Copyright © 2019 Christopher Hiedeman. All Rights Reserved.

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Of all the wonders of the world headed for extinction, one of the kindest & most caring beings was nearing its life’s end. Over the many centuries of the Empath’s existence, the world had changed. He spent the last century searching the world and came to the saddening conclusion that empathy no longer existed in others. The kind and caring world had become cold and selfish. Though his time was limited, the Empath could not bear to leave the world in the state it was in, for inevitably, the world was headed to its end if left this way. So, with a loving heart, he made one last promise to the world he loved - that he would work tirelessly to restore empathy to the world until his last dying breath.

While walking down the street, he came across a young man and felt a coldness from him. The empath tripped and fell to the ground before the young man as a test, but the young man carried on with little caring. The Empath got up, walked up to the young man, and placed his hand on the young man’s shoulder. In an instant, the world’s surroundings disappeared leaving just the young man and the Empath. The young man turned around and looked at the Empath.

“Hey!” He said hastily.

“What is your name son?” Asked the Empath.

“Trevor…Why do you want to know?” He responded.

“I have- “

“Where am I?” Interrupted Trevor as he looked around at the blank surrounding.

“Trevor,” The Empath began again, “I have chosen you because you, like so many others in this world, have unkindly judged another human being.”

“So what!?” Responded Trevor angrily. “Who cares.”

For a moment, the Empath thought about letting Trevor go back to his unhappy existence, but alas, he cared too much. “I want to show you something,” Said the Empath, and before Trevor had a chance to decline his offer, the Empath rested his hand on the shoulder of the young man, and they were transported to a sidewalk outside a noisy bar.

“Recognize this place?” Asked the Empath.

“Sure. Why does it matter – I haven’t been here for a few years,” Replied Trevor in a snarky voice.

The Empath looked at Trevor with kind eyes, and said “Follow me.”

Trevor hesitated for a moment, but seeing the Empath waiting with the door open, decided to humor him.

They walked into the bar and Trevor froze in his footsteps. He saw a past version of himself drinking at the bar. “Wait a minute…did we…?”

“I have brought you back in the past to take a closer look at this day, for even though this day doesn’t seem significant, it may change your life.” Said the Empath as he pointed at the bar.

They both watched as the past Trevor drank beer after beer. Trevor looked over at the Empath and began fidgeting. “So I had a few drinks,” he said defensively, “Don’t judge!”

The Empath said nothing but smirked slightly for Trevor had unknowingly uncovered the lesson he was supposed to learn. “Look at the guy next to you, he seems to be having a few drinks too,” Said the Empath. Trevor looked over at the man with red hair and green glasses. He had a tattoo of a sparrow on his right arm.

“Yeah..” Trevor responded.

After a few more beers, past Trevor got up from his chair and stumbled toward the door. The Empath gestured for Trevor to follow his past self. Once outside, past Trevor walked over to a black car, and got in. “Let’s go!” said the Empath. They rushed to the car and got into the back seat.

“I know what you’re going to say,” said Trevor. “But I can drive fine when I have had a few drinks.”

“Whatever you say,” responded the Empath.

The car peeled out in the parking lot as past Trevor made his way out of the parking lot and down the road to go home. He weaved down the road crossing the centerline when suddenly headlights burst from the other side of the road. Their car swerved back into the lane just in time. Trevor sunk into his seat beside the Empath. He couldn’t believe how close he had gotten to hitting that other car.

Trevor looked over at the Empath embarrassed and said, “I get it, it won’t happen again.”

The Empath looked kindly at Trevor. “That is good, but this is not the lesson I have brought you here to learn.”

Trevor looked at the Empath in confusion, then looked forward.

When the car stopped, the Empath and Trevor exited the vehicle and went into the house. The Empath rested on the couch as past Trevor went upstairs. “So what do we do now?” He asked.

“We go to sleep,” said the Empath.

Trevor wanted to ask a follow up question, but instead decided to just lie down.

