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Princess Margaret Hospital

Outside of the Princess Margaret Hospital people sat about taking in the unseasonable temperature. A mild autumn wind picked the leaves up off the sidewalk and made tiny cyclones of them—little fires that moved amongst the passing feet of pedestrians.

Sitting on the sidewalk between the mailbox and garbage can was a man selling pens. He wore a red ‘Fly Emirates’ hat, had a distended tongue that protruded through his mouth, a tracheotomy tube sticking out of his throat and loosely bandaged hands. He was so low to the ground and positioned in such a way that it was difficult to tell if he had legs or not, and he gave the appearance of some wax creation melting into the grey concrete.

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A chopper sounded unseen in the sky above, likely landing on the roof of the Children’s Hospital right around the corner. Somebody, all sorts of people even, were in the midst of the worst, most unimaginable day of their lives.

A handsome business man with an immaculately trimmed beard strode by as if on a catwalk. Standing about 6’3, he was resplendent in a perfectly fitted suit that he’d accented with a pair of beautiful Italian shoes and a pocket square. He spoke calmly into his phone as if he was in control and absolutely  everything  was  going  exactly  as  planned.

Walking toward him was a blonde woman who was just as thin as a blade. She was concentrating so hard on looking unattainable she seemed angry, like she was off to eliminate an enemy. Dressed expensively, she was so deeply articulated by fashion that it was hard to imagine anything existing beyond exterior.  Behind sunglasses and confident on high heels, as inky as a shadow she smoked–an image to be captured rather than a person to be spoken to.

It seemed that these two people, these two vectors of power and beauty, had been moving their entire lives toward this moment of collision, but they passed without incident or plot, and the man selling pens on the street beneath their indifferent gazes cast such a stark contrast as to feel like a biblical thunderbolt. 

Moving his mouth to no effect, he held out a pen to everybody who passed, but nobody stopped or even noticed him. Not a single person. He was beneath their sight line, both figuratively and literally, and may as well have been living in a completely different world.

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A woman on crutches was standing near him. You could tell that she wasn’t sick– that she’d just had a minor accident and was still living in one world and not the other. But still, she was angry. She might have been angry about a lot of things. She was limping about very dramatically, exaggerating, exasperated that that the cab stand was 20 meters away. The beggar, wordless and unseen, waved a car over for her, and as one materialized, she limped furiously past, never noticing the blessings of the saint kneeling before her.

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