The milk spilled across the table and all over the floor. Its white stain splashed outward and became a ghostly firework there beside the toes of his shoes, which barely scraped the old hardwood floors so used to absorbing these accidents.
From invisible to spotlighted in just a quick second of time, this young man was found to be the object of glances between sips of coffee and the subject of comments between discussions over bites of three egged omelets.
I didn’t see him at all before. But now I did, there in his navy blue light weight zip up jacket, as he looked around restlessly, nervously, and innocently clueless as to how to turn this twelve ounce volume of milk from splattered to gathered up again. His low hung chin and fleeting sideways glances, a mix of embarrassed and somewhat shy, spoke clearly of his dislike for the attention.
And yet overwhelmingly and increasingly more noticeable to me than that awkward teenage discomfort was the utter lack of sympathy from six other souls sitting by him. They did not have the excuse of being strangers. They had some knowing of him. They might have even been in relation to him, bound by that blood that we claim as family, as the people you are from and held to for life.
As he floundered to dab an ocean of liquid with his small bit of balled up napkin, the guests at his table took another bite of their toast and eggs sandwiches, wiping the crumbs on the edge of their lips with their napkins.
A girl who looked like his older sister sat across from him but looked at me. I saw her distant shame, her silently begging for me to overlook her as an accomplice in this act. Twice she caught eyes with me in this way. She wanted me to preserve her. And I looked back, silently begging her to give kindness. For her to not miss this chance to cover over her loved one.
I knew so much about this family now in the few seconds a young boy had to manage his own miniscule five second failure in life. I didn’t need to see another scene from their lives to have a pervious insight into what many dealings among them must be like. I grieved the absence of nurture, of compassion, of consideration for one another. I ached for their inability to cover one another’s shame. To see one of their own struggle and to not only not help, but to also back away from it as if they too will be seen differently.
I watched them file out the door in a cluster, held together by association but not by love. I imagined them going out into the world so heedlessly and that perhaps no one would be much better for being near them. No one would be comforted. No one would be loved. No one would be improved. No one would be nurtured. This amoeba of souls together and individually would come and go in this world without the intention to make a dent of loving it into something better.
Perhaps I assumed much. But perhaps I did not.
I grieved that there are so many like this. And I longed for the scales of selflessness to not be so heavy in this direction and for this lovelessness to not win out in the hearts of mankind. And should tires go flat and groceries be dropped and milk be spilled, that instead of shame that there would be someone there to fall to a knee in loving kindness.
Photo is pixabay creative commons
Guest Author Bio
Kelly Christian is ever reckoning life through wonder and conversations, always wishful for the next chance to put everything that means anything into type. Her heart is riveted by faith, questions, beauty, creation, identity, and sparks in conversations with strangers and friends alike. Kelly resides in Charlotte, North Carolina where she writes creative nonfiction, teaches English as a second language, and enjoys loving on her four little dignified souls alongside her husband.
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