Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: BLESSED (03/07/19)
- TITLE: The Gift
By Stephen Kimball
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“Good morning!” I tried to project, as they slipped passed the register area. My effort did not reap even a faint response.
When I finished with the customers at hand, I turned to my somewhat paranoid friend and co-worker Betty, “Have you met her?”
“No. But I seen her in here the other day. I think she’s stakin’ out the place.”
“Really…come now, Betty. Let’s talk to her and find out who she is.”
I presumed the young lady to be a mom in her early twenties, long dirty blond hair, tied up in something of a bun on top of her head. She was dressed modestly, and on her hip, she carried a very well-behaved little girl, about three years old, with similar features.
I could see them from where I stood. “Mom” held a somber look on her face as she browsed the fiction/romance section, the little one playfully tossing the elders curly locks that hung from the disheveled bun.
Jingle bells disrupted my plans to greet our guest, as another customer made his entrance and garnered my attention. Betty disappeared into the back so I stayed at the register making small-talk with the gentleman as he perused the greeting cards. “Mom” moved out of my line of sight, but I could still view them via the mirror in the back corner of the store. It seemed the youngster was taken with one of our plush stuffed animals. The joy and innocence of this little child was already pulling on my heartstrings. Removing the penguin toy from its perch, I watched as she held it tight against her chest, giving it a big hug as if she was just reunited with her long-lost puppy.
“Annabelle, put that down! We cannot afford it. I’m sorry.” “Mom” spoke for the first time in a tone that could be heard in the quiet of the store.
Most kids her age would throw a fit at this point, but not Annabelle. She gently kissed its cheek and carefully placed it back in its spot before wrapping her arms tightly around her mother’s neck. They proceeded to the play area where they quietly sat on the floor and opened a book together.
Apparently, my gentleman customer was watching the scene play out as well, as he rounded the corner and whispered, “I’ll take this card and I would like to pay for one of those penguins for that little girl as well. Would you be kind enough to see that she takes it home with her today? No need to tell her who it’s from, okay?”
“Do you know her?” I asked, trying to understand the man’s motives.
“Do I have to?” he asked, rhetorically.
“Well… that’s very kind of you.” My eyes were welling up as he made the purchase, thanked me, and promptly left the store.
Betty was suddenly back by my side to relieve me. After blotting my eyes dry, I headed back to make a new friend. I chatted for a good while with our “mystery” guests and found them to be quite delightful. Before getting back to work, I leaned over and said to Annabelle, “I’ve got a surprise for you.”
“Surprise?!” She repeated, jumping to her feet.
“Why don’t you stop by and see me at the register before you go today, okay?”
She began to jump up and down where she stood…“Let’s go Mommy!”
They practically followed me to the front desk where Annabelle stopped and stared up at me with great anticipation. Her mouth opened wide as I lifted the penguin into her view. She immediately shifted her gaze to her mother.
“She needs a good friend,” I said. “How would you like to take her home with you today?”
“No, we couldn’t” her mother resisted.
“I insist…it has already been taken care of by an anonymous patron who wanted to bless you today.”
Annabelle received the gift and was instantly in Lala Land. This time it was her mother who needed the tissue to blot her eyes dry.
“Thank you so much, a blessing indeed.” She said as they made their way to the exit.
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