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Archive for the ‘Short Stories’ Category

Dancing with Isabel

Jim was working as an assistant cruise director. The male staff had to dance with the elderly ladies who were traveling by themselves. Whenever they saw these passengers in one of the lounges, they were required to strike up a conversation and offer to dance with them.

On one particular Saturday night, the ship’s program called for fifteen minutes of music and dancing in the main lounge. Jim looked around and spotted a lady sitting off to the side, her foot stomping away to the beat of a lively Glenn Miller tune. She looked like she was in her seventies, on the petite side, and was wearing a wig that was unevenly pulled to the side.

Jim walked to her, introduced himself and asked her if she wanted to dance. She smiled at him and said, “No, thank you.”

Jim mentioned that he had seen her tapping to the music and knew she was enjoying the Big Band sound. Reaching out his hand and gently placing it in hers, Jim said, “Come on, let’s go have some fun.”

She got up and they made their way to the dance floor. To Jim’s surprise, she was a very good dancer. Her eyes were all lit up, and she was smiling. She showed Jim all kinds of great swing-step moves, and Jim desperately tried to keep up with her. They were the kind of dance steps a professional swing dancer use. She was really phenomenal!

The music ended, Jim walked her back to her seat and knew her name was Isabel. As they sat down, Jim noticed the tears in her eyes. She reached down into her purse, pulled out a tissue and began to cry.

“Have I done something to upset you?” Jim asked. “Was it my poor dancing abilities? I’m sorry.”

She looked up and assured Jim that he had done nothing wrong. “I love to dance,” she said. “My husband and I would go dancing every Saturday night. We never missed an opportunity.”

Isabel tried to compose herself, but her face was overcome with emotion. “My husband and I always dreamed of dancing at sea together. We talked about going on a cruise, and we saved up our money.” Isabel drew a deep breath and continued, “Then on Saturday evening, just as we were getting dressed to go out, he sat down on our bed and said he needed to rest for a few minutes. Well,” she said gently, “he never woke up.”

Jim could see her love for her husband in every wrinkle of her precious face.

“I haven’t danced in twenty-eight years,” she paused and looked at Jim with a smile, “until now.”

Then she gave Jim a hug and whispered, “Thank you for being my partner tonight.”

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Nathan’s Upgrade

“Mr. Degner,” the man began, “I’m Tom Fury. You probably don’t remember meeting me and my family back in November. We were going to Miami and the flight was overbooked.”

Jeff confessed that he couldn’t recall the occasion.

“You made an announcement asking for volunteers willing to give up their seats for free tickets and a later flight. My wife, Ann, went up to your desk and told you that the four of us – myself, my wife, our daughter Mariah, and our son Nathan – would be willing to go later.”

The story still didn’t ring a bell to Jeff.

“Well,” Tom went on, “we gave you our tickets but about fifteen minutes later, you came back and said that you wouldn’t need our seats after all.”

At this point, Jeff was still unsure where this former customer was going with his phone call.

Tom continued, “So you gave our tickets back and then you told us that you had upgraded our seats to first class as a way of showing gratitude for our willingness to be bumped. Now, I know that this was something you didn’t have to do – you could have just as easily left us with our original seats. Now do you remember us?”

“Yes, I think I do recall meeting you,” Jeff lied, “I’m glad you enjoyed those seats.”

“Oh, we did! That flight to Miami was wonderful,” Tom replied. “We were so excited. Ann and Mariah sat next to each other and Nathan and I were right across from them. We laughed and talked all the way to Florida. It was just fantastic.”

“I’m really glad that you and your family were happy with the seats, and thank you for taking the time to call …”

“There’s something more,” Tom said. Jeff noticed a sudden shift in the tone of his voice.

“Just after we got home from our vacation …” Jeff could hear the strain of tears and pain in Tom’s voice as he continued, “Nathan was out riding his bike and … the driver of the car didn’t even see …”

Tom couldn’t finish his sentence but Jeff knew what had happened. His eyes welled up as he waited in silence.

