Story Part 17

by bdhesse

“Here you go,” Shay said to the little girl in front of her. The child had dropped her stuffed rabbit and Shay was trying to hand it back to her.
The girl shook her head. Her eyes seemed to double in size the second she saw Shay pick up her toy. The girl turned and ran away.
Shay followed her. The room was crowded, but it was small. There weren’t many places for the little girl to go. Eventually Shay spotted her hiding behind an older woman. Shay approached them.
“Excuse me,” Shay said as she got close to them.
The woman looked up at her with a start. “Yes?” she said.
“She dropped her rabbit,” Shay replied. She held the toy out to the woman as she spoke.
The woman accepted the rabbit with a smile. “Thank you,” she said. “I don’t know what we would have done without this.” The woman held up the toy to indicate its importance.
Shay returned the woman’s smile. “It was no problem,” she said. “I should get back to work.” She turned and left the woman and child.
This was Shay’s second shift at the soup kitchen. She was still getting used to things and the people scared her a bit. Most of the people here were men. A lot of them were quite old, but some were young. She knew that they shouldn’t scare her, but she couldn’t get rid of the uneasy feeling. She felt safer behind the counter where the other volunteers were, so she hurried to get back there.
“Where did you disappear to?” her mother asked as Shay retook her position at the counter.
“I was giving a kid back her bunny,” Shay replied.
“That was very nice of you,” her mother said.
Shay smiled at her. “It’s sad that there are kids here,” Shay said after a moment of thought.
Her mother nodded. “Poverty is one of the worst problems in our society,” she explained.
“Worse than crime?” Shay asked.
Her mother nodded. “Without poverty, most crime wouldn’t exist,” she said. “Poverty causes a lot of crime.”
Shay thought for a moment. “Then why don’t superheroes get rid of poverty?” she asked finally.
“I suppose because it doesn’t make for a very interesting story,” she said. “It’s more interesting to read about someone beating people up than it is to hear about someone handing out soup, lobbying the government, and giving to charity.”
Shay looked down. “I guess superheroes really aren’t that great,” she said sadly. “Are they?”
Her mother chuckled. “In the worlds they live in, I think they’re necessary,” she replied. “But I much prefer our world. We have much better ways to deal with our problems.”
Shay looked up. “But what if we did live in that kind of world, and we just didn’t know it yet?” she asked.
“What do you mean?” her mother replied.
“Well…” Shay thought for a moment. “What if magic and powers exist, but we don’t know it because we’re being protected by hidden superheroes. What if they’re the reason that we can do good like this?” She indicated the counter and the soup.
Her mother chuckled again. “I don’t think the superheroes could stay hidden for long,” she replied. “I’ll be right there,” she called to somebody who had summoned her. Shay’s mother walked away leaving Shay to ponder the issue alone.