twenty dollars

twenty dollars

A Story by bingomale

I'm not an especially good writer; I'm a biochem major. Nevertheless, I had a long day and this was all I could think of after three hours of asking for donations. tell me what you think


The man’s face suddenly changed. “you said you were raising money for cystic fibrosis?”

“yessir” I said cheerily, trying to maintain the countenance of enjoying myself in the too cold for the time of the year weather despite having been out for three hours already that seemed to raise the most money. “cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease that affects thirty thousand people in the us alone, sadly people with it usua�"“

“I know about it. One of my best friends died of it”. At that moment, the world seemed to silence; it felt like the moment in a movie when a gun is shot and nothing else on the screen is important. I could suddenly see his face more clearly than I had anything that night; I saw his sagged cheeks glistening from the street light above; I saw his gray hair with white strands diffused throughout; I saw the slow thoughtful puffs of warm breath in the cold air that mixed with the rest of the cigarette smoke in front of the bar; I saw the loosened corners of his lips, letting go of the smile he had been holding before; I saw his sad eyes behind his thin glasses that rested on on his nose pushing  the skin down; his eyes that looked beyond me even as he was talking to me; I saw the face of a man from my neighborhood; I saw the face of an old teacher that I had had; I saw the face of one of my dad’s coworkers; I saw the face of one of the men I had seen walking around campus. He slowly pulled off his glove and put his hand into his pocket. He unfolded the nearly cylindrical dull brown leather wallet. His bare hand stumbled in, almost missing the inside from its shaking. He pulled out all he had with him, a wrinkled twenty dollar bill, and stuffed it into the brightly colored Mason jar mostly filled with other cash. He replaced his glove and turned his attention back to me: “I really appreciate what you’re doing. It’s an awful disease.” Unsure of how to react I exhaled with my typical response “Thank you so much. We really appreciate your donation; you’ve made a difference. Have an incredible night” and after a moment of thought, I added, “and I’m sorry.”

 I proceeded to walk up to the next crowd of people in front of the bar to ask for a donation. Unsurprisingly, I received a resounding “sorry I don’t have any change on me”. As I walked past the line, I saw my group. Noticing the twenty dollar bill they all excitedly began celebrating a successful attempt and congratulating me on my good work and my “extraordinary” skill of getting donations. Every grasp on my shoulders, every slap to my hand, and every punch to my fist was wrong. I covered my face with a smile and pretended to be feeling the same excitement as everyone else, but the thought of the old man would not release my mind. His words echoed through my head. His “thank you” left me shocked with disbelief at the sheer contrast to the usual “how about you give me a donation to the foundation to cure my soberness” or “I’ve got a donation for you right here” followed by the incredibly clever display of theatrics that would make a mime’s white paint turn red from blushing. I continued to walk down the brightly lit commercial street with the group pandering anyone we saw for money “to help fund research to find a cure to cystic fibrosis” the disease that everyone seems to know someone with, but no one seems to talk about.

© 2014 bingomale

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Added on November 16, 2014
Last Updated on November 16, 2014
Tags: cystic fibrosis, donations, charity, age, illness, sickness, thanks