Holiday SNAP

candy

Sitting in the government office, Anna waited for someone to call her number. She held the tag in her hand, identified no longer by a name. Rather, she was “23”. Another person trying to get something for nothing.

“I brought my paperwork,” a woman clutched a handful of rumpled documents. A slew of greasy kids stood behind her with wide eyes. They were quiet and listless, a stark contrast to the little girl from a different brood who was twirling and dancing in the middle of the office.

A boisterous woman who appeared to be the child’s mother, sat facing away from the girl, talking into her cellphone. She laughed like a crow who just outsmarted a scarecrow as her child ran the length of the room, energized by soda and cereal, the breakfast of a future champion. A massive purse sat half open on the chair next to her, a soft pack of cigarettes peeked out, calling to their owner to be smoked.

Another woman raced through a hundred words a minute as she explained the reason for her visit, high from some stimulant she smoked or popped just before coming in to join the existing motley crew. The intake person, bedecked in a Christmas sweater with reindeer earrings, tried to keep up with the woman in front her, made the reindeers swing violently from either side of her head.

“Take a number,” the intake person said, nodding her head and the reindeer in the direction of the number dispenser.

Anna wondered if she remembered to turn off the stove before she left home, Christmas shopping, and about a person’s basic right to food and shelter.

“Socialist thinking,” she laughed, hearing Grandfather’s voice interrupt her thoughts.

He was against anything that resembled a handout. It reminded him too much of his own childhood, his parents, what he worked so hard to escape. When she accepted the PrettyPoorPerson scholarship, he nearly disowned her.

There was a trick to it somehow. He had yet to crack the code, ten years later. If only he could remember what had made him so angry.

A young man waddled past Anna, just barely keeping his sagging pants from falling to the dirty tile floor. He reeked of marijuana. It was so pungent, Anna felt that she could see it, not unlike Pigpen’s cloud that travelled overhead as he travelled through the world of Peanuts. This young man’s cloud hovered in the space around his body as he travelled through a much meaner and less forgiving world.

Anna pulled into herself, wishing things were different. Sick, embarrassed, and broken, she never saw herself in this type of a situation.

“Number 23,” a woman yelled in a flat voice.

Anna’s time had finally come.

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