After the grueling miles long journey from school, I was glad to see the familiar gravel driveway and the overgrown lawn. The absence of Mother’s beat-up sedan indicated that she was gone again. As I was a child, I didn’t think about where she was or what she was doing. I was just tired. So I stumbled up the porch stairs, under the dancing windchimes, and through the unlocked door.
I jumped on the stained sofa, ready for a nap, when I remembered that I had a slice of cake in my backpack. I begrudgingly stood up and placed it in the empty refrigerador where it would be safe. It was precious. It was wrong to steal, but I knew that I would starve if I didn’t, and rarely did I get a chance to own something so valuable.
Satisfied with the placement in the fridge, I decided to nap in my bedroom. I walked down the hall and threw my backpack on the yellowing carpet. I absentmindedly shuffled to my bed and immediately closed my eyes.
I awoke to the sounds of muffled talking. There was a scream. I dragged myself out of bed to see what was the matter. Mother sat on a stool with her face in her hands. The door was ajar, and I heard the sound of an engine igniting. I caught sight of a man’s face as the car screeched away.
“Who was that?” I asked quietly.
“It was no one. Don’t worry about it honey.” she replied with her face turned away.
Deciding not to press any further, I turned around, but I remembered the cake in the fridge. It was time, I thought. I expected it to be right where I put it. But it was gone.
“Mom there was a slice cake in the fridge. What happened to it?”
“I don’t know what you mean. I haven’t seen it, sorry.”
I was furious. To avoid Mother, I quickly returned to my room. I couldn’t just let whoever took it get away with it. It must have been that guy I saw, I thought. It wasn’t logical to be upset, I knew that. But I was so hungry.
I didn’t know what my intentions were exactly. Would I confront him? Demand payment? Try to attack him? I wasn’t sure at the time, but I needed something to focus on. Something to distract me. My plan was to wait until I saw him again. I would place a trap, and catch him in the act.
The next morning, I was surprised when Mom said she would take me to school. We left the house at dawn. In the car, we sat in silence for about twenty minutes. I stared out the window at the enormous trees that seemed to envelop us.
“Hey. I need to tell you something.” Mom sighed. “You’re going to have a baby brother. I’m pregnant.”
She turned around to see my reaction, but I just looked away.
For the rest of the trip, I didn’t say a thing. I did not know what it would mean to have a new brother, but I was secretly glad. I hoped that mom would be home more often. I hoped that my brother would love me. However, I couldn’t let anyone know what I really thought.
After school ended and the two hour walk home, I finally arrived home exhausted like usual. I carried a slice of cake that I did not steal. I thought about what happened today. My teacher brought me cake. She understood. I felt both shame and relief. I stood there dumbstruck for what felt like an hour, but I accepted it gratefully. At home, I remembered my plan to catch the thief, so I placed half of it in fridge and went to my room to sleep.
Once again, I woke to sounds of my mom and someone else. Rather than one man, I realized it was multiple. They were yelling. I shut my eyes and hoped that all of this would stop. Shoving my pillow over my ears, I was almost able to drown out the noise.
At around midnight, I stepped out of my room. The stool was knocked over. Heavy wind blew right through the wide open door. The windchimes sang an ominous tune. I slowly stepped through the door and looked down. A body. My mom’s body. My heart began the beat uncontrollably. My vision blurred. I forced myself to look at her. A knife was plunged into her stomach, and she laid there in a pool of her own blood.
In a trance, I turned around and opened the fridge. Somebody took the bait.