by RL Williams
1998 Christmas Short Story
Ten-year-old Becky stood in front of the pet store, looking through the large window at the puppies and kittens. She smiled and giggled at the well-groomed animals excited by her attention.
“I wonder how much one of these costs?” she thought, putting her hands in her coat pockets on this cold day before Christmas.
Becky walked in and gazed at the selection of adorable kittens and puppies.
“May I help you?” an approaching lady inquired.
“I’m looking for a present for my sister, maybe a kitten or a puppy. How much are these?” Becky asked, pointing to a row of caged puppies.
“We have some for forty-five dollars on up to several hundred dollars,” the saleslady replied.
“I only have nine dollars and some cents,” she said sadly.
“Well, I’m sorry. We don’t have anything that inexpensive.”
“OK,” Becky said as she looked around the small store.
The lady left to help another customer.
Becky wandered towards the back of the store. Her eyes were caught by a lone cage in a corner that housed a small frail white puppy.
“Hi little doggie,” Becky said to the almost lifeless animal.
The puppy strained to lift its head, acknowledging Becky’s presence. One ear rose up slightly and its frowning eyes opened halfway.
“Come here boy,” she prompted the puppy. It tried to get up, but immediately fell back.
“What’s wrong with you? Are you OK?” Becky asked.
The saleslady noticed Becky in the back corner and approached.
“How much is this puppy?” Becky asked.
“Oh, you don’t want that one,” the saleslady sighed. “He’s got a bad leg and can’t walk. He wouldn’t make a good pet.”
“But if I wanted to buy him, how much?” Becky asked.
“No honey, he’s not for sale. Save your money or get your parents to come back with you and buy one of those nice puppies up front on display. Now run along dear,” the lady snapped.
“My sister would like that puppy,” she said as the saleslady hurried away.
“Bye bye,” Becky said to the puppy. She left the store and headed home, saddened by her empathy for the frail little dog.
Becky’s mom was busy preparing food for tomorrow, Christmas Day. “Becky, why don’t you go watch TV or play. Your sister won’t be home until four-thirty this afternoon, so you’ll have to keep yourself occupied.”
“OK,” she responded. She went into the family room and turned on the TV.
She couldn’t help but think about the lonesome puppy. The more she thought about it, the sadder she became. “I wish I could do something to get that puppy, but I guess there’s nothing I can do,” she conceded.
Moments later, she noticed a man and woman on TV talking about ‘getting what you want out of life.’ She turned up the volume and listened.
“Well, Andy, why is it that most people can’t seem to reach their goals or get what they want out of life?” the lady on TV asked.
“Interesting question,” the man replied, “and the answer is primarily because they don’t believe they can achieve what they want to. And those that think they can don’t follow-through on their ideas and decisions with action. One of the most important things that can make success happen is taking action.”
The lady replied, “that sounds so simple.”
“It is,” he agreed, “and most people have a good idea of what they should do, but they don’t take action and they give up. If it’s important, you will find the time, you will find a way, you will not give up. When you do this you realize your own power.”
The lady smiled and asked her guest, “OK, Andy, I have something that’s important to me that I feel I must do. What do I do to make it happen?”
He smiled and answered, “you have got to believe with certainty that it will happen. You have to ask yourself the question ‘what will it take to make this happen?’ And then you have to take action and be committed to making that important dream happen. Be persistent and don’t give up!”
Becky excitedly hopped up from her chair. She knew what she had to do. She put on her coat and headed out the door. “I’m going to the pet store Mom.”
“Be careful, and don’t be too long,” her mom admonished.
The pet store was busy with Christmas shoppers making last minute purchases. Becky entered the store and headed straight to the back corner where her new friend was caged.
“Hi boy,” she said happily. “I’m going to get you out of here, and take you home with me.”
The little puppy responded with more enthusiasm, sensing an air of excitement in Becky’s voice.
The same saleslady from Becky’s prior visit approached. “Back again huh. I thought I told you before that this one’s not for sale and …”
Becky interrupted, “uh, excuse me ma’am, but,” she hesitated and, regaining her confidence, said politely but sternly in a raised voice, “what would it take to be able to take this puppy home with me today?”
Somewhat dismayed by Becky’s unexpectedly direct question, the saleslady paused and thought a moment.
“I’m sorry. This one’s not for sale,” the saleslady replied. “Now go along home.”
Undaunted by the rebuff, Becky turned and approached a second lady who she assumed worked there. “Excuse me ma’am, but I would like to know what it would take to buy that puppy?” she asked, pointing to the lonesome cage in the corner.
This saleslady replied, “I don’t think that one’s for sale. We have some very nice puppies out front …”
Becky interrupted, “but I want that one in the corner. What would it take to get that puppy?”
The saleslady paused a moment and said, “you don’t want that one. It has a bad leg and can’t run and jump. And it can’t …”
Becky politely but unwaveringly interrupted again, “that doesn’t matter to me. I know my sister would love that puppy. What would it take to buy that puppy TODAY?”
“I’m sorry, but we’re busy and I need to help some other people,” the saleslady said, brushing her off.
The vision of the man on TV saying don’t give up replayed again in Becky’s mind. She looked around for another employee, and spotted a third person, an older man, coming out of a storeroom.
“Excuse me, sir,” Becky waved, “I have a very important question about one of your pets.” The man came over and asked Becky what she wanted.
“I want that puppy over there, the one all by itself. What would it take to get that puppy now? I want it for a Christmas present for my sister.”
“Oh,” the man said, “that little puppy has a bad leg and he wouldn’t make a very nice pet. I’m very sorry. He’s not for sale.”
Her enthusiasm dampened a bit, but she remembered the passionate TV spiel about not giving up and looking for a way to make this dream a reality. “What can I do to make this happen?” she asked herself. She walked around the store asking herself this question over and over … finally she had an idea.
She headed out and asked the man, “how late are you open tonight?”
“Until six-o’clock,” he replied.
It was now four-thirty. She knew she had to hurry.
The air grew colder as the afternoon waned.
The pet store clock now read quarter-to-six. The hectic day was coming to an end, and the three pet store employees were breathing a sigh of relief. One saleslady looked around the store at the many empty cages, empty due to their occupants finding new homes for Christmas.
The front door opened. Becky hurried in brimming with confidence and proclaimed, “I’m here to buy that little puppy in the back.”
“Like we told you before, you don’t want that one,” the saleslady responded.
Becky’s mom entered pushing her sister’s wheelchair.
“That puppy back there would make a great present for my sister,” Becky said, leading her sister to the lone cage in the corner.
All three salespeople converged on Becky, her sister, and her mom.
The older man tried again to explain, “I’m really sorry, but this little puppy is not for sale. He has a bad leg, he can’t walk, he can’t jump, he can’t play …” the man paused, looking at Becky’s wheelchair-bound sister. He stood there, first confused and then awakened by the reality that confronted him.
Becky’s sister looked at the small frail puppy and said, “I would love to have this one because I know how it feels to have legs that don’t work right. I’ll name him Snowflake because he is a special one-of-a-kind present. I understand Snowflake.”
Everyone stood around looking at each other, everyone knowing that all involved had just received a Christmas gift in the form of a very important lesson about life.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays
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