Short story about a special object a boy has in a shoe box under his bed...
A Father's Day Gift
By Laura Ayala
"Hey Billy. Whatcha doing?"
"I'm just whittling."
"What do you mean whittling?"
"It's when you carve wood a little at a time to make something."
"So, what are you making?"
"Don't know yet."
"What do you mean you don't know yet? You're carving something. If you don't know what you are carving how do you know when you're done?"
Billy thought about that for a minute.
"You just know. My dad taught me. He said that the wood has something inside of it and you just keep carving to get it out so that's what I'm doing. I plan on giving it to my dad for Father's Day. He is in the Army and stationed in Iraq. He is supposed to be home by then. I haven't seen him in a little over a year. I can't wait!"
Billy went back to whittling awayÂ on his piece of wood. Sally watched him quietly for a while. It was peaceful watching him shave off one curl after another of wood from the stick. After a while Billy heard his mom calling for him. He closed his pocketknife and put it in the old shoebox next to him. He then delicately wrapped the stick in an old dish towel and put it in the box with his knife.
"Gotta go Sally, it's supper time."
I tucked the box under my arm and headed home. As I came in the house mom told me to wash up for supper. I ran upstairs and carefully put the box under my bed. I kept it hidden there behind a box of old toys from when I was little. No one would find it there, I thought. As I started downstairs, I couldn't stop thinking about what the stick would become.Â
As we ate supper, my mom's phone rang. She usually had a "no phones at the table" rule, but for some reason she felt the need to answer this time. Suddenly mom got quiet and still. She got up and went in the other room. I didn't think much about it and continued eating my supper. My mind was still on that stick in the box under my bed. I was still wondering what it would become.
When mom came back in the room, I could tell she had been crying. "What's wrong mom?" That was the Army calling. Your dad was with a team patrolling a village in Iraq and they were attacked. Your father is missing and many of the team was killed. They are doing everything they can to find him.
Inside I was falling apart but I had to stay strong for my mom.
"They will find him mom. Dad is smart. He will find a way to survive and get back to his platoon."
I went back upstairs and pulled that box out from under my bed. I started whittling on the stick and softly cried. Suddenly the object within the stick became to take shape. As I continued to scrape off more and more wood the once rough stick began to look like a pirate cutlass. I guess I was thinking dad could use it to get back home, but of course he didn't have it and it was only made of wood.
Mom came in to check on me and asked me what I was making.
"It's a miniature pirate cutlass for dad for Father's Day. He can use it as a letter opener."
"Well, we'll pray that he can get home so you can give it to him."
The finished cutlass letter opener was beautiful. So ornate and smooth. It remained carefully wrapped in that box under my bed, but I never gave up hope that I would be able to give it to my dad one day.
Two years later mom and I were again sitting at the dinner table when mom's phone rang. She answered it and started to cry but this time it was tears of shear joy. Dad had been found and was alive. He was coming home!
I ran upstairs and pulled the letter opener out from under my bed and smiled as tears of joy rolled down my face.