Three

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You see me. You think: just a tumultuous mass of clothing. Stay in your own corner; watch everyone else. You don't belong here. Keep your blank expression. I know your type. Disgusting. Please stay away from me.

I see you. What the heck are you wearing? I know your type of people; I know I should stay away from you. I hear you; your conversations are annoying and your high-pitched voice harangues. I wish you would shut up. Was that a laugh I just heard? Disgusting. Please stay away from me.

A third individual approaches. Blackened hands comprised of only bone and flesh shake as they hold out a Styrofoam cup. It is an aging male. Scabbed lips part to present – I count – five teeth of varying decay. He doesn't deserve my change. You have the same thought, though we both reach into our pockets. You smile; I smile; he smiles. Our smiles are deceiving. We would both be happier if he had never come. Our teeth are white, gums healthy, and breath pleasant. Both you and I deposit a few coins in his cup. He has his five teeth, blackish, foul gums, and breath of rotting waste.

You, me, and him. You and I have tidy screens; though nothing more than mire-filled envelopes fastened with charming seals are we. He, through the encounter, has slighted neither me nor you surreptitiously or aloud.

It makes one wonder about the stereotypes surrounding him and those like him. Why when we ourselves have problems, why do me and you pass such judgments?

In my own life I met ‘him’ once. I was young and he was crumbling under the weight of years that surrounded him. I had a shiny coin and he an empty palm. He wanted my quarter, but it was mine he had no right to it. It wasn’t pity, it wasn’t compassion, and it was not willingly, I pressed it onto his upturned hand. And then I left.

Even now, nine years later, the image of him thanking a seven year old for her minuscule donation is burned into my mind. It makes me sad. It makes me want to regurgitate the filth I was and the tiny part I still am. The piece I want to live without.





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