“See you later, Lucas!” his friend Roberto shouted, as he crossed the street and headed in another direction to his house. He and Lucas would walk together after school and would usually separate at the same intersection.
Usually, Lucas would continue on his way home, but instead, he stood there pondering his friend’s words for a while.
His sister, Cindy, had cancer, and her family had no insurance to pay for the necessary surgery and subsequent treatments. They would have to go into serious debt, and Roberto’s sister insisted it wasn’t worth it.
“But it is. Her life is worth it,” the 15-year-old thought and finally started walking home again.
Lucas frowned after seeing an older woman standing alone on the street. She was wearing dark glasses and had a cane, which made the boy realize that she had to be blind.
The boy was aware that blind people knew their way around and were mostly independent, but something in her face made him pause.
“Ma’am, do you need any help?” he asked politely.
“Oh, yes, thank you for stopping. I need to get back to my house less than a mile away, but I’m a little disoriented now. I think it’s my age,” the woman explained.
“Originally, I had paid a delivery man to accompany me, but I gave him the cash and he ran off after walking a few minutes.”
“That’s terrible. Okay, I can help you get home if you tell me which direction to go.” The teenager continued, linking the woman’s arm with his.
“Thank you, young man. Let’s go to the front,” she pointed her cane and began walking with Lucas. “I can pay you for your time, of course.”
“No, no way. I’m not taking your money.”
The teenager thought this would be quick and only a slight detour before getting home, but soon realized they were heading off into the suburban areas.
“Ma’am, are you sure this is the right way? If you tell me your address, I’ll put it on Google Maps and we can get there faster,” Lucas offered, though they didn’t stop walking.
“No, no. I may be blind, young man, but I know where we’re going,” the old woman said. “You can call me Mrs. Quintero.”
“All right, then. Let’s move on, Mrs. Quintero,” he replied, shrugging his shoulders.
Soon they came to the edge of the forest, which was obviously not the right direction for their home. He stopped for a few moments and urged the lady to turn around.
“Ma’am, this is clearly not the way. We’re heading into the woods and it’s dangerous. Night is only a few hours away,” Lucas warned, fearfully.
“Young man, this is the right way. You’ll know when we get there,” the old woman said confidently, almost pulling the 15-year-old so they could continue. She was a bit strong for her age.
Lucas was getting more and more worried with every step he took deeper into the forest.
“Is your house this way? We’ve walked several miles, Mrs. Quintero, what’s going on?” he asked in a desperate tone.
He thought about letting go of her arm and running away. But leaving the older woman behind seemed horrible to him.
“It’s close,” she said and ignored his question. The old woman used her cane to point to a certain area. Lucas frowned and saw a door covering a shelter in the middle of the forest.
“What’s in there?” he wondered as Mrs. Quintero let go of his arm and reached into her pockets. Finally, she unearthed a set of keys.
“Here you go, kid. Everything in there now is yours. Do with it what you want,” Mrs. Quintero told him. “Consider it a reward.”
“What?” the teenager asked again, confused. But the older lady pointed the cane toward the door again, urging him inside.
“Is this a trap?” asked Lucas, taking the keys from her hand and unlocking the door that creaked and squeaked as he unlocked it. In his head, he was ready to run away from the older woman, but he was worried about being ambushed by other people. That’s how they kidnap children.
“I’m afraid you’ll have to use your phone to see inside,” the older woman suggested, still in the same place.
She wasn’t going to follow him inside, which made Lucas worry even more. A strange feeling crept up his back, as he pulled out his phone and turned on the flashlight.
But his emotions changed completely when the light illuminated the contents of the secret shelter. The area was filled with gold bullion, bags of cash, and boxes of precious gems. There were also works of art that Lucas thought might be incredibly expensive.
“Mrs. Quintero, what is this?” he asked, stepping out of the shelter and facing the older woman.
“It’s everything I’ve worked for over the years. I have no family and I thought I would give it to the first person who would help me without asking for anything in return. I swear I’m not lying,” she replied.
“You can use it to hire help or have surgery to get your eyesight back,” suggested the teenager, still confused by the whole situation.
“I don’t want to hire anyone or have surgery. I’m fine, not seeing a world that is falling apart and the greed that has taken over everyone,” the old woman replied and turned to walk away.
“Where is she going? She’s going to get lost,” Lucas shouted, trying to close the door quickly, but the wooden structure was too heavy.
All he heard was amused laughter and soon enough, Mrs. Quintero disappeared from his sight. He walked out of the forest alone, using Google Maps so he wouldn’t get lost. He never caught up with the old blind woman and marveled at this situation all the way home.
He barely slept that night, but realized that the money could help Roberto’s family pay for his sister’s treatments. In the morning, he left his house early and returned to the forest, as he thought it might have been a dream.
It was real. The contents were still there, so he grabbed a bag of cash and went to Roberto’s house, leaving them the cash with a note that said it was from an anonymous benefactor.
He pretended to be surprised when Roberto revealed the news later that day. “Is it enough to pay for everything?” he asked.
“I’m not sure, but it will certainly help,” his friend replied, and Lucas decided to give them two more bags of cash just to be sure.
Lucas had asked his mother about an old blind woman named Mrs. Quintero, but she had no idea. He asked some neighbors and none of them knew her either. He guessed that she probably didn’t live in his area and had walked there because she was closer to the woods.
However, in his heart, he thought she might have been an angel sent to him so he could do something good with the money. And that’s what she did with everything inside the shelter. He never told anyone about it and never used any of it for himself because his family didn’t need money.
Many months later, Roberto’s sister was in remission and Lucas visited her house to celebrate. No one else was around when she told him she wanted to thank the one who had sent her the money.
“You can thank them by living your life to the fullest, doing good in the world, making a difference. I think that’s why we’re here,” Lucas replied, Cindy nodded. He was right.