30 Days of Kindness
Caitlin Leong | Art by Michelle Lang
“So exactly why are you doing this?” she asks me.
“What’s wrong with it?”
“But you’re not exactly the type to interact with people.”
“Well it’s just a nice thing a day for a month. Just to try it out. Can’t hurt.”
“Why a month?”
“I don’t know. It just seems right.”
Day 1: It started with her waving her silver package in the air, and then turning to give me a quick hug. She fingers the package, running her hands along the edges of the novel hidden underneath.
“Thanks so much!” she whispers. “You just made my day.”
And I stood there, watching while she admired the present, happiness tingling in my fingers. Easy first day.
Day 2: I hold the door open for someone carrying a huge stack of books. A whole stream of people come filing in afterward, so I stand there for two minutes holding it open until some kind soul comes and relieves me from my duty.
Day 3: We run the mile. It’s the last lap and I’m about to pass her, but I hold back instead. I am faster than her, but I let her cross the finish line first. She comes in at 9:15, and I skid across at 9:17. She turns around to congratulate me, but I know she doesn’t mean it.
Day 5: It’s raining.
“You can borrow it,” I say, smiling and handing them my umbrella.
“I have a raincoat anyway.”
I hope my phone doesn’t get soaked in my backpack.
Day 7: Mom and Dad are late coming home. I cook dinner instead of ordering takeout like we always do. I hope I’m not as bad a cook as I think I am. At least they’re relieved when they see the food set neatly on the table and the kitchen spotless. We even all sit at the table together for once. The soup is the best.
“So you’re actually getting on with this?” She leans against the wall, eating a grilled cheese bagel. Cheese oozes out of the side, and she catches a falling drop on the tip of her tongue. The bagel steams in the cold air.
I nod. “So far succeeding.”
“You think you can hold out for a month.” She takes another bite.
Day 13: I drop some spare change when no one’s looking.
Day 17: I call into a radio station. It takes me a few tries, but eventually the call goes through. I ask them to wish someone in my literature class that I’ve never talked to a happy birthday. I hear him asking around about who’d done it the next day.
Day 18: It’s a late start day, so I get up a little early and make cookies. I bring them to school in a plastic container all toasty and warm. I don’t even have to pass them out. As I walk to my classes, people ask for them. They reach in the container with blackened hands from PE and clay dust all over their fingers. They’re all gone by the end of fourth period.
“You made cookies?”
“Do they taste okay?”
“A lot better than that failed batch in fifth grade.”
I give her a sour look.
“Shush, I’m just kidding. They taste amazing. How did you find time to make these?”
Day 23: One of my online friends messages me, and I help her study for her tests. She’s in a different timezone, so I end up staying up until four in the morning. We shouldn’t have wandered from our topic so much. I need all the sleep I can squeeze in before morning.
Day 29: The girl in front of me in the lunch line is short a dollar. I hear her bickering with the cafeteria lady, so I fork over a dollar to keep her quiet. As she walks away with her paper plate, she shoots a careless thank you at me and dumps half her lunch into the trash. All the healthy stuff. I don’t have enough to get anything, so I buy food from a vending machine instead.
“Are you okay?”
“You look horrible.”
She puts a hand on each of my shoulders. “This is the last day, right?”
“Your project or whatever.”
“Oh. Oh yeah.”
“Stop doing this to yourself.”
“You look so tired. Let’s go to the library cafe and get food, okay?”
“Stop thinking about it. Come with me and you’ll make my day, okay?”
“You put so much effort and nothing really happens. You’re done with this, right? Not another month.”
“No, I think I’m done with this.”