Story of Vantage Point | Teen Ink

Story of Vantage Point

March 3, 2011
By ISayWeCuddleNow PLATINUM, Bartlett, Illinois
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ISayWeCuddleNow PLATINUM, Bartlett, Illinois
21 articles 0 photos 9 comments

Favorite Quote:
This isn't my favorite, but it's a good quote...

"The world needs Christians who don't tolerate the complacency of their own lives." - Crazy Love

Author's note: I've definitely been inspired by other authors who have written books and stories containing more than one perspective. I believe it gives a different, and maybe even extended, depth to the story. I hope people will be able to learn something from these characters, as well as realize that every experience shapes a person.

A woman walks through a grocery store, one hand holding a bright red basket. The other hand, where no ring wraps around her finger, holds the hand of her child. Her old tennis shoes fall to an unsteady beat, as if each step is heavy, yet hesitant. Each wrinkle on her face is clearly induced by stress and not of old age. Each line holds more grief and sorrow than should be experienced for her age. The luminous lights scrutinize every move she makes as she slowly turns each aisle of the store. A melody about love and happiness blares over the speakers.

Her child silently falls in step with her, neither walking ahead nor behind. Her wide eyes of grey show a look of bewilderment and longing. Without much force, her hand grips that of her mothers. She never points to a product she wants, but stares holes into every package of food on the shelves. As her mother occasionally sets an item into the basket, her eyes follow.

As they finally make their way to the checkout, the little girl pulls out each of the four items in the basket and sets it on the checkout belt. The quiet cashier asks the mother if she found everything all right. She nods without the slightest indication of a smile as she stares intently at the monitor. As each grocery passes by the scanner, numbers in a large bold font appear on the screen. The mother’s gaze falls and a look of embarrassment briefly flashes across her face.

As her frail 5’4” body starts to shake, she tries to muster the strength to tell the cashier she hasn’t enough money. Meanwhile, a clean-shaven man behind her gently taps her on the shoulder, and hands her a paper bill. As she slowly reaches for the money, she mumbles an inaudible “thank you” and quickly pays for her groceries. He offers a warm, sympathetic smile, then turns around and walks away.

She glances toward the front of the store and out the window which is covered in advertisements. Between large posters advocating cheap milk and eggs, she sees a slight snowfall beginning. She takes her groceries and walks with her child toward the exit. Almost simultaneously, she and her child button their sweaters as best as they can.

As they take their first steps back out into the cold, they make their way to the sidewalk instead of a car.

I can make a judgment about a person the first time I see them. Not because I’m judgmental, but because I get a quick impression of who they are, regardless of how right or wrong I am. I’ve learned over the years to see people in the most innocent way possible, to offer them a second chance when they may not even have a first chance.

Much has changed in thirteen years, but I’ll never forget what it was like to struggle in the streets. My parents threw me out of the house because I was a lot of trouble. Stealing was normality for me, and lying was my primary language. After seven months of not living at home, things became really difficult for me. Everyone who was supposedly my friend left me or moved away, and I lost all contact to everyone I ever knew.

I remember when I was about six years old and I was walking downtown alongside my father. We passed a homeless man on the street, and he was holding a piece of cardboard with illegible handwriting in black ink. I remember the scolding I got from my father when I pointed and asked what was wrong with him. After my father explained to me, I still didn’t understand. I didn’t understand how someone could get to the point of living in the streets with no home, food, or money…that is, until about twelve and a half years later.

It was winter, and I had been out in the streets for most of the year. Braving the cold for the first time as a nomad was something I wasn’t sure I could do. I had little at the time, as only a few people had given me clothing. My mouth was drier than the air around me, and few had compassion enough to feed me their leftovers from dining in the city. As I lay on the sidewalk underneath an awning for a pizzeria, my fingers started to turn purple, and my body obtained bruises from shaking so hard.

