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Bones and Hearts
I’ve always been proud of the way I lived my life. But I had once been told a story, it changed the way I thought about myself, and made me realize how harsh the world is to others.
The moon shining through my spider web laced window created stringy shadows on the wood wall. It was about 10 o clock, and some of the people in my cabin were holding flashlights to read their books.
The lights tinted the room yellow, and combined with the faint flush of the red exit sign near my bed, it made an eerie orange glow. I’d been at summer camp for about 3 weeks, and our ‘special guest’, as Danielle, one of our counselors put it, was late.
Sophie, who slept on the bed next to me, was getting impatient.
“I hope he’s late for a good reason Hannah”
Hannah, was across the room was braiding her curly red hair, replied with a nod. She clearly wasn’t listening. Sophie turned to Jojo, who was across from her, and said the same thing.
“ Yeah he probably isn’t coming if he’s this late.”
“ Or maybe he got eaten by cougars on the way here” I laughed
We made up a few more witty scenarios, then continued what we were doing before, which for me was, nothing.
Through my boredom, I looked out the window. It was right next to the back door, so I could see when people are standing there. And someone was.
I saw a flicker of movement in the corner of my eye. I squinted hard, and I immediately knew who it was. I can’t believe I didn’t see him before. No one could mistake Ben’s bushy brown hair. I was about to tell Sophie that he finally got here, but then he came in like a ghost through the door.
He crept silently to my bed, and made the ‘shhh’ motion. I nodded. But by now everyone except for Sophie was watching him. He ducked over to her bed. She had her headphones in, and was watching a video on her I-pod. He stayed there quietly, and when Sophie took out her headphones. She looked over at Ben for a split second, and screamed. We all started laughing.
“ Ben! That wasn’t funny” She yelled. But I could see the amusement in her eyes.
When it died down to a few smiles and whispers, we started with a game called Meet The Counselor. Basically, you asked the person questions. Any questions you want. Well, almost any...
“So who’s going first?”
We all raised our hands.
“Okay, how about you Hannah.”
“Umm, if you were an Ice cream flavor, which one would you be?”
‘Wow’ I thought. ‘That’s random’. And as if reading my mind, Ben replied,
“ That’s kind of a random question, but let’s go with it. I would be Double Chocolate Fudgie Chocolatey Coco Fudge.”
“Uhhhhhh” Hannah replied.
“What?” he shrugged. “I like chocolate.”
Great, now I’m hungry. Jojo murmured.
Ben walked over to her.
“Well, Jojo how about you.”
“Umm, what’s your scariest moment ever?”
Ben contemplated that for a while, then he said,
This is actually my awsomest and scariest moment, but I’ll only tell you this story, if the lights are off.
He turned on his flashlight so he could see, and we were ready to go.
“A few years ago, my friends and I were in Chicago at Millennium Park.” He began.
“ We were looking at that big silver bean. If you’ve never seen it, it kind of reflects the entire city on its surface. The sky the buildings, Yeah, It’s awesome.”
I started painting the picture in my head. The golden sun surrounded by reds, blues and pinks mingled with the buzz of the city. Pretty cool.
“Anyway, The sun was starting to set, so the Bean looked even cooler. But I’d seen it a bunch of times, so I went off by myself, just to look around.”
He started pacing the floor, pointing his flashlight down.
“I walked down streets and passed a few restaurants. I couldn’t go very far, cause my friends would want me back soon.
The sun turned a dark shade of orange. I got up and was about to go back,”
He paused, as if he was actually acting out the story, then continued.
“But then I turned around and noticed a homeless man staring at me from across the street.”
“Whoa.” Sophie said. “That’s so creepy.”
He nodded, agreeing.
I thought so too.
“But I couldn’t just walk away, he’d already seen me. So cautiously, I walked across the street. Amazingly, there were no cars, which is weird.”
He stopped and made sure everyone was awake. I could tell something interesting was going to happen.
“I stopped near him, I wasn’t sure what to do. So I just smiled and said ‘Hi’.
‘Hi’ He replied.
“Yeah it was really awkward. I was trying to think of something else to say, when he said slowly,
‘You know, you’re the first person in a long time… who’s ever said something to me.’
‘Well.’ “I said”
‘Yeah’ He started
“I knew he was trying to keep me here. But I couldn’t move.”
By now, everyone was paying attention, though Sophie was looking around a little..
“ I took a risk, and decided to sit down and have a conversation with him”
I looked at her again, she was finally fascinated in his story.
“Wait, what was his name?” I asked.
“I don’t know, I never found out.” He said.
“Can we call him Bob?” Hannah suggested.
Sure, Let’s call him Bob.
“ So, Bob was actually was pretty interesting. He knew more about what goes on in the city, then, probably the people who run it. We talked about Chicago mostly, then I remembered what he said about me being the only person who’s talked to him.”
‘What did you mean when I was the only person that’s talked to you?’ Ben mocked his own question to him.
‘Well’ Bob replied. ‘Most people consider people like me to be trashy, even though they’ve never met me. So I found it cool, that you decided to chat.’
‘Wow.’ “I replied to the man”
“On the outside were whoever we are. Our music, hopes, our favorite foods. But on the inside were all the same, just bones, and that’s what people don’t get.”
“I was stunned” Ben told us.
I am too, I thought to myself.
“It was amazing anyone could think of something like that.” He continued
“I noticed the sun was almost down, so I had to go. I thanked the guy for the conversation, gave him some money to help, and left.”
He smiled, enjoying his story.
Jojo started whispering something to Sophie. And Ben decided to scare her again.
“SO THEN!” he screamed in Jojo’s face. And she screamed too, but she was also smiling.
“So then,” he continued, “I found my friends taking pictures by a fountain, and we were going to a bus stop. We took a shortcut through an ally. The rocky path was narrow so we had to walk in a sort of double file line. By now the moon was out. We were almost there, when we noticed a man wearing black following us.”
“Whoa” I heard Hannah say.
“ Yeah, well it gets better.” Ben said. “ He had that ‘gun behind his jacket’ thing with his fingers, but I looked closer, and I was pretty sure it was real.”
“Did you die?” asked Jojo.
“Yes Jojo” Ben smiled. “I’m dead, I’m all an illusion.”
“Yeah, but seriously. We were all freaked out. He told us to give money, so we did. I was in the middle of emptying my wallet, when some guy just runs up behind us, and tackles the guy with the gun.
“‘RUN!’ he yelled, struggling to hold down the man in black.” “So we did. But I looked back for one second and the man who saved us, was Bob.”
We were all silent.
He broke the silence by looking at his watch and saying “Wow it’s late I’d better go”
We thanked him, he left, and our cabin went to sleep.
A few weeks later, we were out of camp. It was late summer, but the leaves were still green We were in Chicago, at this new restaurant we’d just heard of. My mom, sisters, and me, had just gone with leftovers. We were walking to the car, when a man who said he was homeless, walked up to us, and asked for food. We gave him a bowl of noodles we had in a bag. Then he thanked us and walked away. And of course, I remembered Ben’s story. Our Mom tried to make it into some kind of a life lesson, but I already knew it:
In this world, on the inside we’re all the same. Just bones.
If you want more, which is you choice, you’ll have to be the bones with a heart yourself.