Neither one of us knows just what it is, but she loves just like me!
Disclaimer: The song The Marvelous Toy was written, printed and recorded by Tom Paxton. However, the characters within this story is strictly a product of my imagination. I reserve all copyright to repost this story. Since it was finished at just seconds to Christmas Day 2011, I've only very roughly looked it over for errors. I ask that the dear readers here take it as a gift and in the spirit it was given.
I opened the drawer and pulled out the box with a sigh. This had been on my mind for a long while. Tom, my precious little boy, my beloved son, had always been different. Somber and quiet, he was so much like his mother, it hurt sometimes.
Unlike other boys, who were continuously getting into things and trouble, he was content to draw with his crayons or try to help out around the house. Mrs. McCullough, our housekeeper, tried to gently discourage him as he followed her about. Tom just gave her a sad smile that reminded me even more of his mother who was no longer with us and helped anyways.
Jill and I had met while both us were attending college. I suppose it was clichéd, but I never knew what she saw in me. The men of my family were had a reputation for being big healthy sorts, but unfortunately that didn’t translate well into attractiveness. I looked like some Mafia goon from the movies that’d been hit in the face one too many times and knew it.
Jill, however, with her classic Irish red locks and emerald eyes could’ve been a model or movie star. Instead she was majoring in sociology out to save world, but hooked up with me the engineer to be. From the very beginning of our relationship, I knew I was blessed,
By the time we graduated, we were inseparable and got married right out of school. When Tom came along, I think I was the happiest father in the world. Our son was still just a baby when it happened.
Jill was killed by a drunken driver, and then it was just the two of us. My job took up a lot of my time, but I always made time for him. Fortunately that same job paid well enough so that I could afford Mrs. McCullough. Maybe her title was housekeeper but she was really both of ours minder. However no matter how much she did taking care of Tom and my own time with him, there was this sadness about him.
Carefully, I took the cloth wrapped bundle out of its box, unwrapping it. Just the sight of it made me smile. I’d been about Tom’s age when my dad had passed this on to me, my marvelous toy.
Trying to describe it was difficult because it seemed to change each time you looked at it. First it was round, and then kind of oblong, but not really. The things that never went away were the two green buttons that reminded me of eyes.
While its appearance was fascinating, what really grabbed me was how it played with me. Yes, played with me, and not just me playing with it. The toy had the most outrageous timing buzzing, bobbing, and whirling, but it would also tease you, marching this way and that. Then it would dart away as if hiding, only to reappear behind you.
Its actions were entirely impossible, given it lacked batteries or even a winding key. That’s not counting the behavior which would out do anything the cutting edge robotics guys could come up with today, much less a toy that’s been passed down from father to son for a very long time. According to family tradition, passing down the toy started at least several great-greats ago.
The toy had sparked my interest in engineering, curious at how it worked. Nothing I learned explained how it did what it did despite sneaking it in to get x-rayed. It was just a dark blob, just as much a mystery as the day my father handed it to me.
Holding it in my hand now, I hoped that perhaps it could reach my son while I had failed. Oh, he loved me, and Tom knew I loved him, but there was still this, this … barrier between us. It was as if he had some secret he couldn’t bear to tell me or anyone.
What could be so terrible that it would effect him so? Tom was only five for goodness sakes!
Mrs. McCullough might’ve figured it out, but was hesitant to talk about it. When I ask her about it, she denied it. I was on my own with this one, and was missing my dear wife even more than normal.
Holding the gift I’d received from my Father so many years ago, I weighed my options. It’d been my dearest treasure for so long it was hard letting go of it. The memories and the inspiration it’d provided had shaped my life. Could I pass on this mysterious toy to the next generation, my son? Despite the unknowns over its origins I wasn’t concerned about it causing harm. It was my playmate and I trusted it.
Thinking about that thought I sat it down on my desk.
“What do you think?” I asked it. “Is it time?”
I pressed the green eye-like buttons.
Seconds later I was smiling at the antics of my marvelous treasure as it raced around my desk. It’d given me my answer. If it could still make me smile after all these years then it could do the same for my so sad son.
A few days later I was glad I’d waited till Christmas morning to give Tom his surprise. Between me, and all of our relatives he had plenty of gifts, but I could tell he was disappointed as he unwrapped each one, although he tried to hide it.
I still had no idea as to the cause or if he wanted something else instead of what he’d received, but I hoped my marvelous little toy could work a miracle.
After he’d opened all his gifts, I called him over to me.
“Tom,” I explained, “ When I was about your age my father gave this to me, and now I’m passing it on to you.”
Opening my hand, I revealed the treasure within.
It hurt, seeing him preparing for disappointment upon his face.
Even still, his eyes widened when, curious, he picked it up.
Stepping back with a smile, I remembered my own first explorations. Sure enough as he put it down the toy did its teasing dance. As it came out of hiding behind him, I saw the first smile I’d seen in a long time from my son.
Finally it was Mrs. McCullough calling us for Christmas breakfast that called us from playing with our Marvelous little toy. It did my heart good to see him wolf down his meal to get back to my gift. Finishing my own hearty breakfast, I breathed relived that my son Tom was back.
That feeling lasted a whole three hours.
“Papa, Nan-nan!” Tom ran into the kitchen. “It’s gone!” He cried happily confusing me.
“Your toy?” I asked befuddled knowing that it never ever got lost. That’s not even considering how joyous my son sang out his message.
“No, Papa, my thing. Finally, it’s gone!” Tom beamed.
Without further ado he dropped his drawers making it very clear as what thing he was talking about.
Poor Mrs. McCullough dropped the green bean casserole she’d just taken from the oven, and I like to choked on my coffee.
The next hour that passed was full of many thing but not a one of them were merry or joy. It was impossible. Boys did not change into girls, not like this anyways. However, I knew something else that was impossible didn't I, the Toy.
What had that thing done to my son? Anger burned within me. I wanted to take the biggest hammer I had to it.
A zip and bop announced its presence as it bumped into my shoe. A whirr followed as seemingly those big green button eyes looked up at mine.
An impulse filled me to stomp it flat for what it’d done, but I couldn’t resist following those green orbs as they looked at Tom.
Jill’s and my progeny sat smiling upon Mrs. McCullough’s lap. While the poor woman was obviously shocked, she held Tom as if to her very own child. The other fact that glared at me was the happiness that glowed within the girl seated there. A girl perhaps, but one that was anything but sad or brooding.
She was happy.
That girl looked up at me and a shadow of that sorrow flitted across her face.
“Is everything alright, Papa?” She asked.
I swallowed the lump that’d grown there. Opening my arms, I made myself smile despite the tears that threatened. I didn’t understand it, and never would. Whatever had happened, my child was happy again.
She jumped off Mrs. McCullough’s lap and ran into my arms. Pausing for half-second she scoop up the toy from the floor before nearly bowling me over.
“I love you, Papa,” she cried, holding me tight.
“And I love you too, my daughter,” I whispered back, still fighting my own tears.
A long timeless moment passed although I saw our beloved housekeeper and minder reaching for her own tissues.
Holding it up, my daughter asked.
“What is it Papa? What kind of toy is this?”
“Why it’s a Marvelous Toy,” I replied hugging her against me causing her to giggle.
Neither one of us knows just what it is, but she loves it just like me!
The song ‘The Marvelous Toy’ was written, printed and recorded by Tom Paxton.
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