The kids at the library all quiet down as the man begins to speak again. His voice is loud and strong, not overbearing but calming and reassuring, like a wave at the beach it’s loud but it is not screaming. Among the sea of kids, I spot my brother, his head sways, and follow the man as he reads and walks around using his whole body to tell the story. He doesn’t see me yet and I doubt he will, until the man stops talking again, but today I’m in no rush, so I’ll bite.
“But I can’t save the village the boy cried to the fox,” the man reads.
He takes a momentary pause and stares around the room as if looking for an answer from someone in his little audience. His eyes gaze at me, then the audience follows, my little brother finally notices me and waves.
“What do you do if you can’t save the village” the man yells.
He pulls all the eyes back to him, moving them with his voice. The crowd all look around now looking for someone with answers. The man stares back at me as if I know. He nods in my direction and all the kids swing their heads back to me.
“Um you find a way to save the village no matter what,” I say with skepticism.
“But there is no way” he replies softly.
I look away from his gaze, almost embarrassed by my response. I scan for my brother he’s looking at me with widened eyes. His gaze filled with questions waiting for my genius response, but I don’t know. What do you do when you can’t save a village? Do you abandon them, live them to suffer? The man puts one finger up and runs back and forth around the room.
“You save one” he exclaims.
His words rings in my ear on the ride back, my brother lit up with excitement that I was there to hear the ending of the stories, my mind still trying to decipher the information I just heard.
“So did you get it, did you get the message,” my brother says
“Yea save one villager if you can’t save them all” I reply
“Well yes but that’s not what the main message was,” he says
“And how would you know, Mr. know it all” I tease
“Mr. Stevens says that if you can’t do great things then do the little things greatly”
My jaw drops, it sounds so obvious it’s stupid. I pick my face back up and pull into our driveway. I’ve always felt like I need to do more like there’s much more I can do for people and myself. It always ended as a feeling though, never more, I never step up to do more because I always picture myself doing way more, and I never did anything. A cold wind slaps my face as my little brother opens the door.
“You go ahead,” I say as I push the button to open the garage door. He runs in quickly as he also feels the wind chill of November which leaves everyone impatient. Now alone in the car, I sit with the engine off. The lights dim out and I sit in pitch darkness, alone with my thoughts in my old beat-up 2006 blacked-out Chevrolet Silverado. I exhale and my visible breath reminds me of how cold it is, I look up my brother forgot to close the door.
It's been a week since the library and I feel the need to do something getting stronger, but what can I do I’m still confused as to what I can do great. I get the message but my mind can’t figure out what to do. The bell rings and dismisses all the students at home.
“Yo, you need a ride back home,” I ask.
“No, I have band today, but thanks for the offer,” Jeremy responds.
I wave him goodbye as I head out for the Silverado, the ride back is pretty short but today something is calling me, I make a left instead of a right, I’m going the long way. Looking searching for anything, my search is put to a halt by a traffic light. a homeless man on the side of the road looks around his sign and reads anything helps, God bless you. I quickly scan the truck for loose change but nothing. He makes eye contact but I look away fast and drive off even faster. I can’t bear to stare if I can’t help so I don’t stare.
As I pull up to the driveway in defeat I see my little brother in the driveway. I look at the clock it’s been an hour. I lost track of time on my ride home just looking for an answer.
“why are you out here,” I ask.
“ I left my key at home’ he replies upset.
“how long have you been out here for” I inquire.
“five minutes “he yells.
“ Relax, it’s only been five minutes, also you’re the one who forgot your key”.
“It's freezing and I forgot the stupid password for the garage since we changed it, where were you” he exclaims.
“sorry little man I was looking for a villager to save,” I say as I open the door.
He looks at me with confusion, his ears red and his eyes groaning at me, and a runny red nose. His hands dragging his sweater sleeves down as make-believe gloves.
“ I’m a villager,” he says as he marches inside, making each step louder than the other. He’s right, I’m doing it again, looking for something big rather than focusing on what I can control.
“I’m sorry little man,” I say.
“it’s okay I was just cold, it’s really cold outside” he says.
“I know,” I say.
“shit” I mutter.
The homeless man was wearing a torn red sweater, with ripped jeans, and not the fashionable kind. He had no gloves, and his ears and fingers were discolored, a clear picture in my head now that I reflect on the man I glanced at for a second. Did I really just glance or did I just choose to not notice, I sprint up the stairs to my room, where I ransack my wardrobe. A pair of gloves, two sweaters, and two sweatpants I find. Then I quickly glance over at my desk, there’s a gift card here for the grocery store, this couldn’t get any better. It’s 100 dollars but it seems so insignificant, in comparison to my house and bed. although I know this is spontaneous and the sweater, I picked is my favorite it’s too late to back out now. I head out back to that same light, where my villager awaits.