Unconscious | Teen Ink

Unconscious MAG

August 26, 2008
By Samaiya SILVER, Medellin, Other
Samaiya SILVER, Medellin, Other
7 articles 0 photos 9 comments

There was a dead girl in front of the library this morning. She was breathing, but she wasn’t alive. Whatever existence she’d had during her few years – I calculated she was around 13 – certainly wasn’t life. She was tossed carelessly on the trash-­littered sidewalk in front of a boarded-up doorway, drugged and utterly unconscious of the world around her. The filth and stench of the city were caked into her skin. She seemed part of the garbage she was ­lying in.

My home in Medellín, Colombia, has a lot of poverty. I’m used to seeing dirty, starving children begging in the streets, unkempt old men sleeping ­under newspapers, and hopeless teen­agers forgetting their pain in glue and needles.

But this … this was different.

The girl’s clothes were pulled high above her chest, ugly testimony to what had been done to her the night before. Person after person walked by. Boys leered. Children gaped and were pulled away by mothers who wrinkled their noses and quickened their pace. Not once did I see a trace of caring.

I knelt down and shook her gently.

She stirred and turned her head to me, and a grimace flashed across her face. I realized she was no child. All concept of age was erased from my mind. Perhaps she was barely a teenager; perhaps she was as old as humanity.

“Señora,” I said softly. A fly alighted on her cracked lips, and I brushed it away. Still she did not wake. I don’t know why I cared. Certainly no one else did. But I couldn’t leave her like that. I couldn’t. I should cover her. I reached out to pull down her shirt but retracted my hand. I had no right to touch her.

I knew what I had to do.

Even as I pulled the sweater over my head, I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to give my favorite sweater to someone who would just sell it for drugs. I didn’t want to care. But it was too late. Once you open your eyes and see reality, you can’t close them again that easily. And even though I wished I didn’t care, I did. She was a girl, my sister in ­humanity, a person just like me. God have mercy on us both.

I draped the sweater over her. The pulsating noise of the street suddenly quieted. The outside world ceased to exist, and a deafening ­silence enveloped us. Time slowed. The moment seemed eternal. We were the only ones in the universe – just me, the girl, and the dark blue sweater fluttering down in slow motion.

I had the sensation you get when you pull the sheet over the face of a corpse and say, muerto esta. The last fold of cloth settled on the gray cement, and suddenly time was once again going. I heard the rushing cars at my back, felt the burning sun, and smelled the filth. Nothing had changed.

I got up too quickly, nearly losing my balance. I needed to get away.

“La felicito,” an old man, who had apparently been watching me, said in congratulations. “Is it a little girl? So sad, so sad. What a shame.”

“Yeah … I don’t know,” I mumbled, hurrying away, horribly embarrassed that I’d been seen. Supposedly, when you do a good deed, you get a warm fuzzy feeling inside. But all I felt was a deep, aching sadness.

I used to believe those heart-warming stories about how people’s lives were changed by some small act of kindness. If this were one of those ­inspirational stories, years later we’d meet again. She would have risen from her poverty and pain, achieved success, and been converted to some nice religion. I’d be down about something, perhaps thinking that my life was worth nothing. On an impulse I’d step into a church and – voilà! – she’d be there giving her testimony about how she’d lived a totally empty and meaningless existence until her life had been changed by the act of a caring stranger who had covered her with a sweater.

And then I’d get up, with tears in my eyes, and shout, “I am that stranger!” And we’d hug and become best friends and I’d go home completely happy in the knowledge that my life had been good for something after all.

But this isn’t an inspirational story. The real world isn’t that nice. When the girl came out of her stupor, she probably wouldn’t even notice the sweater or wonder where it had come from. She’d use it to get more drugs. That night she would again sell her body and her soul, and the next day she would once more lie on the street with her shame open to the world. And my feeble act of caring would be worth nothing.

I headed down the street and sud­denly, to my disgust, found tears running down my face. I dashed them away, not knowing whether I was crying for that girl, my favorite sweater, or the fact that no one had cared.

I thought of the Jesus I’d been taught about in church. He would have cared, I think, if he’d been there. But he wasn’t there. I wished he were. It hurt.

People at church would tell me that he was there, that he’d cared through me.

I sighed. Maybe. Maybe.

But all the way home, the pain ­remained.

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This article has 481 comments.

on May. 9 2014 at 5:43 am
AnjanaAshok BRONZE, Mumbai, Other
4 articles 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
If you cannot stand up for something, you will fall for everything.

