Just Another City Street

The rain has finally stopped. The sun shines through my bedroom window. A car drives by with the radio booming.


I step outside. I have to squint. The sun sparkles off a car with a yellow boot on one tire and soggy parking tickets on the windshield.

That’s Mr. Perkins’ car. He lost his job and can’t afford to drive anymore.


I walk past the corner store. A man sits on the ground. He says he’s hungry and he asks me for money.

“I don’t have any,” I say and I keep going.


When I get to my friend Ray’s place, his Mama is upset. Somebody sprayed graffiti on the wall of their house.

Ray’s Mama says he can’t play. “Our street is not safe,” she says.


I turn around and head for home.

Sometimes I hate my street. I wish it was safe and clean and we could play.

I kick a trashcan. It falls over and spills on the sidewalk.


Behind me, I hear an old man yell. He sits on the porch and scowls at me.

“You gonna pick that up?” he asks. I fold my arms across my chest.

“Why bother?” I say. “This street is a dump.”


The old man hobbles down his stoop. I can see he’s angry. He points his cane at me.

“Don’t disrespect our neighborhood,” he barks.

I roll my eyes. “It’s just another city street,” I say.


The old man points at the street sign.

“Do you know what that says?” he asks.

“It says Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” I say.


We learned about Dr. King in school. He was a Civil Rights leader.

“Your street is named for a great man with a great dream. It is up to us to keep his dream alive,” the old man tells me.


I think for a moment. I look at the graffiti on the walls. I look at the trash in the street.

I smile. I understand now. I rush home. I know what I need to do.


I step outside. I have to squint. The sun is sparkling off the drying puddles.

I take my bike to Mr. Perkins. I let him borrow it for his new job.


I walk to the corner store. I see the man again.

I give him a sandwich. He smiles and says thanks.


When I get to Ray’s house, I open up a can of paint.

I paint over the graffiti on the wall.


When I’m finished, Ray and his Mama come outside. Ray’s Mama gives me a big hug.

“You boys go to the park,” his Mama says.


On the way to the park, I pick up some trash. Ray asks me why.

“This isn’t just any city street,” I say. “This is our street.”


FAZ Reading Level Detail

Lexile Score 350
Word Count 461

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