The Healing Horse, Ch. 18, Scene 8: Doubts Return

 

image of rock surrounded by reflection of clouds in the sea

Sometimes, even though we have a good perspective on a difficult area in life, we still feel overwhelmed by doubts. We feel isolated and misunderstood. That’s when we need a friend like Pegasus to mentor us. (Image courtesy of Dietmar Rabich / Wikimedia Commons / “Haltern am See, Sythen, Silbersee III 2019 2993” / CC BY-SA 4.0)

Chanukah sameach!

Scene 8: Doubts Return

Kitten was mentally and physically tired from thinking about what would happen, when school resumed. She took a deep breath of cool evening air, held it as long as she could, and then slowly exhaled, trying to release the tension that had returned after her insight. Life looked more complicated than it had in the morning.

Under the streetlights that illuminated the sidewalk between her new home and the ranch, she took one careful step at a time. She did not want to trip. On the ranch’s uneven gravel driveway, she picked up both of her feet, especially the left one, which tended to drag. She was grateful but exhausted when she reached the barn, only to find that Pegasus’ stall was empty. After resting a few minutes on a bale of hay, she limped on to the pasture, where she found him grazing under the stars.

Her mentor asked her how she was and why she was visiting after dark. As she replied, her voice trembled and her heart swelled. Her insights filled her with emotion, and her words came with increasing intensity.

“The second semester of school starts next week, Pegasus, and I’m afraid of the experts who will be there. I’m afraid of what they may do to me and my classmates. Twice a year they visit our school, every September and every January, to hold a clinic and recommend treatments. They look at us and our bodies with cold eyes, as if we were things of no value, inanimate objects not living beings, things to be treated with little or no respect. You’d think that with their education and training, they would have compassion for people with disabilities, but at best, they give us sympathy and pity, which we don’t want.

“Wouldn’t it be better if the experts taught us what we need to be healthy, functioning human beings physically, mentally, and emotionally, having a meaning and purpose in life without taking from the government? But, no! They see us as damaged goods and fit only to be institutionalized, locked up, mindlessly watching The Flintstones all day. Maybe somewhere else in the world things are different, but not here and not now.

“What’s more, they always come up with new surgical procedures and want to use us kids in Special Ed like guinea pigs, especially us kids with cerebral palsy and paralysis. That’s why I’m terrified of what these experts will want to do to me. I’ve seen other children go to clinic, get a leave of absence from school, and come back scarred and worse than before they left. I don’t want that to happen to me or to anyone else.”

Pegasus responded in his calm, soothing voice.

“Kitten, there are two things you need to understand. First, you don’t have to go through this alone. None of these procedures can happen without your Mama’s consent. In the past, she succumbed to professional bullying and her own desperation, so she gave in to the whims of the experts, but she won’t, now. She is much more enlightened, now. Second, you can deal with your worries. Be proud of your beautiful disabled body and of your mind. Let go of your negative thoughts, so that the great, motherly spirit of the universe can guide and comfort you. Accept your feelings and worries in the present. You don’t have to think about tomorrow, or anything past this minute. I believe you have come to intuit that. Just take a deep breath and be present. The spirit of the universe will provide you with ways to deal with your problems. I’m right here by your side, Kitten. Nothing is going to harm you. I will help you through this moment and through every other.”

She replied, “Okay, boy, that makes sense. I felt my heart become still and light, as you spoke. You and Mama and the universe itself will get me through this. I don’t have to live with constant fear and worry. You’re the best friend anyone could have. Do you know that?”

“Thank you, but try to remember what I just said. Try to let go of your fears. Think ahead, but keep your thoughts positive. When you fear the future, counteract your fear by thinking of how things could work out for the best. This will change the power of your thoughts from negative to positive, so that they work for you instead of against you. Letting go of worry is not easy, especially when life has taught you to be a little worrier, but you can do it. I will always be here to help you.”

“Okay,” she said, her voice cracking, “I’ll give this my best. The positive spirit of the universe will help us overcome any difficulty. We will grow from the experience. The future is promising, not frightening. Actually, my intuition gave me this insight, this morning, but my doubts had returned. Your words have helped me a lot.”

