Eighteen-year-old Warren Harv sat on the beach next to his best friend, Ann Kasey. The wind shifted his sandy-blonde hair. He had brought her here per her request; he knew the sound of the waves crashing along the shore was ,peaceful to her. “The most wonderful place on Earth.” she had once told him. At seventeen, she was facing a major life decision; one she’d have to live with the rest of her life.
“Can I tell you a story?” Warren asked.
“Sure.” She quietly told him, while staring at the sea.
“This is the story of The Street Kid and the Girl with the Golden Heart. Now, the kid was your typical street kid; you know the type. He was sitting in the front office of the high school one morning when a guy and girl came in. They were an odd pair, who caught his attention. The guy was over six-feet tall and had bulging muscles. He had a hard look on his face; one you knew meant he was not to be messed with. He walked with confidence and attitude. The street kid knew he wouldn’t want to get into a fight with this guy; he’d get his ass kicked.
“The girl, by contrast, looked so tiny next to him. She was short, scrawny. Despite the over-sized, dirty, gray hoodie and ripped jeans, he could tell she was small boned, very thin. The ratty green sneakers on her feet looked like they would fall apart at any moment. She used her long, blonde hair to hide her face and the over-sized glasses sliding down her nose. The girl looked very uncomfortable and timid as she followed the guy up to the receptionist desk.
“‘I need to enroll my sister in school.’ He told the lady behind the counter.
“‘Do you have the information from her previous school?’
“‘She went here last year.’
“The lady gave him an annoyed look. ‘School started a week-and-a-half ago. Where has she been?”
“‘In the hospital. I have all the paperwork the doctor told me to give to the school nurse.’
“The lady’s face softened as she looked at the girl. ‘Let me have it and take a seat. It’s going to be a few minutes.’
“The girl sat and curled up into a little ball very close to him. The brother was whispering something into her ear as he rubbed her back. She kept nodding her head in agreement with whatever he was saying. The guy kept looking at the clock hanging on the wall. Eventually, he stood up and told her. ‘I can’t wait any longer. Do you know where you’re going this afternoon?’
“She nodded her head.
“He gave her a hug, a kiss on the top of her head, and, for the first time, the street kid noticed a kind, soft look on his face. It wasn’t a look which was usually seen in Riverside. Their embrace seemed unusual as well. The street kid had never seen two siblings appear to be so close. ‘I’ll see you tonight.’ The guy told his sister.
“After he left, the girl started fidgeting and shaking. ‘Hey,’ the street kid called over to her. ‘Are you alright?’ He immediately got out of his chair and moved to sit next to her. ‘I couldn’t help but overhear you’ve been in the hospital. You’re shaking. Do you need the school nurse?’
“‘I’m alright. Thanks for asking. There’s nothing the nurse can do.’ She gave him a shy smile. ‘Why are you in the office this morning?’
“‘Fighting. I didn’t do it on school grounds, but I did do it during lunch yesterday and a teacher saw me. I’m waiting to talk to the AP and find out my punishment.’
“‘Are you alright?’ She gave him a concerned look.
“‘I’m fine. I can handle my own. I’ve been in plenty of fights. Why were you in the hospital?’
“‘I hit my head and was in a coma.’ Her answer was barely audible.
“‘Geez, you must have hit it really hard. What were you doing?’
“She stared at one of the walls and quietly said. ‘I don’t know. I don’t remember.’
“Just then, the receptionist called him back to speak to the AP. When he walked into the front office again, the girl was gone. He headed back to class, but couldn’t get her off his mind. She had left a strange impression on him.
“It was lunch period when he saw her again. He was sitting at the table with his friends when he spotted her leaving the serving line with her tray. Some guys walked up to her and took her glasses. ‘Well, look at what we have here; a kindergartner in high school. That’s an awfully good looking burger you have, I don’t mind if I do.’ He picked up her cheeseburger and took a bite. She looked horribly uncomfortable and didn’t protest. ‘Let me explain the rules to you, freak. From now on, your lunch is my lunch. You got that?’ It only took a few seconds for them to remove all the food off her tray. They laughed and walked away.
“She quickly wiped a tear off her cheek as she stumbled around trying to find the glasses. A girl walking by didn’t see her and bumped her in the head with her backpack.
“The street kid watched her fall to the floor grabbing her head in obvious pain; her body shaking like he’d seen that morning. It was typical, no one tried to help her, no one cared. However, he couldn’t watch this any longer. He quickly moved, grabbed the glasses, and went to help her to her feet. He could see the pools of tears about to overflow her lower lids.
“‘Come with me.’ He told her.
“‘Where are we going?’
“‘To get you some lunch.’
“‘How? I’m only allowed one free meal a day. I don’t have any money.’
“‘Just play along with me.’ He then swiped her glasses and pushed her into the exit of the serving line. As she stumbled and bumped into the lunch lady, he quickly moved to the entrance. While the lady was helping her, he grabbed some food, quickly tucking it into the pocket of his jacket.
“The street kid ducked back out the entrance and announced. ‘Hey, I found your glasses. Here.’ He handed them back, ushering her to come with him. They sat at a table and he pulled out an apple.
“‘Thanks.’ She shyly smiled.
“He watched her devour the apple. ‘Boy, you were really hungry. I’ve never seen anyone eat the entire core.’
“She uncomfortably looked at the floor, fidgeting. ‘Thanks for helping me. That was very nice of you.’
“The street kid smiled at her. ‘Here,’ he reached into his pocket and pulled out a cheeseburger and a carton of milk. The girl smiled again and devoured those as well. He then said something causing her laugh, and the fidgeting stopped for a moment. The bell rang for fifth period.”
“You have the title of this story backwards.” Ann told Warren. “It should be The Street Kid and the Guy with the Golden Heart.”
Warren chuckled. “No, I have the title correct. Just listen to the story.” He put his arm around her shoulder, giving it a squeeze.
“The street kid was distracted all of fifth, sixth, and seventh periods thinking about the girl. He walked into Ms. Garza’s eighth period English class plopping down into one of the chairs in the back. Finally, it was the last class of the day. He glanced up and noticed the girl walk in and take a seat in the front. She reached into her ragged backpack and pulled out a book. After the teacher passed out their textbooks, he noticed the girl was reading her own book in secret by hiding it inside the textbook. This made him chuckle. She completely got away with it. When the bell rang, she bolted. The street kid tried to catch up with her, but lost her in the crowd of students heading home. He didn’t see her again until lunch the following day.
“The same group of guys walked up to her to take her lunch. The street kid knew how this would play out. If no one did anything, they would take her lunch every single day. He turned to his friends, ‘Hey, come help me with those guys. They’re gonna steal her lunch.’
“‘No way, man.’ They told him. ‘That girl’s crazy. I had a class with last year. I’m not helping the weirdo. Those guys will take our lunches every day; I want my food.’
“The street kid was annoyed with his friends. ‘She just got out of a coma.’ He commented as he got out of his seat to help her.
“The three guys teasing her were a tough, mean looking group of guys and much bigger than the street kid, but he was undeterred. He’d been in so many street fights, another one was insignificant. ‘Why don’t you leave her alone?’
“‘Oh, who do we have here?’ They started teasing him and shoving him around. It only lasted for a few, tense seconds when they all suddenly stopped.