A Present For Johnny



The sun sparkles on black water. A light wind stirs the reeds and leaves of trees. Green frogs lazily rest, croaking noisily, on yellow lily pads.

Three ganders chase a goose on the bank by the side of the pond. The startled goose rises over the embankment in a flurry of flapping wings, followed closely by the crying ganders.

The goose takes refuge under the park bench and haughtily jeers at the ganders by bobbing and weaving her head and long neck in their direction as they approach. Content with her mischief, she squats on her belly and watches with fiery eyes as the ganders cautiously circle the bench. She snaps at their inquisitive heads with her bill when they are so foolish as to come within her reach.

Johnny, a blond, curly-headed boy, strolls up the path, carrying his toy boat, when he sees his friend the goose in trouble. Holding tight to his boat with one arm he dances about, waving his other arm, and chases the ganders down to the pond.

Ruffling their wings and feathers, angrily honking, they paddle away across the water with short, webbed feet.

The goose waddles down to the water’s edge. Johnny sits on the grass and puts his arm around her. She rests her feathered head on his shoulder. He looks into her soft, brown eyes with his big, blue eyes.

“Little goose, I am so glad you haven’t flown away. I would never be able to find you! No matter how far you walk, I will find you and bring you back to the park to play, for your legs are so short and mine are so long!” Johnny sticks his feet in the water and wiggles his toes.

“You know, little goose, “says Johnny, doing a somersault head over heels, “today is my birthday and I am five! This motor-boat is my birthday present! Did you ever see such a magnificent boat in all your life?”

Together Johnny and the goose wade out into the water. Johnny winds up the motor with its key. The boat pushes its way through the waves, with the goose swimming at its side. Around and around goes the toy boat and around and around swims the goose. Johnny laughs and splashes in the water with glee.

Johnny and the goose, so busy playing, do not notice the elderly lady enter the park and sit on the park bench behind them. A flaming-red ribbon crowns her head. Her grey, thin face is lined with wrinkles and deep clefts, like a melted candle left burning with a flame. A large knitting bag rests on her lap as she sits knitting from a big ball of wool.

Suddenly, the toy boat changes course and heads towards the middle of the pond. The goose, swimming alongside, is unable to turn it back. Johnny cries out in alarm. He looks around for someone to help, but there is only the lady on the park bench. Johnny rushes up to her and tugs excitedly on her hand. “Please, lady, you must come and save my boat! If it reaches the middle of the pond it will swamp and sink! Please, you must come! Before it is too late!”

A Present For Johnny

MORE pages to follow: click the page numbers below!
Lawrence E. Collins travels, hikes, fishes and writes from his hometown, St. John’s, NL. His stories have been published in magazines, including Canadian Stories Magazine, ‘The Dress’, Vol 17 No. 96, April/May, 2014, ‘Ebenezer's Party’, feature story, Vol 17 No. 99, Oct/Nov, 2014, at www.canadianstories.net [Archives 2014], and ‘Sidney’, Vol 18 No. 102, April/May, 2015.
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