Empathy

by Paulana

Heavy steps, deliberate, paced, anticipated. The walk of a tired a man, worn from the world. A saunter unmistakeable, driven by mere determination, pride, dignity, and a lot of running out adrenaline. His eyelids literally stretch and heavy weight lift from the twice strength gravity that they suddenly decided to go hand to hand combat with. The pressure across his neck and shoulders has become so heavy that everything around seems to be dragged down with them.

A mother and her child. She stares into his eyes hoping, wishing, praying that he won’t have the instinct to know why his diet has consisted of merely crackers for the past three days. He asks no questions, he doesn’t cry, he doesn’t even frown anymore at the pain. Numb.

Anguish is contagious… I think. I feel, maybe… I don’t know. All I do know is that I kinda stopped reading the news lately, maybe a bit of isolation from this haunted world will keep me from holding back the tears at night. I’m such a crybaby. But sometimes I can’t help the all consuming feeling of being as helpless and hopeless and useless as the man under bridge by the school. Why he chose there as opposed to under a desk, I suppose I’ll never know. Yet and still I cry. Because every time I walk past him and smile that sweet mirthy smirk of pity, I realize that I am the reason he still sits there. And when the guilt consumes me at night that I had not the courage to walk up and take his hand and say come with me because I was too busy, too proud, too caught up in my own insecurities to realize that this man worse off than me survives on little to nothing yet I complain because my eggs weren’t over easy, yes, I, cry.

Sometimes my chest becomes so heavy with his burden and her burden and their inequities that I forget that I too have to eat. They say you must be strong for them, so I guess I must at least take that time. But if and only if that means that this nourishment to my body will strengthen yours too. No? It doesn’t work like that? Oh I’m sorry, because last time I checked my blood was your blood, and our chests bellowed the same. You inhale what I exhale so I believe that makes us one in the same. So when I eat you should too and yet I have allowed you to starve instead. Because I was too concerned with stuffing my face that I didn’t realize the other half of me was laying on its cement deathbed.

Those are my tears that run amuck the crevices of every hour upon the hour that I sit here idly and allow myself to die. One by one, picking off every ounce of resolve I have left that it won’t be me next and yet I have yet to realize that I am already gone and that my heart is all that’s left. So alone, so alone, so I cry. Haunted by the imagery of blood and poverty my resolve is weak so I presume I have no other choice but to succumb to the empathy.

Do.
Something.

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