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Spectating

and being seen

By S. A. CrawfordPublished 27 days ago 2 min read
Runner-Up in Just a Minute Challenge
41
Photo by Mike Chai via Pexels

I can't imagine dying like this, in a place like this; on a cold, dirty pavement with rush hour traffic screaming by and a crowd looking on while paramedics struggle to find space to move. Who could? Deep down we all think there should be a reason, a moment of clarity... or a family presence, at least. For this man, this boy, the rail thin woman lighting a cigarette in a faux fur jacket will have to do - she's been here since the start, her eyes tracking the movement of my shoulders as we fight to keep him on the right side of the line.

He's younger than I expected, but it's hard to tell what age he could be when the dirt is so ingrained in the fine lines of his face that it may as well be a part of him. Tangled in the remnants of his sleeping bag he looks like a baby; under the eyes of the commuting crowd, a villain. They mutter and touch their chests as he bag of skin covered bones that makes up his body shakes. Their eye only see the bruises and scars and track marks that cover his greyish skin.

"There but for the grace of god..."

That's what it sounds like, one woman's mutter, and I'd like to ask her when Gods middle names became pain and poverty but there's no time. There's never enough time.

Crack!

A rib breaks with a sound like a whiplash, sending a shudder through the spectating crowd, and his baby blue eyes, unmoving in the fine smirr of rain, stare up at me with a hidden smile.

"They see me now," they seem to whisper, "they can't help but see me now."

It's true; this motley crew of onlookers are in the middle of an awakening. They've spent months carefully looking away from the boy in the lime green sleeping bag, and now the can't tear their eyes away. They aren't scared to make eye-contact anymore.

"Rest." Sarah brings us to a halt and the world stops for a precious few breaths. We're ruined, sweating, steaming in the cold air like lathered horses. The seconds seem to slow down as the ache sets in. Air hisses into his lungs, they grope for a pulse. Everyone's watching his lips go blue, but I'm watching the dog. Just a sweet little thing cowering in the remnants of his makeshift shelter. It's hard not to notice how clean it is, how well-fed compared to the boy in the sleeping bag. Hard not to notice the small bag of dog food next to the half empty bottle of cheap vodka.

"Time of death 8.57 am." She says without inflection.

There it is; the end of the line. A lonely train pulls away, stealing the last of the glimmer from his eyes. The crowd melts away with it, but an old man in a brown leather jacket stoops and gently lifts the shivering dog and it's meagre supply of food. He turns to give us a sad smile before he totters on his way just as the next wave of commuters roll in to watch the roadside funeral.

Microfiction
41

About the Creator

S. A. Crawford

Writer, reader, life-long student - being brave and finally taking the plunge by publishing some articles and fiction pieces.

Reader insights

Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  2. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  3. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  1. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

  2. Masterful proofreading

    Zero grammar & spelling mistakes

  3. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

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Comments (29)

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  • Angie the Archivist 📚🪶about 16 hours ago

    Congratulations! Excellent, heart wrenching story! Sad but beautiful touch with the well tended dog.

  • Anna about 18 hours ago

    Back to say congrats on your win!<3

  • Wooohooooo congratulations on your win! 🎉💖🎊🎉💖🎊

  • Babs Iverson4 days ago

    Tearfully heartwrentching!!! Congratulations on the runner up win!!!❤️❤️💕

  • JBaz4 days ago

    Back to say congratulations. This was one of my favorite entries into the challenge.

  • This is sad and very well written! Congrats on top story! Well deserved! ♥️🇮🇱

  • Robert Rawson 25 days ago

    A very enjoyable read 👏👏

  • Ameer Bibi25 days ago

    Congratulations 👏👏 for top story great story

  • Margaret Brennan26 days ago

    so sad that many lives are lost in a whirlwind of activity and chaos while no one really cares. This was beautifully written. congratulations to you on TS.

  • D. D. Lee26 days ago

    Poor pup. Props to the man for picking it up. Congrats on Top Story.

  • S.A., you bring humanity to those unseen on the streets because people don't want to see them. Like you wrote, there but for the grace of god... and that an old man reaches out and takes the dog is heartbreaking, but a satisfying ending, because you show there is kindness in people you might expect had lost the capacity for it. Beautifully done and congrats on TS!

  • Kiran Bajulge26 days ago

    This was excellent.

  • Caroline Craven26 days ago

    Wow. This was excellent. Painful to read, but excellent.

  • Hannah Moore26 days ago

    This was just so well written.

  • Novel Allen26 days ago

    Sad but reality in daily lives. We pretend and we hasten by as the world bleeds. Congrats on TS.

  • Rachel Deeming27 days ago

    This is just so harrowing. The grim urban atmosphere; people almost seeing it as a spectacle; the detachment with which people are viewing a loss of what must have been an incredibly hard life. I saw this so clearly in my head from your writing.

  • That was so harrowing yet engaging. Congratulations on top story, well deserved.

  • Isabella27 days ago

    Congratulations on top story!

  • Exquisite descriptions with a deep emotional impact

  • Belle27 days ago

    Congratulations on top story!

  • Anna 27 days ago

    Congrats on Top Story!

  • Congratulations on your top story.

  • Kendall Defoe 27 days ago

    Sad and familiar in any major urban space...

  • Carol Townend27 days ago

    Having been homeless and on the streets as a youngster in the past, I can relate to this. I've seen so much of it in my past. This well-written and outstanding descriptive piece reveals the difference between what people see and don't see. Well done on your outstanding top story.

  • Christy Munson27 days ago

    Devastating story brilliantly written. Congratulations on a top notch Top Story! Rings true, which makes it all the more tragic.

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