Mermaid 2 - Copy

by Irene Mason

We lived in a bad neighborhood,
but compared to everyone else,
we were doing okay.
Most of my class got free lunch.
Two kids had to pay for reduced-lunch,
ten-cents,
but I was the only one who paid
the full forty-five.

Mom was in a car accident.
After the insurance company check,
we went on our trip to Hawaii.
We came back and had
souvenirs and postcards for my friends
and a Hawaiian shirt for my teacher.

I was the only only-child in
my fifth grade class.
My friend showed her dad my new, red Vans.
He said there were six kids in their family.
Their shoes were on lay-away at Zody’s.
I grew out of my clothes.
Her mom bought them at our yard sale.

Even the crack head
who lived a few houses down
visited our yard sale.
She tripped her way over
and bought a purse and some shoes.
Money was money,
even with a little coke dust on it.

My mom’s loud-mouthed friend
decided to be the Ten O’Clock News
and made a big stink about a few cockroaches
and my dad drinking a beer.
Dad said Mom couldn’t be her friend anymore.
She owed Mom babysitting money
and needed to pay up quick.
She had the last laugh by handing
mom a brown bag full of pennies.
Money was money,
even if it was a heavy sack of copper coins.

The last straw was when Mom’s
car was broken into.
The radio was stolen.
We decided to move
to a better neighborhood.
By that time, I was in Junior High.
I didn’t want to leave my friends.
Dad said the new school would have
better kids from nicer families,
but I was spoiled and stubborn.
I stayed at the “ghetto” school
by getting a permit,
too afraid to start anew.

By high school, I needed to pay for cheer camp.
Money was money,
So mom pawned her ring.
I guess we were still doing okay.

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