It was my first hour of New York, and someone already tried to rob me. It was out on the streets with my bag slung over my shoulder. He shoved me and I felt the weight of the bag disappear.
I heard a sprint and a thud, in an almost comical way. He stumbled and fell only a few feet from where I was. Grabbing my bag, I turned him towards me to see that he was just a kid.
Dirty and disheveled, but still a kid. I'm not sure why I did it, but I handed him a wad of bills and where to find me before I left.
It was later that week when I found him on my hotel porch. He was panicked and distressed, pointing and pulling and nudging me somewhere.
Curiously, I following his prodding and he took me to a small alley that just barely hid a dumpster.
I saw a figure wrapped in tattered rags shuddering in the corner, hidden behind mounds of garbage and snow. Her breath was coming out in quick, hollow gasps.
I could see the life draining out of her and knew she was in trouble.
It was back in the hotel room that I learned what happened. Sickness they could do nothing about. Medical bills that they couldn't afford. And a deadbeat dad that left.
And I realized then that when I saw the kid, I saw myself.
The next morning, they were gone. It was as if they never existed. And then I noticed the note. It was hastily scribbled, but I noticed he kid's handwriting.
It was an apology for trying to steal my bag. Short and sweet and cute, full of innocence and life. I smiled. But as I neared the end of the letter, it changed. It wasn't an apology.
It was a goodbye.
I hurried over to their little alley of their own world with his note clutched tightly in my left hand. I was in a panic.
When I got there, the only thing left was their bodies, frozen in the cold, with her arm wrapped around him to try and keep him warm.
And when I sat down next to the kid, I felt a cold winter breeze whisper to me, "Thank you.."