My mama was always sending me to the store. Every day she needed something to complete our dinner. There were no refrigerators back then. There were ice boxes, but it cost money to pay for the ice man. In addition to that, John and Roberto were out working, so they weren’t around. My brothers Frank and Henry were toddlers. The girls, well they were girls, and they were never allowed to go anywhere alone. That means I was the lucky one.
It was a short walk downtown and I passed by the Five and Dime Store. It always smelled like stale popcorn, but I stopped and looked in the window anyway. In fact, I stopped every day and looked at that magnificent toy battleship on display. It was made of metal and painted in the colors of real ships. I fell in love with it and each time I had to go to the market for something. It only cost ten cents and I really wanted it. The sad thing was it would take me years to save up that kind of money.
I still remember that fateful day. I found ten cents on the sidewalk. I felt my heart beat faster! And I got really happy. I couldn’t help myself and I went into the store and I bought the boat. I was so happy, it was almost like a miracle.
I could still feel my heart thumping when I arrived at the block of my house. I stopped many times to look at this boat. I was just feeling happy to be the owner of this wonderful toy. But then, when I get near the house I started to feel guilty, then ashamed, then I was full of sadness. You know, the kind feeling where you get a lump in your throat because you didn’t do your homework and you knew you were going to get in trouble.
I got mad at myself for having bought the boat. But it was so wonderful!
We were so poor. We could have done a lot with that ten cents. I should have bought some bread with the money. I should have bought something else that my family really needed. I should have given it to my mama or told her that I found it. I should have returned to the store and got my money back. Many more “should haves” popped into my head.
When I got home I felt so ashamed of myself for being so selfish that I dug a hole and buried it in the backyard. It is probably still there to this day.