He is staring at me. The nicotine stains on my fingers.. my hair, which he finds amusing. I look back at him and wonder how he can wear a wool sweater in this kind of heat. His eyes are gummy, and I ask him if he has been to see a doctor lately.
He coughs long and hard, painfully, clutches his chest and tells me that he hasn't, because he feels like faith healing is the only thing that can help him at this point. He asks me for a cigarette and I pass one to him.
"You've never been hurt," he says, still studying me, and I wait for him to continue but he doesn't. I ask him what he means, and he repeats himself. In my mind I see myself in my bedroom as a child, and even now, rocking back and forth. The eternal me, hurting. I see all of the ways, all of the times that I have been humiliated, abused.
And I smile. "I've been hurt," I say, and want to tell him how but when I see his shaking hands I can't. I lean against the fence.
"... But I'm happy to be alive." He smiles at me and I take a deep breath, because I mean what I said. I let that happiness swell in my chest and feel it for a minute or so while we smoke in silence.
What a beautiful gift.