A Simple Gesture

Mark was walking home from school one day when he noticed the boy
ahead of him had tripped and dropped all of the books he was carrying,
along with two sweaters, a baseball bat, a glove and a small tape
recorder. Mark knelt down and helped the boy pick up the scattered
articles. Since they were going the same way, he helped to carry part of
the burden. As they walked Mark discovered the boy’s name was Bill,
that he loved video games, baseball and history, that he was having a lot
of trouble with his other subjects and that he had just broken up with his

They arrived at Bill’s home first and Mark was invited in for a Coke and
to watch some television. The afternoon passed pleasantly with a few
laughs and some share small talk, then Mark went home. They continued to see each other around school, had lunch together once or twice, then both graduated from junior high school. They ended up in the same high school where they had brief contacts over the years. Finally the long awaited senior year came, and three weeks before graduation, Bill asked Mark if they could talk.

Bill reminded him of the day years ago when they had first met. “Do
you ever wonder why I was carrying so many things home that day?”
asked Bill. “You see, I cleaned out my locker because I didn’t want to
leave a mess for anyone else. I had stored away some of my mother’s
sleeping pills and I was going home to commit suicide. But after we
spent some time together talking and laughing, I realized that if I had
killed myself, I would have missed that time and so many others that
might follow. So you see, Mark, when you picked up my books that
day, you did a lot more. You saved my life.”

John W. Schlatter

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