And now for something completely different. This is my first attempt at writing a short story. Hope you enjoy it.
As the tall lanky man approached she carefully prepared her brush off. "I just simply won't make eye contact" she thought, "That's it, if I don't look at him then he'll just pass on by."
Too late, he'd already spotted her. "Ma'am before you say no would you consider saying yes?"
Somehow this was not the typical 'Can you spare some change?' she'd grown accustomed to hearing on this particular stretch of sidewalk.
"Yes to what?" she found herself saying.
"To helping me with this watch" he replied.
He reached into his tattered denim jacket and pulled out a vintage time piece. Even from a distance of a few feet she could tell this was no ordinary pocket watch. From its hand crafted gold exterior to the mother of pearl face, no amount of detail was overlooked. Upon closer inspection she found beautiful precision cut diamonds highlighting the three, six, nine and twelve o'clock markers.
It glistened as if it had just been taken out of a fifth avenue jewelers case. Quite the contrast to the unshaven vagabond standing in front of her.
"Are you sure this is your watch? I don't mean to insult, but you couldn't possibly afford something of this caliber."
"You're absolutely right ma'am, I could never dream of buying something this nice anymore and you're also right about it not being mine."
'Ah ha' she thought, 'just as I suspected, it's stolen.'
"Um, where did you get it then?"
Seeing her raised eyebrows he quickly said, "I know what you're thinking and I can assure you it's not stolen."
"I, uh, well that's not what I, well, where did you get it?" she stammered.
"My grandfather originally owned it" he began, "then he passed it on to my father who in turn gave it to me. I held onto it for some twenty-nine years before my son was at the age where he would become its next guardian."
"Where's your son now?" the woman asked "Why doesn't he still have it?"
"If you must know, about fourteen years ago we were driving home from a fishing trip when a driver missed a stop sign and hit our car on the side where my boy was sitting."
She could see the moisture building behind his eyes as he unfolded the story of his loss.
"Surprisingly, I was barely scratched. Brian wasn't as lucky though. I looked over and could tell right away it wasn't good. His legs were pinned under the crumpled dashboard and a mixture of blood and glass littered the seat around him. I sat there holding his hand for what I hoped would be a lifetime, but it seemed to pass in just a few minutes."
"We shared a couple of quick stories and told each other how much we loved one another. All the while we both cried, not from the pain of our injuries, but from the impending separation we would soon face."
"Just before he slipped away he reached into his pocket and pulled out this watch I had given to him only a couple of short months earlier. 'Dad' he whispered, 'I want you to keep this watch and when you look at it you can remember all the good times we had'."
"Then he was gone."
By this time the two people who were just strangers on the street a moment ago now held each others hand as the tears flowed down their cheeks.
"The grief was too much for my wife" he went on, "and she left our home, or what remained of it a few months later. I still blame myself for what took place that day. You see, it was my idea for Brian to skip school and go fishing with me. Had I have gone by myself, none of this would have ever happened. Then I Guess after a while I didn't see much point in staying in that big ole' empty house by myself anymore so I just left. It's been quite a few years I've been out here now but don't worry about me, I'll make it OK. There's just one thing I need."
"That's what brings me to why I stopped you in the first place. You see, this watch has been acting up lately. It's been loosing a couple of minutes each day. I've already lost too much time with my son and I'm afraid if it stops my memories of him might stop with it. So, if you would ma'am, could you spare some change so I can get it working right again?"
Carolyn didn't make it to work on time that day, but she and her new friend did make it to the jewelers where for thirty-nine dollars she got what hundreds or even thousands couldn't have come close to purchasing, hope for a tired old man.
She walked that same route to work each day for several more years but never saw the man whose story changed her that cold Autumn day. She did however, see many more men and women who fit the same physical description, (cold, tired and hungry) of that lonely traveler. Now as she passed by each of them, she no longer looked the other way. She instead, looked into their eyes and wondered what untold story they held onto that had brought them to this lonely place.
We may never know what brings people to such low places in their life, but we can be assured that our wealth will only truly be measured by how much we invest in others.