A moment later, the boy’s father went on, “That trip was the last trip the four of us were together. We’ll always remember that flight to Miami, all of us sitting in those first class seats. We were so happy and Nathan had so much fun. It meant so much to him. You helped make that time special, Mr. Degner. Ann and I just wanted to say how much we appreciate the gift you gave us.”

Jeff was speechless. He breathed in deeply and, somehow, he found words to express his sympathy for the tragedy and thanked Tom for sharing his story.

After they said goodbye, Jeff sat down and cried for this little boy and his grieving family. He hadn’t realized how much their upgrade had meant to them on their final trip with their son.

A Lesson

father

A son took his elderly father to a restaurant for dinner. During the meal, his father would continuously drop food onto his shirt and trousers.

And while other customers turned around and gave the pair unpleasant looks, the son was calm and helped his father clean up his mess.

After their meal, the son led his father to the restroom and helped him wipe the stains off of his clothes.

Then, he helped his father comb his hair, put on his jacket, and straighten his glasses.

After they came out, the son went to pay the bill, and stood up to leave. Everyone watched them in dead silence.

No one could understand how someone could embarrass himself in public like that.

Then, all of a sudden, one of the customers, an old man, called out to the son.

“Don’t you think you have left something behind?” he asked.

“No, sir, I haven’t,” the son replied.

“Yes, you have!” replied the old man. “You have left a lesson for every son, and hope for every father.”

And with that reply, the entire restaurant fell silent.

Take care of those who once cared for us.

One Hour from You

After his wife passed away a year ago, Rick worked as a part time supervisor in a retailed store in addition to his full time consulting job. He wanted to earn more money and provide a better life to his daughter.

One night during dinner, his daughter asked, “Dad, how much do you earn for an hour of your part time job?”

The question surprised Rick and he answered softly, “50 dollars per hour.”

“Can you give me 30 dollars?” his daughter asked.

Rick was curious, he asked, “What for?”

“I just need 30 dollars from you,” his daughter replied.

“I won’t give you the money unless you tell me what the money is for.” Rick was a bit impatient and worried about why his daughter needed the money.

His daughter was upset and kept herself in her room that night.

Regretted and feeling guilty, Rick slid 3 10-dollar notes through the gap underneath his daughter’s bedroom door.

When Rick woke up the next morning, he saw a note placed on the table. On top was his daughter’s hand writing: “Can I buy one hour from you today after school? I want you to come to school and see our choir performance.”

Beside the note, other than Rick’s 3 10-dollar notes, there were another 20 dollars made up of smaller notes and coins which Rick recognized as his daughter’s pocket money.

To See a Volcano

April was shocked when the doctor told her that her son Kevin had Usher’s syndrome. His peripheral vision will get narrower and narrower until, eventually, he would be completely blind.

“How? This can’t be true,” April cried. How could her dear son be blind? It was incomprehensible to her. She was finally able to muster up enough courage and broke the news to Kevin. He sat quietly, paying close attention to the diagnosis. He was a brave boy, April knew he wanted to cry from his body language. However he made sure the tears waited and smiled with all his strength.

“Before things really change, what one thing do you want to see more than anything else?” April asked.

Kevin thought for a while and then said, “A volcano … I want to see a volcano in Hawaii.”

April choked back her tears and said, “I’ll see what I can do,” although she knew there was no way she could take him to Hawaii.

April heard about an organization that works to fulfill the wishes of chronically and critically ill children. So with great hope, she phoned them. In a couple of weeks, they were interviewed, and three months later they were sitting on the plane bound for Honolulu.

On the morning of the big day, they climbed into a helicopter and headed towards the volcano. They were all excited. While hovering over the cinder cone, they could saw the vibrant red, yellow and orange colors sluggishly moving around. They could feel the immense heat on their faces. They could smell the pungent stench of sulfur seeping in. As they hovered, they were struck not only by the volcano’s raw beauty but also by its strength.

Looking over at Kevin, there was a peaceful glow about him. April tapped him on his shoulder. He signed back, “Not now … if I look away, I’ll miss it.” He was right. He needed to see all he could see – now.

