The Boy from 27th Street

I wrote this originally for a short story assignment in ELA, and apparently I did well on it because I got a really good grade. I hope you guys like it!

Sometimes you can get caught up in life, and all the beautiful details pass by in a blur without you even taking notice.

She forgot how to slow down; to stop and see. Then she met him, the boy from 27th Street.

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1. The Boy From 27th Street

I’ve never liked Monday mornings. Then again I’ve never liked a lot of things. It was a fine morning though, the kind you only get once in awhile; all the streets were bathed in a golden light that worked its way through the tall buildings and flooded the sidewalks, splashing on the bustling people of the city. Everything glowed with a surreal radiance that made the world seem alive. I failed to recognize this though; there were more important things on my mind.

 

Schools of people already swam through the streets all on various routes; the city wasn’t one for getting up late. A majority of the numerous shops and stores that lined the streets had already woken up and flipped their signs to: Yes! We’re Open! Crowds of businessmen and women briskly strutted the streets, their reflections glinting off the stretch of glass windows lining the avenue. Cars zipped across the weather-beaten pavement. I could hear a siren off in the distance.

 

No one seemed to notice the brilliance of the sun; they were all too engrossed in the mess of tangles they had to straighten out by the end of the day. A multifarious mix of dilemmas and disagreements about who knows what, all jumbled into one living, breathing, prodigious thing; the city. A machine always working the daily grind,  incapable of desisting the clockwork to stop and smell the roses.

 

I hadn’t caught even a whiff of the roses before I was involuntarily whisked into my own labyrinth of problems.

 

I failed to wake up on time that morning and was ten minutes behind schedule. When I entered the subway station I could just see the end of my ride vanishing down the tunnel. I would have to walk to work, as the next train wouldn’t be able to get me there in a fashionable time.

 

It’s a curious thing, that a mere ten minutes could cost me my job. Some would most likely say my boss is a mad, crazy old man, but I just like to tell them he’s just a somewhat austere in manner when it comes to the good of the company. I don’t hate my job, but I certainly don’t enjoy it either. The early mornings can be difficult, and it's not surprising if I’m exhausted by the end of the day.

 

This morning, (though I managed the extra ten minutes of sleep) I was particularly weary. I had a late night before attempting to finish typing up a paper for my college class. It could be strenuous, juggling both a full-time job at the newspaper and nighttime college classes. I’ve been told my expectations are too high and I can be fairly harsh on myself. But that’s an entire different matter.

 

I was practically jogging trying to beat the clock, and took a shortcut down the Club Row on 27th Street. Somehow I’d managed to grab a coffee along the way and it sloshed inside its cup as I bounded through the streets. I bulldozed between the throng of people and skirted around the young bum that always loitered on the corner of 8th Avenue. Why did these people always seem to get in my way on purpose?!

 

“‘Scuse me, miss?!”

 

I well-nigh toppled over onto the cement. I gave my coffee cup such a squeeze that the lid popped clear off and its contents bespattered in every direction. Luckily my clothing remained unstained, but it was still a perfectly good coffee gone to waste.

 

“Damn it!” I tossed the no longer valuable cup on the ground.

 

“Hullo? I said ‘scuse me, miss.”

 

It was the voice of a young boy. He had a hint of a western accent, and carried out the u in ‘scuse nice and long. I swiveled around, pondering if the voice was in fact acknowledging me. I frantically scanned the area around me searching for the culprit of my coffee spill. I saw nothing at first, then turned my eyes to the bum sitting upon the curb.

 

Little tufts of dusty golden hair poked out from beneath a green cap, framing his tiny, dirt-smudged face. He blinked up at me with big expectant blue eyes. They glinted as if they knew too much for their age. He wore a small smirk. I wanted to smack it right off his face. I wasn’t prepared to deal with this.

 

“Ain’t it a bee-u-tiful day?” He said. “I ain’t seen a mornin’ like this in ages! Not that I’m that old, beg your pardon. It’s like the Lord poured buckets a gold all over-”

 

I cut him off, “What do you really want? Because I don’t have any change to spare, if that’s what you’re wondering.” It may have come out as a bit rude, but I never was very fond of homeless people, and tried to avoid them. They tended to be filthy and and ill-mannered, always getting in your space and thrusting out their grubby, greedy little hands to beg for your money. I couldn’t stand them. “Well, I’m already late so I best be on my way.” I began to turn away.

 

“Yes, you do.” The boy said getting to his feet and brushing himself off..

 

“What?” I was a bit puzzled as to what he was talking about.

 

“Yes you do have change, is what I mean. I know that for a fact. You see here, you got one o’ them fancy coffees, which if I’m not mis-taken, costed ya six point twentee-nine cash doll-airs.” He spoke slowly, as if I didn’t understand the English language. “You’re probly one of those people who’d pay with a bill o’ ten. So that leaves ya with three point seventee-one cash doll-airs to give me.”

