She was a nervous child, she acted out to express her anxiety. Unease and discomfort followed her around like a heavy blanket wrapped around her ankles.
Her parents fought constantly, mostly about money as most adults ill-prepared for parenthood tend to do. She began to worry about the bills, the rent and groceries. This was on top of the already monumental tower of worries that the child carried around with her; the behavioral difficulties of her puppy who refused to be house broken, the daunting organizational predicament she encountered with her book bag that resulted in hours of preparation each school night, the nightly dinner dilemma of a full plate of food that in some unimaginable way was to be consumed fully and enjoyed and most of all was the constant and unyielding worry of the safety of her family and her home.
She felt as though her life and the lives of her family were held in some precarious position, ready to disintegrate at any moment. Somehow she had to protect them and herself from the unknown threat that lingered at the edges of every moment.
After an especially violent fight over the nonexistent rent money the child decided the time had come, she would do something to help. She had seen yard sales in the neighborhood and it seemed like a perfectly reasonable way to make some quick money and money was what her family needed.
The next morning was a Sunday and she woke up before sunrise, in fact she had not slept at all that night. She walked into the front yard and felt good about the task before her, she knew for sure that this was the right thing to be doing. She gathered most of her toys and old clothes from her bedroom, glad to be rid of the offending clutter. Arranging her belongings on a blanket beneath a tree she felt like a shop girl, humming a pleasant tune of self-satisfaction. She brought out dishes from the kitchen, knickknacks from the living room, records and books from the shelves, a clothes hamper, a step stool and a spare set of silverware that her Mother kept in a drawer.
Her first customer arrived soon after she had perfectly arranged every item on the front lawn just perfectly. The girl watched nervously as the woman rummaged amidst her family’s house wares. She wasn’t nervous about any possible repercussions of what she was doing, she simply hated seeing the items being fussed with in such a careless fashion. She was proud, possibly the first time she had felt such an emotion, of the work she had done and wished she had a few minutes alone to enjoy the moment. However more customers were filing onto the lawn and she resumed her duty as shop girl. She sold the step stool for $1 and the books for a quarter a piece. People pretty much made their own price as she held open her beaded coin purse, the heft of which pleased her deeply. Within an hour the lawn was a shambles of rumpled blankets and a few unwanted articles of clothing. The books had been carried off by an overweight housewife in a stained bathrobe, the clothes hamper drug away by kids on their way to a grassy hill, the records snatched up by an awkward young man with a bad complexion and the set of rarely used silverware was hesitantly purchased by an older woman with a cranky disposition and a guilty smile.
With a deep breath of satisfaction at a hard days work the girl held tightly to the bulging coin purse as she walked back into her house. Her Father was coming out of the bathroom and walked past her without a word. He put on a pot of coffee, sat down at the kitchen table and lit a cigarette. The girl placed the coin purse in front of her Father.
where’d you get it?
I had a yard sale
a yard sale?
yeah, for rent money
what are you talking about?
for the rent… I, I heard you and Mom yelling about not having enough money, I wanted to help
oh my god, what did you sell?
…um just stuff we didn’t need….Mm..my toys and some books
…uh….I don’t know,….some, some records and some silverware
the….the silverware that we never use, it was in that drawer….really, we never use it
oh god, oh no…no no no!
I just wanted to help, I’m sorry, I’m sorry….