My Few Words
I Wish we can say that we’re all alike, but we’re not. We do go through the same struggles, but we despise each other. I look at my neighbor and smile. He says “Good mornin’ neighba’.” I say the same.
I’ve been living in these old apartments for over a year and I still don’t know his name. I I just know that he always asks me the same question, “Ay neighba’, you got a cigarette?”
It’s always the same reply; “Neighba’, you know I can’t smoke, I’m only 15.”
“Oh tha’s right, I almos’ for-forgot.” He’s old. I can tell that his tough, black skin has been through a lot. His ﬁngers are stiff and wrinkled; he has arthritis written all over them. It’s probably from all the cans he’s crushed, digging in the garbage to make a little money for his Newport menthols.
He looks away. He looks lonely. I’m sure he has no one to talk to. He looks invisible to his children. I feel bad for him; he reminds me of one of my grandparents. His body looks fragile and beat; so many wrinkles on his face, so many stories to tell. But all he knows is how to say good morning and ask for a cigarette.
At times I think I see a tear come from those dark, lonely eyes. But I think it’ just my eyes playing silly tricks on me.
I push my feelings aside. I hate it when they get the best of me. I look at my neighbor and let him know I’m off to school. He just nods his head, raises his hand above his wool-like hair, and wiggles it freely.
I walk towards the bus stop and think about my neighbor. He’s a man of a few words. I just wish he would smile.
I wake up the next morning and open the door. I get a whiff of the polluted L.A. sky. I walk down a ﬂight of steps and look for my neighbor. He’s nowhere in sight.
I stole a pack of cigarettes from my stepdad. I hope he doesn’t find out. Mom would go crazy. I thought Neighbor might like them. Hopefully make his day, maybe even say a few extra words.
But Neighbor’s not going to show up. I finally had a cigarette ready for him, but I guess I took too long. Neighbors not going to turn up right now; I can feel it. He left last night.