Third Place: Brian K. Sloan, MD, FACEP

The Necklace

She wanted to tell me about her son.
Her child who had just taken his last breath. We failed him in his hour of need,
And now he was gone.
Asthma had reared its ugliest of heads.

An innocent victim of the pungent odor
Of bleach she had used to clean
A small apartment the two of them shared. His airways choked and pleaded for relief. “I did all I could,” I muttered.

We were from different parts of town. Her skin was brown, mine a ruddy red. She lived hand to mouth,
My family had no wants,

But we were the same.

Yes, we were the same.
We wanted the best for ours,
And hoped they could grow big and strong. I saw a future in his helpless eyes that night.

Her son will never see his hopes, His dreams, his future.
But she wanted me to know him. She wanted me to feel his good.

I winced in pain. Deep pain.

“He gave me this necklace for Christmas,” she said proudly. “We had nothing and he took the time,
To weave the gift from soda pop tops.
And he gave it to me as his gift of thanks.”

I grinned to her as my throat tightened.

And now he is gone.
Gone but forever here,
In my mind and heart.
Never to be forgotten.
We hugged and cried, two parents.

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