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The Gift

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It had been another quiet day; the kind of day most would find boring.

No visitors…

No friends…

No children playing…

Not even the usual insurance agents were stopping by; just a quiet, lazy warm spring day ending with a gentle shower.

The cool raindrops against her windows woke Emily from a long afternoon nap. Unlike most, Emily enjoyed the rain. It always made her feel clean, fresh and shiny new. But she hated the winter. With a shiver, Emily remembered the day she first came to St. Christopher’s.

“Now, when was that… last year?” Emily laughed to herself, “Humm… batteries must be failing…” No, it was last November. How could she ever forget the harrowing ride in the cold and blowing snow? Several times the driver had expressed his doubts of whether she’d make it or not. But she had made it, and after an extensive examination Emily was wheeled to a comfortable corner of St. Christopher’s. Here it was warm and quiet and Emily enjoyed her stay.

Emily yawned and turned to find a companion had been brought in while she slept. The female next to her was young, no more than sixteen or so, with an attractive cream color and soft chestnut accents.

“Hi,” Emily said warmly, “my name is Emily.”

“Who asked…?”

Emily brushed the rude reply aside. “That’s a pretty nasty bruise.”

The newcomer stared blankly into space, ignoring the comment. Battered and bandaged, she had a rough sort of beauty about her that could only have come from a hard life on the streets. Emily felt for her. She’d seen mistreatment often and it sickened her. Why were people so thoughtless towards those they cared about? Emily couldn’t understand. She had been lucky. In forty five years Emily had always been treated with love and tenderness and respect.

“I’m sorry; I just thought you might like to talk.”

“Why…?

“I don’t know. You look like someone who could use a friend.”

The sixteen year old laughed sarcastically. “Friend… just what I need… another friend!”

“Why are you so bitter?”

“Why in the hell are you so damn nosey?” the teen snapped back.

Emily retreated a bit. So young, she thought. What could possibly turn someone so young and so pretty so bitter?

Time passed. The two rested in an uneasy silence. Finally the teen spoke. “Look,” she said quietly, blinking back a tear, “I’m sorry, really… It’s just… I’m just not used to having anyone be nice to me.” She forced a smile. “My name is Ginger.”

“That’s a very pretty name… nice to meet you, Ginger. Guess I came on kinda strong. I haven’t had anyone to talk with for a while. It’s been kinda lonely. If you’d like to talk, I’m here.”

For the first time, Ginger looked at her companion. “Thanks. Maybe I would. Have you been here very long?”

“For sometime… after a while you lose track. The days seem to run together.”

“This is my first time. I’m scared. Is it bad… what’s wrong with you I mean? You don’t mind my asking, do you?”

“No, I don’t mind. I guess it depends on who you ask. Some say it’s not too serious, some say I’m terminal.” Emily took a deep breath and sighed. “I don’t think I’ll be leaving here; at least not through the front door, anyway.”

Emily’s candor took the youngster by surprise. “How can you be so casual about it? I mean, you’re still so attractive, you have such a classic beauty.”

“Only on the outside, kid; like they say, ‘beauty’s only skin deep.’ It’s what’s on the inside that counts. This old body of mine may have been well taken care of, but it’s been around the block plenty of times. Some of my parts are just plain worn out.”

“And the thought of never leaving doesn’t bother you?”

“No, not really…” It was nice to have someone to talk with again. Emily began to feel a deep affection for the battered teen. “Actually, I will be leaving,” she added, “in a sense anyway. I’m a donor for transplants, a kind of immortality.”

“Oh, that’s so wonderful.” Ginger’s voice softened. “You know… all I’ve ever had was my body. I’ve never felt anything inside. I’ve never known anyone nice like you. Even when I was born I went unwanted for almost three years. I’ve never had any security. My only memories are of being passed from hand to hand.”

“It must have been very hard for you.”

“Yeah… I guess I’ve been around the block a few times myself. As I grew older I began to realize that all anyone ever wanted me for was my looks. It was as if I didn’t even exist inside.”

Emily’s heart fell. She wanted to reach out and comfort Ginger. She wished she could somehow make things better for the troubled teen. “It’s alright, honey. I promise everything will work out. Why don’t you try and get some sleep?”

“Ok, I’ll try. Thanks for being here, Emily.” For the first time in her life Ginger felt as if she had a friend, someone who cared about her. She made a silent wish that they could always be together. And then she drifted off to sleep.

When she awoke late the next morning Emily was gone. Ginger knew she wouldn’t see her friend again. But she knew that somehow Emily would always be with her. Later that day, two men came to get her. As they wheeled her into a large room, Ginger overheard them talking. After some conversation, they both agreed that with some time and work Ginger would be better than ever.

***

“Wow! She’s really cool, Bill. When did you get her?”

“My dad and I picked her up yesterday from a lot across from St. Christopher’s Wrecking Yard. She’s my graduation present.”

“Oh, she’s beautiful!” the freckled teen exclaimed, “So sleek… just look at those lines!”

“Yeah… I guess she is…” Bill replied, “Not bad for sixteen years old. The salesman told me they had to do a lot of body work to bring her back to life.” He walked around the cream colored custom sports car and proudly opened the hood. “But it’s what she has inside of her that counts. The original motor was shot. It was replaced with this one, a classic itself. Forty five years old when they removed it and running like new. After a complete rebuild and a few modifications it’s stronger than ever. It should last a couple of lifetimes, properly cared for and maintained. The mechanic said the old engine slipped into her like they were made for each other.”

“She’s really something special, Bill, inside and out; and what a great name!” He pointed to the delicate lettering just below the driver’s window. “Ginger…”

“I don’t know,” Bill said, rubbing the fender lovingly. “She looks more like an Emily to me.”

 

Bio:

BJ Neblett is the author of Elysian Dreams, a contemporary romantic fantasy and Ice Cream Camelot, a memoir exploring life during the early 1960’s, seen through the eyes of a young boy. He hosts two blog sites: www.hereforaseason.blogspot.com for poetry and www.bjneblett.blogspot.com for stories and other writings. BJ was asked to write a memory about JFK for the Kennedy Library. His stories are featured in eFiction Magazine, Romance Magazine and Northern Liberties Review, as well as Short Story Me. Presently BJ is working on a follow up memoir; a sequel to Elysian Dreams, and more short stories. BJ’s writings have been compared to Haruki Murakami and Isaac Asimov.

 

 

 

 

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