46 cents

He walked through the aisles with the torn page in his hand – he was barely taller than the shopping cart. The little boy looked over his list. Each of the items was checked off, but he stared at the box of cookies, wondering if it was okay, wondering if mommy would be mad. He placed the box in his cart and made his way to the check out.

As he stood in line and glanced at the magazine covers that depicted a world far too grown-up, he noticed a bucket of single roses. He fumbled through them until he found the prettiest one and placed it in his cart. When the clerk rang his items, his total came to $21.53. He only had $20.00. “You have to put something back,” the clerk said.

The rose had cost $2.00.

The little boy picked up the box of cookies and asked the clerk how much they cost. “$3.99,” he replied.

“Take them off, please.”

Before the clerk could give the boy the new total, he placed another rose on the belt.

The boy left the market with a subtle smile on his face.

The four block walk home seemed to take forever as he kept adjusting the bags. His arms were sore when finally made it to the front door.

As he put the groceries away, a little girl ran up and hugged him. She held a ragged baby doll in her arms. The boy hugged her tightly before handing her the second rose he pulled from the bucket. She danced away happily.

The boy poured a glass of orange juice, took the first and prettiest rose, and climbed the stairs slowly. He knocked on a closed bedroom door. “Mama, are you awake?”

“Yes, dear. Come in.”

Holding the rose behind his back, the boy walked towards his mother. He handed her the juice and kissed her on the cheek. She coughed into a tissue before taking a sip. The boy handed her the $0.46 change.

“There should be more than this. Where’s the rest?” she asked, concerned more than angry.

Slowly, he handed his ailing mother the rose. “They looked so pretty, Mama. I thought it would make you smile. I bought one for Sadie too.”

The boy’s mother held him tight and wept.

“Why are you crying, Mama?”

“Because I have the sweetest son.”

The boy smiled.

His mom didn’t have the heart to tell him that the $4.00 spent on roses was meant to pay for the bus that would take her for her treatment the next day.

***This was inspired by creative writing prompt #185 – Use the following words in your story: little boy, torn page, market, cart.***

9 responses to this post.

  1. You just gave me the deepest chills. That’s such a better ending (although sad) than I anticipated. I really thought she was going to smack him for wasting money. I’m glad it ended with love instead of anger, even if she’s sick and they’re poor. That’s better than abusive.


    • ::Smile:: I kind of have an affinity for sad endings, always have . . . and for endings that are not really endings because well, there are really no such things as endings in real life.


  2. Awwww, such a sweet story! Between this and the kitty, I’m feeling all emotional tonight.


  3. Beautiful story Dayle! You make me want to try one of those prompts. 🙂


  4. Posted by Anne Katherine on September 18, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    Great job! I, too, loved the ending. But so sad.


    • Thank you! One of the reasons I like a sad ending is because you can always envision better. Maybe it did stay bad, but maybe, just maybe, she gets better and their lives get better. You don’t know, but you can hope . . . just like when you get the little piece of someone’s life while standing in line at the supermarket or riding a bus! (I am a definite eavesdropper, so I make up stories for people I eavesdrop on all the time!)


  5. […] celebrated the beginning of Autumn with thanks and an old poem with beautiful imagery. In her post, 46 cents, she took a writing prompt and brought tears to my eyes. And in one of my favorite posts by her, […]


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