THE PERFECT GIFT
Little Joanne Ellis was 12 years old, an only child who lived with her mother Erin, a single parent who had to work part time at her local newsagents to make ends meet, Jo as she was affectionately called was a wonderful daughter, very kind and very loving toward her mum.
Mum’s day consisted of the usual mundane things, washing, ironing, housework, and of course looking after her daughter Jo, who she would dote on, the only part of the day she really looked forward to.
The newsagent’s shop where Erin worked was only about a15 minute bus ride away, and conveniently the school where her daughter Jo attended was close by.
Jo was always told by her mum that she was a very special little girl, no different to look at from any other young child of her age, but Jo had learning difficulties and suffered from a mild form of Epilepsy yet despite all this she was as bright as a button and very popular with all the other children at school, it didn’t seem to hold her back one little bit.
Early one evening just after Jo and her mum had finished having their tea a knock came at the kitchen window, it was Auntie Jenny from next door, not Jo’s real Auntie, but just something that she had always called her from being a small toddler.
“Hello you two” she shouted, “Is it alright if I come in”? She always asked if it was alright to come in, more from habit than being a question awaiting an answer.
Jenny gave Erin a hug and Jo a peck on the cheek, “I’ve had a great idea” she said, Erin laughed out loud replying with “Oh no, not another great idea”!
Jenny continued “No you’ll enjoy this one honestly” there was a brief pause,
“What about Salsa dancing”? She couldn’t contain her excitement and carried on “Friday evenings 7-00 until 8-30 Salsa dancing lessons you and me”?
Even Jo laughed and joined in “Go on mum you’d be good at dancing”.
Erin was still tittering when she replied, “Me Salsa dancing? I’d love to say yes, but you know me well enough by now to know that I’ve got two left feet, I’d just make a complete fool of myself“.
Jo thought her mum’s answer was funny and repeated out loud “Mum’s got two left feet”.
Jenny tried to persuade her to sign up for the classes, saying it would be a laugh and get her out of the house, she even said her sister had offered to have Jo while they went.
Erin just dismissed the idea and collected the dishes off the table and took them into the kitchen to wash up.
Jo was left sat at the table with her Auntie Jenny, “I like dancing Auntie Jenny, I can dance really good, Mrs. Tidman at school said I was a good dancer” she continued “I’d like some proper dancing shoes like the Ballet ladies wear”
“You don’t need Ballet shoes to dance, a good pair of plimsolls will do”.
Jo looked puzzled, “What are plimsolls”? She asked inquisitively.
“You know” said Auntie Jenny, “pumps like you wear for PE at school”.
Jo thought for a moment, “Are pumps like dancing shoes then”?
“Yes” said her Auntie, “Just as good as dancing shoes anyway”.
Jo’s curiosity seemed to be satisfied but then asked, “Will you take me to the shops to buy mum a special present for her birthday? I’ve got more than 20 pounds saved in my box upstairs under my bed”.
“Wow that’s a lot, have you been saving up your pocket money then”?
“Yes” said Jo. ”It took me ages and ages”.
Jenny asked if she had a birthday present in mind.
“Yes I want to buy mum some dancing shoes so she can go dancing with you”
Jenny didn’t want to upset Jo and told her what a wonderful idea that would be, she also secretly thought that it might just kick start her mum into giving it a go, albeit by using a bit of emotional blackmail.
How could she not use her lovely daughter’s wonderful birthday gift?
Jenny agreed with Erin to take Jo out shopping with her on the following Saturday and told her that she couldn’t tell her why as it was a secret.
Jenny looked over at Jo and gave her a little wink Jo giggled and gave Jenny a thumb’s up sign in return, together they had a plan.
Saturday came and as promised Jenny and Jo went shopping.
Jenny took her to the shoe warehouse situated on the edge of town and they went inside,
Jo hurried straight over to one of the young lady assistants and asked if they sold dancing shoes, Jenny was quick to intervene and winked at the assistant saying she means plimsolls, the lady pointed over to the far corner of the store and said that the gym and sportswear section was over in that area.
Jo rushed off as fast as her little legs could carry her, she could see all the pumps paired up in front of her, sorted out in neat rows, placed in plastic bags, she quickly pulled a few pairs off the shelf to look at them.
By the time Jenny reached her she had taken several pairs of pumps out of the bags.
“No Jo” she whispered in a loud tone, “You mustn’t take them out of the bags you’ll get us into trouble, quick let’s put them all back before anybody notices”.
Jo did as she was told and placed the pumps back into the bags.
Jenny asked if she knew her mums shoe size, “Yes” she replied I’ve got the one’s I want here in this bag they’re a size 5”.
“Come on then” said Jenny “let’s take them over to the lady at the desk and pay for them”.
Jo ran up to the assistant “Can you put mum’s dancing shoes in a box for me please” she cried.
The young girl smiled and said of course she could, Jo emptied a handful of coins onto the counter and £6-00 was counted out and she was given a receipt and a penny change back, full of smiles the two girls left the shop.
Jo asked Jenny if she would help her wrap up the present for her mum, also making her promise not to tell.
The morning of Erin’s birthday had arrived and Jo as usual was awake first running straight into her mum’s bedroom with the present grasped tightly in her little hands, with it a birthday card she had written herself, “Go on then mum undo it” she cried, “And read the card”.
Erin opened the card and gave Jo a kiss after reading what was inside, she told Jo it was beautiful, the nicest card she had ever received.
Erin threw back the covers and sat on the edge of the bed, “Well what could this be then”? She really did not have any idea.
Jenny had kept her promise and said nothing.
Jo’s mum slowly undid the box to reveal a pair of white plimsolls.
“Try them on mum” Jo shouted “try them on”.
Jo’s mum smiled and did as she was asked but stopped suddenly.
She looked at Jo and then at the plimsolls.
“Oh dear Jo” exclaimed her mum, “There seems to be two left feet”……
“YES” said Jo.
“I swapped them over in the shop, so now you can go dancing with Auntie Jenny”
All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of Ray Boorman.
Published on e-Stories.org on 05.07.2011.