Pedro is a dedicated businessman who has been working at home since the death of his wife years ago. That has allowed him to take good care of his only daughter Maria, 12, and provide for all her needs.
Every morning he would take his daughter to school, but in the afternoons she would walk home with her friend Anna. Pedro would sit on his porch, waiting for her to arrive.
Maria was the first to come, as Anna’s house was located further down the street. The girls would greet Pedro and he would greet them back with a smile on his face.
During the last month, Peter had noticed that Maria was coming home with dirty clothes. He didn’t think much of this; he attributed it to the usual behavior of children when they play on the playground.
What did catch his attention, however, was that his daughter no longer walked with her friend. Anna always passed first. Maria usually arrived about twenty or thirty minutes later.
He decided to have a conversation with Anna’s mother.
“Hi Lucy, how are you, I was wondering? Is something going on between Anna and Maria? I noticed they were no longer walking together after school?” he asked.
“Hi Pedro, the girls are having one of those fights again. You know, teenage stuff,” Anna’s mother replied.
This didn’t sound good to Pedro, so the next day he decided to see where Maria was going after school.
He waited inside the car in front of the school. He saw his daughter Maria get out. So he started the engine and slowly followed her as she walked.
After a while, she entered an old abandoned house. Pedro parked quietly and followed her into the house. There, he saw Maria approaching an old man dressed in rags.
“Maria! Get away from him!” he shouted.
The girl jumped at her father’s loud voice and dropped the bag of food she had brought from the school cafeteria for the man.
“But daddy…,” she started to say. Before she knew it, Peter had lifted her off the ground and into the car.
“Maria, you can’t just go into abandoned houses and talk to homeless people like that! What if he hurt you?” he said angrily.
“I’ve been feeding him for weeks, Dad. He’s never touched me,” Maria replied in tears after hearing her father’s cries.
“Just because he hasn’t doesn’t mean he can’t do it in the future! Besides, there are a lot of dangers out there. You can’t walk alone in dangerous places. Promise me, Maria. You can’t go back there,” he said again, still shocked by the startling discovery he had just made.
Hesitantly, Maria nodded.
“I promise. But Dad, can you bring me the drawings he did for me? Please, I want the drawings,” he begged.
Maria wouldn’t stop crying, so after taking her back to the abandoned house, he saw the same man sitting on the floor.
“My daughter won’t stop talking about some drawings she left here,” Pedro said.
Silently, the homeless man handed him some pieces of paper. Pedro was surprised to see that they were portraits of his late wife.
“Your daughter is a kind child. I was very sick and hungry one day, and I was lying on the floor because I was exhausted. Maria wanted to help me, but her friend told her to stay away from me. She stayed, while her friend ran home angry,” the man began to explain.
“She bought me a sandwich and some tea, and kept me company while I recovered. Afterwards, she helped me walk back to the house where I’m staying. We talked for a while and I told her I used to be an artist. She gave me some materials and asked me to draw her late mom,” he added.
The homeless man explained that he never asked for payment for the drawings, but Maria always came and brought him sandwiches:
“She’s a very nice girl. I was happy to do the portraits for her because I could see how much they meant to her, but she always brought food for me. She would wait for me to finish drawing sitting on the floor, that’s why her clothes ended up dirty.”
Peter immediately felt terrible for having misjudged the man. He realized that Mary longed for her mother and found in him a kind friend who would generously make portraits of her mother.
“I’m sorry I misjudged you. I thought you were planning something bad and I just couldn’t bear the thought of losing my daughter. I’m sorry and thank you for keeping her mother’s image alive for her,” he said.
At that point, the homeless man handed him his final drawing.
“This was the drawing she asked me to do yesterday. I just finished it and I was going to give it to her,” he said.
Pedro took the paper in his hands and saw that it was a drawing of his family. He, Maria and his late wife Mariana were laughing as they ate dinner together. Pedro couldn’t help but cry.
“This is beautiful,” he said, sobbing. “Thank you so much. I’m going to frame it.”
After regaining his composure, he proceeded to ask the man a question:
“My best friend owns an art store. He hires artists for his exhibitions and art shows, would you be interested in meeting him?”.
The man smiled.
“I’d love to. Thank you. I’ve been camping in this abandoned place for a while. I’d like another chance to live a normal life,” he replied.
That was the beginning of a beautiful change in his life, allowing him to eat, sleep and live comfortably while doing something he truly loved. After he started earning money for his work at the art store, he was able to rent a small studio and live there. He felt happy and fulfilled.
In addition, he remained friends with Pedro and Maria; they often invited him to dinner. He also started giving drawing lessons to the girl, who discovered her love for art at his side.