep Walking

July 27, 2012
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He didn’t know how long he could keep going, he hadn’t slept or eaten for three days and then he collapsed. He lay down on the cold, hard floor to go to sleep that night. He placed his hands on his stomach and felt the rise as he filled his body with oxygen and the fall as he exhaled it all away. He listened to the rhythmic, even sound of his breath as he played back songs in his head. He went through the events of the day as he heard bikes zooming by. He realized it would be really hard to sleep tonight. He turned over again and felt a microscopic shiver course through every vein in his body and curled his feet closer to his body. A large sigh escaped his lips –it was involuntary- and sent his whole body into instant relaxation. He closed his eyes but they kept flickering, open, closed, open, closed.
He was in a place where he had a steady job and parents that loved him, he had plenty to eat, and friends that cared. He was in a dream; he knew it and he had to get out, now.
He was crying when he got up, he was on the side of the street, bicycles zoomed past him and a piece of bread lay next to him, he ate it as fast as humanly possible. His head hurt, and his stomach was so empty it felt like it wasn’t even there, he didn’t have too much money but enough to buy a couple lychees, he walked over to a nearby market and bought a bag of them, the man at the register looked to be about forty-five, he had black hair and a pair of deep- set, black eyes, he looked like he hadn’t slept in a while. He had light wrinkles; they were not as deep as the wrinkles of a sixty year old but definitely noticeable if you’re looking for them. The man at the register whose name tag said??(Wang Ming) said “two Yuan”. “Ming”, brightness in Chinese, what’s point of having a bright mind if there’s no purpose in life, he thought to himself. “Two Yuan!” Mr. Wang demanded again this time less patient. He quickly paid and grabbed the lychees.
He peeled the hard spiky shell revealing a peach-white colored fleshy “meat” that surrounds the brown seed in the center. He got up immediately after he ate them and hurried away. Several people turned to look at him, but he ignored them, he was used to people staring at his bruises and cuts covering his face and body. He used to live on the outskirts of Shanghai, China, his parents had a farm that grew rice, wheat and cotton and only gave the slightest care to him because he was a math prodigy and they needed something to brag to their friends about. However if he did not impress his parents’ friends he would be beaten with bamboo sticks. He still respected his parents though, and understood their money situation so he left so they had one less mouth to feed and one less person to worry about, now they could pay all their attention to the farm.
He decided to stop at a park; he sat on a bench and watched people doing their daily tai chi. This gave him a wonderful opportunity to just think. He thought back to all those math competitions he went to, he always won. Each kid had their own packet of fifty questions, they had two minutes for each question, after they finished a question they held up the paper and people came around and picked up their paper. He always felt bad for the kids who lost, they were so good, and they looked like they had practiced way more than him. Yet, somehow his brain could always do it faster, could always do it without using any paper. He remembered when his parents would drill him. The other kids’ parents would hire tutors to prepare them, but his parents didn’t need to do that, as long as he was practicing he was improving. He was always improving. He didn’t need anyone to help him; he knew all the theorems, postulates and properties. So all he needed to do was keep practicing, and keep improving his speed. However, if he slacked off or didn’t practice he would be beaten with a bamboo stick until he was bleeding, and then he would study and practice more. He remembered how his mom sewed his clothes; she made them to cover up the bruises that covered his skin. His dad would cook the crops they grew on the farm and sell the others. He remembered going to the outdoor market and selling the crops with his father. He remembered how he would see some of his friends from school there and they would talk until he was forced to practice or until his friend had to go.
The tai chi session was over. People were meandering off and scattering from each other, a woman grabbed her bag from the bench where he was sitting. He got up too and kept walking. He had decided, he would keep walking, keep walking until he reached a home, maybe he would start his own farm. He would keep walking until he reached a job, maybe he could be hired as a tutor. He would keep walking until he had nowhere else to walk and had his life planned out, and until then he would keep walking.
The End

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