Shelter in the Night


The boy was a street kid, probably had some kind of home but his parents didn’t care a whole lot, or maybe he just had one parent at home, and this parent worked a lot, or had some kind of addiction.  In any case he was dirty and he was needy.  Need, and longing and feeling helpless make people do bad things.

I’m not giving any excuses for the boy’s behavior but I am explaining why she loved this boy.  Because he’s just a boy, and boys do things that they shouldn’t, and this boy at least knew when he had been beat.  Because he had been beaten before, and she could tell because he gave in and resigned himself to his lot.  He knew he had done wrong, and he knew he deserved something.  He didn’t know the woman but he knew he was in the custody of someone braver and wiser than he.

The woman was strong in character.  She knew the boy, weather he knew it or not.  She had seen her brother, and her father and the son who she had lost in him.  She saw the innocence that even the boy who at the age of twelve had thought he had lost.

The woman was strong and brave and had spent much time alone on account of it.  When someone spends brave time alone they see others and they look in themselves, and if their not hardened by it they grow soft, and her large softness had made her heart grow big.  She wasn’t surprised when the boy grabbed for her purse (not as surprised as he was when she grabbed him), not because she had seen him coming, because she had not.  She was not surprised because she knew it was coming.  She knew one night walking that street that she walked so often that this would happen.  At first she was gun shy, even with her wonderful bravery, when she walked down that lonely night street lit up and speckled with night people, she would see out of the corner of her eye this boy.  Not this very boy, but this boy.  She would tell herself “that boy there is lonely,” and “that boy is needy,” or “that boy is hungry,” and in this way, over time, she had softened herself with her hardness.

This is why when the boy, this very boy came, she was not surprised.  She took him in, and she fed him, and she would even find herself at times wanting to keep him, but she knew that she could not.  Because when she looked at him she saw her brother, and her father and the son she had lost.  Because of all of this she was glad to feed him.

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