Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: SHOP (01/03/19)
- TITLE: Oliver's Home Work
By Annette Griffin
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“Coming, Mom. Just finishing the last of my kale smoothie.” That should buy me a couple of minutes even though it’s not completely honest. But seriously—who actually drinks the stuff? Weeds, ground to a pulp and served with a straw. Gross. The green goo slithered down the drain the minute mom turned her back. “Now, where is that notebook?”
I shift a mound of ripe gym clothes to search under my bed. No dice on the notebook, but I do find the ten bucks I thought my dog ate. Poor Rufus. I’ll throw him an extra treat for the false accusation. Unfortunately, the money won’t help much with Miss Johnson. She’s grown immune to my charm and excuses about missing homework, so I’d better not chance bribery. I shove the sticky, crumpled bill into my pocket. Think, Oliver, think. Where’d you stash the notebook after you finished the assignment?
“The meter’s running.” Mom’s tone is a category four. I’m out of time.
“Ugh.” I rush to the door, saying a quick prayer that we have a sub today.
We pile into the musty cab and Mom gives the driver the coffee shop address. That’s our normal routine. Mom sips a non-fat cappa-mocha-frappa-something, I chug a hot chocolate, then she walks to work, and I to school.
“Awesome. There’s already a line forming out the door. Oliver, run up and hold our spot. I’ll be right there.”
“You sure? I can help carry your gear.”
Mom fumbles through a pile of folders, crams them into her laptop bag, then tucks another batch in the crook of her arm. “No, I got it. Just go get in line.”
I dart to the door. But a group of young professionals beats me there. Perfect. The herds. Mom’s gonna be mad. She has affectionately branded this trendy group as “herds” because she says they don’t know if they want to be hippies or nerds. They frequent this shop, order their expensive pour-overs, then claim every available table to work remotely. I think Mom secretly wants to join the herds. She’s a frustrated artist, chained to a corporate desk job.
Yep. She’s irritated. Mom staggers toward me balancing a stack of documents in one arm and the heavy laptop satchel on the other.
“Yikes, I thought we lived in an era where paper was becoming obsolete?” I tell her, trying to lighten the mood.
“Yeah, well apparently my boss didn’t get the memo.” She hands me the laptop bag. “The herds, huh?”
“Sorry. I tried. They’re a quick bunch. Hey, what’s in this thing—a ton of bricks? It’s almost as heavy as your purse.”
“Oh no.” Mom turns and whistles toward our driver. Too late. He’s now weaving through Main Street traffic. “I left my purse in the cab. Oliver, you’ll have to use your phone to call the company. Mine is in my purse … along with my wallet. Great. That means no coffee for us.”
I reach into my pocket for my phone. Something is stuck to it. “Hey—look what I found.” I peel loose the ten-dollar-bill. I’ll spring for our drinks.”
“Yay, one crisis averted,” Mom says with a sigh.
We inch our way up in line and I notice a boy about my age crumpled on the sidewalk like a paper bag. “He must be freezing. Where are his shoes?”
Mom shrugs. “Someone may have taken them. You never know in this city. Homelessness is everywhere.”
“I guess I knew that. But he’s just a kid.”
“It’s tragic, but over half the homeless population are children.”
“Oh.” A lump rises to my throat.
The boy’s frail body stirs. He lifts his head. His glassy eyes bore into mine.
I turn away and adjust my gloves. The few sips of kale I choked down this morning are now creeping up. “Mom, I-I’m not in the mood for hot chocolate this morning.”
“You know,” she clears her throat and dabs the corner of her eye, “I’ve been meaning to cut back on caffeine.”
She nods toward the boy.
I bend and offer him the bill. He scoops into his lap, mumbles a few words, then resumes his stooped sleep.
In silence, Mom and I leave our place in line and start to part ways.
“Hey Oliver, wait.”
I swipe my nose and turn toward her.
“Almost forgot. You left your notebook on the table. I brought it for you.”
“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, "Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you"—when you already have it with you.” Proverbs 3:27-28
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