Twenty Dollars

Excerpt: People oft blessed with good fortune hardly ever manage to recognize it's true value, for only those unsuspectingly favored by fortune know it's true worth. (Reads: 84)



Children Short Story – Twenty Dollars
Image© Anand Vishnu Prakash,

Miss Somers found herself in the unusually pleasant position of being the possessor of the sum of twenty dollars. She had no recollection of the means by which those twenty dollars came to be in her possession. It was the happy result of a chain of events of which she was unaware of. All that she knew and felt was the crinkly presence of something alien in her tiny purse pocket.

Miss Somers was happy.

The beautifully warm morning of a sunny April day brightens the hopes of all who walk by the park, and of them, one is Miss Somers. Buoyed by the happy circumstances she found herself in, she steps into the park to enjoy a walk. Her gloves are too warm for the hot April sun; she takes them off and puts them into her tiny bag. Her hands once again brush against the concealed treasure carefully folded there, and she is reminded once more of her good fortune. She skips over to a bench performing some eloquent twirls on the way — which may be excused keeping in mind her state of merriment — and proceeds to sit down on the bench.

Happy thoughts fill Miss Somers’ mind as she dwells on how to properly invest her treasure. She recalls Emily’s recent escapades have left most of her wardrobe dirtied and soiled — she would be needing a complete makeover soon…And if Emily got new clothes, she would need to get new clothes for Ralph too. The experienced weaver, designer and seamstress begins mentally selecting and laying aside clothes to suit her needs.

A pair of butterflies flirts around in the flowers as Miss Somers gets up. She walks under the shade of the tall poplars as her thoughts hover over a million different possibilities about the best course of investment of her capital. She hears her name called and waves brightly in return to Mrs. Wickham’s wave. The tinkle of the candy-man’s cart as he announces his wares to the early summer crowd of children playing in the street sings into Miss Somers’ ears and reminds her of the absolutely crucial question of how much money to spend on candy for herself and her family. Her eyes scrunch up as she quickly calculates, and sets aside the accurate sum for that particular endeavor in her mental bank. With that important question of food answered, her thoughts once again start to hover over nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand different possibilities about the best course of investment of her capital.

The erratic dragonflies flitting around the trees and shrubs catches Miss Somers’s eyes as she looks around her. Summer and Spring seem to be locked in an energetic embrace, neither seeming to want to give way to the other and in their confluence thus creating a magically wonderful and mystical feel in the air that made you want to climb bridges and lie down somewhere in some faraway, green meadow and fall asleep; such was the beauty of the April air that even the hesitant mayflies seemed inclined to have fun, and the cuckoo sang his song in tune with the thrush’s. Miss Somers walks along the pollen-strewn streets, her keen eyes searching for some adventurous ladybird to waylay, while she breathes in the April air and wonders about her treasure.

The faint noises of the city pour their busy whisper into Miss Somers’ ears as she reaches the paved roads. Not wishing to venture into that land of tall shadows and bustling cars without some familiar companion by her side to provide her with some company, Miss Somers quietly sneaks behind one of those identical shadows and slips into an unnoticed, quiet side lane. This particularly dusty path seems to be one Miss Somers’ infrequently frequented hideouts, as she walks down with meticulous attention and with the ease of graceful intimacy that comes naturally to one when one is familiar with a particular place.

She takes care not to step into the hovels of the numerous wildflowers growing by the side of the path, and eventually stops in front of a quaint little shop, and is greeted by the ring of a bell somewhere in the shadows announcing her arrival as she steps into the shop. The fragrant perfume of freshly plucked flowers dances out onto the air, as the owner of the shop looks up from her book and smiles at Miss Somers; Miss Somers smiles back at her. She fingers the treasure concealed in her purse and wonders how the portico back home would look with some camellias and sunflowers to grace it… It would look lovely, she decides.

The sun climbs higher in the sky, seeking as it always does to stand atop the mountain of clouds and stare at the valleys and rivers below. The closing whoosh of the door brushes Miss Somers’ skirts, as the bell-in-the-shadows whistles to her its own tinkly farewell. Thoughts of candy, flowers, new dresses and spending a thousand happy hours with her family frolic in her mind as she once again slips out of the unnoticed, infrequently frequented path onto the shade of the tall shadows.

The joyous possessor of seventeen dollars scrunches up her eyes again, and with the help of a little-used pencil and paper, snugged into her purse, decides to invest exactly two dollars and thirteen cents into that familiar gas-filled delight-a balloon. With her new-bought possession tied to her wrist on a string, Miss Somers somehow inexplicably feels like “a grown-up”. She starts to head on her way home, to an evening of tranquil leisure and with the security of unforeseen fortune keeping her hopes held high.

The sight of a roadside peddler catches Miss Somers’ eye as she is just turning the corner; she stops and looks at him. Having taken refuge in the shade of a nearby restaurant, the old fellow has his meager wares spread out in front of him. Bowed by age and circumstance the old man sits bent with tilted brim and folded knees, with the dejected air of a man who has tried all and seen all, but none to his favor. The noon sun that warms Miss Somers’ arms in their jacket seems to beat down, rebuking, onto the old man’s eyes. Those eyes, familiar to the trials and tribulations of the world, seem to wander around, trying to root themselves to some faint glimmer of hope, but finding none in the world, too engrossed with itself.

Something in Miss Somers’ heart cries out at the sight of this sorry spectacle. Yet uninitiated to the idea of compassion to a fellow man’s plight, she finds unable to name that alien feel in her heart. But she understands sorrow, and now she feels sorrow. She feels sorrow for her fellow human and feels sorry for his misfortune. She perceives that some strange conspiracy of the universe has taken away the light out of his life, and placed it into her unsuspecting hands in the guise of good fortune. The weight of her treasure now feels heavy on her shoulders, as Miss Somers walks up to the roadside peddler.

The old man looks up at her and his eyes light up with surprise as she walks to him and after a moment of fiddling, produces from her purse exactly fourteen dollars, some coins and a caramel toffee. She hands to the man all of this plunder and presses his hands closed over this assorted collection of her recently found happiness. The man is speechless, but in such moments, speech is perhaps the least important of all human senses. In that instant, their eyes meet, and an old soul looks into a younger one. Misfortune and kindness exchange glances and tell each other their stories; compassion and humanity meet and celebrate their happy union, and a sunny smile lights up Miss Somers’ face. The old peddler offers a smile in return, and diving swiftly into his piles, with an experienced hand, pulls out a tiny wooden horse, whittled by somebody seemingly not very experienced. He puts the tiny horse into Miss Somers’ hands and smiles again.

The cuckoo starts once again to sing his song as Miss Somers walks back to her home in the shade of the tall poplars. Somebody waits for her at the end of the road, and as we take leave of Miss Somers, a snatch of conversation drifts up into the trees…

“There you are, sweetie! I’ve been looking all over for you! Your grandma’s home, and guess what she has brought for you? A new friend to keep Emily and Ralph company! Your father has bought a new home for them all! We can play for hours with them now! Isn’t that exciting, darling? Come on, come on, let’s go, granny’s waiting for us!”

… and Miss Somers clasps Mrs. Somers’s hand, as mother and child walk together down the shady avenue, on this lovely April afternoon, when the sun is high in the sky and the butterflies dally amongst the flowers and all that is good and beautiful and kind in the world was suddenly awakes from deep slumber.


About the Author

Austin Kobya

Dying teenager from India. Just kidding, I'm nineteen, a dreamer, a freshman and an introverted jerk.

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