The Gift


The Gift

By Anon Allsop

I sat alone on the little park bench and contemplated the chance that had been offered to me. Slowly rolling the golden wish coin between my fingers. It had passed into my hands earlier that week but I really had nothing I wanted, I was pretty successful, and fairly wealthy... even in my advanced age.

The only thing I could have ever improved upon is my utter loneliness, up until about 10 years ago that too would have been far beyond my needs. The day that I lost my beautiful wife of 63 years was the day that I died as well. I frowned and looked at the remarkable coin, If only it would have come sooner... maybe I could have saved my dear wife.

We had lived our lives jet-setting across the country, and the world. Never having the time to settle down and have children or pets. We liked our life just the way it was, but somewhere deep down we felt the need to fulfill our little family at one point, but nature had a way of taking even that little bit of solace away from us. We had found that Gloria was unable to have children and that was that... we never did have any children.

I had once upon a time suggested adoption, but Gloria had said that if she couldn't bear her own child... in her own womb... she didn't want it. The years rolled by and I immersed myself in my job, she dutifully invested her time into worthy endeavors like soup kitchens, mentoring programs and the like... but each time we came home to an empty house.

We were okay with that, as by the time we approached our golden years, when most of our friends were busy with their grandchildren... we were busy with our vast wealth and apartment complex. When Gloria passed on my whole world ceased to exist. I barely ate, let alone show myself in public much more than sitting here on this very same bench and watching the little children laugh and play amongst the feet of their devoted parents.

One little child always had a place in my heart, she was polite, honest, friendly, and maybe a bit on the precocious side. But I could tell that her mother loved her very much and would have protected her with her very life like a Tigress would have protected its cub.

I had watched them drive up in her old rusted out Volvo, the mother walked around the car and took the child from her seat and began to carry her across the road. As soon as they reached the sidewalk that entered the little park, she placed her young charge on the ground and smiled as she raced to the first piece of playground equipment that she would see.

The little girl was clean and meticulously cared for, but I knew that the little family was going through a pretty rough time... financially. I leaned against my cane and nodded as she passed, her smile was what I came there for. It was the one thing that I wanted to see more than the day my lovely wife would come to take me with her to heaven.

She took her place next to me and watched her little girl race toward the merry-go-round, "Hi Mr. Banks." I smiled and nodded to her. "How are you feeling today?"

I laughed and leaned back, "Well... any day that I can get out of bed is a pretty good day." That caused her to chuckle softly. I pointed toward her daughter and smiled, "If I had half her energy... there's no telling how long I could live."

"Oh, I have a feeling that you'll be around a long, long time... Mr. Banks." She patted my arm and laughed.

"Maybe so... maybe so." I watched the little tyke laugh gleefully as one of the other children began to push her in a big circle.

"She is such a sweet kid, Mrs. Marley." I tapped my cane against the ground. "How's Mr. Marley doing with his job hunting?" She dropped her eyes toward the ground.

"Oh, the last few weeks have been pretty rough..." Her voice trailed away.

I squinted through my little round bifocals, "Nothing yet?"

She stifled a trembling voice and ended up shaking her head 'no'. I reached into my vest pocket and pulled out an envelope, "Here... I want you to have this."

She looked toward me with tears just beginning to hint at the corners of her eyes, "Oh... Mr. Banks... I... I can't."

I looked at her little girl laughing as she spun on the little merry-go-round, "For her then?"

She sat there watching me intently, slowly she allowed me to place the white envelope in her hand. "How can I ever repay you?"

That's when I laughed, "Don't worry about it..." She pushed it into her purse and leaned across to give me a hug.

She smiled at me through her tears, which prompted me to pull my handkerchief from my pocket and hand it to her. "It looks bad right now... but one day, you'll be able to look back and say... 'those were rough times, but we made it'."

"...with your help." She added. I smiled and gave her hand a squeeze.

"Mr. Banks?" I looked toward her, "Why are you doing this for us?"

All I did was point to her daughter, "For her."

She wiped more tears from her eyes, as I continued. "We never could have children... my wife and I. I always regretted that... never had a little one to bounce on my knee." I stared at her wistfully, "Helping you... would be helping her."

I laughed as the little girl was being pushed higher and higher on the swings, "Coming here, makes me feel younger... seeing her laugh like that, makes me a child again."

