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Harish, Josiah, the Little Prince.

Daily Challenge: A favorite photo of yourself and why

In a faraway and exotic land, there once lived a Little Prince who lived in a children’s home where meals were served on stainless steel plates and beds consisted of concrete floors and straw mats. Regardless of his humble beginnings, the Little Prince held his head high and proudly herded his younger peers to class and lunch, not unlike a mother figure.

While most children in the home only cared to run around and watch television and poke fun at the cooks, the Little Prince took it upon himself to complete chores other teachers and adults were too busy for, one of which was delivering tea, coffee, rice, and newspapers to the house down the street. Every morning, the Little Prince would deliver the small package of goods to the inhabitants of the house, which eventually consisted of a particularly Lost Man.

On his first morning in the faraway and exotic land, this half-awake and red-eyed Lost Man heard a soft knock on his door. Pushing aside a mosquito net curtain and wiping his mouth of dried saliva, the Lost Man made his way to the door, not sure of who could possibly want to visit him this early during his trip. The Little Prince and the Lost Man made eye contact, at which point the Lost man remembered to put on a pair of pants and a shirt. The Little Prince looked away, and raised the small package through the doorway.

Once he was more reasonably dressed, the Lost Man noticed the Little Prince’s bulging eyes sneaking peaks at his room; had he never seen a mosquito net, a laptop, or a first aid kit stuffed in Tupperware before? Accepting the package, the Lost Man waved the Little Prince in and opened his laptop. The screen glowed, opening an article the Lost Man had been writing, and illuminated the Little Prince’s face. The Lost Man typed a few words, and he watched as the Little Prince’s eyes grew larger.

This Lost Man had only begun traveling the world, but knew that universal small gifts of candies earned him trust and friendship. Considering his roommates and host were gone for the day, the Lost Man figured he could use at least one friend at this point. He reached into his backpack, and opened a half-eaten bar of chili-infused chocolate. He offered a piece to the Little Prince, whose fingers trembled with eyebrows raised and cautious eyes. The Lost Man broke off a piece for himself, and tossed it into his mouth. He learned that morning breath and spicy chocolate did not mix.

The Little Prince smiled and used a hand to fan his mouth, and the Lost Man laughed.

“Do you like it?” the Lost Man asked.

The Little Prince nodded his head in approval, and jumped back when the Lost Man offered him another piece.

“For the walk home.” the Lost Man insisted.

It became a morning ritual for the Lost Man to pay the Little Prince in chocolate for hot coffee and newspapers. Every morning, the Lost Man would show the Little Prince something from his travel bag: a pocket knife, a compass, a sweater that folded into its own pocket, a guide for travel around the world. Sometimes, the Lost Man’s host would have dinner delivered to the house well past sundown. The first night the Little Prince appeared at the Lost Man’s door with dinner, he appeared with another boy from the children’s home.

“Sorry,” the Lost Man said in place for his host, “he’s out for tonight. He won’t need dinner.”

The Little Prince nodded, and turned with his companion.

“Wait,” the Lost Man said, slipping on his shoes as he looked out into the night, “let me walk you guys home.”

The Lost Man had walked this road many times during the day; part of his travel plans included regular volunteering at the children’s home, and if he wanted to, he could walk the path blindfolded. At night, however, the path had turned sinister, and was taken aback that two children dared roam potentially murderer-filled streets. Closing the metal gate behind him, the Lost Man, the Little Prince, and his companion began to walk.

A street light flickered, and the Lost Man felt a small hand enclose around his own.

“He’s scared,” the companion explained, crossing his arms.

The Lost Man smiled, but didn’t laugh. He felt the Little Prince’s grip tighten, and he squeezed back.

“It’s okay to be scared,” the Lost Man said to no one and everyone, “I’m scared all the time.”

The next two months consisted of small moments like this, when the Little Prince would make the Lost Man smile, and in exchange the Lost Man would teach the Little Prince of the terribly large world. The Little Prince would show the Lost Man how to wash his clothes by hand, and the Lost Man would explain that if he really wanted, the Little Prince could too read The Count of Monte Cristo. The Lost Man would show his map of travel plans to the Little Prince, and the Little Prince would share the last of his limited stash of chocolate biscuits (regardless of the Lost Man’s protest). Sometimes they would arm wrestle, something the Lost Man would never win among people his age, but to the Little Prince, the Lost Man had arms like Superman. The Little Prince invited the Lost Man to festivals, taught him how to sing songs in another language, and even shared secretly bought desserts on the walks between the children’s home and house.

The Lost Man could see the Little Prince’s eyes light up during his visits, ready to hear about adventures and travel and animals and holidays and most importantly, the sky outside the airplane window.

The Lost Man had become a hero in the Little Prince’s eyes.

Never had he before felt so important, so admired, so genuinely determined to become a better person because of someone he hardly knew. Dare he believe it, the Lost Man didn’t feel so lost with his life when the Little Prince asked about it.

Days, months, years after the Lost Man had departed from the faraway and exotic land in which the Little Prince lived, he would wonder why he felt so suddenly aimless. Until a certain writing project came his way, he’d forget about a specific picture of the Little Prince guiding him through the streets on a parade one day. He would realize that it was one of his favorite pictures for the sole reason of it being a reminder of a time so purely simple yet tremendous. The small act of this boy holding his hand would stay with him, forever reassuring that the Lost Man would make the right choices. In the Little Prince’s eyes, the Lost Man could never go wrong.

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