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The Opposite Of Hopeless


Janelle Zimmerman

The old man sat at the bus stop. He wasn’t waiting for a bus; I could tell by the way his eyes never moved to the incoming traffic. His foggy blue eyes were glued to the passing people. His clothes were shabby, and they were inadequate for the current temperature. Violent convulsions ran through the ancient bones, as his body tried to keep warm. 

The old man caught my eye, across the busy street, and the facade of dignity he masked himself with crumbled. The convulsions continued, and I saw that the old man was crying. Not the rash sobbing of someone who is angry or distraught, but the quiet, heart-wrenching tears of one who has really lost something. What had
he lost? Did he once have a wife, children? What had happened to them? The old man clutched his dented tin cup like it was the last thing on earth. He kept his eyes downcast, so as not to give away the tears. 

A young woman walked by just then, and dropped a single coin into the cup,
making a very empty, hollow noise. The woman heard this noise, and dropped more coins into the cup, as though to hide from it. The old man looked up quickly and mumbled a short, “God bless," and slumped down onto the exposed bench. 

Just then, foreboding thunder sounded and the man took shelter under an overhang. My bus appeared, and while the rest of the passengers hurried aboard, I stood and watched the old man. He went into the nearest café, reached into his
pocket, took out a very large bill, and paid for his meal. 

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