The Present

“Who’s there?” asked Aniya’s mother without moving from the couch or breaking her intense stare at the carpet. She had been staring at the carpet like that a lot lately, and Aniya guessed she was angry at the carpet’s many stains.
“It’s Fred Barns,” replied the knocker. “I worked for Mr. Homer and Daniel Reed was my coworker. Is he here?”
“He’s lookin for another job, Ain’t gonna be back till late,” she replied.
“Oh, I’m sorry I missed him. But I came here because I have a gift for your daughter.”
Aniya glanced at the already dirty barbie doll that had been her only Christmas present before hopping up to tug on her mother’s sleeve. But her mother yanked her arm away and pushed Aniya to the side. “She don’t deserve a present.”
Fred sighed, “Look, I just wanted to be a blessing. I know how difficult things have been lately. Mr. Homer fired me for the same reason as Daniel.”
Mrs. Reed sat up but Aniya was irritated by this distraction from the real issue: whether or not she would get that present.
“Daniel wasn’t fired, he quit!” said her mom.
“Mrs. Reed, I’m sorry to have to tell you this, I am sure there was not a good reason for Daniel to be fired, but he was. I was there to witness it.”
“Why?” The quiver of the usually steady hands surprised Aniya.
“Mr. Homer thought Daniel could have been involved in the robbery.”
She went limp like an uprooted flower and leaned against the couch for support.
“Mrs. Reed?”
Aniya pulled with all her might on her mother’s arm, feeling urgency about the present. Her mother didn’t acknowledge Aniya for several minutes and boots could be heard turning around in the snow and walking away. Aniya stomped her foot on the ground with a cry of frustration and walked toward the door. Like a recently disinterested cat about to lose it’s prey her mother grabbed her by the arm, twirled her around, and slapped her across the face.
“I said, you don’t deserve no present!”
Aniya stood in dumbfounded silence and watched her mom tear out of the room. Aniya ran to her room leaving tears on the carpet that blended in with stains.
Aniya pulled the cardboard off her window, which had been there to seal the large hole. The light blinded her momentarily but ignoring the colorful splotches she jumped out the window obtaining a small scratch which stained the already dirty snow a red color. The cold wind whipped the moisture out of her eyes down her cheeks and as she stepped onto the ground the snow stuck to her socks making her feet cold. But she bore her pain, thinking of how she would strut across the room in front of her mother with that present, whatever it was, in her arms
Aniya didn’t stop running till she stood beside the man. He gave her a double take before asking, “Aniya?”
She nodded and he shoved a prettily wrapped box into her arms and said,
“Now hurry back to your room, where it’s warm, and open it.”
As she ran back several funny looking cars parked in her drive way but she didn’t think much of them. She saw them in her neighborhood all the time.When she arrived in her room, she pulled a beautiful necklace out of that box and promptly put it on. She walked to find her mother in the living room, arms full of wrapping paper. She heard another knock on the door. As Aniya entered the living room she heard her mother say to several men in all black outfits,
“No, we don’t know anything about Mr. Homer’s necklace.”



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