Episode 587: InconsolableThe shelter seemed even more crowded than usual as he slipped inside and sought out the loneliest corner. Like him, there were so many desperate to get in out of the cold night.
He took a seat, placing his elbows on the table and his icy fingers at his mouth, blowing warm air through the holes in his black wool gloves, though he knew it was a somewhat futile practice. The cold wasn’t the only reason he felt numb.
From the corner of his eye, he noticed people cleaning up the dinner service. He thought he should do something to earn his keep, he wasn’t a lazy guy, no matter how much or how little he had at any given point in his life, he’d worked for it. But he’d never been the most sociable person around and he couldn’t deal with maybe having to make small talk with anyone, not after what he’d witnessed several blocks away.
He promised himself he’d help in the morning, and retreated a little more into his hood, though evidentally not far enough.
"Hi," her little voice sang out, "it’s nice to see you."
She was a sweet kid, he supposed, but a talker, and as if that prospect wasn’t daunting enough there was the sight of her in a shelter at this hour. She was bathed and nicely dressed; still, it troubled his heart. "What are you doing here so late? You’re not… you’re not sleeping here, are you?"
It was only at times like this, when he saw a kid stuck in this, that he thought maybe he’d been wrong to run away from a life that would have afforded him to help.
"Sorry, I can’t keep you company for long," she said. He breathed a sigh of relief, glad he wouldn’t have to watch the kid grow up as he had, too fast, too harsh. "We just brought some stuff by on our way home from my grandma and grandpa’s, cuz there was extras, and cuz my mom needed out of there, my dad said."
"I know the feeling." It had driven him here, away from the painful sight in the window blocks away.
"Oh," the kid’s excitement ramped up, "were you having Thanksgiving someplace, too?"
"Not exactly." He hadn’t even realized it was Thanksgiving. Just as well. He’d lost his appetite tonight, possibly for good.
"What about the person you love? Maybe you could take this," the girl held a carefully wrapped piece of pumpkin pie out to him, "and share it with her."
He shook his head and turned away. "She’s with someone else."