Recalling Chicago

He was the kind of person your mother told you to stay away from. I sat next to him on the train. I offered him some crackers, and listened to him talk about crack. Tattoos ran up and down his arm like the profanity woven through his language. The other passengers glared at him or pretended he wasn’t there.

He sat slumped against a potted tree, clutching an empty water bottle, its label long since faded away. He mumbled quietly to himself. I watched him take a long, soothing drag on his Marlboro, and then extinguish the burning embers underneath his shoe. I could see his bare toes wiggle as he smashed the cigarette, his toes poking out of his holy socks, poking out of his dilapidated shoes.

It was hot enough to make the asphalt sticky. I was slumped against a building, trying to build up the strength to continue on. From my vantage point I watched her fall all the way to the earth. She stumbled, her leg giving out, and her knee came crashing into the concrete. It slammed into the concrete with jolting force. You could feel it from a distance. The others around her on the sidewalk hesitated for a moment. We all saw her fall. Their pace slowed for a second. They weren’t sure what to do. But the proud woman kept her gaze low. With all her might she pulled herself back up and struggled on. The people around her resumed their pace, grateful they didn’t have to dirty their hands and stoop to help the clumsy woman.

What did you see?

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