I faced her again as she watched her child, "I... I wanted to tell you something Mrs. Marley..." I paused to search for the words that wouldn't make me sound like a complete idiot. "When I'm gone... I... I want to help you and your little family out." She turned to face me as I kept watching her little girl.

"I am leaving my entire estate to you and your family." She shook with emotion as I continued. "Until that time, I would like to help you out... that's the reason for my little gift."

"But... but... " She looked at her laughing child, "Why?"

"I have thought about this a very long time... even before that day that when you sat down next to me... when she was but a small infant." I pushed a leaf with the end of my cane. "I have set aside a nice little sum of money for her to be used for college education... in a trust. There's enough that if you should have any other children come along... they'll be covered as well."

She had tears streaming down her face, I pulled her close and just held her there. "That has to be about the nicest thing that I have ever heard... but... but... I really can't." She cried.

I laughed out loud, "Nonsense! Besides, its already been done. I signed the papers at my lawyer's about three weeks ago."

She looked from me to her daughter, "That has to be one of the single nicest things that anyone has ever done for us." I smiled at her comment and waived toward the little one running to us.

She bounded up on the seat between us, her feet just extending past the bench seat. "I got a cookie." She held it out for me to see.

"Looks pretty good." I laughed.

She broke it in half and handed part of it to me. "Here you go, now we both have some."

I took it from her and felt her radiant joy wash across me as her mother and I exchanged a glance.

She rolled on her stomach and gently lowered herself to the ground, "Gotta go play!" With that she was off and running to another area of the playground.

"That... Mrs. Marley, is why I did what I did." I watched the little girl crawl in the sand and go inside a large tube where she stuck her face through the first hole that she came to. "Such a joy... such a joy."

"Maybe your husband can relax awhile and enjoy the beautiful child that she is... while she's still young. I wish the two of you could work at creating a little playmate for her." I smiled as I struggled to my feet.

I felt a tight twinge in my chest as I leaned against the cane, a deep breath and it slowly subsided. "Mr. Banks... thank-you." I smiled and nodded. "...I mean... for everything." She pushed a tear away with her finger, then offered me the hankie back. "I'll never forget what you did for us."

That caused me to smile and I looked across the grass at the young child who waved, of which I returned. "She's such a beautiful child... keep her close."

I turned and slowly began my walk back toward my lonely home...

***

The two Angels sat in silence as they watched the quiet scene unfold beneath them. The small angel turned toward the larger one and scratched her beautiful head, "What ever happened to him?"

The large Angel spoke without looking at her, "He passed on during the night, and, as was his word... the little family got everything."

"Sure... but how much could an old man have possibly saved?" The small one asked.

"He left them his house, an apartment complex... and about 3 million in cash." The small Angel whistled in surprise.

They grew silent for awhile, then she asked, "Did he ever use the coin you gave him?"

The older Angel smiled, "What do you think?"

The little blond haired Angel swept her long flowing hair from her face, "He had everything he could ever want... money, power, property. What's left to wish for?"

"He always wanted a family... that is what he wished for." The older Angel grinned, her eyes sparkling.

"Oh I see... " The young Angel smiled, "His family was the Marley's... his helping them, made them like family..." She pushed another flowing strand of her hair away as the soft breeze played with her golden locks.

"Well sort of... " She turned to face the beaming younger Angel, "Mrs. Marley finally took him up on his wish... you see, he had wished that she would have another little playmate for her daughter." They both looked toward the mother suddenly appearing in the park with a stroller and a young three year old skipping by her side.

"You mean... that's him?" She looked back at the little trio slowly wheeling their way toward the bench. "But... that baby is a little girl!"

The older Angel smiled and shrugged her shoulders, "What does it matter, his heart was kind... no matter what type of body it's housed in."

The younger Angel stood up and stretched out her brilliant wings, "So, they all lived happy ever after?"

"That's another story... a story that I guess we'll just have to wait and see how it develops." She also stood up as the younger one began to fly toward the soft clouds. The older Angel turned toward the young infant laying in the stroller softly sucking on its tiny fist, blowing her a tender kiss she whispered as soft as the breeze, "Good-bye my dear Charles."

With a smile she unfurled her wings and took to flight, gently winging her way toward heaven. There would be a day, which would pass as the blink of an eye when she would return to claim her dear Charles... only for now... Charlene had her own life to live.

End


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