Original Text ©2021, Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

 

The Healing Horse, Ch. 18, Scene 7: Retreat for a Day

peaceful image of wide green pasture surrounded by trees
With this scene, the reader (you, dear friend) continues to learn about little Kitten’s worries and what brought them on. She tries to retreat into herself, but the worries follow, no matter how much she wishes her inner life to be calm. (Image of Bohemian Baltimore, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.)

Scene 7: Retreat for a Day

She spent the day alone at home, ruminating without Pegasus or anyone else to interfere with her thoughts and feelings. This seemed like a constructive use for her last Saturday before school resumed. Sitting in the back yard and enjoying the morning sun, she willed herself to let go of her worries and trust the spirit of the universe to guide her and those in her circle. She felt she had confronted her fears and that she could face anything without trepidation, even new academic challenges and the doctors. Her self-esteem had never been stronger, and her will to be fearless grew taller and taller. Yet, worries about school wore at her all day.

Mama got home in the late afternoon. For dinner, she made omelettes the way Kitten liked them, with sautéed onions and mushrooms carefully folded into the eggs. Kitten thought they were delicious, and that the best ingredient was Mama’s love.

After helping her clean the kitchen, Kitten decided that this was the time to put her fearless new approach into action.

“Mama, if it’s okay with you, I’d like to go out for some fresh air. I haven’t seen Pegasus all day, and I’d like to visit him. Besides, I need to clear my head.”

Mama said, “Yes, my Krana Layala. By all means. I understand.”

Kitten bravely stepped through the front door and onto the porch.

Original Text ©2021, Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

The Healing Horse, Ch 18., Scene 5: Remembering a Victim

In this scene, we learn the sad story of one of Kitten’s friends—a little boy who died because of medical malpractice, when he was only eight years old. But, instead of working herself into a rage, or worrying herself into panic, Karen recognizes that she not only needs to learn to stand up to the doctors, so they do not do something similar to her, but she needs to get past her worry and resentment. They can be as deadly as any human. Likewise, she finds inspiration in the Civil Rights Movement and vows to apply the same principles to the rights of people with disabilities.

The two pictures are of me as a little girl and me, today, speaking for and to people with disabilities. 

Karen at age 4 wearing her leg brace

Karen at age 4 wearing her leg brace

image of Karen Lynn-Chlup delivering a keynote

The author delivering a keynote address

 

Scene 5: Remembering a Victim 

Tears flowed from her closed eyelids, as she saw in memory a small boy, an eight-year-old, who had attended her school and had been a friend. He had cerebral palsy, like Kitten, but it affected the right side of his body rather than the left. His mind was completely normal and without any learning disabilities. He had a happy disposition and made the other children laugh with his jokes. Aside from his right leg dragging to the side, his gait was good, and he managed most tasks with his left hand.

She had missed him when he did not come to school for a week. When he returned, she was happy to see him, but then she saw what had happened to him. The doctors had performed surgery to improve the use of his right hand, but rather than improving it, they had made it worse.

It hung and swung with each step he took, trailing like a loose pendulum from his wrist. It looked completely unnatural, and he complained that it hurt.

He stopped laughing after that.

The next Monday, he did not return to school. When Karen asked her teacher what had happened to him, the teacher said he had developed a staph infection from the surgery and died.

Thinking back over the experience, Karen realized that the doctors had killed the boy in their greed, and that they could do the same to her. She had to be strong and stand up to them.

In a flash, she realized that she had never allowed herself to think like this before. She had never permitted herself to imagine being so bold, so assertive, or so brave. Her first walk to the carousel was where this bravery germinated. Now, she knew that this was her time. She knew that her disabilities were not accidents. She knew that this was her opportunity to teach others. She was not a Tiny Tim like she had read about in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. She was not anyone’s inspiration to perfection. She was a smart, young girl who had something wonderful to offer the world, and that included the strength imparted by her cerebral palsy and perceptual disabilities! From Pegasus’ teaching, she had learned that the source of her energy and strength came from her accomplishments—even from the ones that seemed to be disasters rather than triumphs. She found empowerment in the sentiments, perceptions, and logic of her heart. These were direct results of her new sense of self.

She was not going to allow anyone to bully her into becoming an experimental subject for these self-important experts. She would maintain her human dignity and her pride in her disabilities. This was a new beginning. She would fight for her life like no one had ever fought before.

