Disclaimer: not mine
THE FIRST TIME I SAW HIM
The first time I saw him walking down the street, I looked around for his parents for a good five minutes before realizing that the boy—who couldn't have been older than 5— was alone. After that, I began worrying that he might be lost; ignoring the fact that he seemed to know exactly where he was going. I would have walked over to him that day, but he disappeared into the crowds too quickly. Still, I stared after him, a bit disturbed, though I couldn't say exactly why.
Then next time I saw him, he was alone again. At that point, I hadn't yet realized that he was always alone. A small boy with bright eyes and an even brighter outfit, but somehow, no one seemed to see him but me. That day, his stride was a little slower than before, due, most likely, to the scrapes and cuts on his knees. I watched him trudge down the street and hoped that there would be someone waiting to clean his wounds.
By the time I saw him again, I knew that there was never anyone waiting for him. I had heard some batty old women gossiping and finally knew who the boy was. That day, I studied him, looking for something that would mark him as different, as other. The only things I saw that looked even slightly out of place were those marks on his cheeks, the ones that looked like whiskers, if you looked hard enough. After identifying them, I stared at the ground until I was sure that he was far, far away.
Of all my memories, the fourth time I saw him still shines as one of the brightest. Again, he trudged, this time looking half-starved as well as scruffy. However, this time, I didn't look away, and I didn't just watch him. With the memory of the first time I'd seen him and what I'd thought then strong in my mind, I purposefully met his eyes. They were such a clear blue, and it was heartbreaking to see knowledge in them. He knew, though he might not know why. Steadily, I kept my gaze fastened on his, and I smiled. Shyly, he walked over, reaching into his pocket.
"Excuse me, is this enough for a bowl of ramen?" he held out a few coins.
"Yes," I continued to smile, "come on in."