The Smiling Man

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Religion and Spirituality  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: January 15, 2019

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Submitted: January 15, 2019



The Smiling Man

By: Jensen Bodholdt

"Spare change please?" a tattered old man begged on the corner of the city sidewalk. It was nearing Mid-January in the city, during those times the cold weather was unbearable. He was wrapped up in a ratted blue blanket overtop a thin winter coat that had more holes than stuffing. In his ungloved hand, he held out a moldy coffee cup. His fingernails were stained dark and his knuckles were turning white from the bitter wind that whipped through the city. It was obvious that he was freezing and on the brink of frostbite, his stature gave this away. Although, his expression gave off a different feature. His eyes were bright and focused, his eyebrows were arched in a hopeful position, and he wore a small smile on his face. Never once did this expression falter.

 A young mother and her child walked past him. The little girl attached to her hip, tugged on the hem of her mother's shirt to get her attention. When the woman saw the man, she quickly pulled her daughter closer to her and picked up her pace, giving the man a disgusted look as they passed by. Even then, his smile did not fade.

 "Thank you anyways," he called after the woman and her child. Throughout the day, a few people, here and there, would drop a small amount of change in his cup. He thanked everyone who passed by, whether they spared change or not. He remained in this state of gratitude the whole time.

 When the evening came and gone and the street lights began to turn on, the man stood up from his claimed spot and stretched his legs. He then counted his earnings and dropped them into a small burlap sack that he stored in the inside pocket of his coat. He neatly packed up all of his belongings and started to trek down the darkest alley way. There was an abandoned building a few yards from the corner he sat on. A broken down awning was attached to the building. The old man took shelter beneath and soon drifted off to sleep. Even in his most unconscious state, he remained smiling.

 The next morning, the old man began his daily routine all over again. He walked to the nearest cafe and bought a small, burnt muffin. He ate his muffin on his way back to the corner that he sat on the day before. And thus, his day began. The man did this everyday, no matter rain, nor shine, nor sleet, nor snow. He would sit in this spot all day, and never once, did he frown.

 One day, in mid-spring, the man was sitting in his usual spot, with his usual cup, and his usual expression. The streets were wet from an early morning rain shower. His hair was stuck to his forhead and his dingy clothes clung to his body, still soaking wet from the rain. A young woman was walking by. She saw the smiling man sitting on the cold, wet sidewalk and began to frown. She walked closer to him and squatted nearby.

 "Why are you smiling?" she asked him, her tone was a mixture of sorrow and confusion, with a hint of curiosity. The old man looked at her and his smile grew larger.

 "I've sat here, everyday, for the last ten years. People walk by, sometimes they drop some coins in my cup, sometimes they walk right on by without taking notice. Never once, have I been asked that question," he took a deep breath and looked her in the eye, "I smile, because I am alive."

 "But you have no home, no money, no decent change of clothes. That's not something to be happy about," she replied. He gave a small chuckle.

 The man placed his hand on top of hers and replied, "Material things, like jobs and houses, they don't bring true happiness. True happiness comes from within. I am happy, because I am grateful. I am happy, because I am strong. I am happy, because I know who I am."

 "And how do you find that happiness?" the young woman asked, almost hopeful.

 "You just have to look inside."

© Copyright 2019 Jey Bodholdt. All rights reserved.

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