Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: FEAST (07/12/18)
TITLE: Sam's Sweet Shoppe
By Leola Ogle
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Sammy jumped when a voice boomed, “Get away from the window, kid. How many times I gotta tell ya you’se smearing up the window with your face?”
“Sorry. I’ll move.” Sammy’s chin quivered as Sam, the owner, went back inside the shop, muttering about kids running around unsupervised. Sammy had hoped Sam might like him because they had the same name, but Sam always yelled at him.
As Sam turned back inside, his daughter, Laurie, stepped out the door. When Sammy first met her, she scared him – spiked hair, tattoos, and piercings. Then she smiled, called him kiddo, and he thought she was beautiful.
Laurie took a few steps away from the front door and lit a cigarette. “Don’t pay attention to my grumpy dad. He’s not as mean as he sounds.” She blew smoke in the air and smiled again. “What’re you? Five? So, you startin’ school in a month, huh?”
Sammy nodded. “Do they give ice cream cones in school?”
“Naw. At least not when I went to school. Is that why you come here every day? Are you hungry, kiddo?”
Sammy wanted to tell her he’d never had ice cream. He wanted to tell her his momma worked two jobs, but there was never enough money. They ate macaroni and cheese, spaghetti without meat, and sometimes hot dogs. Grammy lived with them to babysit him and his two sisters, but Grammy didn’t notice when he wasn’t there.
But Sammy didn’t tell Laurie any of that, he simply shook his head.
“You’re kinda skinny, so I thought you might be hungry sometimes. Tell ya what. Come by any night when the shop closes and I’ll give you an ice cream cone. Or in a bowl. And you can put any toppings on it you want.”
She giggled when Sammy threw his arms around her.
But he never made it there at closing time. Momma wouldn’t let him because it was bedtime.
A month later, something changed with Laurie. She looked different. She quit smoking. “Gotta be honest, kiddo. Quitting cigarettes is hard. But, I’m going to church now and I want to work with kids. Be a good example and all, and smoking’s a bad habit. Hey, would your mother let me bring you to church sometime?”
That’s how Sammy started going to church. Sometimes his momma, grammy, and little sisters went, too. At Thanksgiving, the church fixed a meal and invited families to come. There was so much food, Sammy’s eyes bugged out. He had never tasted anything so good. He thought Momma didn’t like it because she cried a little, but she said she was just happy. Grammy ate so much, Sammy thought she’d bust. There were pies and cakes, and although the chocolate cake was sure good, Sam had hoped for ice cream.
Before Christmas, the church brought them enough food for a feast and told Sammy’s momma to make gift-wish lists for the kids. Sammy pondered over his list but finally settled on one item.
The day after Christmas Sam and Laurie took Sammy and his family to Sam’s Sweet Shoppe. Sammy got his wish. Vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry ice cream with all the toppings he wanted. It was as good as he thought it would be – soft, cold, melting over his tongue with a rush of deliciousness. Momma, Grammy, and his sisters got ice cream, too. And Sam was nice to them all.
All these blessings because a teenage girl invited Sammy to church.
Years passed. Laurie stayed in church, got married, and worked with children. Sammy later became a doctor, but he never forgot being poor, hungry, and dreaming of ice cream. Every Friday he donated his services at a medical clinic in a low-income neighborhood, especially helping families that appeared malnourished.
Sammy and Sam had become good friends, so when Sam wanted to sell the shop, of course, Doctor Sam bought it. He didn’t even have to change the name. Once a month, he rented a bus, picked up kids from poor communities and took them to have ice cream with all the toppings.
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