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Doing What's Right

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When I was around seven years old, I woke up on a somewhat beautiful Saturday morning, mid-spring. Rays of sunshine were coming in through my bedroom window. The white walls adorned a rich, golden yellow hue. I could hear birds chirping outside the window, sounding strangely artificial, as if they were from a movie. I rolled out of my twin- sized bed, raised my arms over my head, and stretched. “Pop” went my back. I grabbed my towel and went to the bathroom down the hall of my bedroom to shower. Twenty minutes later, I emerged from my bedroom fully dressed. I wore a dark purple short sleeved shirt with a big pink flower printed on the front. I had on an old pair of blue jeans and plain white socks. My stomach growled. Time to eat, I thought.

As I made my way downstairs, I began to notice how quiet the house was. That’s strange. Usually, my parents were up and discussing in the living room. I went into the kitchen and looked at the microwave clock. 7:15 am, read the glowing green numbers. No wonder why no one was up. 7:15 was kind of early for a Saturday morning. Especially since my parents did not get home until around eleven the night before.

I got a bowl from the dishwasher and filled it with milk and Cheerios. I went into the dining room, placed my plate on the little available space, sat down, and ate. While I ate, I looked around the cluttered surface of the table. There were old newspapers, books, and out- dated school papers scattered about.

I finished eating. I dropped my spoon as I stood up. While bending to pick it up, I noticed a wad of money rolled together laying next to the table leg. I put the spoon in the bowl and bent down to pick up the money. I unrolled the bills and saw Andrew Jackson’s face staring at me. The number, twenty, was written one each corner of the bill. I noticed that there were five, twenty dollar bills in the stack. Twenty plus twenty equals forty, that plus another twenty is sixty and sixty plus two twenties is a hundred.

I had one hundred dollars in my hand. Back then, I considered any three digit number large. To me, one hundred dollars was equivalent to a thousand dollars. I was extremely happy. Thoughts of what I could buy with the money flashed through my head. I remembered seeing a really cute shirt at Limited Too that I really wanted. Plus, the brand new My Scene doll that all my friends were getting was priced at thirty- seven dollars. I could totally get it now. I fantasized purchasing brand new clothes, toys, shoes, purses, and everything. I had a mile long smile plastered on my face.

Suddenly, I was snapped out of my daydream by the sound of footsteps coming down the stairs. I quickly stuffed the money into the pocket of my jeans. My mother walked into the dining room, still dressed in her white nightgown. I could hear the sound of the shower on upstairs.

“Good morning,” she said.

“Hi Mama,” I replied.

“Did you eat already?”

“Yes. I ate some Cheerios.”

“Well okay, I’m going to get ready.”

My mother went back upstairs. I followed behind her, heading to my room. In my room, I sat on my bed and continued to daydream. About an hour later, I heard my older brother yelling.

“Has anyone seen my money?” he yelled.

“No. Maybe if you kept your things straight, you’d know where it was,” said my father.

My brother lost things quite frequently, so I did not pay much attention to it. I had to use the bathroom. On my way to bathroom, I passed my brother’s room. They door was slightly ajar. I peered into his room and saw him searching fervently for his money. He had turned his mattress over and was searching underneath his bed. I could see that all his clothes drawers were pulled out and on the floor. I continued to the bathroom.

While washing my hands, I was struck by a thought. What if the one hundred dollars is his? I knew that the money must have been his. However, I shrugged my shoulders. Finders keepers, losers weepers I told myself. Besides, he has a job, so he can get more money. I don’t really have many chances to get money. There, my decision was justified.

I could hear that my brother had moved his search downstairs. I heard the couches being moved and the scrape of chairs against the wooden floor.

“Dang, where is it? I need that money for soccer. Where could it be?” I heard him murmuring to himself.

My brother was a soccer fanatic. His room was full of soccer- related items. He even had a small replica of a soccer field built into a table. He was absolutely crazy about the sport. A month ago, he came home with news of joining a soccer team. He was so excited when he made the team. I knew that he had been working hard to save money to pay for the fees. I knew that he spent extra hours working to insure that he could play on the team.

I began to feel guilt surging over me like the wave of a tsunami. The money was a fire in my pocket. The spot of skin underneath the pocket was burning. I tried to suppress the guilt, but it seemed to grow with each passing minute. Soon enough, I had a mountain of guilt pressing down on my shoulders.

Finally, I went downstairs and found my brother sitting on the couch. His white T- shirt had a line of sweat running down the front. His legs were propped up against the mahogany table in the center of the living room. His head was down and between his hands. He almost looked defeated.

I sighed. It really hurt to see him that way.

“Hey Josh,” I said.

“Mmm,” he mumbled.

“Um, I think I found your money,” I said while pulling out the roll of twenties out my pocket.

He looked up at me, “Where is it?”

“Here,” I said, holding the money out to him.

He took it and counted it. “Yes, this is it.”

His face lifted. I could see hints of his silly grin crawling onto his face.

“Hey thanks, sis. Where did you find it?”

I told him about finding it on the floor next to the table and putting it in my pocket. I confessed that I had the money the whole time he was searching for it. He got angry at me, but I was still happy that I had given him his money back. In the end, I apologized, and he forgave me.

Afterwards, I felt good. The guilt almost fully disappeared. I still felt bad about making my brother stressed and angry, but I could breathe freely. I knew that my relationship with my brother had a greater value than toys and cute shirts. It was difficult to do the right thing, but I believe that I am better off now than I would have been if I hadn’t.



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