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Grade
9

On the first day, the boy looked out his window with his blue eyes. The brick wall that held up his apartment led downwards till it hit the cracked pavement below. The sun was glistening outside, only to be choked by the dreary buildings that surrounded. A cold breeze blew the weeds that had managed to grow in the rigid crannies of the sidewalk. Men, dressed in black and ready for work buzzed past with no care of the gray environment around them. Garbage was strewn across a section of the walkway, looking as shoddy as it smelled. But today, the boy saw a new sight; a man sitting on a worn-out cardboard box. He wore a ragged outfit with more holes than one could count and at his side lay a blue baseball cap. The man had a graying beard on his scarred, black face and dirt smothered across his cheeks. On top of his head were a few strands of hair, all tangled up in a frenzy. He had a slipper on one foot and a ripped sock on another, and the boy could count only seven toes. The man stood up. He was of medium stature, but the boy could see the effects of malnutrition on his body. His ribs budged against the gray cloth that covered his untrimmed chest. The man’s stomach was situated painfully inward, creating a curve between his chest and hips. He looked to his left and limped toward the nearby alley. He twirled his head to his sides and trod slowly as if there was something threatening him in the environment. He swiveled the corner and disappeared from the boy’s watchful sight.

On the second day, the boy looked out the window with his pale eyes. The vagrant was camped in the same spot that the boy had spotted him the day before. Today, however, the man was a bit dirtier and had a lining of green, mossy decay between the tears in his clothes. A line of trash led from the man to the alley, hinting at his prior location. Few coins rest in front of him, but they weren’t enough to get anything in the bustling metropolis. He picked the coins up and tossed them into the blue baseball cap. The man scrunched up and dragged out a half-eaten cheeseburger and the sorry remains of a cracker after mold got to it. With a long dirt-filled fingernail, he scratched the brown fungus off his cracker. Then, without hesitation, the man ate all of it in one gulp, as if he had never seen food before. He swallowed each bite heavily as if he had difficulty eating. The boy could see the man’s teeth working like a factory through the pale-brown cheeks. The man licked his fingers sloppily and eagerly eyed the musty sandwich. With one swoop he grasped it ripped and it apart with his yellow-brown teeth. Repulsed, the boy drew his head back from the window and closed the shutters.

On the third day, the boy looked out the window with half-open eyes. The vagabond was still present at his location along with traces of the breakfast he had eaten. He sat on the pavement shaking his blue cap in front of him as people passed by him. No one paid much heed to him. The people that did take notice nervously edged past the man, doing their best to act as if they’d not seen him. A group of adolescents stopped in their tracks and looked at the poor man sitting on the sidewalk. One lad started to reach for his wallet, but was stopped by one of his larger friends. Another young man drew back and spit into the blue baseball cap that was held in front of him. The other teens laughed at this action, patting the back of the boy who did the deed. They rushed off to make more trouble. Only one boy stood still, looking down at the grimy sneakers; the boy who had reached for his wallet. The boy pulled out four dollar bills hastily and thrust them toward the bearded man. The man gingerly took the sheets, and as soon as the man had a grip, the boy rushed off to join his friends. The derelict tucked the green paper into his sleeve and looked into the cap, watching the globe of saliva ooze and pop. A drop of water fell from the man’s left eye as he leaned back against the red wall. He closed his eyes and sighed. The boy, having seen enough sights for the day, closed his shutters as he took a glimpse of a drifting snowflake outside.

On the fourth day, the boy looked out the window with bloodshot eyes. He saw his neighbors covered with wool, playing with snow on the streets. Snowballs flew around like cannonballs in the Medieval times. He saw large vehicles move back and forth dirtying the environment with smoke and pouring salt over the frozen landscape that covered the city. The boy looked directly down and saw the cardboard box with no man on it. Instead, blackening snow infested the area near and on the cardboard box. Only seven bland toes stuck out of the box, limp and having no movement at all. A garbage truck rolled in, making deep tracks in the snow and grunted to a stop in front of the alley. A man dressed in green jumped out and quickly ran into the alley. He came out in a minute and threw all the items he had collected into the truck’s rear opening. The man then glanced at the cardboard box. He ran toward it, picked it up, and hurled it into the truck, ignorant of any of the treasures it may hold. The green individual banged the back of the truck and hurried into the passenger seat. The truck came to life eased its trunk door down and proceeded to its next stop on 13th Avenue.