This Herculean cognizance had been locked deep within her being. Now, she felt it transforming her just as Pegasus had metamorphosed from a wooden fantasy horse into a living spiritual guide. At the same time, her new awareness brought her back to reality.

So many people are trying to change things. People are marching for Civil Rights and against pollution. I, too, must march for my dream of a world in which toxic and tainted thinking about people with disabilities won’t exist anymore. We won’t be judged by our disabilities anymore than by the color of our skin! With Pegasus by my side, I will present the world with a new view of cerebral palsy, with something fresh and not stereotypical!

Yet, as she cleaned the counter, her feelings of apprehension returned to gnaw at her—the experts were so much older and more powerful and better educated than she was. Perhaps, she could find something within herself that she could hide from them, something intangible but powerful. It had to be constructive and optimistic because that’s who she really was. She knew that, no matter how unenlightened the experts were, if she continued resenting and fearing them, her own anxiety would destroy her. She had to confront both her own feelings and the doctors.

Original Text ©2021, Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

The Healing Horse, Ch. 18, Scene 4: Surgery, Institutionalization, or Euthanasia

 

This scene brings Karen’s mind back to a medical examination, when the doctor recommended amputation, institutionalization, or euthanasia for her. In spite of her worries about her coming evaluation by the same physician, she vows to stay strong and not give in to people-pleasing. (Photo attribution: See page for author, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Scene 4: Surgery, Institutionalization, or Euthanasia

In her memory, she heard Dr. Lambert’s voice. She was seven years old and with her mother in the clinic room at school. Dr. Lambert towered over her. His huge stomach was at her eye-level. She watched it stretch the cloth of his gray striped dress shirt, as he wheezed for breath. He glared down at her and pulled his white doctor coat together over his belly, and then adjusted his gray tie and gray tie clip. Taller than the other men in the room, he was so overweight that he looked round. His gray hair lay in neat Brylcreem rows across his scalp, and whenever she saw the top of his head, droplets of sweat covered it. He pointed at her, and she saw the gray cuff links in his shirt cuffs.

The doctors had examined her and were reviewing the file on her academic progress. As always, Lambert’s voice was cold, as if he were trying to be as inhuman as possible. A medical doctor, he also had a PhD among the credentials that followed his name, but when she heard what he recommended, she knew that he was not there to help her fulfill her potential as a disabled person. He was there to prune her into a profitable imitation of normalcy.

“We don’t have much to work with, Mrs. Hirschstein. Your daughter is not progressing well, academically. She is probably not capable of academic progress beyond the rudiments, such as learning the alphabet. Her physical development is also very slow. I would recommend removing the paralyzed limbs, so that her body could put whatever energy it has into developing the normal limbs. This would help her become more normal. Perhaps it would free energy for her intellectual development, as well. You should also consider euthanasia. When the case is hopeless, there’s no shame in that. Or, there is always institutionalization. There are state institutions that would relieve you of the necessity of caring for her, and they would give her appropriate care for the rest of her life.”

Even at the age of seven, Kitten’s vocabulary included these words, and she knew exactly what he meant. Too frightened to speak, she was glad when her mother gasped, “Never!” before hurrying Karen out of the school and into the car for the ride home.

Euthanasia? Institutionalization? Give me a break, doctor! Who do you think you are? Do you think my life is worthless? Well, it’s not. I am only in second grade, and I am not dead, yet! And by the way, my mama and I are not going to allow any of you to chop up my little body like a piece of cake

Closing her eyes for a moment, she forced herself to swallow her last bite of food. She had seen many of her disabled classmates and their parents taken in by such deceit. It seemed impossible that such behavior could exist in the twentieth century, but it was alive and well in her world! These second-semester evaluations were all-important, and the doctors were subtle, their diagnoses and recommendations as deadly as a spider’s sparkling web. Nonetheless, her empowered thoughts eased her woes and were the opposite of people-pleasing.

Original Text ©2021, Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

The Healing Horse, Ch. 18, Scene 3 : The Child Study Team

image of mad scientist with circle and bar to negate himIn this scene, little Karen begins thinking about the Child Study Team and how she will deal with these evil doctors, who want to enrich themselves by performing unnecessary surgeries on disabled children. (Image courtesy of Pierre-Alain Gouanvic, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Scene 3 : The Child Study Team

She knew that the Child Study Team was supposed to improve her education by making sure that everything was customized just for her. She knew how proud the school was to be among the first to use this new approach of bringing in experts to advise them on how to help each child as an individual. But to her, it felt like they were using her and the other kids as guinea pigs, and that the real reason the experts showed up was to collect their fees.

