There was a small family-owned grocery just up the hill and around the corner from where we lived. Sometimes, Mom would send one of us up for a loaf of bread. It was a rite of passage--a little spare change from Mom and permission to ride our bikes up out of her sight and to the little shop.
A loaf of bread was cheaper then. A dollar would buy a loaf and still make change. The candies were also inexpensive. A dime for a candy bar. A nickel for a soda. A penny or two for a piece of bubble gum or jawbreaker. I don't know what possessed me.
Maybe it was Mom's rule to bring back the change. Perhaps it was a moment of temporary insanity. Whatever, I did the inexcusable. When the store owner turned her back, I put a piece of candy in my pocket without paying for it.
She bagged the bread and handed me the change. I raced from the store.
That moment haunted me for 15 years. I mean, HAUNTED. When I'd see the storeowner's son at school, I'd turn and walk the other way. Surely his Mom, the store owner, had told him.
When Mom asked one of us to run up to the store, I'd defer to one of by brothers. Not because I was lazy, but because I was guilty.
I never ate the candy. It ate at me. Forever.
My family moved across town shortly after the event, but I went back to the little store before leaving for college. I saw the store owner, Mrs. Winston. Without a word, I handed her a $10 bill. But before I could start my apology, I saw the register ring up a $.02. She gave me $9.98 in change and said, "I knew you'd be back, Timmy."
*There are more stories in my book Brother Friend "Growing Up Guys" available for purchase on this website.