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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “All that Glitters is Not Gold” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/24/08)

TITLE: Tinfoil or Treasure
By Debbie Roome


I wish Mommy would wake up. I listen carefully as she huffs out tiny breaths. Her skin is grey like clouds on a winter morning, grey like our apartment building, grey like the old sheet on my bed.

She looks like Snow White, lying on the couch with hair spread like melted chocolate. I know about Snow White because Bessie read me her story. I know she became sick from eating a poisoned apple and then the prince came and kissed her.

“Wake up, Mommy.” I kiss her gently, hoping she will open her eyes.

She’s still wearing her work clothes. A sparkly shirt and a tight skirt but she’s taken off the high-heeled shoes. Mommy only works at night. She thinks I’m asleep when she leaves but sometimes I peek out the window. She stands on the pavement among the broken bottles and old newspapers and waits for cars to come along. Fancy cars driven by men.

The lamp-light is pale and cold air tickles my arms. I fetch my favourite pink blanket and tuck it round Mommy’s legs. On the table next to the couch sits a beautiful, red cake tin shaped like a treasure chest. Mommy keeps her special things in there and I’m not supposed to touch it. She calls it her treasure and says it costs a lot of money. The things inside are shiny like treasure: little squares of tinfoil, a silver mirror, a razor-blade, white powder and a syringe. I often wonder if it’s real treasure, though. The treasures in Bessie’s books are diamonds and rubies and make people happy and rich.

I don’t think Mommy is happy. Some days she comes home shaking and sweating and in a bad temper. She only calms down when she plays with her treasure. I don’t like those days as I often go to bed with nothing to eat. That happened tonight. The only food in the apartment is a lump of hard cheese, a brown apple and a little sour milk.

I wish she would wake up. She’s been asleep since lunchtime and should have left for work hours ago. I’ve been to bed already but woke up with my tummy growling.

“Please wake up, Mommy.” I pat her cheek and it feels hot.

The clock on the table says 2:07am. I’m glad I can read numbers. I should have started school this year but Mommy says I can only go next year. That’s alright, though. Bessie has been teaching me and I can count to one hundred and write whole sentences already. Bessie lives next door to us and she’s really kind. I had a fever last week and threw up in the middle of the night. Mommy was at work so I went and called Bessie. She was so sweet and gave me medicine and put me in her bed while she cleaned up my mess.

Maybe I should call her to help me. Mommy doesn’t look well. Maybe she has a fever and needs some of Bessie’s medicine too.

I look again at the treasure, spread like shiny toys on the table. Mommy really loves that stuff but I wonder if it’s good for her. The more she plays with it, the less food we have and the less time she spends with me. I wonder what would happen if I threw it away and got her some real treasure. Something that would really make her happy. But where would I get it from?

My head is all muddled and I feel faint because I’m so hungry. Mommy didn’t used to be like this and I miss her cuddling me and taking me to the park. It’s only since she got this treasure that things have changed.

I put my arms round her neck and feel tears leaking from my eyes. “I’m sorry, Mommy. I’ll try and get you some real treasure.” She moans softly as I pack her stuff into the cake tin: the tinfoil, the mirror, the razor-blade, powder and syringe. “Please don’t be angry, Mommy.”

I close the lid and tuck the treasure chest under my arm. Bessie will know what to do with it. I unlatch the door and creep quietly down the passage. Although I feel weak on the outside, I feel strong inside. Bessie opens her door and with shaking hands I give her the tin. “Mommy’s sick, Bessie. She needs your medicine and some real treasure. Will you help me?”

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This article has been read 914 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Leigh MacKelvey01/31/08
I loved this story and the voice was so real for a little child. Yiur descriptions were wondeful and the story was told in such a matter of fact manner, it seemd very real.
Betty Castleberry01/31/08
Oh how sad. The child's point of view gave this a fresh tone. Nicely done.
Peter Stone01/31/08
Great take on the topic. Drugs are the perfect illustration that not all that glitters is gold. Tinfoil indeed.
LauraLee Shaw01/31/08
Oh, I am crying like a baby! You will never have any idea how much this story reached in and grabbed my heart. So well-written, I felt like a fly on the wall. This one needs to get out to the public...
Joanne Sher 02/01/08
Amazingly powerful - I so ached for that girl. Excellent job of sharing an adult story from a child's eyes. Wow.
Tim Manzer 02/01/08
I often counsel addicts of all kind and the treasure they seek is never gold. It is only sorrow,brokenness and destruction. Thanks! Good job!
Emily Gibson02/02/08
Brilliantly done and exactly how it is for too many children of addicts.
Hanne Moon 02/02/08
You did great with the voice of this story - it sounded just like a child would. And while it's sad, you offered hope at the end. Enjoyed this tremendously.
Shirley McClay 02/02/08
I'm so glad you included Bessie and gave us hope for the family. It makes me want to be someone's Bessie :-) Poor little tyke.
Kristen Hester02/03/08
Loved the voice of this story. Thank God for Bessies. As I read this I kept thinking of the topic, "All that glitters is not gold.." That's the truth! Well told.
David Story02/03/08
What a powerful story. Well done.
Joanney Uthe02/03/08
Great title for a powerful story. The child's POV really drew the reader in and the voice was perfectly done.
Phyllis Inniss02/04/08
Well done with this story told from a child's perspective. What agony children of addicts have to go through both at seeing the parents degradation and their own heartache and suffering.
Beth LaBuff 02/04/08
Your well-written story is a sad reality for many. Very creative work on this.
L.M. Lee02/05/08
the innocent view through a child's eyes - very good!
Jan Ackerson 02/05/08
Heartbreaking, devastating, and written in a perfect voice. You're definitely a master of wordsmanship!
Joy Faire Stewart02/06/08
Oh, this is so heartbreaking. Your descriptive writing pulls your reading into the scene. The title is perfect for the piece. Excellent job!
Sara Harricharan 02/06/08
I like this! It's another favorite of mine this week. The darkness is there, but it doesn't overwhelm, the light and the hope and seeing this story through the eyes of a child make it something new, I enjoyed the read and especially the end, great writing! ^_^
Verna Cole Mitchell 02/06/08
You have broken my heart with your story, and that's what good writing does.
Holly Westefeld02/06/08
Thank you for the glimmer of hope. I was fully engaged throughout.
Loren T. Lowery02/06/08
Only through the eyes of a child could this story be told in such a compelling heart rendering way. I loved the strength of the little girl and God bless Bessie!
Loren T. Lowery03/25/08
Debbie, I'm back reading this for Jan's class on atmosphere. I know when I read it, I liked it (see comment above) and now that I understand more of what you were doing, I like it even more: ) Loren