the old man huddles in the doorway to the abandoned church as across the street, a young boy and his mother sit playing in the newly renovated park. the boy has a ball and tosses it, up and down as his mother looks on all the while glancing around her, looking to protect the boy from the dangers of the world. she brings him out here every day, and nothing has ever happened. in the days where every child is a statistic and every trip home is a miracle, no harm has ever come to this child. playing quietly with his ball.

the old man looks across the street and sees the boy and remembers his days as a child, years ago, when he used to play with his ball in the park by the river, when his mother would tell him to bundle up and would tell his brother to take good care of him. she would tell him to hold his big brother's hand when he crossed the street, and she would tell him to watch out for cars. and he would go out and hold his brother's hand and look both ways before crossing the street. and he would play in the park with his ball as his big brother would go and play with his friends.

the little boy bounces his red rubber ball on the cold concrete as his mother looks on. his mom always watches him when he plays, even though she's told him so many times to be careful. she tells him that he should watch out for the cars and make sure that he holds on tight to his ball when he crosses the street so he doesn't lose it. and then she hugs him and tells him that he's a good boy and that he can have a cookie when they get home. and the boy smiles and plays with his ball and knows that everything is going to be okay because his mom is watching him.

the old man watches as the young woman jogs by in front of the boy. he notices that the boy does not even see her, and continues to play with his ball. the old man remembers the day he saw a young lady just like her, running by his house. she was beautiful. and as she ran by, she stopped and looked at him, and her eyes met his. and the man fell in love. and the woman never stopped.

the young woman sees the little boy playing as she runs by. he's playing with a small red ball, the same kind that she had when she was a small girl playing in these same streets. she sees the boy's mother standing on the side, watching him, protecting him from the world. the young woman remembers playing in these same streets, alone. she remembers being told to watch for cars when playing in the street. she does not remember her mother.

the little boy feels the cold from the city as the sun begins to set and he sees his mother stand up from the bench. he knows that it is time to go home and as he drops his ball to the ground one last time he sees the young woman fall to the ground. the little boy doesn't notice as the ball bounces off of his foot and into the street. he only watches as his mother walks over to the young woman and helps her to her feet. the little boy stands on the street as his mother walks back to him and, taking his hand, reminds him to always watch for cars when playing in the street. the little boy pulls against his mother's hand, but she is already walking home.

the old man watches the world from the doorway of the old church. he watches as the young woman jogs gingerly down the street, her foot still sore from the fall. he watches as the little boy and his mother walk down the street, the boy not wanting to go home. the old man watches as the three of them slowly fall away from the church as a small red ball rolls down the sidewalk until finally coming to a rest by the door to the abandoned church. he reaches down and picks up the ball, cold now from the sidewalk, and gently tosses it from hand to hand as he watches for cars.

talk to me | take it from the top
once upon a time | old school stories
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