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Unconscious This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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There was a dead girl in front of the library this morning. She was breathing, but she wasn’t alive. Whatever existence she’d had during her few years – I calculated she was around 13 – certainly wasn’t life. She was tossed carelessly on the trash-­littered sidewalk in front of a boarded-up doorway, drugged and utterly unconscious of the world around her. The filth and stench of the city were caked into her skin. She seemed part of the garbage she was ­lying in.

My home in Medellín, Colombia, has a lot of poverty. I’m used to seeing dirty, starving children begging in the streets, unkempt old men sleeping ­under newspapers, and hopeless teen­agers forgetting their pain in glue and needles.

But this … this was different.

The girl’s clothes were pulled high above her chest, ugly testimony to what had been done to her the night before. Person after person walked by. Boys leered. Children gaped and were pulled away by mothers who wrinkled their noses and quickened their pace. Not once did I see a trace of caring.

I knelt down and shook her gently.

She stirred and turned her head to me, and a grimace flashed across her face. I realized she was no child. All concept of age was erased from my mind. Perhaps she was barely a teenager; perhaps she was as old as humanity.

“Señora,” I said softly. A fly alighted on her cracked lips, and I brushed it away. Still she did not wake. I don’t know why I cared. Certainly no one else did. But I couldn’t leave her like that. I couldn’t. I should cover her. I reached out to pull down her shirt but retracted my hand. I had no right to touch her.

I knew what I had to do.

Even as I pulled the sweater over my head, I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to give my favorite sweater to someone who would just sell it for drugs. I didn’t want to care. But it was too late. Once you open your eyes and see reality, you can’t close them again that easily. And even though I wished I didn’t care, I did. She was a girl, my sister in ­humanity, a person just like me. God have mercy on us both.

I draped the sweater over her. The pulsating noise of the street suddenly quieted. The outside world ceased to exist, and a deafening ­silence enveloped us. Time slowed. The moment seemed eternal. We were the only ones in the universe – just me, the girl, and the dark blue sweater fluttering down in slow motion.

I had the sensation you get when you pull the sheet over the face of a corpse and say, muerto esta. The last fold of cloth settled on the gray cement, and suddenly time was once again going. I heard the rushing cars at my back, felt the burning sun, and smelled the filth. Nothing had changed.

I got up too quickly, nearly losing my balance. I needed to get away.

“La felicito,” an old man, who had apparently been watching me, said in congratulations. “Is it a little girl? So sad, so sad. What a shame.”

“Yeah … I don’t know,” I mumbled, hurrying away, horribly embarrassed that I’d been seen. Supposedly, when you do a good deed, you get a warm fuzzy feeling inside. But all I felt was a deep, aching sadness.

I used to believe those heart-warming stories about how people’s lives were changed by some small act of kindness. If this were one of those ­inspirational stories, years later we’d meet again. She would have risen from her poverty and pain, achieved success, and been converted to some nice religion. I’d be down about something, perhaps thinking that my life was worth nothing. On an impulse I’d step into a church and – voilà! – she’d be there giving her testimony about how she’d lived a totally empty and meaningless existence until her life had been changed by the act of a caring stranger who had covered her with a sweater.

And then I’d get up, with tears in my eyes, and shout, “I am that stranger!” And we’d hug and become best friends and I’d go home completely happy in the knowledge that my life had been good for something after all.

But this isn’t an inspirational story. The real world isn’t that nice. When the girl came out of her stupor, she probably wouldn’t even notice the sweater or wonder where it had come from. She’d use it to get more drugs. That night she would again sell her body and her soul, and the next day she would once more lie on the street with her shame open to the world. And my feeble act of caring would be worth nothing.

I headed down the street and sud­denly, to my disgust, found tears running down my face. I dashed them away, not knowing whether I was crying for that girl, my favorite sweater, or the fact that no one had cared.

I thought of the Jesus I’d been taught about in church. He would have cared, I think, if he’d been there. But he wasn’t there. I wished he were. It hurt.

People at church would tell me that he was there, that he’d cared through me.

I sighed. Maybe. Maybe.

But all the way home, the pain ­remained.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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This article has 462 comments. Post your own!

RainyWriter This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 1, 2011 at 2:54 pm:

I love how this isn't one of those preachy philanthropist speeches. It handles the subject delicately and kindly, but gives the reader a much needed kick to reality.

I wonder where that girl is now. I'm glad you shared this with us.

 
anne.Brooke replied...
Jan. 10, 2011 at 1:08 am :
absolutely...
 
