The Nice Thing About Strangers

Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.

Mr. Independent

A little boy in a blue t-shirt acts tough, strong, fearless. He clutches a toy truck low at his side and eyes the passengers on the train. His father sees a friend near the front of the car, and moves away to talk to him. The boy breaks free of his mother’s grasp to follow his father, to meet the acquaintance, to get another view of the crowd. He travels up on the toes of his rubber shoes.

The boy studies a few children in the car with a raised eyebrow, an expression his father shares.  Nearby are a boy about his age and twin girls with white skirts and sequins.  His mother calls, “Gel!” Come. In her direction he tosses a tiny dismissive movement, another mannerism lifted from his father.

As the boy scans the crowd, he spots two elderly women with their heads covered. He gasps and backs up to his father, but seems drawn to keep returning and peering at them. One woman blinks at him, then waves her fingers, and he stumbles backwards. He hustles away as the women chuckle.

A few minutes later he continues his observations. As though he’d forgotten they were there, he spots the women, panics, and flees again. Now the amusement is contagious. The women laugh, boy’s father apologizes quietly and laughs, the friend laughs, the children laugh. Finally, the boy laughs too, not sure why. He joins in until he again spots the mysteriously scary women and rushes straight to his mother.

–Izmir, Turkey

Turkey, Istanbul travel

12 comments on “Mr. Independent

  1. Eda
    May 17, 2013

    And little boys never do grow up. He’ll spend the rest of his life scanning the crowd for his mother’s face whenever he feels threatened.

  2. anglophiletoad
    May 17, 2013

    That’s a great little story. I enjoy your observations on life…

  3. joannerambling
    May 17, 2013

    What a bloody great story I enjoyed it………………..and the photos priceless

  4. vanbraman
    May 17, 2013

    I really like the picture of the little boy. It really makes me think. Is he a young royal, does he look like a little band major or is he a king of a festival.

    • He’s dressed for his circumcision! 🙂 I was in Turkey during prime “sünnet” season, where the boys are dressed up to celebrate before the ceremony. There were always smiling sisters nearby. Not sure how much they know about what lies ahead. I think it depends on the family, but I wished them all luck!

  5. lagottocattleya
    May 18, 2013

    Fine story again – your eye for this is fantastic. Now, I would never have guessed the reason for the little guy to be so dressed up. Somehow I didn’t think there was such a fuss about the event.

    • Ah, you are the best! 🙂 I learned about the sünnet on a trip to Istanbul. A friend and I would ask everyone why the boys were dressed up, and it was fun to hear people trying to explain without actually “describing” anything. Eep!

      Thank you again for coming to read my blog! I really appreciate it!

  6. michaelwatsonvt
    June 27, 2015


  7. davecenker
    June 29, 2015

    I love the subtle reference to the little boy picking up mannerisms from his father. Hopefully, this little boy will pass on his own mannerisms of courage, persistence, and joy to the people’s lives he touches, beginning with the ones in this story. Well done, as always, Paige – thank you for sharing 😉

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