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The worn leather wallet felt like a safe haven against my shaking hands. I could see the edges of paper gold from within.
“Kyle, I’m hungry” a soft, weak voice cried, “when’s mommy coming home?”
“Hush babygirl,” I gave her my portion of the hard, burnt bread. My stomach growled in protest. Her eyes were so wide, glistening in the shattered stream of dusk that waded in through the crack of the blinds. “Mommy is working, she’ll be home soon. Don’t you worry-”
My vision blurred as millions of different scenarios swarmed my mind. How could I decide?
Muffled sobs echoed in the small, one room home. I didn’t have to turn on the light to know it was my mother. My feet padded across the cold wood and I curved myself into a protective shell around my mother’s frail body. I wrapped my arms around her and she squeezed my hand. Her warmth sharply contrasted the frigid world around us. I hugged tighter, hoping it would take the weight of the world off of her shoulders, even if it were only for a moment.
I fidgeted with the keychains on the display in front of me, trying to mask the turmoil seething within my head. There were people around me, oblivious to the potential I had in my sweaty hands. The wallet felt like an anchor and held me down with the weight of gravity from a thousand planets.
I walked home from school and stopped at the front door, hope for a silver lining disintegrating at my feet. The sight of that single piece of paper taped onto my home took every last breathe out of my lungs. Eviction… eviction… eviction… the words stabbed, kicked, slaughtered their way through to my family. I staggered inside to find my mom washing dishes. Her face was pale and rid of any energy, any light, that existed before.
I am running out of time. I know I am. I shoved the leather wallet in my pocket and took a step toward the exit of the store when I saw a worker look over. I froze and pretended to tie my shoe.
“You are the wind and the sky, my love. Never forget who you are and never forget how you want the world to perceive you- how you want the world to perceive us”, my mother whispered, “your moral compass is stronger than the rest”.
The worker looked away and I stood up tall. I walked up to the worker and made my decision. Handing him the wallet, I spoke, “Someone left this by the keychain display”.
I didn’t wait for a response. One foot in front of the other, I exited the store.
“Go back to the slums-”
I felt the absence in my pocket with such a profound feeling of lost hope.
I felt the absence in my pocket with such a profound feeling that I am more than what they say.