Peer Review by Suri Purefoy (United States)

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The Man You Didn't Help

By: Abigail Kremer


    Remember when you were boarding that train?  You saw a man that need help with a newly mandated Ventra card.  He couldn’t figure out how to use it, and teaching him would have wasted less than thirty seconds.  He called out to you in a crowded station, and you just walked away.  You pretended you didn’t hear him, and you turned around, and you waked away.  
    You didn’t even stop to think about why he was asking.  You didn’t even think about what he was missing by being late to his train.  You couldn’t even stop to feel sympathy for this poor man because you were too selfish, and you couldn’t spare him those 28 seconds it would have took to help him.
    Even worse was than that was that he believed you.  He really, truly believed that you hadn’t heard him, so he thought nothing of it.  Would you like to know why?
    He was blissfully in love.  He was having a great day.  He had just gotten a pay raise he was to use to put a down payment on an engagement ring for his girlfriend of two years.  It was she he was going to see.  
    It’s a shame that he was wrong.  It’s a shame that you really did hear him and could have helped him.  But you didn’t
    It was 5:02 pm when you were on your way home, nothing could possibly be worrying you.  It was 5:22 pm when the man you didn’t help is on his train.  Now his brow is wrinkled in worry.
    He and his wife were to meet where they had their very first date.  This had become a bit of a routine for them.  They would walk into this old, well washed coffee shop, and sit in the very last table in the back of the shop bathed in it’s warm light.  He would order two coffees, one black, one mocha with extra sugar.
    They were to wait outside for each other at 5:30 pm, but it is 5:22 right now.  He might barely make it still.  The man thought this wouldn’t be a problem; he was actually a bit early when he left.  But, don’t you remember, he had a problem.
    He was blatantly ignored by you, and had to search the train terminal for ten minutes before he finally found help with his new Ventra card.
    It was 5:30 when you got home because the buses were running late, as usual.  You were just finally jamming your key into the lock of your front door.
    It was 5:28 pm.  The man you didn’t help is worried now.  He would now, no doubt be late.  “No matter,” he thought, “She’s always a minutes or two late, and I’m always a minute or two early, it will just be a bit different this time.”
    It was 5:29 pm when the train came to a screeching halt.  A voice buzzed the train car too life, “We are experiencing slight technical difficulties.  The train may be stalled for 10 to 15 minutes.”
    The man you didn’t help grumbled in frustration.  There went that happy thought.
    It was 6:36 pm when you are sitting, watching the evening news, wondering about how on earth some people hurt other human beings without the slightest malice after thought.
    It’s 6:28 when the man gets off his train.  
    Now, the coffee shop the man and his beautiful girlfriend are to meet is not in the best neighborhood.  Drugs pass through the hands of criminals pass through the doors daily.
But the coffee there is like no place else the man thinks surely the place can’t be that terrible.  He is now rushing down Chicago streets; he is panting like a dog with sweat trickling down the nape of his neck.  It is 6:40 pm as he turns onto the coffee shop block.
    The man’s future wife was not worried however.  She didn’t think anything of it.  Actually she didn’t think at all.  Can you guess why my dear?
    She was outside the coffee shop waiting for her beloved significant other when a 2004 SUV malfunctioned.  It was a complete and total accident, the brakes jammed because of a slight irregularity that occurred when it was being built.  The driver of the SUV lost control of the vehicle and drove directly into a young woman wearing a pleated, yellow skirt waiting for her beloved, killing her on impact.
    The man you didn’t help’s heart fluttered the moment he turned the corner and red and blue flashing lights met his eyes.  His soul crushed like the woman’s lungs.  An inhuman cry erupted from his lungs as his reason for living breathed her final breath.  
    The man’s soul was ripped apart and set aflame, while yours was being nourished as you laid on the couch with your fiance watching movies that lulled you to sleep.  
    The man cried on the way to the hospital, in a silent ambulance.
    And you?  You were completely unphased.  You were just fine.  You even read the newspaper article that was written about the tragedy that you caused.  “Woman Killed in Freak Accident.”  You thought it was horrible.  You didn’t read the entire article though.  You were too busy being a selfish person as usual.  You got bored halfway through.  Even if you had read the entire article you wouldn’t have known that this horrible incident was caused by you.  
    You are the one to blame here.  It was your selfishness.  It was your ignorance that killed a beloved woman… and her unborn child.  
    Yes, she was pregnant.  The autopsies revealed just as much.  The man found out from his would have been mother in law.  
    You were left undamaged from this incident.  You went throughout your entire life without receiving the full repercussions for your actions.  
    The man was left a hollow shell of what he once was.  He tried living the rest of his life, but your actions made such luxury nothing but whimsy.  For six months he sought treatment.  Psychologists, therapists, and so many pills did little for him.  His aching heart collapsed into a black void that couldn’t be filled.  
    He ended it all by driving head first into a commuter train.
    You selfishness ended three lives.  Think about that next time you have, “Better things to do.”

Message to Readers

If anyone could point out the grammatical errors I made and tell me what you think of the piece, your favorite part, and how it made you feel. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Peer Review

"Think about the next time you have, 'Better things to do.'" It's such a great, profound line!

Regret for the times I may have done that, sadness, grief, inspiration.

How did you come up with such an aspiring and beautiful story?!

Reviewer Comments

Thank you so much for writing " The Man You Didn't Help"! I hope others will read this and ponder its gorgeous truth.
You are a very talented writer and I hope to read more of your work!