Homeless
 
    Deep in an abundant forest, near a lake he
lays. The soil is damp and loose. There’s a trail and a bridge
where hikers and joggers pass him by without notice. He's still,
there, quietly observing them. He wonders if they will ever take
the time to look his way.
          The leaves fall from the tree branches, as it is autumn now.
The gold and cayenne forest smells like moss and wet dirt, from the
rains that have fallen the night before.
    He sits, he waits, and he watches the people.
They mind their own business while he continues to wonder if he is
invisible to them.
          He observes a family of four partaking in a picnic this cool
fall afternoon. They too ignore his presence.
    A slight smile forms on his lips, watching
this family’s loving interaction. He is reminded of his own family
– the one he once had.
           A
small red ball rolls to his foot. He is surprised when a little
girl approaches him.
          “ Hi,” she says
to him.
          “ Hello,” he replies and smiles
          “ Why are you so sad?” The girl asks, tilting her head to the
side.
          “ I’m a bit
lonely, I guess,” he replies.
          “ Oh,” the
toddler rocks back and forth, from heel to toe. “I can be your
friend, if you want?”
          “ Thank you. I
don’t have any friends.” His small grey eyes reflect how touched he
is with the child’s innocent gesture.
          “ Play with
me,” she giggles, throwing the ball in the air.
           He attempts to
catch it, but it falls into the frosty lake waters.
           The little
girl frowns and places her small hands on her waist. “You were
supposed to catch it,” she’s reprimanding.
           He laughs at
her endearing behavior. “I’m very sorry,” he stands and takes a few
steps to the edge of the lake.
           She shrugs and
sits on a patch of grass. “It’s okay,” she says, “I have another
ball at home.”
          “ What’s your
name?” He asks her, lowering himself to the ground next to
her.
          “ Emily,” she
says, drawing in the dirt with a stick. Her curly brown hair gently
sways in the cool breeze. Her denim trousers have grass stains and
dirt on them.
          “ What’s
yours?” She asks, tossing the twig into the lake.
          “ Wiley,” he
looks over his shoulder to Emily’s parents who are playing with
their infant boy.
         “ That’s a funny name,” she snorts. Emily takes notice of
Wiley’s worn clothes. Widening her eyes and lifting her brows, she
asks, “Are you a homeless?”
          Wiley shrugs, tightens his lips, and doesn’t
answer.
         “ I used to be a homeless until my new
mom and dad adopted-ed me,” Emily’s innocent smile lights up her
face.
         “ They look like very good parents,” Wiley smiles back at
her.
         “ Emily!” her mother calls.
         “ I
have to go now. I’ll tell my new daddy to bring me back another
day,” Emily says waving at Wiley.
          Wiley waves at her from afar, as she walks by her father’s
hand. He wishes he could go home, too, but that’s only a dream for
him now. He also knows the chances of Emily ever coming back are
slim. When will anyone talk to him again?
    Every tree is barren in the forest as winter
arrives. Wiley stands at the edge of the lake watching couples and
children ice-skating. His hair looks a darker shade of blonde being
dampened by the humidity from the snowfall. His teeth rattle as he
tries to keep himself warm by rubbing his arms; it doesn’t
work.  If only he had a coat or a blanket – perhaps, a warm
meal. But he has nothing. 

    The long winter is harsh, but he manages to
survive.
     
    New leaves appear on the trees as spring
slowly pushes away the cold months of snow. Wiley is lying,
admiring the blue skies in his usual spot near the lake.
         “ Hi, Wiley!” Emily’s little voice produces a smile on

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