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Where are my children
prose [ ]

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by [adela_vartolomei ]

2006-07-31  |     | 

“Have you seen my children?”
An old man was walking slowly, using His cane and whispering these words from time to time with wet eyes. He had a long, white beard which gave you the impression that He was over a hundred. His clothes were withered with faded colors.
“Have you seen my children,” His kind eyes were saying. “Please…”
Every now and then, he stopped in the middle of the road and looked as the leaves were falling from the trees. It was autumn. The smell wasn’t the same, though. Or at least that’s what He thought. An old woman looked at Him with pity and offered to help.
“Are you all right? Do you need any money?” she asked.
“Money?” He asked puzzled.
“Are you hungry?”
“I’ve lost my children,” He said looking at her hopefully.
“That is dreadful. How could you do such a thing?”
“It is my entire fault. I’ve let them wonder off and now I can’t find them. Have you seen them?”
“How old are your children?”
“I have many of all ages.”
“How could you have lost them all, old man? Are you sure they won’t be back tomorrow?”
“I’ve waited for them for such a long time but they haven’t come back…”
“You crazy, old fool! Where is your wife?”
“My wife? My children are lost.”
“Your wife must be dead. I haven’t seen them old man. Have you talked to the police? Which way did they go?” she asked appalled by His sin.
“I think I’ve seen some of them around here… I’m not sure.”
“Can you see well?”
“I can feel them. I would know if they were near by. I could feel their hearts.”
“Could you recognize their voices?”
“It’s in their hearts.”
“You’re a crazy fool. Why do I talk to you? You can’t possibly still have children at your age that lose themselves. Why do I bother? You are crazy! Do you hear me?”
The woman moved on.
“I thought I felt them…” He whispered.
He began to walk again, slowly as if in terrible pain.
“My children must be here.”
People would just look at Him and point as if He were a freak.
“What are you doing, grandpa? Aren’t you too old for morning walks?” a teenager shouted.
“I’m looking for my children,” He said in a loving tone.
“They must be at home, you nut,” another one shouted.
“I’ve lost them.”
A young lady got up from the bench and took His arm into hers.
“You’ve lost your children?” she asked saddened by the news.
“Yes. Please, help me find them.”
“Of course,” she said and started walking by his side. “Where could they be?”
“I haven’t seen them in such a long time.”
“I’m so sorry. Have you looked everywhere?”
“Yes, except for that place,” He said pointing out to the town “They told me to look there but I don’t feel them there… everything seems surrounded in mist and clouds. My children can’t be there. It is such a sad picture. My children aren’t there.”
“I really hope so but, you know, not everybody is surrounded by clouds and mist. There are good people there. They’re even happy. If your children are there, they might just be all right.”
“You are a very kind person. You remind me of one of my daughters.”
“Thank you.”
As they walked hand in hand, other children gathered around them, playing, chasing each other and making the old man laugh.
“Are you hungry?” she asked suddenly.
“We could sit on a bench and rest for a while. Maybe even eat something. I’ll buy something and during all this we can ask people if they’ve seen them, all right? Wait for me on the bench!”
He sat down with a smile on his face, looking in front of him. His smile would occasionally grow and a tear would wet his cheek. The old man blinked a lot but it was obvious he couldn’t see anything. A little girl approached him and caressed his arm. She was no more than five years old. Her hair was red and her eyes brown.
“You’ve lost your children, mister?” she asked innocently.
“Yes, I have,” he answered seriously.
“I’m sorry. They must be really frightened.”
“That’s why I’m trying to find them.”
“Do you love them?”
The old man felt his heart melting even more. He waited for a few seconds that turned towards her.
“It is unbelievable how much I love them. I would do anything for them. I hope they know this. If only I could find them. I would never lose them again.”
“My mother said she would go to the end of the world if she lost me,” the child said.
“You are very lucky then. I’ve done the same for my children. I’ve looked everywhere.”
“You’ll find them, I’ll help you. I’ll ask people.”
“Thank you very kindly.”
The girl went away while the old man was still looking at her. Meanwhile, the young lady came back with two sandwiches and water. She sat next to him and put one sandwich in his hand.
“Eat! You must be very tired. This will give you more energy. You must have been walking since morning.”
“And even more.”
“You shouldn’t worry about it. I’m sure they’re all right wherever they are and I’ll do anything to help you. What are their names?”
“Mary, John, Faith, Peter, Hope…”
“How many do you have?”
“Oh, I have many.” He said proudly.
“Are they all yours?”
“Yes. They’ve all gone through my hands.”
Sadly, he turned his eyes towards his arms. Without wanting, the woman noticed his perfect, white, wrinkled hands. A man that has seen so much and that has gone through so many things, kept intact the purity of his soul.
“Haven’t they tried to look for you?”
“I’ve never heard them… I’ve screamed their names for days but they haven’t answered. Why haven’t they answered?”
“Maybe they can’t hear you either. My name is Mary.”
“I’ve told you I have a daughter like you.”
“I don’t know where to start… I don’t know what to do to help you. The world is big. Do you know where to search?”
“I’ll look for them everywhere if I have to.”
“Then they are lucky to have you as a Father.”
“They would have been luckier if I hadn’t lost them.”

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