Look at You

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"Um...excuse me, Miss Zaria? Joshua said to come talk to you if I needed help?" Raven was a small girl that just started coming to the center. She looked malnourished, and she was very quiet. I wasn't even sure if she'd made any friends.

"Yes. What's up? Are you okay?"

"My mom lost her job recently. She's looking for a new one, but no one is hiring her. My brother is growing out of his clothes. I was w-wondering-" She started sniffing, and my heart cracked. I hated seeing children having to deal with situations like this. Childhood was supposed to be a happy time, and it hurt my heart that so many people had horrible childhood memories, myself included.

"It's okay, sweetheart. Just give me a list of what you guys need, and I'll make sure you get everything. If your mom is okay with it, tell her to send me her resume, and I'll help her find something. Do you know what she does?"

"She's a secretary."

"That's perfect. I know four different businesses that are looking for secretaries. I'm going to write down my number. Have your mom call me, okay?" I was more than happy to help however I could. Too many people were out for themselves, especially in the black community. No one ever wants to see people doing things for themselves. They don't want to see people doing better than them, so instead of trying to help, they bring each other down. That would never be my mindset. There were too many brilliant people in the world, and we were losing out on them because they didn't have anyone telling them that they believed in them, that they could make something of themselves.

"I will. Thank you so much."

"It's not a problem. Don't forget to give that list to me."

"Miss Zaria, can you help me with my math homework please?" Today seemed to be the day that everyone needed some type of assistance. We offered tutoring at the center, but the students that actually used it were few and far between. I didn't know if there had been a shift in the curriculum or what, but it seemed like all the teachers decided to pile on the difficulty at the same time.

"Which problem do you need help with?"

"My times tables. I can do 1 to 8, but 9 is really hard."

"I'll show you a trick. Hold up all ten fingers. Every time you put a finger down, the fingers that you have left is the answer that you're looking for. So if you do 9 times 1, put your pinky down, and you have 9 fingers left. If you're doing 9 times 2, put down your ringer finger. You have 1 finger on one side, and 8 fingers on the other side, so your answer is 18." The only guardian I'd ever truly known and trusted taught me that trick among many other things. She was the only person I would ever consider a mother of mine.

"Cool! I can show my friends now! Thank you, Miss Zaria." Seeing the smiles on the kids faces and knowing that I helped put it there was one of the reasons that I did the work that I did. Children are like sponges. They absorb everything that they see, so I always tried my best to set good examples and be helpful.

"No problem, sweetie. Go finish so you can play outside." We always made sure that the kids we watched had at least some type of physical activity along with a healthy snack instead of the junk food that we knew they were accustomed to.

"Look at you." I looked up, surprised to see Kelly walking toward me with a smile on his face. I pulled my phone out of my pocket to check the time. We had a movie date scheduled, but I thought that I at least had a few more hours before he was going to pick me up. The time had completely gotten away from me.

"I lost track of time. I'm sorry." I took an earlier shift at the center on purpose, which meant I no longer had to stay until closing, though I liked to because I felt more comfortable knowing that the children were picked up on time and by the correct people.

"It's okay. Do what you gotta do." A few of the kids that recognized him walked up to say hello, and I smiled, heading to the front office to grab my things and clock out. "Ready to go?"

"Yeah." I ignored the prying eyes of the other staff members, walking out of the building with my head up. I didn't have a reason to be ashamed, and none of them would catch me looking at the floor. "How was your day?"

"Long. Coach is on our asses because we need to win the next few games, and he doesn't wanna risk putting John out on the floor just to make sure that we secure a win."

"John is still injured?" I thought he would be up and running by now. With a twisted ankle, he should have been fine after a few days, but I didn't have a way to check on him so I had no idea what was going on.

"He needs surgery on his knee. He says he can play on it through the rest of the season, but Coach isn't having it."

"And he doesn't think you guys can do it without him?"

"None of us do. He's the only two-way point guard we have." I wanted to pretend that I knew what he was talking about, but the way Kelly laughed made it obvious that I'd been found out. "You don't know a lot about basketball?"

"Not really. I've never been much of a sports person. I was the weirdo that did nothing but study growing up, and the habits followed me through college." I shrugged because I didn't see it as a big deal. I didn't feel like I missed anything.

"So you've never been to a basketball game?"

"Or a football game. I've tried watching them on TV, but I never understand what's going on, so I just end up turning it off." Football was a little easier to understand, and at the same time it wasn't because as soon as the referees started throwing flags, I get lost. But understanding sports wasn't at the top of my list of things to do anyway, though it would probably help where my future patients were concerned.

"Well, our next home game is in two days. You should come through."

"Formal invitation to a game already?" This was technically our first time hanging out. Our first "date" was interrupted, and this was supposed to be our do-over. I figured that he would at least wait until I made a decision on what exactly we were doing to start inviting me to games.

"Here you go." He shook his head and smiled at me. I could admit that he was good looking, more than good looking, but he was still young, and I still felt the same way that I did the first time that I met him. Most men couldn't handle the type of female that I was. I always got told that my mouth was too slick, but I wasn't going to change my personality to accommodate someone else's feelings. "Should I reserve some tickets for you?" There weren't too many people that I would take with me just because I didn't want to get pegged as a jersey chaser due to someone else's actions.

"Sure. Just two. Thank you." Tori was always my go to. I could trust her not to act an ass, and she was the most entertaining out of all of the friends I kept around. It was an added bonus that she actually knew something about basketball. Maybe she could teach me a thing or two so I wouldn't look like a complete alien sitting in the stands.

"Alright. They'll be at will call. What movie did you want to see?" I hadn't even thought about it, and truthfully I didn't care. I wasn't much of a new movie person. I tended to stick to the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s when it came to on screen entertainment.

"Whatever you want to see is fine with me."

"You good with Batman vs. Superman?" I'd heard from more than one person that it was boring, but nothing else that was out sounded even remotely interesting. Comic book characters were my best bet for some type of laugh.

"Yeah, sounds good."

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