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

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   I took the train downtown and got out at South Ferry. The ferry boat was waiting and I ran toward it, overlooking the obstacle until it moved. "Can you spare some change?" she asked.

I looked at her with annoyance. Bag ladies were commonly found wandering the streets without a home of their own. This one wore bundles of rags wrapped here and there to give some semblance of decency. The wind blew them around her gaunt figure and her frame trembled noticeably. Her outstretched hand lay opened and naked, waiting for me to press a coin into that dirty palm. I found her eyes under a thick mass of oily, unwashed hair. They were empty and cold. She had a sickly green tinge on her skin that made me want to scurry away.

"I must get to the ferry before it goes ... sorry," I stammered.

I ran to catch the ferry - partly out of fear and partly out of anticipation. Once on the ferry, I joined some tourists at the bow of the vessel. Water splashed on my forehead. I looked over the rail to see the green sea that hinted of pollution. My attention was diverted by the appearance of a small figure in the distance. She stood there, tall and unbowed - a monument to the American culture. I acknowledged her with a mental salute and gazed on with awe.

The Statue of Liberty - a woman who had such historical significance that millions of people flock to Liberty Island to see her each year. In one hand, she held a torch to the heavens, a champion of the masses who immigrate to America. Her strong, defiant features resisted defeat - a Joan of Arc of the nineties. She wore her pointed helmet and bundles of cloth in the Grecian style of perfection. If a goddess had just risen from the ocean I would not have been more overwhelmed. She took on the greenish hue of the ocean, giving her an aura of mystique. Her eyes looked over the city of New York but somehow, it seemed to reach across the continent, protecting it with her ever-watchful gaze.

We reached Liberty Island where the statue stood on her pedestal. Somehow, her glory was diminished by the chipped paint, rusting iron, and cracking foundation. I eagerly awaited the return trip.

As we sailed back to Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty floated out of sight. I wasn't focused on her fading visage but the grim, cold facade of the bag lady who waited with outstretched hands that would never be warmed. I drew forth a dollar from my pocket.

The bag lady was there as expected.

"Spare some change? Spare some change?"

In her empty hands, I dropped the dollar. She looked at me and smiled. It was something looking at the Statue of Liberty couldn't give me. I walked away remembering that smile and all it represented.

In the distance I heard her begging, "Spare some change? Please, can you -" but I shut it out of my mind. c


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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