Lucas ripped back the Velcro seal on his little blue wallet. Even though he’d had it for three years and the Pokemon logo on the back was scratched and faded, he couldn’t give up that wallet; he loved it too much. He unzipped the coin pocket and peered inside. Six dollars. For two whole weeks he had gone without buying a single lolly at the tuckshop in order to save that money; it was his budget to buy his mum the best present he could find. Lucas took his time at his school’s Mother’s Day gift stall, examining each item to see if it was worthy. He refused to be hurried by the kids lining up behind him, or influenced by suggestions from the tall lady behind the gift table who just didn’t seem to get how important this decision was. Eventually, he found it: a white coffee mug with the word “Mum” written in pink bubble letters. It was perfect.
Lucas paid the six dollars, and the tall lady wrapped the mug in tissue paper and gave it to him. He held it as though it were a priceless treasure. A girl looked at Lucas’ gift. “Why are you buying a Mother’s Day present?” she asked. “You don’t have a mum.” Lucas was caught off guard by the question. It had never occurred to him before not to get his mum a gift just because she wasn’t there.
The girl’s question had been asked innocently, but a nearby bully heard an opportunity and took it. “Ha! Look at him—he’s buying a Mother’s Day present and he doesn’t even have a mum!”
Other children began to look and laugh. The bully and his pals circled Lucas and tried to grab the coffee mug. Lucas held it close to his chest.
“Let me see that,” demanded one of the older boys, reaching for the mug.
Lucas moved back. “Stop it,” he said. He could put up with being teased and having his possessions taken, but that coffee mug was his mother’s and he would guard it with his life.
“We just want to see it,” said the bully.
“No, it’s for my mum. I bought it.”
“Just let me hold it.” The bully lunged at his prey.
“No!” yelled Lucas.
He turned and pushed his way between two of the boys surrounding him, then ran past the line up at the gift stall and down the concrete path toward the grade four classrooms. The bully pursued. Lucas ran for dear life. He ran too fast. His shoe snagged a bump in the concrete and he fell. The coffee mug spilled forward from his grasp and smashed on the ground. Though it remained within the tissue paper, Lucas had heard the crack as it hit the concrete, and he could see the present’s deformed shape. His tormentor ran past him laughing and kicked the mug, skittling ceramic shards along the path and ensuring his mother’s gift was beyond saving. Lucas’ knees were grazed and bloodied from his fall, but he paid no attention to the pain. He scrambled to gather together the broken pieces of the coffee mug. With tears welling he cradled the shattered gift in his hands, not quite comprehending what had happened. Part of him expected the mug to reassemble itself. Soon enough though, the fog of denial dissipated and he faced the facts. The mug was destroyed, unusable. The word Mum could not even be pieced together. Lucas had parted with his six dollars, and he had nothing left for another gift; he had nothing to give his mum for Mother’s Day. While children began lining up for class, Lucas walked to the big staircase near the grade five classrooms and sat underneath it, alone in the dirt. For an hour he remained there like a stone, until an angry teacher found him and asked him what on earth he was doing. Lucas couldn’t answer.
© 2018 MILES VENISON ALL RIGHTS RESERVED