From A 4th Course of Chicken Soup for the Soul


He stares out the window

at the children below

who were playing so freely,


He sits in the dim room on the second floor

confined, but in his mind.

Each day, he’s there.

Rarely does he move from his chair

It’s just too much effort

to use the cane.

The laughter—what sweetness to his ears.

Was he ever young like that?

Did he play in the street?

Was he ever free of worry?

They are—so obviously.

A little boy notices him one day

just watching them play.

The boy gives him a toothless grin,

and he does the same—

It is so strange for his face

to crease in that long forgotten way.

His friend pays him a visit—

riddled with scolds and advice.

“You’re just waiting, aren’t you? Waiting to die.”

He makes no motion and does not turn from the window

transfixed on the children below.

His friend leaves.

He doesn’t notice when,

and he doesn’t recall what was said

save only one thought—

       Was he?

       Was he waiting to die?

He never thinks with any level of depth.

He never thinks about much

since the time

the time he keeps out of his mind

the time his wife died.

They push, they play

their laughter is fresh.

He lifts from his chair and leans

against the window beam.

He stands, watching the children.

The toothless boy looks up searchingly.

The boy sees him

and waves with excitement.

       He waves back.

He walks now with his cane

around the small room.

What inspired him to do so?

He does not know.

“Hi,” says a voice behind him.

With effort he turns around.

The toothless boy is smiling,

his little arms swinging.

Perspiration collects on his forehead.

He slowly wipes his face with his free hand,

leaning heavily on his cane.

“How are you, sir?”

He nods.

“Would you like to come outside and play?”

“Play?” he says softly.

“Yes! It’s stickball today.”

“No, no. I can’t play.”

“Why, sir?” The boy is confused.

“I’m too old to play.”

“It’s okay if you’re slower than us. We all agreed.

     It’s funner to play than watch all the time—don’t you


“I—I suppose.”

The boy quickly goes to his side

and leads him to the door.

He goes.

The boy helps him down the stairs

and opens the door to the outside—

His face feels the winter cold

His eyes feel the morning light.

He trembles a little, and the boy

holds his hand firmly.

His cane slips from his grasp,

the boy steadies it securely.

He coughs twice, his body begins to shake.

The boy looks up at him in concern, “Are you all right?”

He nods and meets the boy’s eyes

the eyes of youth, sparkling and alive.

“Hey, everyone! This is uh, sir, what is your name?”


“This is Donald, and he’s going to play!”

Le a Gambina

You are currently enjoying a preview of this book.

Sign up here to get a Chicken Soup for the Soul story emailed to you every day for free!

Please note: Our premium story access has been discontinued (see more info).

view counter

More stories from our partners