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Forty years later, the once-boy, strolled along the sun-lit sidewalk bordering his childhood apartment. The buildings around had been renovated into a better condition, on that made it dignified to live and work in them. Cars and other automobiles acted more kindly to the lesser walkers by allowing them to take their time crossing the street. The city council had restored the cementing in the pavement and acres of land were set apart for Earth’s natural beauties. The forty-some man was diligently dressed, as he had a very important job in the city. His tie, multicolored but yet formal, hung loosely around his neck and tucked neatly into his pale ceramic-white suit. He had a scruffy beard which, although uncombed, was fashionable in its time. His lips were curved, resembling an eagle who watched the world carefully with its insightful eyes. His eyes, though, were the most deep of all his features. The blueness in them had deepened over the years and had come to a point where almost all of the ocean could have been encompassed in it. As he turned left and right gazing at his once childhood-city, he fantasized at the prospects of making it even better. The parks and clean environment weren’t enough for him; starvation of an idyll land in the man’s childhood had left him avid for a perfect society.

He kept walking, observing his surroundings with a watchful eye. As he neared an alley that had been branded to his mind, he stopped and smelled the air. The stench that had subsisted in the area decades ago had went extinct. Now, the green dumpsters were kept in an orderly fashion, like school boys in a lunch line. The man smiled and continued. Before heading too far, he paused once again--this time looking down at a person, specifically, a young woman holding a sign. It read the two most pathetic words that the man had ever set his sight upon: “HELP ME”. The woman was oblivious to the man’s stare as she kept on shaking her sign. With further inspection, the man saw that the woman was blind. He slowly put a hand on the woman’s shoulder and introduced himself.

“I’m Jonathan. Who would you be?” he asked as politely as he could manage. He felt as though he had an obligation to intervene with this woman’s life after the experiences he had been though.

“I’m Norah,” she said in a raspy voice. “Do you mind giving me a few quarters, so I can last through the coming storm?” She looked up, but not at the man. The man went for his wallet, but stopped all of a sudden. He reached for the woman’s arm and pulled her up on her feet.

“What are you doing?” she asked surprised at the intrusion.

“You need shelter, don’t you?” the man rebutted. “Then follow me.”

The man held the woman steady. He struck out an arm in front of the street. Slowly, a yellow cab steadied its way near the sidewalk.

“1st Avenue, please,” the man excliamed. The cab driver responded immediately and unlocked the doors. The man gently pushed the woman into the leather seat in the cab. She slid in, not knowing what to do or expect next.

“Where are you taking me? I demand to know! I have the right to information. It says so in the 2nd amendment,” the woman blurted rapidly. The cab driver looked back with a confused expression on his face.

“Never mind her,” the man told the driver. “Just get us to the place.” The cab driver looked back to the front trying hard to concentrate on the door. “Look here, young lady,” the man began. The woman turned her eyes in the direction of the sound. “Now you won’t be able to live outside when the storm hits.”

“Yeah I will!” she yelled back. “I’m strong and resourceful. Just because the city forgets about me doesn’t mean I forget about it. I know how to get to places and fend for myself.”

“Now you might be able to use your so-called resources, but it won’t get you anywhere than the metal barred area of our city,” the man rebutted. The woman moved her head to an angle in confusion. “The prison,” them man explained. The woman closed her mouth. “Now I’m going to help you by not giving you quarters, but by paying for your stay at a nearby shelter.”

The woman raised her head. “Why?” she hauntingly questioned. “Is it because you want something in return from me, perhaps some sort of gratification?” The man turned red and his semicircle eyebrows turned rather straight. The cab driver looked back with a sympathetic look on his face.

“No,” the man said. “It’s because I want to make this city a more beautiful place and you living on the streets is certainly impeding my dream.” As he finished the cab pulled up to 1st Avenue, right in front of the MAIN STREET SHELTER. The man escorted the woman out who, surprisingly, stayed silent. They walked through the wooden doors of the shelter and were met by a cheerful looking old lady.

“Why hello,” the old lady began when she was interrupted by the man.

“Hey, this lady,” he said pointing to the woman standing beside him, “is going to need a room in the shelter for the next few days, at the least.” He leaned in and whispered to the shelter caretaker. “She can’t see, so she won’t make it far out there, although she says she will.” He leaned back out. “You can put her expenses on my bill.” He looked at the clock hanging on the wall. “Sorry, but I’ve got to leave.”

He backed away from the group and waved his hand.

“Goodbye Mayor,” the caretaker responded. The last thing the man saw was the young woman’s open mouth expressing deep disbelief.   

State
IL
Zip Code
60044