Kevin had an offering for Pele, the fire goddess. It was made of tea leaves and a symbol of good luck. He stuck out his hand and dropped his gift. Then he bowed his head and signed, “I wish she can be strong for an eruption.”

As they watched the leaves fall into the lava, the most amazing thing happened. The sluggish mixture began swirling around and started popping – a tiny eruption began before their eyes – Pele’s gift to Kevin.

April hoped that the journey will last forever in Kevin’s mind, especially when the disease finally consumes his eyesight. Then she’ll know that her son still sees the swirling hues of red, yellow and orange, not just blackness.

Sand and Stone

Two friends were walking through a desert. During some point of the journey, they had an argument, and one friend slapped the other one in the face.

The one who got slapped was hurt, but without saying anything, he wrote in the sand, “Today my best friend slapped me in the face.”

They kept walking until they found an oasis, where they decided to take a bath. The one who had been slapped got stuck in the mire and started drowning, but his friend saved him.

After he recovered from the near drowning, he wrote on a stone: “Today my best friend saved my life.”

The friend, who had stopped and saved his best friend, asked him, “After I hurt you, you wrote in the sand, and now, you write on a stone, why?”

The other friend replied, “When someone hurts us, we should write it down in sand, where the winds of forgiveness can erase it, but when someone does something good for us, we must engrave it in stone, so no wind can ever erase it.”

Learn to write your hurts in the sand, and to carve your benefits from others in stone. It takes minutes to find a special friend, hours to appreciate them, days to love them, but an entire life to forget them.

Take the time to live. Do not value the things you have in your life, but value who you have in your life.

A Small Way to Help

Hal was afflicted with a slowly progressive disease of the motor nerves, affecting first his right arm and leg, and then his other side. He couldn’t walk properly but he still drove to and from work each day, with the aid of special equipment installed in his car.

It was raining when he started home that night; gusty winds and slashing rain beat down on the car as he drove slowly down one of the less-traveled roads. Suddenly the steering wheel jerked in his hands and the car swerved violently to the right. In the same instant he heard the dreaded bang of a blowout. He fought the car to a stop on the rain-slick shoulder of the road and sat there as the enormity of the situation swept over him. It was impossible for him to change that tire.

He remembered that a short distance up a little side road was a house. He started the engine and thumped slowly along, keeping well over on the shoulder until he came to the dirt road and arrived at the house. He pulled into the driveway and honked the horn.

The door opened and a little girl stood there, peering at him. He rolled down the window and called out that he had a flat tire and needed someone to change it for him because he had a crutch and couldn’t do it himself.

The little girl went into the house and a moment later came out bundled in raincoat and hat, followed by a man. Hal felt a bit sorry for the man and little girl working so hard in the storm while he sat inside the car comfortable and dry. The rain seemed to be slackening a bit, and Hal rolled down the window to watch. It seemed that they were really slow. Hal heard the clank of metal from the back of the car and the little girl said, “Here’s the jack-handle, Grandpa.” She was answered by the murmur of the man’s lower voice and the slow tilting the car as it was jacked up.

There followed a long interval of noises, jolts and low conversation from the back of the car, but finally it was done. Hal felt the car bump as the jack was removed, and he heard the slam of the trunk lid, and then they were standing at his car window.

Grandpa was an old man, stooped and frail-looking under his slicker. The little girl was about eight, with a merry face and a wide smile as she looked up.

Grandpa said, “This a bad night for car trouble, but you’re all set now.”

“Thanks,” Hal said, “how much do I owe you?”

Grandpa shook his head. “Nothing. Cynthia told me you were on crutches. Glad to be of help. I know you’d do the same for me. There’s no charge, friend.”

Hal held out a ten-dollar bill. “No! I like to pay my way.”

Grandpa made no effort to take it and the little girl stepped closer to the window and said quietly, “Grandpa can’t see it.”

A blind man and a child, fumbling, feeling with cold, wet fingers for bolts and tools in the dark, just changed a tire for him.