Forgot your password?

We just sent you an email, containing instructions for how to reset your password.

Sign in

  • It was just a moment, like so many others - fleeting, perhaps inconsequential. Hundreds of lives intersecting with no real awareness of doing so.

    The light turned red, I slowed my car. Looked to my right as I waited out the nanoseeconds before I could proceed into my day.

    Across from me, already immersed in the real business of their day, a flock, a pack, a peck, a gaggle, of laughing, running, shouting, gesticulating, pretending, climbing, children played, imagined, negotiated, danced, soared, wiggled, fell, bounced and fretted through the moments before they were herded into the walls that would alternately contain them, protect them, frame their social and learning moments, until the next time the doors opened and they scattered back out into the brisk almost-autumn air.

    My heart smiled.

    In between the road where I sat and the fenced in bit of greenery where they played walked a lone figure. Tall, almost gaunt. Slow with the ponderous dignity of the individual whose pain sends them to drink it away before the sun is over the horizon, placing each foot carefully, one after the other, intent on not betraying his lack of coordination, swaying a bit, as though the soft breeze was a buffeting gale. Pausing, he made a show of raising his left arm, extending his hand, shaking back a frayed denim cuff, tapping the large, red plastic watch, and nodding thoughtfully. "Yes," his nod seemed to say to the cracked concrete and distant, starkly not-quite blue of the early morning sky, "...yes, I'm just in good time for coffee." The coffee and the company would be warm at the community centre for our community's homeless, our poverty survivors. In his scrupulously clean denim jacket and pants, he shuffled his feet in too big shoes the corner by the centre, carefully looking both ways - because there were children nearby who might watch and see? - before stepping onto the road.

    A road that divides tiny bundles of hurly-burlying potential, bundles hiding secret hopes, dreams and nightmares, from those who have lived through nightmares, who are hiding secrets, hopes and dreams, and who are still bundles of potential, perhaps wondering if anyone sees.

    My heart ached.

    The light turned green, and the location of the moment was left behind me. The moment may not have been noticed by anyone else - by the children who went in to sit at desks still full of newly sharpened pencils and smelly markers, silly shaped erasers and notebooks where blank pages wait to be spoken to, by the man whose quiet dignity even in what felt like a certain pain and loneliness carried him out into a new day, to connect with others. A moment that is with me still...
    • Share

    Connected stories:


Collections let you gather your favorite stories into shareable groups.

To collect stories, please become a Citizen.

    Copy and paste this embed code into your web page:

    px wide
    px tall
    Send this story to a friend:
    Would you like to send another?

      To retell stories, please .

        Sprouting stories lets you respond with a story of your own — like telling stories ’round a campfire.

        To sprout stories, please .

            Better browser, please.

            To view Cowbird, please use the latest version of Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, or Internet Explorer.