It was the first time, and it wouldn’t be the last. I hugged my weathered coat closer to my body to shield the bulky golden-brown loaf hidden in the inner pocket. It was still warm and a whiff of the bread’s scent tickled my nose, making my stomach clench with hunger and longing. I sighed, anticipating the moment when I would eat the bread, savoring each…
I shook my head, clearing my mind of the fantasies. I had to make it out of the store first. I pretended to be very interested in a can of beans as the shopkeeper walked past me again, eyeing me warily. I had to get out before he finally acted on his suspicions and discovered my hidden treasure. The door was just ten steps away now. Once he passed, I turned and walked slowly towards it.
Please don’t let me get caught.
One. Two. Three.
My heart rate became erratic as I neared the door.
“Where do you think you’re going young lady?” I heard from behind me and I ran, never looking back until I reached the dingy streets that I called home. I got into the shabby cardboard house and my little brother peeked at me from under the old curtains that we used as blankets.
I sat beside him, broke the bread and handed him one half and his eyes lit up with joy. The bread tasted better than I imagined; a far cry from the scraps we were reduced to eating for the past months until I had decided it was enough and I had gone out to try my hand at shoplifting. The thought of what would have happened if I had been caught scared me enough to resolve to never steal again. But as I watched Michael eating, smiling contently, I knew tonight would not be the last time I stole. I would do it a million times more, just to see that smile.