You or Me
The lights around the window turned on and inside was a miniature town. Small cars moved on the streets, and a train chucked around as smoke came out from its smokestack. Many stopped to see the work that was done to bring the tiny town to life. The children gathered in the front and pointed to each of the items and things. As the crowd stood by the window, a small child was on the other side selling handmade necklaces. She had walked around holding the item to everyone, but they all said no or gave no importance. She had stopped and was trying to keep warm. Her eyes were on the crowd by the window and wondered what everyone was staring at. She carefully crossed the street and pushed her way towards the window. As she got closer, someone grabbed her by the arm and was pulled out of the crowd.
“Why did you leave the things?” A woman shouted at her.
“I…I wanted to see…” the child saw that her mother was angry. “Sorry.”
“Go get them. We are heading back home.”
The child ran back to the items and picked them up then quickly returned to her mother who was selling a necklace to a woman dress in fancy clothing.
“It is pretty.” The woman said with a snobby voice. “But my daughter can get me something more precious than this junk.”
“But it is not junk. The gems are real.” The woman held it in the light which reflected.
“If you are so eager to sell it, how much is it?”
“I guess I could put it on my precious Prince.” The woman looked in her bag and pulled out a five-dollar bill.
“Your son will love it.” She smiled.
The woman's eyes narrowed. “Prince is my dog.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.” She handed the necklace to the woman. “Thank you.”
The woman said nothing and left. The child walked to her mother and saw that she was happy. “So, are we going to be able to eat today?”
The two walked back to their home and entered a rundown shack. The ground was muddy as it had rained earlier. Everything inside was trenched, and the woman sighed as she sat down on the wet mattress. She lowered her head and whispered to herself.
“Um…do you want me to go buy food?” The child asked.
“Huh? Oh yes.” She handed the money. “Look for the cheapest thing and buy nothing else.”
The child ran out of the shack and headed to the market to buy food. She skipped along the sidewalk and stopped at an intersection. As she waited for the light to change, a family stood next to her, and they had a daughter who was playing with a doll. She looked at the child and made a face at her.
“Hana, don’t be rude.” Her mother said.
Once the light changed, the child raced across the street and entered the store. The inside was empty, and a young boy was sweeping the floor. He heard the door and looked at the child who came in.
“Sorry Meg, but we are closing.”
“Oh no, please I came to buy food for mom and me.”
The boy looked behind him and heard no one. “Okay, but I’m only doing this because it’s you.”
“Thank you, Frank.” She smiled.
“So, what do you want?”
“Two sandwiches.” She pressed her face on the glass.
“Okay just don’t smug your face over the panel. Just have it wiped.”
“Sorry.” Meg grinned. “I want everything on it.”
“Are you sure?” Frank lifted an eyebrow. “I know that you don’t like onions.”
“Well, except for that.”
“I’m shocked you like olives too.” He grabbed two pieces of bread.
“I don’t like those either.”
Frank laughed. “Tell you what I will do it for you the way you like it.”
Meg nodded and sat down as Frank prepared the sandwiches. She looked out the window to see that the winds picked up and the tree’s branches moved. She shivered and hugged herself to keep warm.
“Meg, is something wrong?” Frank asked.
She pointed with her finger. “It’s windy outside.”
Frank looked. “Sure is, but you and your mom are fine, right?”
“Not really. The rain got everything wet.”
“Sorry to hear that. Oh, by the way, do you want mustard?”
“Yes please.” She smiled.
“I glad that you still have your smile.” Frank began to spread the mustard. “To lose it is a sad thing to see. Well, here is your meal. That will be three dollars.”
Meg got up and pulled out the five-dollar bill and gave it to him. “Oh, I see you sold something.”
“Well, that’s good.” Frank walked over to the cashier and pulled out the change. “Here you go and enjoy the sandwiches.”
“I will and thank you.” Meg grabbed the bag and tucked inside her coat which was very large for her. Outside she felt the cold air that hit her face. She shivered and looked around her. The moon appeared in the night sky, and a few stars were visible. Meg blew into her hands and rubbed them as she headed back home. Walking down the empty streets, a man dressed in a red coat was standing by a window and looking at the things inside. He noticed Meg approaching and spoke without looking at her.
