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Month: September 2012

Nine Cents Worth

The afternoon sky was dark, and poured rain onto the city. Men in ridged suits and women in sharp dresses zipped to overhangs and awnings. Briefcases and newspapers were their only fleeting reprieve.

A man paid his taxi driver and prepared for the dash across the street. He eyed the gauntlet he was to take: puddles ebbed into lakes, gutter-runoff streamed into rivers and roaring cars splashed waves.

He burst into a lobby. Hair now unkempt, jacket now drenched, and socks now sopping; he exhaled and peered at the window and into his blurred reflection.

In that moment he was caught. He was no longer standing inside an illuminated hall, but was miles away. He seemed paralyzed, except for his thumb which fingered his wedding band.

“Penny for your thoughts?” asked a security guard who sat behind a nearby desk.

The wet man was pulled back. He smiled at the guard and pulled a dime from his pocket and placed it on the countertop. “Some thoughts are treats you keep for yourself. Please, keep the change.”

Cigars and Stars

“You’ve saved my life more times than I can remember.”

The slender man sat in a chair and took a puff from his cigar. The only light on the rooftop terrace came from the lampposts on the quiet street below, and from the moon and the stars.

The short man discarded some ash from his cigar. “There aren’t that many occupational hazards in an office building.”

“You know what I mean–not danger, but myself.”

The short man laughed. “In your case there isn’t much of a difference.”

The slender man sighed.

“You know what your problem is,” the short man said, “you think too much. You are too much of an idealist. You can never keep your feet on the ground.”

“That’s what people tell me. I could be talking to someone but my mind would be on the other side of the universe. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

“True, but a ship, no matter how fast it’s going, still needs a rudder.”

“Fair enough,” said the slender man. “I just feel that no one sees value in how I express myself. I don’t get it. Or maybe I don’t want to get it. It’s as if the world is a cruel place and I’ll have to learn to accept it.”

“That’s a little dramatic, don’t you think?”

The slender man took a deep puff and looked up. “Perhaps. Do you think we’ll make it?”

“What do you mean?”

“Humanity. Do you think we’ll make it?”

The short man closed his eyes and shook his head. “I can only answer yes to that.”

“I’m just thinking about the state of the world—the natural disasters, the wars, the depleting resources, the corruption, the economic struggle… the conflict. I stop to think, will we ever reach the stars?”

“We have to,” the short man said softly.

“And what are we doing to get us there? Working in business attire in an office space? I feel I should have dedicated my mind to science, to help create a renewable source of energy, or the cure for cancer. But instead I only dream about it.”

“There you go, thinking too much again. The greatest thing we can do is contribute to the development of society. For five thousand years, we have been building this civilization with our minds, and we need to enrich it to ensure we are here for another five thousand years. You say our world is cruel from conflict? Why don’t you do something about it?”

The slender man stared at the stars for a long time. “There you go, saving my life again.”