For Giving

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: December 24, 2018

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Submitted: December 24, 2018

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For Giving

Every day he is sitting there; same place, same position, the same expression of total resignation on his face. He knows that to most passers-by he is invisible. And yet they must see him for they don’t trip over him but just change their path until the obstruction that is his body is left behind and they can return to seeing once more.

He sits there whatever the weather. Boiling hot or freezing cold, he will be wrapped in the same old coat or hat. If it is dry he will be there and if it is wet. Many times I’ve seen him looking like no more than a sodden heap of rags.

I’m poorly paid but I put aside 5 euros a week to pass on to him. He always looks up at me for a moment as I pass, hopeful, and gives a nod of thanks when I give him a coin or two. He never says a word; in fact, in all the days I have seen him I have never known him to say a word.

Today it is Christmas Eve. He must know it for he looks at me that bit more hopefully than usual. I just make momentary eye-contact then carry on along the road. His disappointed resignation has replaced that look of hope. If only I could tell him what I have in mind. But I don’t, I dare not, just in case things don’t work out as planned.

The fast food place is open. That’s good. I order a large pizza and two hot coffees to go; I take a flask from my bag that I had packed specially and ask to have it filled with soup. Then I neatly fold a 20 euro note, place it in my pocket and walk back the way I had just come.

He glances at me in some confusion as I take a seat beside him, placing a coffee cup down beside each of us. I open the pizza box and hold it towards him, urging him to take the first slice. The man looks at me in some confusion, then warily reaches out. It is almost as though he suspects I might be playing a trick on him.

Side by side we munch away. I make sure that he gets plenty. We do not speak but just watch the traffic, the pedestrians, until the pizza is all gone. I stand up and walk to a litter bin, toss the empty cups, the cardboard box.

I walk back to the seated figure and give him the carefully folded 20 euro note, then take out the flask of soup. He looks at me questioningly as I put both in his hands. Then he nods his thanks.

Keep the flask safe,” I say, the first words that have been spoken. “I’ll fill it back up before the New Year.”

He smiles a big smile, one that is worth more than the bit of my Christmas bonus I have just spent. I can’t help wondering if he cannot speak, or if it is so long since anyone exchanged words with him that he’s simply forgotten how.

Happy Christmas,” I say, knowing that I could never do enough to bring him happiness, but if I have given him a spark of warmth, a spark of hope, that’s all I could hope for. I make my way to my warm home where I’ll be spending Christmas with my family. I will not forget my promise.

 


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