The doctors derived fees for surgeries and from referrals to other surgeons. Motivated by greed, they tampered with the bodies of disabled children, and then disguised their unnecessary surgeries as treatments. Of one thing, Kitten was certain. She did not want any unnecessary operations on her left arm and right leg. Several of the doctors had recommended surgery to Mama, before, and Kitten knew instinctively how she had to react. She was not going to come across as a phony, brown-nosing kind of girl. She was not going to allow unscrupulous physicians, who treated her with little respect, to cut her into pieces. She was going to stand up for herself.

She remembered the battle to give her control over the locks on her leg brace. When she was three, the doctors had put her into a brace that kept her left leg straight twenty-four hours a day. It was supposed to help her stand and walk. She had to sleep in it, and when she walked she had to hike up her left hip with every step. The brace also contained a knee pad that kept her from flexing her knee even a tiny bit. By the time Karen was five, Mama could see that she was never going to learn to walk normally if she could not bend her knee. The doctors were against removing the pad or allowing Karen to bend her knee because their guidelines said to keep her leg rigid. Mama had to argue with them. They wanted to follow their theory whether it helped Karen or not. They never admitted that their ideas might need changing, though they eventually gave in. They removed the pad and made the locks adjustable so Karen could make the brace rigid or flexible as needed. She immediately began walking more normally. This experience gave her proof that she should not believe everything the experts said.

Now that she had clarity concerning her foreboding, she wanted to take command of her destiny. That was critical, right now. Karen’s thoughts traveled back to the experts. She knew that she would have to see them whether she wanted to or not. That was just how life was, especially in the second semester of the school year. In their vulture-like glory, they would descend upon the school and its handicapped students.

Oh, how that term, handicapped, rankles me. In fact, every one of the experts rankles me, except the one understanding soul among them, Mrs. Athena Pinzetti.

Original Text ©2021, Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

The Healing Horse, Ch. 18, Scene 2: Pre-Semester Worries in the Kitchen

image of bagel with cream cheese and lox

In this scene, little Karen is in a daze from worries over the coming semester. She has only one friend at school, and on top of being lonely she is under the thumb of a group of evil doctors, but she finds strength in her newly-born confidence–and a yummy bagel. (Image courtesy of Helen Cook, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.)

Scene 2: Pre-Semester Worries in the Kitchen

Now that she had part of the supernatural answer, she sadly rose from bed and meandered into the kitchen, with little awareness of anything outside her own thoughts and feelings. She was alone. Mama had left to run her Saturday errands and visit friends. 

In the kitchen, she carefully put her strong right foot onto the lowest rung of a barstool, so she could push herself up and sit down. Mama had left half of a poppy seed bagel on a dessert plate for her. Focusing her mind and drawing on the little energy she felt, she spread it with cream cheese and topped it with lox. She knew she needed good nutrition to get through the next few weeks.   

As she chewed the bagel, her mind chewed over her difficulties with learning new academic material. She would have to master new subjects, and she did not know how she would do it. Challenges always pained her, even as she found ways to succeed at them. Even though she knew she would focus on achieving rather than on failing, she questioned herself and her abilities over and over again.

With the dawn of the new semester, her classmates would talk about what they had done over the winter holiday. Like her, they had all stayed home, but they had stayed home in non-magical ways. 

What could she say about her winter break? She visualized herself standing up in class and saying, “Just before Thanksgiving, my mother and I moved from our little house in the valley into a beautiful Topanga Canyon home. And it’s just down the street from the stables, where my magical horse lives. During the holiday break, I got to ride him, everyday, and he told me all about life and love and the yin and yang of existence. And we even went to Disneyland, where everyone thought being magical was great. But then, I also had a dream about finding treasure, so we would be well off, but in the dream I was trampled by hundreds of screaming children, and the treasure turned out to be worthless chocolate candy.”

Nobody’s going to believe this! How am I going to get through this? How am I going to get along with the other kids at school? And how am I going to make a place for myself in the world, when I grow up? Tammy Beaumont is the only friend I have at school. The other kids all think I’m strange. Nobody’s going to believe I have a magical horse. They’ll think I’m going nuts. 

