It was a cold day in March as he looked out the window at the long stretch of city streets intersecting like a grid of memories. The view reminded him of a vintage postcard, arriving unexpectedly with greetings of long ago from forgotten voices.
From his penthouse, he could see Park Avenue all the way down to 42nd Street. He opened the window, taking in the grayness of winter air and cement. People were getting in and out of cabs, walking in opposite directions, going somewhere or nowhere at all. But he had made it to the top, and there he was admiring the view--alone. Stuck in the past in sepia colors.
He closed the window and put his coat on. Soon he was out on the street, merging with the crowd, blending in, no one to meet but his own shadow. He saw a homeless person sitting in the corner, someone he would usually avoid. He was a young man, drawing artwork on pieces of cardboard with colored crayons. But this time he stopped and told him he liked his drawings and that he thought he had a future as an artist.
He stopped at the cafe where he had breakfast every morning and got a cup of coffee and a toasted buttered bagel. He went back to give them to the homeless person to help him warm up and talked to him about finding shelter and getting help. He then got into a yellow cab on his way to work and suddenly the city took on myriad colors and he felt less alone.
From that day forward, he stopped every morning to talk to the homeless man and bring him gifts. Sometimes, it would be breakfast. Another time, a set of colored pencils for his drawings. Yet another, a sketchbook, so he wouldn't have to draw on cardboard. And sometimes, just a hello and a smile.
Until one day, the homeless young man was gone and he was filled with such sadness, not knowing what had happened to him. Months went by and he resigned himself that he would never see him again. And then a summer morning, he went to the usual cafe to get breakfast and the man behind the counter, serving coffee, was the former homeless person.
"This coffee is on me," he said. "Thank you for believing in me." And he pointed to the wall, where one of his drawings was hanging among others for sale. It was a sketch of the street corner where he used to sit, and a flower had sprouted from the cement.
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Something a little different for you today. This is flash fiction, a genre of writing I'm experimenting with lately. I took the photo from a building overlooking Park Avenue in NYC. Enjoy!
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