Just then, a man who was no younger than 40, but no older than 50, came alongside me and knelt down. The look on his face was almost a look of disgust, because of the way he frowned and the skin around his eyes seemed to jut out. Completely to my surprise, he told me to get up and follow him.

He took me to his apartment in the city and kindly showed me around. He told me to take a shower while he cooked some lunch for me. He gave me some of the clothes from his closet and told me to don them after I’d freshened up. He also gave me everything I would need, including a razor, a toothbrush, soap, and towels. As he handed me the clothes, I muttered a “thank you”, which were the first words I’d said to the man.

Looking at myself in the mirror, I didn’t know who I was. As my eyes looked away from the horrible image, I realized seeing myself was worse than I’d imagined. Living as a homeless man, I lived a different lifestyle; but actually seeing the rough and contorted features of my face hit me with even greater force.

When I finished cleaning up, I saw in the mirror the reflection of a man I used to be. A man who was confident to live however he wanted, without a care in the world, because he presumed he’d be provided for. It had been so long since I’d seen him. I slipped into the casual, but nice, clothes the man offered and stepped out of the bathroom.

As I set foot into the hallway, aromas of tomato soup and grilled cheese filled the air. I followed the scent to the table in the kitchen where the man had set the food. He sat at a seat across the table and looked at me and smiled.

As I sat down, my eyes watered more than my mouth did; and if telling you I was ravenous gives you any indication of how hungry I was, then you’ll understand how much more the gesture meant to me. The man slowly slurped his soup and nibbled on his grilled cheese, all the while he was watching me. I finished all of my soup, as well as the sandwich, before he was even halfway through his meal, and he asked me if I’d like seconds. Before I could even nod my head, he stood up, refilled my bowl, and brought over a plate full of already made grilled cheese sandwiches.

After I ate enough to satisfy my stomach, the man looked intently at me from across the table. He asked me a few questions, and I answered them. They were personal questions, but nothing was too personal for me anymore. After he finished asking his questions, he told me a little bit about himself. He was a businessman who worked in the city and enjoyed his job. He worked with interns and helped in the process of hiring for the business. As if offering a meal, a shower, and clothes wasn’t enough, he offered to set me up for an internship and told me I could stay in his apartment during that time. It was the kindest thing anyone has ever done for me, and that is why I give people second chances.

As I see this woman for the first time in the little grocery market here in town, I am confident I can make a pretty accurate judgment about her. She and her daughter are both wearing sweaters, though the weather would call for much more. The sleeves are frayed at the edges, and buttons are missing. The mother’s hair looks like she’d been taking a nap, and has not brushed it in days.

The little girl pulls out the few items from their basket and places them on the checkout belt. I see the mother gripping a $5 bill, though she hasn’t a purse with her. Knowing she wouldn’t have enough money, I reach into my billfold and produce a crisp $100 bill. Tapping her on the shoulder, I offer it to her. She timidly takes it and quickly purchases her groceries, as if I may change my mind and ask for my money back. As I turn and walk away, I can’t help but feel guilty. Someone gave me a gift that I wish I could give to someone else. My wife may not be as understanding and compassionate, but it’s worth a shot. As I walk toward the back of the store, I dial my wife’s number.

As I walk through the store with my mommy, I stare at all the wonderful foods along each aisle. My eyes are glued to the yummy snacks that we pass, along with the chocolate milk and juices stored in the freezers. I know better than to ask, and because of that, I keep my mouth shut. Mommy and I aren’t well off. I’m sure anyone could guess that by our tattered clothing and gross looking hair. It didn’t used to be like this for us, but it’s been so long since I’ve had a home; and I was so little, it’s hard to remember.

I used to dream of being a princess, or maybe a secret agent spy…I wasn’t really sure at the time. Now all I want is to have a home and food. Every day, I become more and more scared, even though I try to appear brave. I don’t tell Mommy how I really feel because I’m afraid I’ll break her heart. I wish there was something that could be done so we wouldn’t have to live like this. She looks so weak, I’m afraid she’ll die in the cold. Where would that leave me? What would I do?

