September 27, 2021
A woman observed that her son, a straight-A kid, was not coming home directly after school. One day she followed him to find out where he was going.
It all started one Friday afternoon when Jane happened to see her neighbor's daughter, Cynthia, running home from school. It had just been three in the afternoon.
"Why did she leave her school?" Jane wondered. Curious as a cat, she stepped outside her house and crossed over to Cynthia's house to ask her why she was back from school so early.
"Hey Melinda," she greeted Cynthia's mom. "I just came by to ask why Cynthia was released early. Is there something happening at the school?"
"Oh no," Melinda said. "That's when the school closes, 3PM. Isn't your boy home yet?"
Jane was shocked. She had just moved to the neighborhood a few months before, and her son had just completed his transfer to the community school. She was furious that her son had her believe their school closed at 4.30 PM.
Jane was a tech consultant who spent most of her time behind her computer coding software and getting paid for it. She was a workaholic, which is why her husband left her in the first place.
When she moved to Oakdale, she had promised herself to make sure her son, Junior, would have her full attention, but then she was slacking off just a few months after they settled down.
In truth, she trusted him to return home immediately after school ended; after all, a 13-year-old was not exactly a baby anymore, and he was also responsible.
So when he returned from school, Jane was ready for him. "Why are you just coming in Junior?" she asked. "It's quarter to 5."
"Sorry mom, I was at Mike's," Junior said.
"Oh were you now?" Jane growled as she dialed Mike's mom.
"Hello, this is Miss Wilkins — " the voice on the other end started to say.
"Sara, quick, did Mike have Junior over today?"
"No, he didn't. He's out of town for camp."
After she cut the call, Jane took one look at her son and said, "You better start talking."
He told her then that he had simply waited behind to get some homework done. She was skeptical about his excuse, but she did not tell him that.
The next week while Junior was at school, Jane walked into his room to get his dirty laundry. There she discovered the jar that held the cash he had been saving up for years.
He said he was keeping it so that he could use it to buy the latest PlayStation console when it was enough. She was shocked that he had emptied it. It was yet another shocking thing her son had done.
Jane knew intuitively that the missing money and her son's extracurricular activities after school were connected. So by the time he returned from school that day, she had decided on a course of action. Rather than confront her son and have to deal with lies he might tell to cover up the truth, she would follow him to find out what he was up to.
The following day, Jane drove to Junior's school at exactly 3 PM, and sure enough, the students had been released. She waited until she caught sight of her child leaving the premises with a smaller bag.
"What is he doing?" she wondered.
Jane followed him through the town until they came to the poorest neighborhood in the city where she watched her son walking towards a poor homeless woman and a teenage girl close in age to Junior. The two looked malnourished and were dressed in tattered clothes.
Junior approached the girl, took out a soccer ball from his backpack, and they began to play. After their little game of soccer, the boy gave the girl some money. It was his lunch money, which he usually saved up.
"So that's where all the money went," Jane mused.
After some minutes, Jane decided enough was enough; she could no longer watch her child playing with homeless vagabonds. She yelled at him, and this caught him by surprise. Deciding it best not to argue there, she took her son to the car to bring him home.
"Explain," Jane said icily as she drove them towards their home.
"Mom, her name is Darlene and we met at the football pitch. She had talent and wanted to play football but her family could not afford to send her to school. I just wanted to help."
"Then you've done enough, I forbid you from going back there," Jane told her son.
Weeks passed, and things seemed to return to normal. Jane had taken charge of taking Junior to school and picking him up to avoid any brilliant ideas.
Junior did not like the monitoring; he got very upset that he could not spend time with the homeless family. It came to a point where he was so depressed that Jane decided to cheer him up by taking him to see them.
But when they got there, they only saw the homeless mother. The younger girl wasn't there. But as Junior debated going to ask the woman for the girl's whereabouts, he heard a laugh coming from the opposite direction.
It was the homeless girl. She was returning from school dressed in a clean school uniform. That was when he found out that they had put the money he gave them to use.
The little girl's mother hoped she would secure a scholarship with her football talent, so she had been saving to send her to school. Junior blessed them with his savings, and suddenly, they had enough to enroll the homeless girl in school.
As Jane listened, she couldn't help but be proud of her son's decisions. She never picked him up from school again.
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