Tired Old Man

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The traffic was heavy and in frustration Dottie took a short-cut through the cemetery. As she was about to exit on the south side of the winding path, she saw a tired old man. He stood watching her, and for no reason, she felt peace in his gaze.
Home for the night, Dottie microwaved a Lean Cuisine and turned on the news. As she sat with her meal and an iced tea she watched the reports of a protest in Detroit. Only paying half attention, Dottie noticed a tired old man looking at her from the sea of marchers. She felt as if their eyes locked. With a laugh, Dottie found the coincidence and her reaction humorous. Later that night, Dottie bolted awake in her chair and knew she had to get to bed, for work tomorrow. She picked up the remote as Jimmy Fallon’s joke tore through the audience, and there he was, in the next to last row, a laughing old man who looked straight through her.
All night long, Dottie dreamed of this average looking old man; he never spoke he was always in the background. She bolted awake and realized that she had seen him most of her life. It is as if she was being stalked by a mob of dusty old men. After an hour of pondering this ridiculous concept. Dottie dismissed the idea as one of those middle of the night musings and went back to sleep, just in time for the nagging morning alarm.
Running late, she drove through Starbucks for a quick coffee and a muffin. This time she wasn’t surprised to see him seated by the window and she waved. His face lit up and years melted away with a smile, as he nodded back to her.
The next day Dottie left a few minutes early so she could walk into Starbucks, but he wasn’t there. That evening she drove through the cemetery with hopes if seeing the old man, but he was never close enough. For the next two weeks, Dottie saw him from a distance, in shadows and reflections; she continued to wave and smile when possible. She began to acknowledge and welcome the unnoticed people around the perimeters. She smiled and when possible said hello to those who seemed alone.
Months passed, and life felt as if spring was filling each day. Dottie didn’t notice the awakening, but her frustrations dissipated, her profanities on the highway evaporated, the job became rewarding, and the scowl mark on her forehead softened.
It was the middle of the night when she found the note on the pillow. Written in a shaky hand on fragile, yellowed paper, it read — Dear Miss Dorothy, we are your past, your future, your possibilities. Very few of the incarnates notice us, but there was hope for you. As a reward, we guarantee equal joy to what you give away. With eternal love — the Guardians. The note crumbled into smoke and Dottie knew it was real. With a quick decision to follow the guidance, she slept well the rest of the night.

 

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