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At precisely 5:00 am, Adam Rendon’s alarm clock toned exactly twice before being silenced by an un-ringed hand. He would then proceed to prepare for the day, dressing in one of his eight identical suits, drinking one cup of slightly creamed coffee, and consuming an Asian pear before catching the 6:00 city bus.
On his way, he would not hesitate as he walked the three blocks until he reached the stop. There, he would speak to no one, gazing at the window until he had arrived at his destination. He would then deposit one of the two dollar bills stationed in his left pocket, before beginning his daily routine which would be contained within Adam’s office cubicle.
The only unique thing about Adam Rendon was the fact that he was not unique at all. The man had such a plain face, coworkers would often mistake him for a new colleague when in fact, he had been quietly tapping along on the old computer in his cubicle for almost ten years. In the thirty years of his life, no one bothered to ask the man how his day was. He never stopped, and never was stopped, for small talk or a friendly conversation. Such was the life of Adam Rendon. It was, in a word, routine. And he liked it that way.
But on Wednesday, June 19th at 6:09, Adam’s routine was interrupted by a voice much like tires on gravel.
“Is this seat taken?” The old woman’s appearance was about as beautiful as her voice, save her eyes, which were a hypnotic lavender. Adam momentarily found himself at a loss for words, but quickly shook his head once before resuming his gaze out the window.
“I’ve been watching you” The voice came again, scratching it’s way through Adam’s ear canal. He turned, slightly unsettled by this statement.
The woman was dreadful to look at, dressed in multiple layers of disintegrating rags, her black and gray streaked hair was tied in a messy knot behind her head. Her skin looked as if it were woven from cobwebs and hung lightly over her thin frame. She looked as if she might blow away or possibly turn to dust with the slightest breath of air.
“You’re very alone.” Adam gazed into the woman’s strange eyes, captivated.
“Can I help you, ma’am?” He asked in an even tone.
“Oh, yes.” She grinned, a few teeth missing from her smile, “Yes you can.” Adam found himself slightly repulsed. Her breath smelled like cough drops and toothpaste. However, she did not care to elaborate on how he could assist her, and Adam did not bother to ask. He simply returned his gaze to the window. By the time the bus wheezed to a stop by his building, the woman had gone.
Adam was not bothered by the old lady’s words. They were forgotten; no more than a whisper of memory. In fact, he didn’t experience anything out of the ordinary at all. That is, until 7:00 Thursday morning, when Adam’s eyes fluttered open two hours after his alarm clock failed to sound. The man scrambled out of bed, hardly taking a bite of his pear before tumbling out his font door.
Adam had been in such a rush, however, that he only placed one dollar in his left pocket and, lacking enough bus fare to return, was forced to walk home.
But as he crossed Western Boulevard, Adam found himself on Grover Drive. Adam had crossed Grover Drive six blocks back. Perplexed, he found himself facing west on Grover Drive regardless of the route he chose. Finally, an exasperated Mr. Rendon traveled down Grover Drive, heading east. But after fifty yards, he found himself once again facing the opposing direction.
By the time it had become dark, Adam gave in. The biting chill seeped under his skin as he stepped down Grover drive, following the sun, which was now long gone. Adam had the feeling he was being set on a track. To where, he had no idea, but a track none the less. Every time he wandered from his path, it seemed as if he was put back to the exact point from where he had strayed.
Adam came to a stop in the darkest alley he’d ever seen. The blackness was so thick, he couldn’t tell if his eyes were open. As soon as he had reached the end of the side street, however, he found himself back at the gaping mouth that began the alley.
A panic set in, fogging Adam’s vision as he ran, but it was like a treadmill. Some force seemed want him in this alley, and this idea frightened Adam. He clawed at the brick wall to his left until his fingernails broke. “What do you want from me?!” He pleaded, screaming to the heavens. The sky rumbled a reply, and began to rain. Adam’s toe found something other than ground, and he tripped, swearing his way to the ground.
The thing he had stumbled over, Adam found, was very large and covered in newspaper. His breath was drawn in quickly when he realized it was a human form, shivering. The skin on the old man draped loosely over thin, brittle bones like a layer of dust, and he reeked faintly of grime and poor hygiene.
Adam, unsure what to do, carried the man to his apartment through the freezing rain, soaked and shivering as he collapsed on his doorstep. The old man’s eyes drifted open, unfocused before closing again. Adam took the man in his arms again, crawling to his bathroom, where he gave him a warm bath, rubbing the blood into his fingers- which were caked with grime. Adam dressed the stranger in pajamas, and placed him gently in his. The man’s eyes opened a second time, blinking slowly in the light. A smile crept onto his withered, leathery face before he turned on his side, smile fading as he waded into the seas of a deep sleep. Adam then crawled to his couch before passing out himself; exhausted.
The night crept on with silence, and soon morning peering between Adam’s eyelids. The memories from the night before hit him like a wall, and he leaped from his spot on the couch, dashing into his bedroom to find the old man. There was a shadow of a smile on the homeless man’s face and the blankets lay softly over his unmoving chest. Adam found tears rolling down his cheeks, plummeting to the sheet below; falling for this stranger.
Saturday morning, at precisely 5:00 am, Adam Rendon’s alarm toned exactly twice before being silenced by an un-ringed hand. He then proceeded to prepare for the day, dressing in one of his eight identical suits, and as he took a sip of a cup of lightly creamed coffee, he set out to catch the 6:00 bus.
And yet he felt different. At the bus stop, he spoke to the young blonde woman who rode the bus to work with him everyday, finding the chat surprisingly pleasant. Adam smiled at his office neighbor, and shook hands with a man in the elevator.
Weeks later, Adam found the woman with the lavender eyes sitting quietly in the grimy vinyl back seat of the city bus.
“Is this seat taken” he called to her, smiling lopsidedly. She nodded briefly, and a few moments of silence followed. “If I may ask, why did you do that?”
“Do what?” She asked, but her eyes betrayed her voice, “What are you talking about?”
The woman stared at him for an eternity before she spoke with her leathery voice, “A man was walking along the shoreline after a storm had passed. He found, that thousands of starfish had been washed ashore. The man soon came across a little boy, picking up starfish and throwing them into the foamy waves. The stops the boy. “What are you doing, child?” he asks, “You cannot possibly save all these starfish. Give up, for you are just wasting time and energy. They all will dry out and die soon.” The little boy gazes up at the man, and picks up a starfish. With a flick of his hand, he tosses the starfish back into the water. The boy then smiles, explaining to the man, “It sure made the difference to that little starfish””