Luke could feel the tears forming. He would cry soon, if he didn't get a hold of himself.
He tried not to concentrate on the basket of candy he was handing out to the third graders at his school.
If he did think about the candy, he would remember his mother's candy shop, the one she had owned and cherished, before she- before she- Luke grit his teeth. No, he would not think about that.
But it was hard not to, not with eight year olds exclaiming their favorite candies.
Luke tried to keep smiling, but it would be so easy just to collapse to the floor, hands over his eyes, heartbroken sobs echoing.
Finally, the third graders finished taking the candy, and he moved on to fourth grade, then fifth, then sixth, then seventh.
He bitterly wondered why the principal had entrusted him with the humongous candy basket.
Perhaps because he used to help out in his mother's candy shop?
The principal of the school had thought that the entire school deserved a special treat today, so bought tons of candy, and had Luke hand them out to every grade.
The seventh graders finished grabbing candy. They joked around with each other, already opening the candy to take a huge bite out of, or cram into their mouths. Luke watched with jealousy.
He used to be able to enjoy candy that way, before every single piece of candy reminded him of his mother. He reluctantly went to the other eighth graders.
"Candy, guys! You can each take one piece!" His voice cracked on the word piece, and a few of his classmates chuckled. "Ooh, voice crack, Luke," they said.
Another kid muttered, "Why ever would the school have a bunch of awkward, teenage boys with voice cracks sing in the Spring Performance?"
A girl exclaimed, "Not just you guys! I have a super low voice, too, and can't hit all those high notes. I'm pretty much just lip-synching!" Luke finally cracked a real smile.
A small one, but still genuine. He let himself be surrounded by the joking murmurs of his peers. They grabbed the candy, but didn't make a big deal about it like the other grades did.
One complained, "Aw come on, the principal should know we don't want candy, we'd rather have chicken nuggets!" "Chicken tenders!" Someone else added. "Baked potatoes!" Someone shrieked.
That led to a group of girls giggling at an inside joke they shared about baked potatoes. Luke was grinning now. His wacky class could always make him feel better.
Sure, they couldn't heal him of the grief from his mother's death, but they could help him look forward, towards a bright, laughter-filled future.
He let himself join the joking, putting the candy basket down. Why let a bad memory ruin something good?