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Janet M Lewis

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Member Since: Dec, 2007

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The Anniversary Gift
By Janet M Lewis
Friday, December 14, 2007

Rated "G" by the Author.

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As adults with children of our own we often forget how as children our most innocent intentions could turn to catastrophe!

The Anniversary Gift
Janet M. Lewis
(No part of this story may be copied or duplicated without the express written permission of the author, Janet Marie Lewis.)

It was the night before their anniversary and I was all out of allowance money and wracking my brain to think of something to give them or do for them. There were all sorts of petty little trinkets in my bedroom that I could wrap up and place ever-so-sneakily on the end of their bed, but what would they find special about a purple light-up McDonalds yo-yo with a burnt out light? Would there be a truly genuine gasp of surprise or would it be the patronizing pat on the back and the kiss on the cheek which signified that it was the thought that counted? No, I ventured into the basement to see what was to be seen; to dig a little further for something that would make me the best kid...something that would make them cry!

It was dark and musty down there in that old St. Louis basement. It smelled like moldy socks that had been under the bed for far too long, and I was very skittish as I imagined the spiders landing on the back of my neck as I descended the narrow stairs. Once there, I looked in this corner and that and found nothing of real interest until I happened upon a thick slab of pine, about a foot one way and perhaps nine inches the other. Oh how I envisioned this piece of wood as a beautifully scrolled plaque, shiny in mahogany finish with all of my love heralded in eloquent poetry across its smooth and lustrous surface! But what would I script my poetry with? I thought about the box of broken and fragmented crayons upstairs in my bedroom, and immediately scratched that idea as childish and whimsical. After all, I was nine, and this should be a picture of perfection…certainly not childishness! I thought that perhaps I could carve my best wishes for them into the wood with a steak knife, but thought better of my lack of whittling skills. I was becoming rapidly dejected and nearing the point of giving up on my dream of the perfect plaque, when in my peripheral vision I happened upon the most wonderful thing; a can of gold spray paint! Gold would be the color of the scrolling script I would imprint upon the surface of the wood! Gold would be the proud and tearful glint in the eyes of my elated parents!

I picked up the can and my excitement immediately hit the floor as I felt the ultra-light weight of it in my hands. Was it empty? Ah but a new ray of hope glistened in my future as I vigorously shook the can and heard the delightful sound of the marble swishing back and forth in paint. Still, spraying produced only a fleck or two and a lot of canned air, but I knew there was paint in that can…I knew it! So the question of the moment as I stood in the dimly lit and mildewed basement was how in the world was I going to open the can? I could stab it with a knife, but I thought I might slip and cut myself. I could ask Dad for help, but that would give away my glorious surprise. Wait! I had an epiphany and flew up the basement steps into the kitchen.

What a fabulous kitchen we had. Mom and Dad spent many a tiresome hour in this old house in the suburbs of St. Louis remodeling the kitchen. They put in a long breakfast bar underneath the east windows with little stools for all of us to sit at. They also installed a flat floral tapestry carpet from wall to wall, and was it ever-so-appealing to the eye! But the pièce de résistance was the way in which they dropped the high ceiling four whole feet and installed these absolutely magnificent Victorian ceiling tiles! It was truly magnifique in the style which was presented to visitors of our home. That day though, well I had little time to bask in the glory of our kitchen, for Mom and Dad would be home soon. I ran straight to the north wall of the kitchen where the electric can opener stood tall and gallant in the late afternoon light. I then proceeded to turn the can of gold paint over and place the bottom lip securely against the knife of the opener, and without another thought I slammed my fist down on the handle.

“Ssspppppppffffffff!” A great golden fountain of gold paint shot upward faster than a speeding bullet. It cascaded across the coveted Victorian tiles, down the side of the refrigerator and about a foot onto the beautiful floral carpet. I swear as I stood there, my eyes nearly bugged out of their sockets and my entire body shook in a spasm not unlike that of a person with a hearty kidney infection who shivers in the wee hours of the morning despite the searing temperatures of summer. Tears were immediate and overwhelming as they shot out of my bottom lids and flooded down my cheeks. My mouth hung wide as I noticed how the perfect and thick spray of gold paint filled in all of the detail of the ornate ceiling tiles, as if a professional painter had done the work for hire.

If truth be told, I wet myself in that instant. I lost complete control of my bladder and didn’t even realize this until I smelled the acrid, eye-watering odor of urine. Though my father bounced me on his knee and watched the Disney Sunday Movie with us, his four children, I was still in desperate fear for my life. Not knowing for certain what time Mom and Dad would arrive home from the grocery store, I immediately came to my senses and ran upstairs taking two steps at a time. Once in my room, I put two pairs of shorts on over my already wet ones, and then somehow, I managed to cram myself into two pairs of jeans. Mom always called me Skinny Minny as a child, but right at that moment I probably resembled the Michelin Man! After I was quite padded, I crawled underneath my bed and waited for what seemed to be an eternity for my parents’ return. I thought about how the world would be after I died, and how sad it was that I wouldn’t have an anniversary gift for them after all. I cried very hard that late June afternoon; so hard in fact that I never heard Dad’s truck pull into the driveway and I never heard the back door open. What I did hear nearly caused me to pass out in fear.


And I thought to myself…how is it possible that they could figure out just by looking at the catastrophe in the kitchen, that I was the responsible party? How did they know that!

I crawled sullenly out from under the bed and waddled my way to the steps.

“Yes sir?” I whispered.
“Get DOWN her!”

I was doomed. I walked down the steps crying, nearly falling because of my over-padded nature. I think to this day that he might have been forced to stifle a laugh when he saw me.

“What, are you stupid or something?!”

“I was just trying to make you a plaque!” I cried and I sobbed, and my father went on to tell me how the can was under pressure and that I could have exploded into flames. He was so angry but I stood there and heard everything he said, all the while blubbering snot rolling down my red, blotchy face. When he was done and I had stated each of my affirmative responses to his multitude of “Do you understands”, he released me back to my room unscathed. My butt met no belt that day, and I am certain that it was because he’d keenly noticed my efforts at preparing for what I knew would be the spanking of a lifetime. He never cleaned up the gold spray paint. It stayed there on the Victorian tiles until we moved away to Kansas.

The Anniversary Gift
Janet M. Lewis
(No part of this story may be copied or duplicated without the express written permission of the author, Janet Marie Lewis.)

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