 

All I managed to do was stare at this kid, who I wouldn’t have thought capable of adding one plus one. I did indeed have that exact change in my wallet. At this point the fact that I was late was pushed to the back of my mind; I was too lost in this mystery of a boy.  I stepped forward, intrigued, which was unusual as normally you wouldn’t find me within a ten-foot radius of a homeless lowlife.

 

“But mam, I ain’t saying I want your money though, I’m just hurt that you’d lie ta me and all. I got somethin’ for ya, but I’m not sure I wants ta give it to ya now.”

 

I had passed by this boy countless times in the past two years, never exchanging a word, let alone acknowledging him. But now I stared him straight in his baby blues, eager to hear his next words.

 

But what could this bum possibly have that would be of value to me? Who am I kidding? He could have been a con for all I know. I began to get skeptical after his little display of genius, and considered walking off right then and there, but my curiosity was not something that could be easily controlled.

 

“What exactly do you plan on giving me?”

 

“Well, you see here, awhile back you were walkin’ past ‘ere and ya dropped a little somethin’. That’s right, I’ve seen you ‘round, walkin’ past all business-like, always on some mission. But any-who, I gots somethin’ here for ya. In all your hurry you dropped it right on the curb.”

 

I’m not sure if it was greed or interest for whatever the boy had to give me that kept me glued to that spot. I was still suspicious, as you always should be of street people.

 

I thought for a moment, and tried to recall what I could have lost. “I’m not missing-” I happened to look down at my watch, “Oh God, I’m twenty minutes late! do you realize what you’ve done!?” Anger began to bubble within me, this bum had made me even later. And for what? He had completely wasted my valuable time.

 

I whipped up, ready to release my fury on the boy, but decided that my top priority was getting to work.

 

“I’ll deal with you later!” I said, pointing a finger at the boy. He shook his head at the ground, making him look strangely like an adult, and sat back upon his curb.

 

I ran my hands through my hair and pushed the strange experience with the boy to the back of my mind. I sped towards work, running as fast as it is humanly possible to run in four-inch heels and a pencil skirt. I managed to knock over at least three people in my hustle,  and cursed when I discovered a rip in my skirt. Worst. Day. Ever.

 

When I arrived at the newspaper, the elevator wasn’t working. I pulled at my hair, if this kept up I wouldn’t have any left at the end of the day. I had to huff up seventeen flights of stairs. By the time I reached the top my legs were screaming in agony and my lungs were shrieking for air.

 

Surprisingly, I didn’t get any head shaking or glares for being late. I slid into the chair in my cubicle and heaved a sigh of relief. Finally at work. Wait. Either the clock on that wall was early, or mine was late. I thought a moment and decided that it was the latter. A smile tugged at the corners of my mouth. I nearly jumped and laughed in joy right there in front of all my colleagues. Joy surged through my body.

 

I don’t know what overtook me, but I found myself kicking off my shoes and peeling out of the office. I couldn’t imagine what my coworkers were thinking right now. Probably thought I finally fallen off my rocker from all the stress of life.

 

I threw open the door and skipped down the stairs three steps at a time. I sped through the lobby and raced out into the street. Rain prickled my skin. The sun still filtered through the clouds and glowed like the God poured buckets of gold on the streets. It was a sun-shower. I must’ve looked like some crazy person while I flew through the city. I made for 27th Street; the boy is always at his usual spot by the corner.

 

I scanned the curb but it was bare: only busy businessmen and women speckling the the sidewalk.

 

Just as I started to question my sanity that there ever even was a homeless boy, my eyes were drawn to something on the sidewalk where he had previously sat; A mauve-colored rose that I swear wasn’t there a second ago. I gingerly picked it up and twirled it between my fingers, examining its every inch, hoping it concealed some answer as to where he went. But the boy was nowhere to be found.

 

What a waste of time. Why would I want to apologize to the boy anyway? He was a nasty little creature and deserved to be treated like that. I have nothing to be sorry for.

 

I walked back to work and back through the lobby and back up the stairs and plopped at my desk. The sound of fingers on keyboards ticked through the office. I dived into my mountain of work, once again swallowed in my sea of problems. I groaned at the thought of having to go to my class tonight

 

As I walked home at sunset, I absentmindedly stuck my hand in my pocket. Among my three dollars and seventy-one cents I felt the rose, which I had somehow forgotten. I took the flattened thing from my pocket and held it to the sky, examining it. It was the exact color of the clouds gracing the skyline.I finally realized what I had lost. I stopped and gazed at the heavens. The boy was right, it was a beautiful day.

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