She knew that, somehow, she would get through this, and that she would master the academics. But how? For a moment, her raw nerves made her throat dry. She choked on a piece of bagel, and had to gulp water to get it down. 

Then her mind jumped to the dreaded Child Study Team, the group of doctors and so-called experts who controlled every aspect of her education. When would they call her for the evaluation they did on her at the beginning of each semester? They supervised her education and controlled much of her life, even though they saw her only twice each year and had neither feeling nor concern for her as a person.

Fortunately, Pegasus had given her the inner confidence to believe in herself, so she was stronger than she had been in the past. Nevertheless, confronting the Child Study Team and the other students  in January of 1964 would be a test of her endurance, patience, tolerance, and stamina. She knew this.

Original Text ©2021, Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

The Healing Horse, Ch. 18: Pre-Semester Worries, Scene 1: Saturday Morning Worries

image of wood-framed chalkboard with words back to school written on it

In this scene, worry and fear torment little Karen, as she contemplates returning to school and to the gulf that she feels separates her from her classmates. (Photo by Deleece Cook on Unsplash)

Scene 1: Saturday Morning Worries

December’s holidays passed in felicitous gratitude, but then at six-forty-five on the morning of Saturday, January 4, 1964, Karen awoke. The dawn light illuminated her room, and she remembered that the new school semester began in only two days.

She recalled her dream, in which she had re-lived both the ordeal and the inspiration that had followed. The vow to set an example of selfless compassion, which she had made on the sidewalk, rang like a bell in her heart, but as she awoke, her mind churned with worries about the next few days of her life.

She was not physically ill. Rather, she was stuck in a stage of uneasiness due to circumstances at school. Whirling in her mind with an unyielding intensity were worries that upset her composure. She could not understand why she felt anxious, but the more she tried to release these feelings, the more intense they became. Back to school sounded ominous, not happy. She tried talking to herself.

“Shush, Karen,you’re going to get through this. Sweetheart, you’re going to be okay.”

The discomfort and uneasiness remained.

She replied to herself, “What’s making me feel like this? I don’t know where these feelings are coming from.”

Then, her intuition told her. She was experiencing perturbation and consternation, which were natural parts of the yin and yang of happiness, the yin and yang that Pegasus had told her about. She was experiencing the great knowledge of the universe, and knew that her happier feelings would resurface in their own time. Yet, such an intellectual explanation of the universal cycle of happiness and despair brought little comfort to one living through the dark part of it.

Original Text ©2021, Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

The Healing Horse, Ch. 17, Scene 7: Commitment

In this scene, after the trauma of being trampled, little Karen finds peace in her soul and realizes that she not only has something special to offer the world, but that she really can become a beacon of hope in the world. (Photo by Allen Cai on Unsplash.)

Scene 7: Commitment

Kitten and Mama arrived home and cleaned her wounds. As Mama winced while applying the Merthiolate, Kitten sang a song from her soul. She did not yet have a solution, but she knew she was headed in the right direction, and that she indeed had something very special to offer. She would become a beacon of hope in the world.

Original Text ©2021, Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

The Healing Horse, Ch 17., Scene 6: Walking Home with Compassion

Painting of young boy sitting with old man on lilly pad.

In this scene, Karen and Mama walk home. Karen reflects on her experience of being trampled, but rather than finding anger in her heart, she finds love, compassion, and the inspiration to share them. Most people do not think of compassion as a traditional Jewish value, but it is. Here is a link to a beautiful article by the late Jay Litvin who, along with doing many other good works, took a leading role in airlifting children from the area contaminated by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. (I found the image on the page by Jay Litvin, but it is in a lot of places on the internet, so I assume it is in the public domain. Thanks to whoever painted it.)

Scene 6: Walking Home with Compassion

Mama and Karen said goodbye to the dazed Mrs. Proctor. 

“My Krana Layala, those kids ran right over you. Should I carry you? Can you walk?” Mama asked.

Karen’s body hurt all over, but she said, “Yes they did, Mama, but I’ll be okay. I’m just a little bruised. I’ll feel better when we start walking.” 

Hand in hand, they left the schoolyard through the same gate by which they had entered. As she had predicted, the pain lessened during the short walk to the gate. 