As she occasionally puts an item in the basket, I take a look at what it is. None of the items are the snacks I used to eat, back when I had a home. I think she’s embarrassed to walk around here, seeing as how we don’t really look like we fit in. All the colors here are bright and the store looks happy. I’m pretty sure we don’t look happy. Mommy sure doesn’t look happy, and I probably don’t either. We’re wearing mismatching clothing, but the colors are all dark or faded. At least it’s warmer inside the store than outside. There’s snow on the ground, and before we came in, the sky looked like it was going to snow even more.

As we make our way to the check out, I notice Mommy pulling a $5 bill from her sweater pocket. I know that’s the only money she has, because a stranger gave it to us only 20 minutes ago. Whenever Mommy gets money, she tries to use it to pay for food. We walk around and go to other stores. I think it’s because she’s so embarrassed. I like putting the groceries on the checkout belt. It’s one of my favorite things to do. I just wish I had more opportunities.

The cashier has red bumps all over his face. Otherwise, I think he’d be kind of cute; but it’s hard to tell. I wonder what he wanted to be when he was little. I’m sure if he had chosen to be a princess, he wouldn’t look that way. Princesses never look ugly. Maybe one day he’ll look better.

My mommy’s body starts to shake, and I can tell she’s really nervous. I look at the number on the screen and realize that it’s a bigger number than 5. Realizing Mommy doesn’t have enough money, I start to panic. I’m so hungry right now, and I don’t know what to do. Should we try to run? That probably wouldn’t work, seeing as how the cashier could probably catch us.

I see a man in a suit and tie coming up behind my mother and tapping her on her shoulder. She turns around and he hands her some money. She quickly gives it to the cashier, so I can’t see how much it is. When he puts the number into the cash register, it appears on the screen. I can’t believe that man gave us that much money; but now that means we have to take our food and go back out into the cold. Mommy’s looking outside and I do, too. I see that it’s starting to snow. At least we have some food and money, but I don’t know how long that’ll last us.

Before we head out, we button our sweaters. Mine’s missing 3 buttons, while hers is missing 2. We head out of the doors and into the snow. I’m not quite sure where we’re going, but we hurriedly make our way to the sidewalk, and pretty soon, it’s hard to see the store behind us.

The store is almost empty today, and I wish I could be doing something better with my time. I hate standing here, waiting for the occasional customer to come by and purchase something. Right now, I could be with my two best friends snowboarding. Instead, they’re out on the slopes, and I’m stuck here. I can’t think of a better season than winter, and to be caged inside like this is killing me.

I don’t know why I even keep this job. It’s not like I’m making big bucks here. It’s just a waste of my time and effort, when I could be out having fun on weekends. My parents tell me I need to save up for college; but seriously, college? I can’t wait to get out of the house and just live it up. High school is already four years of hell, who needs four more?

Oh great, finally a customer is coming. She looks like she just stepped out of a garbage dump with her little trash child. I wish it wasn’t in our contract to have to ask if the customers found everything all right; honestly, I could care less. Here she comes, 3…2…1.

As I ask her if she found everything all right, she just seems to nod, staring at the monitor as I scan each item. She really seems out of place here, and she seems socially awkward, too. I’d be surprised if she had enough money.

As the total comes up on the screen, I wait as she looks down at the $5 bill in her hand. She’s about $7.42 short. Here’s my question: If a socially awkward person is caught in an awkward moment, do they feel the awkward moment or is it only the normal people? Ouch, did I really just think that? It was kind of uncalled for, but it’s what came to mind.

Suddenly, her tiny body begins to shake and I’m not sure what to do. I’m seriously starting to get anxious now. Normally I’d find myself getting impatient, but I almost feel sorry for her. Being an employee here, there’s nothing I can really do to help her out because it’s against our code. I guess I should wait for her to tell me she doesn’t have enough money and then go from there.
As my eyes dart around, I find myself looking everywhere except at the woman. Just then, a tall businessman comes up behind her and taps her on the shoulder. I find myself then gaping at a crisp and clean $100 bill in his hand. He offers it to the woman, and as she takes it, he turns around and walks away.

