Creative Nonfiction Drama

The last week of august was always an exciting time. The holidays were almost over, but it was still summer, and there even was a carnival in town. School was around the corner. The beginning of a new academic year and the prospect of new challenges and achievements filled me with energy and motivation.

For me, the highlight of this exciting week was going to the city, to buy my new school supplies. Armed with a list, I started writing in July, I took the bus and headed to the city.

That year, a new business had opened: a fancy store selling all the newest and trendiest stuff, one could dream of…

I couldn´t believe my eyes when I walked through the store; such a large variety of things, one more beautiful than the other. Books, stationary and even toys, and the prices were very reasonable. I couldn´t believe my eyes!

Apparently, everybody had the same idea as me, that day, because the store was packed with people and their children shopping for school supplies. It was a spacious store, which made it a pleasant shopping experience for me. The store offered something for everybody. I took my time going through the rich collection of items, and when I got all my necessary supplies, I walked towards the till to cash out.

I was going over the things I had carefully selected, while I was waiting in line. I was filled with a sense of contentment coupled with pride. This year, me too, in school would have fancy stuff. (And it even looked expensive.)

It was almost my turn to check out and pay when all of a sudden there was a wild commotion. People started yelling, and children were crying. I didn´t know what was going on at first.

I saw two tall and large men in dark blue uniforms, working their way through the queuing people at the cash registers. One of them made such a wild and rude move, it flung me backward into a display of expensive fountain pens. People were holding their children in a protective position or dragged them to the back of the store. Others came to gawk, and me… I was trying to get up from my awkward landing in the pen stand.

I saw an old man laying on the ground. He seemed so small and frail. In an attempt to protect himself, he had curled into a fetal position.

The surrounding crowd was no longer gawking in silence: they were laughing and mocking the old man.

I couldn´t believe my eyes. I felt like I was lost on the set of a bad Hollywood action movie. But I wasn´t! This was really happening.

One of the security guards grabbed the old man by the collar of his oversized raincoat, dragged him up, and threw him against a wall with unnecessary violence.

- “Empty your pockets!” one of the security guards barked at the old man, who was shaking all over his body. The old man tried to hide his face and wipe his tears with his cap when the second security guard ripped it out of his hands and threw it on the floor.

The old man didn´t execute an order the guards gave him fast enough, because they started to frisk him and empty his pockets themselves, throwing his meager possession demonstratively on the floor and making disgusted faces doing it.

I got a little closer to have a better look at what was happening and see if I could help. The old man was cried bitterly and was scared. He stood hunched against the wall.

- “I am not a thief. I have never stolen anything in my life. Please!”

At that point, one of the security guards was holding a small foil bag containing a ballpoint pen. He held the pen up and showed it around as if he was proudly presenting a trophy to an audience.

- “And what is this old geezer?”

- “Please, sir.” The old man begged.

Neither of the guards would hear anything of him, and they shoved the man towards the back of the store. My heart broke, and I shot out of the crowd to follow the guards, who had the mumbling little man walking between them. 

- “I wanted to write a letter to my daughter.” the poor man cried in justification of his terrible crime, “I haven´t seen her for so long.”

I walked up to the guards, who were acting as if they had just arrested public enemy number one, and asked them to wait:

- “Let me pay for it!”

They looked at me with a mixture of scorn and loathing.

- “You know him?” one of them asked me with downwards curled lips.

I shook my head, and they pushed the old man further. I tried to hold them back and asked one more time if I could pay for it. They wouldn´t hear of it and shouted:

- “This is police business now!” a little louder than was required.

I pulled the old man from between their grip towards me and started pleading to let me pay for the “stolen goods”. They started to lose patience with me and pushed me aside.

The little old man tried to hide his face in shame. People were pointing him out to their children, probably whispering that he was a thief and a dangerous criminal. Others were going about their business again.

With all the commotion I had forgotten where I left my shopping cart, so I went to look for it. The police arrived at the store, just when I found the shopping card.

I couldn´t take my eyes of this little old broken man. It was clear to me, that he accumulated damage throughout his life. This irrefutable devastation would no doubt, scar him even more.

I looked at my cart with the beautiful school supplies I had intended to buy, but I got nauseous and dropped the cart to the floor.

The police walked out of the store, holding the old man by the arm as to support him. I noticed he wore a plastic band on his wrist. Maybe he was a patient in a hospital or lived in a retirement home; I never knew.

The police sat him in the back of their patrol car, where he sat crying, hiding his face. While the policemen were having an animated conversation with the guards, I walked up to the car and opened the door.

- “Don´t worry.” I told him. 

I startled him and he started crying even more. I put my hand on his shoulder to try to calm him down, and I noticed he was wearing only one sock.

- “Am I going to jail? He stammered through his tears. “I only wanted to write a note to my daughter, I haven’t seen her for so long. I never stole anything in my life, Miss. Honestly!”

Before I could answer him, a policeman took me by the arm and pulled me out of the car. I looked at the officer and asked if he would allow me to pay for the silly pen. He shook his head, turned around, got behind the wheel of the police car, and drove off.

I never set foot in that store again. I went back home without the school supplies and bought them later in a small local store in the village where I lived. Not as fancy as the stuff from the store in the city, but I couldn’t care less. That city stuff would have reminded me a whole year of a frail broken-hearted man, who in his old age stole something for the first time in his life: a pen to write a letter to his daughter he hadn´t seen in a long time.

That Christmas I went out and bought a load of pens, and stationery paper. I took it to a home for the elderly, so the residents could write a letter to their loved ones. It made them happy!

And ever since, there are always a couple of pens hanging around in whatever handbag I have on me – just in case somebody wants to write a letter – and doesn´t have a pen, or the money to buy one.

November 30, 2021 07:51

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Boutat Driss
09:20 Dec 05, 2021

love it. well done. I like your way writing it' s a pleasure to read you.


F.O. Morier
18:40 Dec 05, 2021

Hello Thank you so much for your nice comments!I read your comment last week- but couldn’t reply- internet thing… But I can tonight Thank you so much! I really appreciate it! Happy holidays! Fati


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