A Present For Johnny

The lady lays down her knitting and looks into Johnny’s pleading, rosy-cheeked face. She remembers back to when she too had such golden, curly locks and lips and cheeks as red as apples, so long ago. Did she not lose her beautiful doll Bess over a bridge when she was a child, and did not a kind man row out and save her! Oh, how full her heart had felt then, as she remembers it now.

“Child, you are so young, and yet too small to wade to such a depth. I am so big, and yet too old to get my feet wet. But if we put our heads together, I am sure we will think of something. Yes, I will come.”

Hand in hand they hurry down the bank.

“Here, child, hold tight to the end of this yarn and toss the ball of wool out across the water.” Johnny holds the big ball of wool in his small arms and throws it with all his might. The ball of wool soars through the air, unravelling as it goes. It falls across the path of the boat. The propellers of the toy boat become entangled in the floating line of wool. Johnny, holding firmly to the end of the line, pulls the boat to shore. He dances about, laughing and shouting with joy.

“Will you come to my party? Today is my birthday!” cries Johnny.

“Oh, I wish I could, child, but all this excitement has worn me out,” sighs the lady, as Johnny helps her back to the park bench. She looks into his happy, shining face and her heart again feels full inside, as it did those many years ago. “Parting is such sweet sorrow, child, but perhaps we shall meet again. Now I must rest,” and so saying she sinks quietly to sleep.

Johnny clutches his toy boat lovingly in his arms and walks away towards home, with the goose waddling and honking happily behind him.

Maria, tired from her day washing other people’s clothes for the few dollars it brings, rests in the rocking-chair on the rickety veranda of the small house she rents. She watches her son Johnny cross the dirt road from the park, proudly carrying his big toy boat in his small arms, with the goose trailing behind him. A widow, poverty-stricken, she remembers she bought Johnny the toy boat for his birthday from the dollars that were to have paid the rent, and today the landlord will be coming to collect.

Seeing the joy in Johnny’s face when he tore away the wrapping from his gift makes her happy she did it, and the landlord, that terrible man, will have to wait.

“Hello, mother,” cries Johnny, running up the porch steps and throwing his arms around her. “I have had a marvellous day and a kind lady in the park helped me save my boat!”

“Goodness, Johnny,” exclaims his mother, giving him a big kiss, “what adventures you have! Now come inside, wash your hands and we will have your party.”

Coloured, paper streamers are strung from the ceiling.

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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