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The Beggar

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From all of my childhood memories, there are two of them which particularly stick out of the pool of gray misty depths of unclear remembrance. The first one is a stressful experience of almost drowning in my bathtub when I was just four years old. To make a long story short, I fell asleep. My mom was in the kitchen and, as soon I felt the water in my lungs, I started panicking, which made it even harder for my parents' to get me out of it.

Two years after that we moved to our new house, which was just a few kilometers away. The move was not a hard experience like it is for many kids, simply because I literally had no friends and I moved only to bigger place a bit closer to the center of my town.

My parents sadly had to go to work and my brother was in high school, so I had the choice of either going to the kinder garden or to one of our relatives in the morning and staying there until my parents finished their workday. I begged my mother for hours on end and eventually successfully convinced her to leave me alone at home with my own furry little guardian to make me company: my first cat, named Lilly. She was a grayish-brown fat fur-ball that was as kind and protective of me as any of my family members.

So I stayed at home alone for the next whole year before I would start going to school and I proved myself as a quite responsible and well behaved child. Every once in a while my uncle would come to check up on me and I’d have to call my mom every day at 11 o’clock just to tell her that everything is okay. To be honest, my uncle started checking up on me after I started experiencing night terrors and some hallucinations in the morning, of which I really just remember bleach white faces silently watching me from the top of the cabinets and bats flying from behind the couch. From that frightening time comes the story I am so eager to share with you. It was a sunny and warm morning and I had just woken up, eaten and made that 11 o’clock call to my mother before I heard the doorbell ring. Now to make things clear, I knew that I wasn't supposed to open the door to anyone, because my uncle had the key and he would unlock the door himself, and I wasn't even going to talk to the person ringing, but something happened that made me change my mind.

As I walked up to the front entrance door and looked through the glass on the side of the door I could only catch a glimpse of a man going around the corner towards our ground-level balcony. Needless to say I now was frightened and started panicking, thinking I might have left the balcony door open or the man would even try to brake in. As I ran tumbling and sliding on the slippery polished wood floor towards the door my heart was raging with warm blood pressing it into every pore of my body, except my brain. I just wasn't able to think about anything.

If you ask me why, I don’t know, even by this day, why the mere sight of this man made me instantly feel better. He was a middle-aged brown haired man of average height. His clothes were tattered and worn, but as clean as my own. Most of his front teeth were intact but I could clearly see the recess in his cheeks produced by a lack of back teeth. His facial expression was one of serenity and cheerfulness that is quite uncommon for beggars that go from one house to another, now that I think about it.

I calmly walked to the door, opened it and walked up to greet him.

”Oh hello little fellow, how are you ? “ He asked me with a calm voice.

”Hello mister, can I help you somehow ? “ I replied with the childish politeness I so rarely encounter these days around.

“Oh of course you can little gentleman ! Is any of your parents at home ? “ He asked with a hearty laugh of a man talking to a kid trying to be an adult.

”No, I’m sorry mister, I am alone at home.” I answered with genuine sadness because by that time I knew he was a homeless man.

”Oh, that’s alright kiddo. Get back into the house, lock the door and do not open it for anyone, until your parents' get home, okay my friend ?” He said with a slight smile on his wrinkly face worn by the constant exposure to nature’s forces.

I nodded my head and bid my strange new friend goodbye, closing the door and checking the locks once again.

It was about half an hour later that I heard an outraged bang on my front door. I was distressed again, even more so because of the fact that the person who was knocking apparently completely ignored the doorbell. Now I slowly walked, almost sneaked, really, towards the door, to see who was on it. Just as I was close enough to make out the figure standing out at the steps, I lost my composure and ran into my parents' bedroom out of sheer fright.

I honestly cannot recall what I had seen that day. I only remember a pale face in a dark leather coat, surely too warm for a day like it was, looking back at me from the glass side of my door.

I spent the following hour curdled up in a corner of my parents' closet and it was only when I heard my mother's loving voice calling out my name that I came out to greet her. I told her only about the kind beggar. Nobody who knows me in private knows about what happened later. I figured it would be better to leave them the knowledge of a kind old man, a saint in my eyes, rather than frightening them with what I saw.

P.S. I didn't see any of those two men, if they actually were human men, which I highly doubt now, after that and my night terrors and general anxiety subsided by the day I finished the first year of primary school.

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