I sit outside a coffee shop on callous concrete, hoping someone will give me something, anything, money, food, a coffee, kindness, but it’s bitter out and they are all understandably numb.
Men in unyielding suits talk on their phones and hold doors for capable people. I watch women with big hair chatter and chide, wrinkle their noses and throw half full cups into the trash as they skip away.
Not one looks at me and I too, feel less.
I cup my hands ‘round my mouth and savor the small touch of hospitality my warm breath provides. The air gets colder, my muscles stiffer, as time ticks on. I sit motionless, unable to think of much else other than where I’ll be in a few hours.
“Hey, can you hang on to my dog?” My body tenses at the unexpected voice so close to me.
I look at the little curly haired dog, and up at the little curly haired boy.
“I need to grab something real quick and he can’t run super fast, so if you’d just hold him for me…”
“No problem,” I agree, not sure what choice I have as the half-pint runs off without waiting for an answer.
The dog climbs up onto my lap. His belly is like a hot water bottle, his sandy fur a cozy coat. He stretches upwards and licks my face, his tongue soft and velvety. I feel myself loosen a little, a strained elastic slipping back to its natural state.
The very next person to come out hands me a five-dollar bill.
“Say no to drugs.” he laughs half serious, the next, a cup of steaming coffee and a few crumpled bills. “Cute pup,’” she smiles. “Buy him a treat!”
By the time the boy returns, I’ve had a sandwich, a conversation and the shake of a hand. A shop employee even leaves a bowl full of fresh water for the dog and a handful of broken cookie bits.
“Thanks for watching Jack,” the boy’s tone is raspy, breathless. “It would’ve taken me way longer if I’d had to drag him along.”
He hands me a somewhat grizzly sleeping bag and a greyish pillow. “Here, they’re yours.” he tells me.
“What? No,” I say, shocked. “Where did you get these?”
“I gotta go,” he says, grabbing the dog. “I can come back tomorrow though. People are way more generous when Jack’s around.”
He takes off so quickly I barely have time to notice his dirty fingernails, his hoodie full of holes or Jack effortlessly keeping up alongside him.
What I do notice as they trot off, is that I now feel more.