Mark E.  
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Small Kindness

Mark was walking home from school when he noticed the boy ahead of him had tripped and dropped all of his books, along with two sweaters, a baseball bat, a glove and a tape recorder. Mark helped the boy pick up the articles. Since they were going in the same direction, Mark helped carry the burden.

Mark learned the boy's name was Bill, that he liked video games, baseball and history, that he was having a lot of trouble in school and that he had just broken up with his girlfriend. When they arrived at Bill's home, Mark was invited in for a soda and to watch TV. The afternoon passed pleasantly with a few laughs and some small talk.

The boys continued to see each other around school and had lunch together several times. They went to the same high school, where they had brief contacts over the years. Finally, their senior year came, and three weeks before graduation, Bill asked Mark if they could talk.

Bill reminded him of the day years before when they had first met. "Did you ever wonder why I was carrying so much stuff home from school that day?" he asked. "You see, I cleaned out my locker because I didn't want to leave a mess for anyone else. I had saved up a couple dozen of my mother's sleeping pills and was going home to commit suicide. But after we had such a good time together, I realized if I killed myself, I would have missed all that fun and so many other good times that might follow. You see, Mark, when you picked up my books that day, you did a lot more. You saved my life."

Story from Ann Landers