Tattered Souls

Everyone, including me, passed by him every day. He would sit there on his grimy blanket, noncommittally stirring the few coins inside a soup can he had. Some passerby would sneer down their noses at his tatterdemalion clothing, huff, and stalk away; others might crouch down and toss a few dollars in. He would look up and give the warmest, most human smile I had ever seen, then.

My mother always told me to look the other way when I happened to be on his side of the street. Sometimes I had wondered if she was like the snobbish people, the ones that had so perfected their down-the-nose glare, but I soon figured it was just that she didn’t want me getting in any danger.

Either way, I couldn’t help but start thinking about that old man even when I wasn’t in sight of him. In school, his twinkling blue eyes held me more than any text on Latin roots could. At home, the smile would remain etched in my cerebrum.

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