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My family was always poor. It seemed all of our ancestors were incredibly poor. My family knew the challenges of poverty all too well. More often than not, I went to bed feeling hungry after a small meal for dinner. While my friends got all the newest toys and clothes, I was stuck with old stuff that we found at thrift stores and garage sales.
Our house was tiny, with only two bedrooms. My bedroom was pretty much just a storage space, but we managed to fit a small mattress in there and a closet. There was mould on the walls where we lived, and we never had hot running water. So, yeah, we were quite poor.
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When I grew up, I never had high expectations of success. I expected to get a dead-end job, with long hours, and a low pay, and I thought I would just have to accept it. I thought I would always be half broke. I thought I would never live in a nice apartment, or be able to afford good clothes, or go on holidays. But that was far from the case.
It all started when I was around 16 years old. I remember walking into my room and looking in my closet for a decent shirt. The one I was wearing had holes in it, and my mom had told me to try to find a new one. I wasn’t sure that I would be able to find a new one though – pretty much all of my shirts had holes in them.
I opened my closet, and started searching through the small piles of clothes, when I noticed an envelope resting at the bottom of the closet. Curious, I picked it up and opened it, and was shocked to find $100 in cash inside. Where had this come from? I looked at the envelope – there was no name, no signature. It was as if a ghost had left it here.
“It must be my parents”, I thought. I was about to go ask them about it, but then I saw the school bus outside and there was no time. I rushed out the door, yelling a quick goodbye, and I soon forgot about the $100. For the rest of the day I didn’t give it a second thought. Then, when I got home, I was so exhausted so I went straight to sleep.
The next morning, I went to put some clothes on, and I was surprised to find another envelope there! This time, it had $300 inside! I couldn’t believe it. Why were my parents leaving money in my closet? And why hadn’t they said anything to me? I now had $400. I left the cash in the closet, and at breakfast I asked my parents about it.
“Why did you leave money in my closet?” I asked.
My mom looked at me strangely. “What are you talking about?”
“There’s money in my closet. Like, $400 in cash.”
“Don’t be silly, Luke. That’s not a funny thing to joke about. You know how we feel about money.”
“I’m not joking! It’s true, I-”
“Enough, Luke.” interrupted dad. “Go on, you’ll be late for school.”
I had no choice but to start getting ready for school. So it wasn’t my parents. Then who could it be? For continuous weeks after that, money continued to appear in my closet, every morning. A stranger was leaving money in my closet. Or a ghost. It was so strange! Why would someone do that? It wasn’t my parents, that was for sure. And my friends didn’t know where I lived, since I was kinda embarrassed by how small our home was. It couldn’t be one of them. Then, who was it?
I decided I needed to lay some sort of trap. And so, before I went to bed one night, I got my phone and positioned it in clear view of the closet. The next morning, sure enough, there was the money, but when I looked at the video, it seemed someone had slipped in and stopped the recording on the phone! They must have crawled against the floor to avoid detection. This was starting to get creepy. Who was this stranger? And why did they keep leaving me money? At this point, I had over $1000 in cash in my closet. It was crazy.