Even if I try very hard, it's impossible to say when he started being there.
It was a tough time for me, getting used to new surroundings. Still, since I had to start somewhere, here was as good a place as any. I knew the road would be long and arduous, but it's the potholes along the way that got me. The room was a mess even before I finished unpacking. Classes were either too boring or too complicated, and many of them managed both at the same time. I got a part-time job and instantly hated it.
He appeared one day, sitting on the last bench, with a bottle of water at his feet. Possibly South American, Columbian or something, I wouldn't know. Somehow, he looked coarse, unrefined, so out of place in a park where they pay a guy to polish the railings every single day. And yet he seemed to belong, more than the people who bustled by, with their cell phones and basketball shoes and designer tote bags. For once, as I walked by, I raised my glance above ground level, and saw him smiling at me. I'd had an impressive run of bad days with no end in sight, but I forced myself to return what amount of smile I could manage. It was only fair, I guess.