“Cold night for a child to be walking around,” Meg said nothing and walked passed him. “Very rude to not say a thing to someone.”
“You are a stranger,” Meg responded without turning around. “Mom told me not to speak to strangers.”
“Your mother is very wise. Also, I see that you are of the unfortunate.”
“What do you mean?” Meg turned her head and looked at the man. His red coat was vibrant and had golden buttons with black trim. His head was covered by a black hat and a scarf that covered his mouth. She was not able to see his face clear, only his dark eyes. “I have mom with me.”
“Yes, but your mother will not live for long.” The man faced her. “But I can help you with that if you help me.”
“Help you how?” The man pointed his finger to the window, she looked and inside was a display of jewels. “You want me to steal them?”
“Yes,” He looked at them. “They are there waiting for you. Just reach in and take them and all your problems will be solved.”
Meg walked closer to the window. It was tempting to break the glass, but something told her not to do it. “I can’t.”
“Don't you want to live happily with your mother?”
“Yes, but I don’t want to steal to do that. I know it’s tough, but I believe things will change.”
“Interesting.” The man looked at her. “In this world, nothing comes to you. You either take it or let others have it.”
“I don’t understand. Why do something like that?”
“Walk with me and let us see.”
They walked around the corner and saw a store that was still opened. The clerk was ringing the items as a man with a white hoodie entered. He headed to the back of the store and grabbed a bottle then returned to the front. Just then the man pushed the customer onto the counter and aimed a gun at the cashier. He shouted to give him all the money.
“He saw that opportunity and took it.”
Sirens were heard, and Meg stared at the man with the red coat. “They are going to catch him and what he did will be useless.”
“If they catch him.” The man with the red coat smiled.
A gun shot was heard and the man with the hoodie came out running with a brown paper bag in his hand. He turned the corner and vanished as the clerk came out and searched the area. Meg and the man were gone by that time and had walked to another part of the city. They stopped in front of a house and heard screams inside. A woman shouted for help, but no one came to help her.
“Why is no one coming to help?” Meg asked.
“People don’t care about others just themselves.” The man walked to the door and opened it. “Do you want to help?”
“But I’m only a child.”
“An excuse. You can still help.” The man pointed to the house next door. “Knock and tell them to help.”
Meg ran to the house and banged on it. The lights turned off, and no one came. “Hey someone needs help.”
“Come let us continue with our walk.”
“But the woman in the house?”
“Her time is up. Let us move on.”
Meg sighed and stared at the house and all the lights were off, and something dark was felt from inside.
They walked some more and were at another street with lights and loud music. Groups of people waited in line by a building trying to get in. A large man stood by the doorway and held a clipboard. Whenever someone walked to him, he looked at the clipboard and would either moved to the side or tell them to get in line. Meg was confused by the sight of it and asked the man what this place was.
“A place where many come to find peace or comfort. Come with me and I will show you.” They walked to the other side and found a man on the ground with something sticking out of his arm. “He came for a comfort but instead found something that will waste his life away.”
“Why are you showing me these things?”
“I told you to do something, and you said no, so now I wanted to show you all the things others do to get what they want. Everything in this world has a price. Nothing is free, and we each live in the ribs of others no matter how powerful or successful you are. The food that you got for you and your mother was by the rib of someone else.”
Meg looked at the wrapped sandwiches. “But there’s some the help others.”
“There are, but some do it to feel good about themselves or to get something out of it.”
“Not true,” Meg said.
“Then tell me, has anyone ever help you or your mother? How about this man dying here?”
Meg said nothing as she looked at the man on the ground. He moaned as his leg twitched. She sighed and wanted to go home.
“I showed you a few samples and it’s your choice what to do. Now, go home and enjoy the rest of the night with your mother.”
Meg walked away, and it took her a few minutes to reach her home. Her mother had a fire on and it brought warmth to the house. The mattress was hanging on the wall as a few droplets fell to the ground. Meg placed the sandwiches on the makeshift table and looked at her mother.
“So, what did you bring?” Her mother opened the bag.
“Sandwiches,” Meg answered with a sad voice.
“What’s wrong dear?”
“Nothing just thinking.”
“I know that it’s tough but things will change.”
Meg looked out the doorway and saw the man with the red coat. He tilted his hat to her and vanished as the rains came back.