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Equus_Borealis89 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 1, 2011 at 11:09 am:
thank you for sharing this with us. and thank you for sharing your soul with that girl. life is not fair. it never was, it never will be. but there is always a hope, with this little flame called compassion. and while it may or may not turn into a heartwarming story, compassion spreads, just like fire!!! your compassion spread to that old man. so thanks again.
 
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Youngsurvivor said...
Dec. 29, 2010 at 5:15 pm:
ohh my wat a story....and this is reality... it pains me to see wat ppl have become :(
 
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vballchick14 said...
Dec. 27, 2010 at 9:50 pm:
i liked this story but i didnt really follow it very well
 
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SpringRayynThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Dec. 26, 2010 at 9:57 pm:
This was the first ever story I read when coming on teen ink and it's really great. It got me hooked! C:
 
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Medina D. said...
Dec. 26, 2010 at 3:26 pm:

this story touched my heart *<3

it's not a crime to care. It's a good thing you had a heart while the others ignored the girl. Maybe you felt ached and troubled cause you knew (or thought) your act wouldnt make much of a difference, that there might've been close to no hope for that girl. And it made you feel compassion. And you didn't like it cause of how horrible it felt to know such a thing.

Or maybe I'm crazy and it's not that.

Just know you are a GREAT person for ... (more »)

 
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GemValley250This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Dec. 22, 2010 at 4:07 pm:

That was absolutely brilliant(or should I say tragically horrible!) piece. You really got me absorbed from start to finish- and I usually get bored quite easily! Well done, you really captured the reality of this world. I understand why you started crying,:( i wouldn't have been able to stop. God help her.

That was a lovely act of kindness, by the way:)

 
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Mandabelle101 said...
Dec. 19, 2010 at 9:42 pm:
This article was EXCELLENT! When I read it I was captivated by the detail and the sadness of the story. It was very heartfelt and held a lot of emotion. Keep on writing!
 
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jon123 said...
Dec. 16, 2010 at 7:44 pm:

Dear Samariya

Your article that you wrote titled unconscious is one of the greatest articles I have ever read. This is a very powerful piece and I think it took a lot of heart to right such a powerful and moving article. I think the best part of this article is that even though it is under fiction articles it is also partially true, I can almost guarantee that this has happened many times before and I applaud you for going and righting such a wonderful article.

 
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XxMyLove4MusicxX said...
Dec. 14, 2010 at 7:58 am:
I love ths writing... i read it a long time ago but its so good i had to read it again.
 
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Gettysburg63 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 12, 2010 at 11:05 am:
Wow, you are a great writer
 
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TercerCielO said...
Dec. 10, 2010 at 1:10 pm:
This was an amazing article, your an incredible writer, even though it was sad, it was a really good and real article(: !
 
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gvolleyball said...
Dec. 10, 2010 at 8:24 am:
This article is a very inspirational story and it has a very deep meaning. Its only human nature to second guess your actions, but never doubt wether you did the right thing. You did make a difference even if you dont see it. It may be a cliche but the little things you do do have an impact.
 
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PrettiieBeautiie said...
Dec. 9, 2010 at 5:25 pm:
OMG !!! That was amazing ! ou wroe about hard core reality'
 
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intrinsically said...
Dec. 9, 2010 at 3:19 pm:
This is raw and real; it doesn't mess around with false sentimental feeling--it gets to the core and leaves us shaking.
 
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GiselleD. said...
Dec. 8, 2010 at 10:28 pm:
I think your story was very heartfelt and had deep meaning. It deifinitely tugs at your heartstrings and makes the reader think about times or moments of their own lives and relate it to your experience, which is exactly what a good piece of writing should evoke.
 
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dari said...
Dec. 8, 2010 at 1:50 pm:
this is so boring that in DA 3rd sentence i felt asleep
 
GiselleD. replied...
Dec. 8, 2010 at 10:26 pm :
First of all, it's "fell" asleep...and anyway, you were bored why? you don't care about people and their hurt, pain, or hardships? Good on you, then. I'd like to see something of yours that is better or more interesting than this. I doubt it would mean as much, or interest me at all at distastefully glancing my eyes at your title.
 
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TheLegacyLives said...
Dec. 6, 2010 at 3:26 pm:
This was so honest, and real, and startling. I really appreciate that you wrote this.
 
prettygurlswagg replied...
Dec. 13, 2010 at 9:50 am :
i kno right very good
 
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