Bright sunlight burst through the living room windows as the sun rose into the sky. Past Trevor came bustling down the stairs quickly. Trevor looked up at his past self with confusion.

 

“Wait…What year is this?” He asked.

“Actually, we are only 10 days from the present,” the Empath responded.

They were in a different year than when they went to bed the night before. “It’s time,” Said the Empath as he watched past Trevor walking out of the house.

They got into the back seat of the car once more, and observed past Trevor as he drove to work. The car came to a stop at a red traffic light. A homeless man wandered up to the front driver’s side window. Past Trevor rolled his window down.

“Can I get a little money for some food?” Asked the homeless man with hopeful eyes.

“Get a job!” Yelled past Trevor before rolling his window back up. The traffic light turned green. Trevor leaned over to the window to get a closer look at the man and his heart sank. There sitting on the curb was a man with red hair wearing a broken pair of green glasses. Trevor stared out the back window as they drove away.

“That’s the guy from the bar, isn’t it?” Asked Trevor.

“Yes, it is.” Responded the Empath calmly. “And would you know – that same night, he too drove home drunk, but instead, he did crash his car on his way home.”

Trevor looked at the Empath with haunted eyes.

“His car was totaled, and his medical bills piled up after his accident. He eventually lost his home, and because of this, he also lost his job.”

After he spoke of this revelation, the Empath heard the silence in the air, but felt its necessity.

“I-I had no idea.” Said Trevor humbly.

The Empath looked at Trevor and thoughtfully said “Isn’t it interesting that, really, that could have been you.”

Trevor took a moment to reflect on this. He was truly lucky he didn’t get into a car accident that night. The Empath was right – that could have been him. Something changed in his heart as he opened himself up to the possibilities of what that man had been through, and what that man was still going through.

A tear sailed down Trevor’s cheek, and just like that, the Empath saw the small spark of empathy in Trevor’s heart grow into a beaming sun of warmth and caring.

“Thank you so much,” said Trevor with a warm smile. “I will never forget this.”

The Empath smiled at him, and they embraced in a hug.

Trevor felt the presence of the Empath vanish. He opened his eyes, and there he was, back in the present. He paused for a moment, trying to remember what he was doing. He remembered that he was on his way to buy an expensive pair of shoes he had been eye-balling for a while. He looked up into the sky and smiled.

Trevor burst out running in the other direction. He felt the wind whispering past his ears as he sprinted through town. He turned a corner, and there across the street from him was the homeless man. When the traffic light turned red, Trevor crossed the street and walked up to him. The man looked at Trevor with uncertainty.

“I wanted to apologize for my behavior before…I don’t know if you remember me… If you don’t, it is probably for the best.” Said Trevor with a nervous smirk.

Trevor held out his hand and shook the homeless man’s rough hand. Trevor could see the man had learned his lesson, and was now just trying to get his life back on track. Trevor reached into his pocket and lifted out the $200 cash that he was going to use to buy himself a pair of shoes he didn’t need. He handed the cash to the homeless man and said, “Here you go.”

A large smile spread across the homeless man’s face. Tears welled up in his eyes. “Are you sure?” He asked.

“Positive,” replied Trevor with a warm smile. He shook the man’s hand once more, then began to walk home. He originally was going to buy expensive shoes so he would feel good about himself, but the feeling he got by giving was more powerful than anything he had ever experienced. The rest of the day, Trevor could not stop smiling. He felt better about himself than he had ever felt before. He was happy to help another person. The Empath had taught him a valuable lesson that he would not soon forget: We cannot know what another person is going through, or what lead them to where they are in life. We can only hope for better days for them.

It is not always about the decisions we make, but sometimes the luck we have that keeps us from unfortunate effects of our actions.

A small spark of empathy was set out into the world to ignite caring and kindness once more. Though it was near extinction, it just took the heart of one soul to keep the torch ablaze to be passed on, and light up the world again.

The Last Empath

Genre: Sentimental Drama

Last of his kind, the Empath sets out on a quest to bring empathy back into the world.