A Dollar Short 

I was lounging one Sunday afternoon at home with Mama when I heard a knock at the door. It was a timid, hesitant knock. When I opened the door, I looked down to see a pair of big brown eyes staring up at me. There stood a frail little girl of about ten. She told me with all the courage and determination her little heart could muster, that she was selling fruit candies, it was a masterful presentation—several flavors, a special deal and only one dollar per pack. How could anyone refuse? Finally, with a big smile and ever so—politely, she asked me to buy. And I wanted to. Oh how I wanted to! Except for one thing, I didn’t have one dollar! I asked Mama if she had money to buy me a pack or two. She hadn’t money either. We were so embarrassed. Here was Mama—a mother, a college graduate, gainfully employed—and yet couldn’t have a dollar or two to her name!

Naturally, I couldn’t tell this to the little girl with big brown eyes. So I did the next best thing. I lied to her. I said “Thanks, but we’ve already bought fruit candies this year. And we’ve still got plenty stack in our house. That simply wasn’t true. But it was the only thing I could think of to get us off the hook. And it did wonderfully!

 The little girl said, “That’s okay please. Thank you very much.” And with that, she turned around and went on her way. I stared after her for what seemed like a very long time. Finally, I closed the door behind me and, leaning my back to it, cried out, we don’t want to live like this anymore, we’ve had it with being broke, and we’ve had it with lying. We’ll never be embarrassed again by not having any money in our pockets! 

    It was 4.a.m. one day in August. Mama was already awake. It was an unusually cold day in such a month. I watched Mama as she sat in solemn silence in a dull corner of the living room.

“Ayoma!” Mama called.

“Where are you?”

“Come over here my boy!”

“Have you packed your suitcase yet?”

“Don’t forget to pack your toothbrush”

“Mama I’m packing my suitcase, but I’m not taking my toothbrush along.”

“You would need it my boy,” Mama assured me.

“What color is your tongue?”

“Mama, I’m not getting what you are up to?”

      To be continued…