Choice

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Choice

The man sat in the park eyeing the store across the street. His baseball cap pulled low over his face and collar turned against the wind. The brown of his jacket blended well with the foliage near him. Just a day in the park for your average joe.

But this man had been there for hours. On occasions a flicker of panic would cross his face, after some internal struggle the lines would cease rending his forehead and his sullen look would return to his gaunt face. He stared. The store across the street had everything he wanted right now. It had money, he had none. It had food, he had none. It had warmth, he had none.

His thoughts boiled inside of him, looping over and over while he weighed the options. Moral qualms with what he could do kept him sitting. Kept him hungry, cold, and poor. He had never stolen before in his life. He had also never gone for longer than 3 days without food and two days without water. His eyes sunken, he turned his gaze down into his shaking hands.

How had this happened? How had he ended up here. Contemplating a moment, he decided it didn't matter. What mattered was the now. There was no point reflecting in his past if in a short time there would be no future. He felt that he would cry, the emotion building within, but no tears came. The dehydration assisted with that.

He stood and looked at the store again. He tried to think of where else he could go. Where could he get water? The water fountain in the park was broken. It had stopped working the last time he drank there. Gone, just like all of his possessions and hopes. There had to be more water somewhere.

Walking to the store entrance, he repeated to himself. "Confidence" under his breath. He was sure he looked crazy. A run down tramp like him knew there wasn't a way for him to look dignified short of a very long bath and a lot of food. Something to fill his skin that hung off his bones so loosely. The ring of the store-bell signified his entrance and he walked up to the clerk. Raising his face and meeting the eyes of a young girl.

She looked at him, boredom in her eyes. She had been working here for longer than he had been napping in the park across the street. She saw him as another customer. There was no fear at his appearance. This kindled the last remaining coals of his morals. He could not rob this woman. He could not afford to lose the only thing he had left, his humanity. His mouth opened.

"May I use your bathroom? Please?"

She nodded and handed him a key gesturing to the small hallway. Taking the key from her, he made his way into the room. It was clean. And he did his business and drank from the sink. It was cold, clean and refreshing. He still had no food, but he knew that he would survive a little longer now. Perhaps long enough that panhandling might reward him with enough change to buy something small, a protein bar perhaps.

He washed his face off a little bit, taking care not to get the sink dirty from the grime that fell off of him. He knew he couldn't stay in too much longer, so he flushed the toilet to make it seem that he had done something and left. Handing the keys back to the apathetic drone in front of him, he exited the store and began walking down the street. It was time to find a kind person who might help him get fed.

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