Harold gazed longingly at the coffee in people’s hands. Running his fingers through his short hair and stroking his goatee, he gnashed his teeth vigorously as fumes wafted from the counter and found their way to his nose. He inhaled the delicious smells and imagined the hot coffee he would soon hold in his hands. He could picture the perfect amount of foam on top, coating the drink with fluffy froth. He could almost taste the burning liquid flow down his throat, warming his body all the way to his toes, protecting him from the cold like a jacket.

“Hey! Move up!” a man behind him yelled, snapping him out of his daydream.

Harold stomped towards the front, balling up his fists and baring his teeth as his eyes bored holes into the backs of the people in front of him. Bits of conversations floated to his ears.

“I wish this line would move faster. I really need to get to work,” a woman complained in a high, irritating voice.

Harold ran his gaze over her, taking in her pinched mouth and upturned nose.

Her friend consoled her, mumbling, “At least we’re not in the back of the line.”

She cocked her head towards Harold. The woman’s words were punctuated by chomping on the gum in her mouth, separating her sentence into fragments. Her hand on her hip, she tossed her hair, giving the short sentence a gloating touch. It was as if she was proud at being in front of him. Harold’s chest felt as if it would explode as he forced himself to relax, recalling the hostile prison guards, the miniscule meals, and the walls that seemed to close in around him. It seemed like only yesterday that he went nearly bankrupt paying the jail fine.

To pass the time, he pulled out his money and absentmindedly counted the bills. Fishing in his pocket for a dollar, he wished he could be rich enough to be able to afford small luxuries like coffee. He yanked out a piece of crumpled paper and a crinkled candy wrapper, but no sign of the green slip of paper.

In his scrambled, disorganized mind, another Harold popped into existence. An anguished shriek escaped his imaginary mouth as it dawned on him that he was a dollar short. The new Harold wrestled to escape the confinement of his mind. Harold wrestled internally, attempting to control this raging beast that he thought prison had banished for good.

He glued his mouth shut, bolting his arms to his sides. Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale. His nostrils flared as he clenched his fists and closed his eyes, squeezing his eyelids together. He pushed his anger away, locking it in a safe in the far corner of his mind.

Straightening his spine and opening his eyes, he glared into the eyes of confused passersby, daring them to insult his erratic display. He took slow steps out of the line, determined not to waste his time standing in a line for coffee he couldn’t afford. He hung his head, his eyebrows sinking into a frown. His parched throat and tired body yearned for the drink he could never get.


Annika B.
7th grade

Simmons Camp
Polished Piece

Summer Ink will not be holding its summer program in 2024. We will update our site when the program is back. Thank you for your interest; please email info@summerink.org with any questions.
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