We never have candy at home. “Waste of money,” Ma says. And there was some just sittin’ in a bowl, askin’ me to take it.
It was the kind I love, too. Those round lollipops wrapped in white paper with the flavors on ’em in different colors.
I wanted one real bad.
I tried to make myself small. Which isn’t that hard. I’m already sorta small. “Scrawny” some kids call me. I don’t get mad.
My teacher says I have no muscle tone. Can’t even ride a bike right. It always falls over ‘cuz I can’t pedal fast enough to keep it up.
I snuck a look over at Ma, then slid down in the chair a little. I kept my eyes on her and stuck my hand out to get one. She slapped my hand away without even lookin’ at me.
“You didn’t ask for one of them pops and, anyway, the answer woulda been ‘no’ if you did.”
“I’m sorry?” The man in the suit said to Ma.
“Are you?” She spat at him.
“What I meant, Mrs. Carter, is that I didn’t understand why you said…”
“I know what you meant,” she leaned forward so her chest was squished into the front of the desk. “I’m not stupid like you think I am. I know what’s goin’ on here.”
“I never implied you were…unintelligent. Nor did I say you were incapable of understanding the situation.”
This was not a good time to open my mouth. I knew that. But I did it. “Ma? Please can I have one of them pops?”
Now she did look at me. Not even out the corner of her eye. No. She turned her whole self to stare me down. I knew that look. Was expectin’ it even. But it still made me shake a little, sorry to say.
“Here you go,” the man reached across his desk and gave me a lollipop with little red fruit on it. I think it was strawberry. But I never tasted it.
Ma snatched that thing outta my hand so fast I didn’t barely feel the stick. She smashed it down on the desk so hard the thing musta cracked and I thought what a waste as I coulda’ been eatin’ it. Made me wanna cry.
I didn’t cry, though. I never cried. That’s a thing about me.
“You wanna give him candy?” Ma stood, palms spread out on the man’s desk staring him down now. “You think that’s makin’ up for what you’re doin’ here?”
The man held his hands up like he was tryin’ to catch raindrops on his fingertips. “I was only trying to give the child a treat, Mrs. Carter. There’s no need for dramatics. Please,” he poked his long nose to the chair, “have a seat.”
So then this is when it happened. All of it.
Ma walked over to the man, raised her arm like she was gonna hit him. She called him somethin’ made my ears go red. The man stood up so fast he dumped his chair right over, crashing into a shelf loaded with stuff that looked real classy, knockin’ some of it on the floor. And I took a lollipop. A fresh whole one with brown spots on the paper that I hoped so bad was root beer flavor.
The man shouted to the big windows behind me, Ma grabbed her bag, I stuffed the pop in my pocket and ran after her.
When we got outside, Ma was cryin’ big, fat tears. She was suckin’ in air. I thought she was gonna throw up. “He’s gone!” she hugged me so hard it hurt a little.
“I know, Ma. I know all that.”
“You don’t know,” she kept those tears goin’. “There’s no will, you understand? No paper sayin’ we get money now he’s gone. Your papa went and left us nothin’. We got no money.”
“I know, Ma.” I wanted so bad to cry with her. But I didn’t. I wiped her face with my sleeve and handed her my lollipop. “I think it’s root beer flavor,” I said. “Your favorite.”
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Week 49 Prompt: Lollipops