A Present For Johnny

“What!” he screams in fury, “you don’t have the money! I’ll remind you I am the landlord of this house and there will be no birthday parties paid for with my money!”

Bartholomew lumbers about the room, tearing away the paper streamers which float down on to Johnny’s sorrowful, cowering head.

“I’ll be taking the fat goose out in the garden as payment, Maria. She is nice and plump and will make a fine meal!” Bartholomew licks his lips at the thought.

“But no, Sir, that is my goose,” cries Johnny in alarm, and, summoning all his courage, he jumps from the kitchen bench and tries to block the door. “You cannot have her! She is mine! She is mine!”

“What I want, is what I’ll have,” roars Bartholomew, pushing Johnny into his mother’s arms, “and I’ll not hear another word against it.”

Bartholomew disappears out the door.

Johnny runs to the veranda and watches in horror as Bartholomew grabs the goose in his big, bearish hands and drags her, honking frantically and flapping her wings wildly, into the car.

The engine starts with a roar. A cloud of black smoke explodes from the exhaust pipe and the car leaps down the road.

Johnny can see the goose with her feathered head resting on the edge of the front seat, with tears welling in her soft, brown eyes. The goose and the car vanish from sight in a great cloud of dust.

Johnny creeps softly back to his bedroom, miserably trailing the birthday streamers behind him, and falls sobbing on to his bed.

He begins to sing “Little goose, little goose, it’s a terrible day, for I love you, yes, I love you, and you’ve gone away! And no matter, yes, no matter, how far I may walk, I will never, never ever, find you again, to play in the park, and have so much fun!”

A short time later, Johnny thinks he hears a knock at the door. He goes into the kitchen, and the kind lady from the park is sitting at the kitchen table with his mother. Her large knitting bag lies on the bench beside her.

“Hello, Johnny,” she says, smiling, “I am so pleased to know your name. My name is Hilary and I decided to accept your invitation to come to your birthday party.”

“I am so sorry,” says Johnny, trying to wipe the tears from his eyes, but the more he wipes the more they flow, “but I do not feel like having a party. I have lost my goose and nothing, not even my big toy boat, will ever replace her.”

“Yes, Johnny, I know how you feel,” says Hilary, thinking of her beautiful doll Bess. “Sometimes the young have to learn there is sadness in life, and sometimes the old have to learn happiness is not just for the young.

Being fearless, Johnny, means not being afraid of being afraid.  It is only important we do our best, despite being afraid. You have learned this lesson today by trying to stop the landlord even though you were afraid. I have therefore brought you a special present.”

Hilary opens her large knitting bag and up pops the head of the goose, Johnny’s goose, honking happily.

Johnny can barely believe his eyes. He clutches the goose to his tiny chest and dances about with joy.

“I bought her back from the terrible landlord,” explains Hilary, “and I also bought this house, so you and your mother need never again worry about the rent, for I am making a present of it to you both.”

“Mother, I made a wish the kind lady in the park would be my fairy godmother, and my wish has come true!” cries Johnny, kissing Hilary’s tear-stained cheek.

Johnny looks into the goose’s soft, brown eyes with his big, blue eyes.

He begins to sing “Little goose, little goose, it’s a beautiful day, for I love you, yes, I love you, and you’re here to stay!”

 

A Present For Johnny

 

author
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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