Alone on the sidewalk with Mama, and unobserved by anyone but her mother, Karen let her tears return. She could not believe that what had just occurred had been real, that not one child had cared enough to stop and help her. They all kept running for their candy.

She heaved for more air, the emotional shock more painful than her physical wounds. The unwillingness of others to give up their pursuit of candy when someone was suffering and clearly needed help had shattered and shaken her.

Is this what people think life is about—instant selfish gratification from chocolate, regardless of the human cost? What kind of a world do I live in? How could people hurt other people like this? Is a handful of chocolate more important than a human life? What about kindness and compassion? What about empathy and sympathy? Have we all forgotten how to treat each other? Somehow we have to stop being mean and insensitive. Our greed is out of control.

In her memory, she saw the stampede from above, as if she were looking down from the sky. She lay, a small trampled figure beneath the stampede of older, non-disabled children. The compassionate Mrs. Proctor stood helpless with Mama watching the event unfold.

Conscience awakened, she vowed that she would never ignore someone who needed help. She would teach, demonstrate, and convey the lesson she had learned, today. Manifesting selflessness, she would give compassion and kindness to all. Inhaling, exhaling, composing herself, she vowed, I will be the enlightened one. I will awaken others. I will teach in a way that no one has taught before.

Original Text ©2021, Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

The Healing Horse, Ch. 17, Scene 5: Mama to the Rescue

Drawing of traditional circular life preserver in red

In this scene, the kids have just trampled over little Karen, but she stands up on her own and insists that she would rather endure a trampling than spend her days at home and in fear of life. Mama thinks she has to be Karen’s life preserver, but Karen says she can learn to swim, figuratively speaking. In Karen’s mind, she would rather risk anything than give in to fear and limiting beliefs about what she can do.  (Illustration courtesy of Fosnez, Matma Rex, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Scene 5: Mama to the Rescue

She felt herself become safe, again, as Mama surrounded her with her arms and pulled her close. With safety came more tears from Karen and from her mother.

“Are you okay, my Krana Layala? Are you okay, my baby?” Mama asked. “I was surprised when you asked to come. I should’ve said no.”

“I’m okay, Mama, and you did right to let me come. I want to live life. I don’t want to stay home out of fear of being hurt,” Karen sobbed, holding up her burning left hand for Mama to kiss and make well.

“The children stampeded,” said Mrs. Proctor. “I’ve never seen anything like that in my life.”

“This is my fault,” added Mama. “I shouldn’t’ve put Karen right in the middle and in front. I should’ve put her at one of the ends, so the others wouldn’t have to run over her.”

“Yes, but the children still should not have run over her.”

“I know,” sighed Mama, “but they’re children. They got over-excited about the chocolate. It was like the rush when a piñata cracks open. Karen got trampled. When I saw them lining up behind my daughter, I should’ve thought faster. I should’ve foreseen what could happen. I should’ve been quicker to see what was about to happen. Just like when the doctor gave her the shot, I wasn’t thinking of the possible consequences fast enough to stop him.”

Karen got to her feet, and watched as Mama quickly examined her. She knew her knees were scratched, and both her hands were bruised, but she was glad when Mama said she did not have any broken bones. She felt herself become calmer, and her tears stopped.

Looking up at Mama and Mrs. Proctor, she said, “Don’t worry. I’ll survive.”

“Karen,” Mrs. Proctor said, “Let me get you something to make you feel better. I’ll get you some of the treasure for your very own. Would you like that?”

Karen smiled and nodded her head, as Mrs. Proctor hurried away. Mama continued holding her, soothing her hurts. In a moment, Mrs. Proctor returned with a small brown paper bag.

“Kitten, here’s some of the treasure, just for you!”

Karen reached toward the bag and then paused, looking up at her mother for permission. Mama nodded and told her to go ahead. She took the bag and thanked Mrs. Proctor. The bag was filled with chocolate kisses and bite-size chocolate bars, all covered in gold or jewel-tone foil. Karen fought back more tears. This was her prize. This was what the other children had trampled her to get—not jewels, not gold–just chocolate. She thought about how hard Mama worked to feed her and to pay their mortgage. Chocolates were not going to help Mama. This was not real treasure, and yet the other children had stomped over her to get to it. She thanked Mrs. Proctor and said she would like to go home.

Original Text ©2021, Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.