The Gifts

01-14-15   5:50 p.m.

Alethea peers through the lens of her tabletop birthday present. One eye pressed against the eyepiece lens, the other in wink mode.

Alethea chirps, “Look Daddy, this piece of lettuce has veins!”

I walk from the stove where the tea kettle begins its duty. I take a glimpse.

“Neat eh?” I respond.

Alethea returns to her perch at the kitchen table returning to her journey into it’s not such a small world after all.

“Daddy?” Alethea preps.

“Yes Hon?” I reply while tending to the now whistling kettle.

“Thank you for the birthday gifts.” Ali says, her big blue eyes beaming through the strands of  white blonde bangs almost too long.

(Just took her for a haircut two, three, uh…time for SuperCuts I mentally note. Tomorrow after school.)

“You’re very welcome sweetie,” I reply adding a smile and a peck to her forehead after parting her bangs.

Alethea smiles back and then leans toward the kitchen window, most of her weight balanced on her left hip. She gazes hypnotically into the fenced-in yard. A 6 ft. wooden privacy fence 3/4 rectangular common to all the old brick homes in the area. The fence borders our leaveless large oak tree and the back alley where a light casts an orange tint to the night grey.

Alethea sees something. Something other than the yard. Once again, she’s staring not with her big baby blues, but with her mind’s eye.

“Daddy?”

“Yes Ali?’

“Why is it important to see things closer than our eyes were made to see?” she asks, white brows furrowing.

The herbal tea bag halts in middunk.

Moments silence. Check that. A few moments silence.

“To learn about things smaller than we can normally see. And to discover what things are made of I suppose.” “Besides, it’s fun. Isn’t it?” I add, dunking resumed.

Alethea leans back in balance and in position for one last magnified view. “Yes, TONS of fun!” she exclaims proudly.

“So, did you buy the microscope and telescope for me on my birthday Sunday so I can learn or to have fun?” she asks brows now rising at the conclusion of her inquisiton.

(Quick sip of tea to buy some time. Ouch. Too hot for a gulp.)

“Both Hon. Why do you ask?” I inquire back.

“Well, a lot of kids at school don’t seem to be having much fun learning.” Ali begins.

(Lean and blank stare out kitchen window #2.)

“And a lot of teachers must think that’s O.K. because they don’t try to do anything to help those kids to feel any other way.” she adds.

“How do YOU feel about school, Alethea?” I gently prod.

“Learning is fun!” Ali states. “We learn and play at school,” she adds. “So school is fun even if some teachers and kids don’t show it.”

I smile and nod in agreement. Ali takes the slide from the microscope, disposes of the small, now withering, strand of lettuce and procedes to pack up her new, bigger small world. She hesitates.

“Daddy?”

“Yes Alethea?”

“Can I take my telescope outside Friday night to have fun AND learn about the stars?” she asks.

“It’ll be cold outside you know, January in Chicago,” I begin. “And all the city lights and the clouds might make it difficult the view the stars. But sure, for a while we can try.” I add.

Now MY brows furrow. “Why Friday, today is Wednesday?” I ask her in a somewhat puzzled and lower toned voice.

“The weather will be perfect,” Ali declares  “…and…(brief hesitation)…so all day at school I can say`Thank God It’s Friday!’ Just like Mrs. Reichart, my teacher, says every Friday.”

Time for your bath Alethea. SuperCuts tomorrow.

 

from the upcoming book Alethea’s Qi

copyright 2015 Samuel J Krucek

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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