A Vignette from the Perspective of Sheryl Davis: A Penny Too Much

May 2, 2009
By Hannah Rosenzweig BRONZE, San Francisco, California
Hannah Rosenzweig BRONZE, San Francisco, California
4 articles 0 photos 10 comments

Pat pat pat go the feet down the aisle, shluup goes the fridge door, chilliness creeping out. I see Josie’s eyes searching the labels but not the price tags beneath. And I can read the thoughts off her face; she wants that pumpkin ice-cream. The sort she had forever ago in the park when the ice-cream cart cam by, and the lady wearing a compact of cover-up gave her a scoop “Cuz she looks like the world depended on it.”

Josie. Who skips over to Mama in her too short corduroy pants and whimpers like a dog in the rain when Mama shakes her head slowly, “No, we can’t. Maybe next week.” And I can see her whole five year old world come tumbling down in the one instant.

“But I’m gonna die if I don’t get some!” I wrap my arms around her like a cocoon. Her body is still small enough to hold easily in the bony angles of my arms. “Sheryl, Mama always says next week. Then it’s next week and I still don’t get it.”

“Sorry, sorry, but it’s just a penny too much.” I coo in her ear. “A penny too much. But sometime it won’t be and we’ll all eat ice-cream on park benches.”

I give her the teeniest smile and she jumps away, humming a song from her heart, the ice-cream already moving aside to make room for other thoughts.

The author's comments:
A few months ago, my class was doing an English unit about living in poverty. For one of the assignments, we were divided into groups of four or five and took on the role of a real family somewhere in America who survived on a low income. Each group was given information on their family (i.e. monthly income, names, any religious restrictions, things they've been hoping for). With that information we made shopping lists of what that family would need to survive for one week. The next week we walked to Safeway and actually bought everything on our list. I felt I was able to grasp just a bit of the difficulties of life in poverty when we were made to walk back to school, carrying our twenty pound bags of rice.
I was placed in the Davis family for this project and this vignette is from the pperspective of one of the Davis' children, Sheryl. It looks at one of the smaller complications of living on a tight budget though it shows how important those small things can be when your only five.


given a monthly income and had to come up with a shopping list for one week of food, toiletries ect. Then we walked to

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