As I gawk at the man striding away, I am caught off guard by the sudden motion of her pushing the money into my hand to quickly pay for her groceries. I bag her groceries and ring up her change, and as I do so, I catch her staring out to the snowfall outside.

For the first time in my life, the snow doesn’t look like an invitation to fun, but rather a threat to the child and her mother. Only moments earlier had I wanted to go out into the snow, and now I wish I could do anything to keep them from going out.

I’ve seen people let others go in front of them at the checkout if the other person has fewer items to purchase, but I’ve never seen someone so generous as to give that large an amount of money. It’s really weird to admit this, but it makes me wish I could do something more for people. Lately, well…my whole life, actually, I’ve only thought about myself and what would benefit me. I’ve never given others a second thought as I always pushed myself to the top. It makes me want to get involved with something at school. No, maybe not school. I have a reputation there, and people wouldn’t understand; but maybe I can do something for my community, or anonymously make a donation.

I’m interrupted from my thoughts as I hear the doors brushing shut against the floor, and I see the mother and her child slowly making their way toward the sidewalk until they’re out of sight. A pang flashes through my chest, and I suddenly get angry at myself for living the way I have for sixteen years of my life. I still don’t want to work here, but now it’s for a different reason. Why am I stuck here when I could be out helping others? It’s unfair that people actually have to live like that, or maybe even die like that.

As my frustration escalates, the businessman comes by my checkout and drops a basket full of groceries on the belt. As he rushes toward the exit he yells that he will be back in a moment. The glass jug of milk falls, cracks, and spills all over the checkout belt, but I pay it no attention to it as I watch the man stagger toward the sidewalk as fast as he can, and disappear out of sight.

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This book has 5 comments.

on Mar. 17 2011 at 12:54 pm
Vanendra BRONZE, Blasdell, New York
1 article 76 photos 311 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I just sneezed and it hurt my pelvis."~Jasmine Omg
"A wise girl kisses but doesn't love"~Marylin Monroe
"I didn't tell him nowhere where you live" ~me ^-^
"I like the wolves on this textbook, they have very legs" ~Jasmine Omg

I love it, please keep writting more, I wanna find out what happens to the woman and her daughter. <3

on Mar. 4 2011 at 6:41 pm
rainbowwaffles BRONZE, Stony Brook, New York
2 articles 0 photos 89 comments

It's actually the top voted novel of the day, or if you go to realistic fiction section, then top voted, it should be number four.

The advanced search button doesn't work, I've tried it before...

on Mar. 4 2011 at 6:27 pm
ISayWeCuddleNow PLATINUM, Bartlett, Illinois
21 articles 0 photos 9 comments

Favorite Quote:
This isn't my favorite, but it's a good quote...

"The world needs Christians who don't tolerate the complacency of their own lives." - Crazy Love

Actually, I'm having trouble finding your story. I searched the title "the formation" and your username "rainbowwaffles"

on Mar. 4 2011 at 6:22 pm
ISayWeCuddleNow PLATINUM, Bartlett, Illinois
21 articles 0 photos 9 comments

Favorite Quote:
This isn't my favorite, but it's a good quote...

"The world needs Christians who don't tolerate the complacency of their own lives." - Crazy Love

Thanks so much! That's super encouraging to me!!! I'll check out your story. Again, thanks for the comment.

on Mar. 4 2011 at 2:44 pm
rainbowwaffles BRONZE, Stony Brook, New York
2 articles 0 photos 89 comments
Oh, my gosh, I LOVE this!!! Your writing is great, and there are no grammatical or punctuation errors at all either. I really like how you wrote in the different POVs, something a lot of writers struggle with, including me. I have a realistic fiction novel up called The Formation with different POVs, so if you wanna check it out and give me some advice, please do. Thanks :)