Unthinking

Always sleeping, I resolved to make something of myself and perhaps return to college. Walking down the street that summer evening, Alan at my side, we were on our way. Drinks, sounds; no thought for tomorrow. But we met someone, and watched his life change.

Alan would not touch him, I remember that. There was blood on my hands and arms and I was calling but he stood back. The fallen man was apologising, over and again. A short middle-aged woman used her phone to get help, but then hurried away. We waited for perhaps twenty minutes. A crowd gathered, their hungry faces watching from a safe distance. The police arrived before the ambulance, however, and they bundled him unceremoniously into the back of their van. They told us not to worry, as it often happens. Then they drove off. For a moment, we stood, transfixed, with the blood drying and tugging on my arms, my shirt stained violent red. Alan’s face displayed his revulsion.

Later, at home, the fallen man haunted me; all that day, and the next. I cried, and his twisted body turned within me like a message. This is how low we sink: writhing in red while others watch; fearful and inhuman. I resolved, then, not to further school my inhumanity, but instead to rejoice. I did not fit and never would. Alan and I drifted apart, but I still use the fallen man to awaken.