Coming form a teenager , it is absolutely amazing the kind of practicality you have brought into this. Great work.....

on Mar. 6 2014 at 8:03 am
Briipeaaa BRONZE, Lewiston, Maine
4 articles 1 photo 8 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Of all the words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these ' It might have been,'". ~ Whittier

This is absolutely remarkable; I myself live in poverty, and from my prespective, you put deep and truthful thought into this. Great job :)

on Feb. 27 2014 at 3:36 pm
ImmortalRose GOLD, Arvada, Colorado
17 articles 1 photo 168 comments

Favorite Quote:
Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Khalil Gibran

You really think so? No offense... but that seems kinda heartless if you ask me.

on Feb. 27 2014 at 3:33 pm
ImmortalRose GOLD, Arvada, Colorado
17 articles 1 photo 168 comments

Favorite Quote:
Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Khalil Gibran

That was touching. The world is so cruel

.king. SILVER said...
on Feb. 10 2014 at 3:15 pm
.king. SILVER, Yeux Bien Tres Bien, Other
9 articles 4 photos 569 comments

Favorite Quote:
( ͡~ ͜ʖ ͡°)

One word: ...Wow!

on Sep. 25 2013 at 10:28 pm
PotsnPans SILVER, FPO, Other
5 articles 0 photos 28 comments

Favorite Quote:
Don't cry because it's over- Smile because it happened.

Great way of thinking about it, it's crazy how small things have such an impact.

on Aug. 17 2013 at 6:04 pm
ViatrixPaige BRONZE, Mars Hill, North Carolina
1 article 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
Aut viam inveniam aut faciam. I will find a way, or I will make one. - Hannibal

I found this work very touching. You spoke plainly about something that shouldn't be covered up with nicities. You captured the emotion and made the reader feel it too. I know I did.  I am very happy you shared this.  And I do believe giving your sweater made a difference. I wish there were more people in the world like you.

. said...
on Jul. 23 2013 at 9:38 pm
I truly hope this girl will notice the sweater. Nothing is done for nothing. Everything is done for something. This small act of kindness you have shown? I think it will count for something.

shaw74 BRONZE said...
on Jun. 20 2013 at 2:13 pm
shaw74 BRONZE, Orlando, Florida
4 articles 0 photos 11 comments

Favorite Quote:
“Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.”
― Dean Karnazes

I like your use of vocabulary. very well written. The story is great..

disintegrate said...
on Feb. 9 2013 at 12:35 am
disintegrate, Campbellville, Other
0 articles 0 photos 8 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I go to seek a great perhaps."

This is beautifully written, and displays the true reality of the world we live in. Thank you for sharing your story.

on Feb. 5 2013 at 8:09 pm
MckennaS PLATINUM, Port St Lucie, Florida
21 articles 0 photos 55 comments

Favorite Quote:
Well, I’m well.
Well, I mean I’m in hell.
Well, I still have my health
At least that’s what they tell me
If wellness is this, what in hell’s name is sickness?"

This is a BEAUTIFUL piece of work.  It's written honestly and not overdone with words that only honor students would recognize.  It isn't "that inspirational story" like you warned it wasn't.  And that's okay.  Thank you for sharing this.

on Feb. 3 2013 at 7:11 am
LittleRedRidingHood SILVER, Edinburgh, Other
6 articles 0 photos 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree."
Martin Luther


on Dec. 12 2012 at 5:53 pm
fireandrain PLATINUM, Wayland, Massachusetts
22 articles 2 photos 29 comments

Favorite Quote:
"People who think they are crazy enough to change the world usually end up being the ones who change it."

It was so good! Sad, but sooo good! It touched me.

on Nov. 17 2012 at 12:15 pm
UtneyAnna SILVER, Big Lake, Minnesota
6 articles 9 photos 12 comments
I'm crying. This piece hit a nerve. It's so well written and oh my goodness. It's so depressing that this is how the world it.

on Oct. 28 2012 at 12:47 am
TerraCotta GOLD, Cupertino, California
17 articles 0 photos 14 comments

Favorite Quote:
“A man, who has no conscience, no goodness, does not suffer.”

Think of it this way: if everyone gave a sweater to a person living in poverty, the world would be such a better place. I believe that by taking a small step, you have influenced a vast audience to follow your lead.

Trees BRONZE said...
on Oct. 18 2012 at 3:22 pm
Trees BRONZE, Billings, Montana
3 articles 0 photos 35 comments

Favorite Quote:
Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die. How is that?

Amazing piece of writing!

on Jun. 30 2012 at 10:59 am
ninjamuffin SILVER, Billings, Montana
5 articles 0 photos 17 comments

Favorite Quote:
"People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered. Love them anyway."
Mother Teresa

Great job, this was a beautiful piece.


Mags said...
on Jun. 29 2012 at 10:58 pm
I don't think it's appropriate to say that. Give the author suggestions to making it better... don't just say it was boring. :)

on Jun. 1 2012 at 10:22 am
ChillieMae GOLD, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
15 articles 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
Peace begins with a smile

Thank you. Thank you for writing this. I understand the pain you feel. The pain you are going through... and the internal conflict with religion. This helps to soothe the hurt of finding out the world isnt all rainbows and butterflys.

KelliB GOLD said...
on May. 15 2012 at 11:39 am
KelliB GOLD, Amarillo, Texas
15 articles 1 photo 55 comments

Favorite Quote:
Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it.
- Bill Cosby

amazingly sensitive and eye opening. God bless the that poor little girl and you for helping!