Calloused Hands, Shoe-Shining Kit, Bright Eyes

I noticed you that night. Perhaps you didn’t want to be noticed.

I was sipping apple juice, an alternative to the wine which would surely have made the next morning unnecessarily painful. You see, I had a midterm to study for, and I needed to be an adult. Two glasses of wine was more than enough. My cheeks were already warm.

I failed that midterm.

And you were forced into adulthood far too soon, your hands and heart calloused.

How old were you? I wanted to ask.

I saw you that night, standing there on that sidewalk. Your lit-up eyes were mesmerized, fixed on something to my right. A few minutes later, I looked over my shoulder. Reruns of The Pink Panther on a TV screen I hadn’t noticed was there. Our eyes lock.

One sweet smile stumbles after another.

How old were you when you fled? I wanted to ask. Would you tell me your story? Did you leave toys behind?

Perhaps I would have asked you to sit on one of those rickety bar stools and bought you a meal, but you walked away. Your shoe-shining kit swinging back and forth, bouncing against your knees.

Did I embarrass you, seeing you reclaim a small sliver of your childhood out on that sidewalk?

You’ve grown up too fast.

Photo from Google Images

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