Years ago I took a children's writing course and the following short stories
were born...

 

The Stained Glass Unicorn

By Jacqueline Ann Piech

06/13/1985

 

Jodee pedaled her bike as fast as she could, allowing for the busy downtown traffic. In her back pocket of her jeans was twenty-seven dollars.

She didn't want to think about the puzzled look on the clerk's face when she returned her beloved unicorn. When the clerk asked why, all Jodee could say was, " I want to get something else."

However, the something else was for her friend, Brian, and it was a bus ticket to Melford. She couldn't forget the look on Brian's face at the Huntington bus station. When his father's luggage and a letter arrived, but no dad! Brian had looked forward to his father's visit for weeks. Since his parents' divorce, Brian hadn't seen him.

His father had a problem with drinking and after the divorce, Mr. Tauls had left the city for a job in another state. He had also spent nine months in an alcohol-abuse rehabilitation program. He wrote and called Brian during this time, but never came to visit. Now since he had decided to see Brian, the long bus ride had given him time to think. Jodee thought, maybe too much time.

Melford was a rest stop before coming in to Huntington, and it was there that Mr. Tauls got off the bus, leaving the letter on his seat.
When Brian read that letter, once, then twice, he brushed his hand over his eyes and looked at Jodee. " He can't come, he says he loves me but that he feels terrible about all the trouble his drinking has caused. He can't face me now, because he doesn't think he's a good enough father for me." Brian looked stricken, " What am I going to do? He's my dad, the only one I've got!"

It was then they decided Brian should go to Melford. But Brian had only five dollars and it cost thirty-one dollars for a one way ticket to Melford. The bus schedule didn't give them much time either. The next bus out of Huntington was also the bus that would stop in Melford, and if Brian was to catch his dad before Mr. Tauls returned to St. Louis, he'd have to be on that bus. They had exactly one hour to come up with the money! After ten minutes of deciding it wasn't possible, Jodee thought of her stained glass unicorn.

The unicorn she had so proudly worked and saved for, doing odd jobs for the neighbors, saving her birthday money and weekly allowances, till the magic moment came and she had the full amount. Her father helped her hang it from her bedroom window. There it was, suspended on its silver chain, dancing through green, surrounded in blue glass. The beautiful white unicorn with its golden horn! Each piece of glass cut to carefully fit its lead frame. And when the sun's rays touched it, the unicorn seemed to glow!

But that was over now, she thought, as she rode up to the bus station. She walked over to Brian, who was standing at the ticket counter, and handed him twenty-seven dollars. He looked at her in amazement and protested, " You didn't have this money in your savings account, you returned your unicorn didn't you? You worked so hard for it and spent weeks worrying that someone else would buy it before you could. Why?"

" Don't argue," she said, " just buy the ticket and go to your dad, so he knows how much he means to you." Brian smiled and gave her a huge hug.

She saw him waving to her from the bus as it pulled out of the station. Dear God, she thought, please let everything work out for Brian and his dad!

On the way home she passed the gift shop and there in the window, hanging from its silver chain, was the unicorn. She patted her back pocket where she had tucked the change from the bus ticket. One dollar, it was a small start, but it was a start. She pedaled home.