Confession #114: Maybe It Is Because I Still Stink (short story by Papouch)

The creativity of our teens never ceases to amaze me. From drawing to sewing, jewelry making to photography, singing to writing, many of them are discovering some sort of outlet to express their feelings artistically. And I love, so love, when they let me share.

Today, I am sharing a short story by Papouch. As I was walking around the house yesterday he asked me to sit and listen. Then out of nowhere he started sharing these words- almost like it was open mic night at the local coffee shop. His story is raw, beautiful, and from the heart. Hope you enjoy!

~ Jillian


My name is Papouch.

I live on the street, behind a trashcan.

When I am hungry I try to get food out of the trash.

Sometimes I find food. Sometimes I don’t.


One time a rich man saw me.

He asked if he could take a picture of me because he thought he cared for me.

I didn’t know what a picture was so I let him take it.

Then he showed me the picture.

I couldn’t smile because I had never seen my face on a piece of paper before.

I didn’t know what to think.


He told me about his life.

I told him about mine.

He said, “What do you want to do?”

I said, “I want to fix shoes for people to make money.”

I saw people on the street do that once, but I didn’t know.


He gave me a little paper.

I didn’t know what it meant.

Later I learned it was called “money”.

Someone told me I could use it to buy something.


But then some tough guy saw me with the money.

He said, “I saw that rich man give you money.”

I lied and told him no.

We argued.

He beat me up and took my paper money.


Another man saw me and picked me up off the street.

He asked me what was wrong and gave me a bowl of soup.

I couldn’t drink it very well because my face was so beaten.

But I was so hungry so I tried the best I could.


He asked me again what was wrong and I told him.

Turns out he fixed shoes too.

He said he wanted to teach me.

I said okay because I thought this was a big thing – fixing shoes- but I didn’t know.


Three months ago I tried to make myself a business.

I made a little money.

One day a boy came to me to fix his shoes.

He wore a uniform.

I had never seen such nice clothes before.

So I asked him about his clothes.

He told me about school.

“What is school,” I asked.

“School is a good place where you can learn a lot of new things,” he said.

I went back to the man who taught me to fix shoes and I continued to work hard.

Then one day I finally had enough money in my pocket- enough to go to school.


Now I go to school.

Now I have a uniform.

But at school the kids look at me the same way the rich man looked at me- like a boy who lives behind a trashcan.

Maybe it is because I still stink…

~ Papouch

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