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Islander Story

By , San Diego, CA
The sign said “Anything will help!” his face said the same thing too. He sat on the bench day by day with the same sign.
There was something wrong with him, he felt it. He just had no idea what it was. For some reason he became fatter in the last three years. He would have gotten it checked out, but the last time he saw a doctor, he was ten. That was years before.
Before he started on the streets, he had a family. He had a wife and one baby girl. He was young and in love. But soon after his baby was born, both his baby, and his wife got deathly sick. Within a month they both died.
He tried to get back on his feet but he was depressed. He lost his job and soon after, his house. So he found a nice bench in Coronado, in front of Rite Aid.
That bench was his home. He loved seeing people come in and out of the store. Some people would acknowledge him on his bench. Others would go on, not even knowing he was there. Every once in a while he would get someone who would sit down and talk to him and treat him like a human being. Most of the time people would go on with their daily lives not noticing anything else in the world, including him.
Up the street there is the bustling Hotel Del Coronado with people coming in daily. On Orange Avenue there are cars that zoom past, on their way to their destinations. The Rite Aid behind him constantly had people coming in and out, getting what they needed.
When the sun goes down, he would go and find a nice spot. Each night he chose a new spot, so that he never got bored of the same place. He usually slept in the alley behind his bench. He loved hearing all of the cars going back and forth in the night, it soothed his mind.
He woke up at the crack of dawn before anyone is up and going. He would walk around to get his mind up for the long day ahead. When people begin to become active he slowly went to his first spot of the day, the park. As he walked there he sees kids walking to school or getting driven by their parents. He always gave them a genuine smile as they pass. When he arrived at the park, he would walk around the perimeter taking in the beautiful day. He found a good spot on the grass near the gazebo. He sat down and looked at the sky. He began to fall asleep, when he heard a crowd of students coming.
He got up and walked to his second spot. Back to Rite Aid he went, crossing the street, soaking in the sunshine. He waved to a few police officers as they drove by and they smiled and waved back. He sat back down on his bench and grabbed a hold of his sign, then went behind the trash to find the bag he left over night.
As the day went by he smiled to people passing on the street. Some people acknowledge him and some just went on with their busy days.
He began to see students coming by for lunch. They don’t acknowledge his existence at all. Until, he saw one girl with two of her friends. They are walking by talking about their day about to go into Rite Aid, but stop.
“Hello,” said the blonde haired girl.
“Hello,” said the man, “How are you doing on this fine day?”
“I am doing just grand! How are you?”
“Wonderful! How can one not be anything but? The world is just so wonderful today!”
“Yeah it is! It is an amazing day today!”
The man stopped and smiled. He considered asking the girl and her friends a favor. He didn’t know if by asking he sounded rude. He didn’t want to scare them away. There was just something that he needed. So at the last second before they went into the store he asked.
“Do you think you could possibly get me water while you are in there?”
“I would, but none of us have any money. We are just wasting time,” replied the girl.
“Oh no! I do not need you to pay for it. I have money!”
Just then he went into his bag and took out a huge stack of money. He had two rubber bands on it to keep it all in place. The girl and her friends just stare in amazement, thinking how on earth did he get all of this money. He went to the bottom of the stack and grabbed a twenty for them.
He showed them the money, but they are confused as what he is asking for.
“You see, I have money. They just won’t let me inside the store to get anything. They think because I live on the streets that I will steal from them.”
They still just looked at him in awe.
“Take the money,” he said as they walked in the door.
He sat outside, waiting for them to come out. A bird flew by and made a circle. It then landed just to the right of him. He got up to see the bird and it came closer. He went into his bag and grabbed a piece of bread. He ripped off a small piece and gave it to the bird. The bird then flew away with the piece of bread.
He started walking back to his bench when the girl and her friends came out. They gave him the water and his change. He grabbed the water and took a sip.
“Here is your change,” the girl said.
“Keep the change!”
“Uh! I don’t think I can do that.”
“Yes you can! You all can split it equally,” he said in a comforting voice.
They tried to give it to him again, but he refused.
“Now go back to school! You must have a lot of learning and such to do!”
With that they said their good-byes and headed back to school.
He continued on the rest of his day as normal, smiling to people as they go by. Still having that sign up in case someone came by. But something felt different that. He felt as if he made a friend. He felt like he made someone’s day just a little bit better. And that meant the world to him. Those little things in life are what make people happy.
So the day passed by, going into night. He gathered up his stuff and hid it in his hiding spot. He took his sign and began to walk the street to find his bed for the night. That night he chose to sleep on the bench, near the bay. He laid down and thought about the day’s events. Soon falling into a deep, deep sleep.
As months went by, the man got sick. Because he was homeless, he couldn’t get the medical attention he needed to get better, so he just became sicker and sicker. He knew that he wasn’t getting any better, and he knew there was nothing he could do about it. He wasn’t sure what exactly was wrong with him, but he knew it wasn’t good.
Life became harder for him. There was no more talking to people and asking about their days. But now there was screaming at kids to get off his “porch”. That sweet kind man soon became a bitter, grouchy man, and he had every right to. Both his wife and child died, he lost his job and house, and to add on to his hardships he became sick. He felt like every day was a constant struggle. He could no longer take the beauty out of life, but now despised every minute of it.
About a month after he realized he was sick, he came across the girl again. But this time there was something different about her, at least to the man. She came up to him and gave him a smile, but he just ignored her. He felt like she was just a snotty kid who didn’t appreciate life. There was no reason for him to think this, but for some odd reason he did. She stood next to him for a couple seconds but then decided to leave because she didn’t know what was wrong with him.
He continued his day in a grumpy mood, not enjoying anything or anyone around him. He lived the rest of his day, which was few, as a grouch that was disgusted by everything. Although this man was a grouch, he did live a good life considering everything. He tried to take life one day by a time. By the time he passed he came to the conclusion that everyone was crazy in the world and he was the only sane one. He also realized that life isn’t about annoyance and people should accept everyone because who knows what the next turn in the road leads to.




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