A teacher worries about her orphaned pupil eating lunch with a homeless man and tries to stop her, but in an unexpected turn of events, she discovers he is the girl’s father and an old acquaintance.
Sarah had lost her appetite. Despite being swamped with work since morning, she wasn’t hungry nor tired. Instead, she was worried. Not about herself, but about her 6-year-old student, Millie, who had lost her single mother in a house fire.
Sarah knew it was going to be a long day. With the upcoming school events, she was busier than usual. But now, it was lunchtime, her time to relax, and she was having sausages and hash browns, her favorites since she was as young as Millie, and she wasn’t in the mood to eat.
She pushed away the plate of food and returned to her classroom. It was vacant. She stood by the window, staring at the playground. There she saw Millie, and soon, her thoughts drifted…
“Millie, are you okay? If you need something, just let me know, alright?” Sarah had told Millie gently when Millie returned to school for the first time after her mother’s demise. Since Millie’s relatives didn’t want to take her in, she was living in a shelter.
“I’m okay, Miss Wells,” Millie replied with tears in her eyes. “But I miss mommy….”
We all make mistakes as humans, but what matters is whether or not we are willing to correct them.
Sarah hugged her. “Oh, hang in there, honey. Trust me, it gets better. Your mommy may be far away in the skies with the angels, but she is looking over you right now and smiling. She knows her daughter is a brave one.”
“Am I? Am I brave, Miss Wells?”
Sarah nodded and gently wiped Millie’s tears. “The bravest of all. I’ll let you in on a little secret, okay? Shhh…Don’t tell anyone, but Miss Wells has a favorite student, and her name is Millie!” she exclaimed, and Millie’s lips tilted in a smile.
Sarah didn’t really expect Millie to handle everything so well when she was consoling her, but despite being a little girl of 6, Millie had done so admirably. Sarah’s heart broke to think the little girl was an orphan.
“She clearly didn’t deserve this!” she thought as she watched Millie take a huge bite of her food that day.
Suddenly, Sarah tensed up. She furrowed her brow, her gaze fixed on Millie’s bench. She saw a tall man, clad in all black, approaching Millie and sitting beside her.
“Who is he? How did he even get there?” Sarah was suddenly worried about the unknown man with Millie.
Millie pushed her plate toward the man, and Sarah was confused. The man looked shabby, and Sarah didn’t understand why Millie was sharing her food with a homeless man—at least by his looks, he didn’t appear anything other than that.
Worried for her student, Sarah dashed out of the classroom to the playground. “Get away from that girl! Or I’ll call the cops!” she screamed as she hurried over to Millie’s bench.
“No, No, Miss Wells! You’re wrong! He’s not a bad man! He’s my daddy!” said Millie, and Sarah was shocked.
“Daddy? How is that possible?” Sarah’s eyes widened in disbelief. “The school records say you’re an orphan, honey!”
“I apologize for the confusion,” the man interjected. “If you don’t mind, can we please discuss it privately? We’ll be right back, honey,” he told Millie. Then he and Sarah headed over to a classroom.
“You won’t find my name in the records because my wife didn’t want to have anything to do with a man like me,” he explained. “Yes, that’s right. We married young, and then we had Millie. I didn’t have a job, and money was scarce. I wanted to make quick money, got involved in the wrong stuff, and ended up serving a sentence.
“I had forgotten that nothing comes easy in life, and whatever does, disappears soon. I don’t have a job or home, so I can’t take Millie with me. I was released recently, and I have been meeting her occasionally.
“Today, I couldn’t contain my urge to see her, so I came in through the school’s back entrance. Luckily, it was unlocked….”
Sarah didn’t utter a word, and her gaze was fixed on the man’s face. “Why do I feel like I have seen you before?” she asked as if she hadn’t heard anything else the man said. “What was your name again?”
“James,” he replied. “James Caldwell.”
“The A-class student, James Caldwell? Did you attend the Sunrise Valley School in Ohio?”
“I…I did,” he admitted, astonished. “But how do you know all this?”
“I was a year younger than you in high school. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Back then, we heard so many stories about you! I never expected to meet you this way, but I suppose that’s how life goes.”
James lowered his head in embarrassment. “I think so….”
“But, James, are you willing to change? If not for yourself, at least for Millie? She is a wonderful child who deserves a good home. It is your responsibility as a parent to provide for her. I can talk to the principal and convince him to hire you…but only if you change for the better and raise Millie with love. She deserves it! I don’t like that shelter system, anyway. I grew up in one, and it’s horrible!”
“Anything,” whispered James in tears. “I will do anything for my little girl. Please, help me. She’s my life. I promise I will do my best!”
“All right then, come with me…”
As humans, we all make mistakes, and James was no exception. What counts is whether or not we are willing to mend our ways. James wanted to, so Sarah helped him. She got him a job as a janitor at school, and with time, he was able to stand on his feet.
Soon, he rented a home and got Millie back from the shelter. And Sarah was glad her brave student got the loving home she deserved.
What can we learn from this story?
- We all make mistakes as humans, but what matters is whether or not we are willing to correct them. James decided to leave his corrupt life for the sake of his daughter, and eventually, he was able to provide her with a good life.
- Always be kind to others; you never know what they’re going through. Thanks to Sarah’s help, James got his life back on track and made up for all the lost time with Millie.