“Anyway, see you later, Luke!” his friend, Bobby, called out as he crossed the street and went in another direction to his house. He and Luke were walking together after school as they usually lived and separated at the same intersection. Typically, Luke would continue on his way to his house, but instead, he stood there pondering his friend’s words for a while.
His sister, Cynthia, had a case of cancer, and their family didn’t have insurance to pay for necessary surgery and subsequent treatments. They would have to get into serious debt, and Bobby’s sister insisted it was not worth it. (But it was. Her life was worth it, the 15-year-old thought and finally started walking toward his house again.
But his brows furrowed after spotting an older woman standing alone on the street. Her eyes were covered in dark glasses, and she had a walking stick, making Luke realize she had to be blind. The kid knew that blind people knew how to get around and were mostly independent, but something about her face made him stop.
“Ma’am, do you need any help?” he asked kindly.
“Oh, yes. Thank you for stopping. I need to get back to my house less than a mile away, but I’m a little disoriented now. I think it’s my age,” the woman explained. “I had originally paid a delivery man near my house so he would accompany me, but I gave him the cash and he run away after walking for a few minutes.”
“That’s terrible. Ok, I can help you get home, if you tell me which direction to go,” the teenager continued, linking the woman’s arm with his.
“Thank you, young man. Let’s just go up ahead,” she pointed her cane and started walking with Luke. “I can pay you for your time, of course.”
“No, no way. I’m not taking your money.”
The teenager thought this would be quick and just a slight detour away from his house in Fort Collins, Colorado, but soon he realized they were walking away from the suburban areas.
“Ma’am, are you sure this is the right way? If you tell me your address, I’ll put it on Google Maps, and we can go faster that way,” Luke offered, although they didn’t stop walking.
“No, no. I may be blind, young man. But I know where we’re going,” the old woman stated. “You can call me, Mrs. White.”
“Ok, then. Let’s keep going, Mrs. White,” he responded, shrugging internally.
However, they soon reached the edge of the municipal forest, which was not the right direction to her house. He stopped for a few moments and urged the lady to turn around.
“Ma’am– I mean, Mrs. White, this is not the way. Going into the forest, especially at this time, it’s dangerous. Nighttime is only a few hours away,” Luke pleaded, fearful although he tried to hide it.
“Young man, this is the right way. You’ll know when we get there,” Mrs. White said confidently, almost pulling the 15-year-old so they could go on. She was a little too strong for her age.
Luke was getting increasingly worried the more they treaded through the forest. “Is your house here? We have walked for miles, Mrs. White. What is going on?” he asked, his tone now desperate, and he thought about unlinking his arm and running away. But leaving an older woman behind seemed awful to him.
“What’s in there?” he wondered as Mrs. White let his arm go and reached into her pockets. Finally, she unearthed a set of keys.
“Here you go, kid. Everything inside is now yours. Do with it what you please,” Mrs. White told him. “Consider it a reward.”
“What?” the teenager asked again, confused. But the older lady pointed the cane towards the door again, urging him to go in.
“Is this a trap?” Luke asked, taking the keys from her hand and opening the door, which creaked and squeaked as it opened. In his head, he was ready to sprint away from the older woman, but he worried about being ambushed by other people. This is how kids get snatched.
“I’m afraid you’ll have to use your phone to see inside,” the older woman suggested, still in the same spot. She was not going to follow him inside, which made Luke even more worried. A strange feeling crept down his spine, as he got his phone out and turned on the flashlight.
But his emotions changed entirely when the light hit the contents of the secret dugout. The area was filled with gold bars, bags of cash, boxes of precious gems, and even artwork that Luke thought might be insanely expensive.
“Mrs. White, what is this?” he asked, coming out of the dugout and facing the older woman.
“It’s everything I’ve worked for over the years. I don’t have any family and thought I would give it to the first person who helped me without asking for anything in return. I swear I’m not lying,” she answered.
“You can use it to hire help or get surgery to recover your eyesight,” the teenager suggested, still confused about the entire situation.
“I don’t want to hire anyone or get surgery. I’m fine not seeing a world that’s falling apart and the greed that has taken over.