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.