Birthday Madness By: pascale ricketts

It was an especially grey and cloudy day, even for Chicago. It was august and the air was thick and humid. Cars bustled through the street in 5:00 traffic. The sky was grey but it held back the rain. My name is Emma, I've lived in Chicago my whole life. I have no family besides my mother and nowhere to go. I live off things I steal. I know what you’re thinking, I'm a thief, a criminal, but that's not true, I steal to live and that's not a crime. I don't really know what I look like I haven't looked in a mirror for years.

I breathed in the thick fog that engulfed the sidewalk. I walked to my "house" that is not much of a house but it's what I got. It's a dark corner out of sight. The towel, that is our rug is coated with a layer of oil, dirt and grime. As I walk into my corner I don't see my mother. I immediately go frantic and my hand freeze like icicles. My eyes and throat go dry like wind was just blown at me.I've been taking care of my mom ever since we lost our house to the bank. I always worry about her. She hasn't been in the best health lately and she knows that she shouldn't be walking. She can’t live without me who would get food? I thought.Why would she do this? Where could she be? I wondered. Questions spun in my head killing me from the inside.

She's the only family I got so it's important to make sure she's alive and well. She is the reason I'm alive, the reason I don't give up, she's my only friend. The sun began to set and darkness took over the sky. The streetlights glowed as darkness swept over the city. The charcoal sky stirred, I knew it would be dangerous to wander the empty streets and alleys in the dark but I kept looking.

I kept thinking of the time where we were in a house having a party. I could see the glowing lanterns hanging from the ceiling of the patio. I could remember how happy I was that day, how excited I was. I remember how I thought that nothing could go wrong after that. That it was finally our time to be happy. I guess I was wrong. And here I was, with my life crumbling around me.

I collapsed on the sidewalk tears slowly trickled down my face but it quickly turned into sobbing. The skin on my face burned and my tearful eyes blurred the skyline. My stomach twisted and turn forming a knot.

The grocery store? Already checked. The gas station? Already checked. Back at home? Maybe, it wouldn't hurt to look. I walked back home and my mom was standing holding birthday cake in her hands looking worried. I began thinking of where she could be.

I walked back home and my mom was standing holding birthday cake in her hands looking worried.

"Happy Birthday!" She yelled. I had completely forgotten about my birthday.

"How did you afford this?" I immediately asked.

"I've been saving up since June" she replied. I realized that we didn't need a house to be happy and that don't need a fancy birthday cake to know that my mother loves me.

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