Fifth grader Emily Stowe was shivering outside the ‘Shoppers Paradise’ supermarket. It was an unseasonably chilly October morning. Her gloved hands still cold, holding an old coffee can that was now being used for donations. The ‘James Madison middle school’ marching band had been invited to compete in the midwest regional tournament, if the band raised enough funds for travel. Emily played the trumpet and was thrilled about the prospects of going somewhere different. It would be exciting considering the fact that she had never been anywhere outside of her own home state of Ohio. Freezing on a Saturday morning was a small price for her to pay, if it meant that she would see past this little corner of the world that she was in. The coffee can had a few paper dollars in it with a good deal of change at the bottom. Shoppers were being generous today, as they frantically entered and exited the store. Emily’s mom stood behind her holding the daily large cup of coffee she couldn’t live without.
“Em, do you want a cup of hot chocolate? We could go get a cup and come right back”. Her Mom asked as she looked down at her obviously cold daughter.
“No, I’m ok. It’s alright” Emily said hoarsely as her breath froze in the air. The idea of Hot chocolate really had appealed to her, but she just didn’t want to vacate this spot-not even for a minute. Today was the last push for donations and Emily was determined to make whatever she could in the time allotted to her. She also felt slightly proud about being chosen to do this.
A young man wearing military fatigues was walking up from the parking lot towards the store. His hair was cut short, almost shaved to nothing. He stepped up to Emily’s can, reached into his pocket and then dropped a few dollars into it.
“Here ya go, little lady. I hope your band gets to go”. The man said with a deep authortative voice.
A big sign taped to the can’s side said “SEND THE MMS BAND TO COMPETE!”
“Thank you” Emily said.
“And thank you for your service” Emily’s mom said to the man. He went on to say that he had just gotten home from overseas, possibly awaiting new orders for another assignment. The soldier wished Emily a “good luck” and then entered the store.
Emily stood there for a moment thinking about what the soldier had just said. She felt bad that his time here at home may not be for long at all. Unlike hers, which was permanent. Then she felt a slight tinge of guilt taking anything from this man, who could possibly lose everything fighting for her, for anybody. Emily reached into her pant’s pocket and took out two dollars that she had left over from her previous week’s allowance.
Ten minutes, the soldier exited the store. Emily called out to him.
“Excuse me? Thank you the donation before. I want you to now have a gift from me, just for helping everyone out” She then handed the soldier her two crumpled dollar bills.
The soldier stood there a bit surprised by this. He was now holding a small bag of groceries as his face warmed up with the look of genuine contentment. Emily’s mom looked at him, with an “its ok” kind of expression.
“Thats really sweet of you. I appreciate it, Thank you” The soldier hesitated before taking the money, as if he had reservations about doing it. Still, he went along with it thinking that this is what would make this little girl happy. He then walked off down towards the rest of the stores that made up the mini-mall connected to the supermarket.
“Emily, I’m really proud of you.” her Mom said as she wrapped her arm around Emily’s shoulder to keep her warm.
However, Emily suddenly quite warm inside knowing she did something nice for someone else.
A few minutes later, the smell of chocolate filled the air around Emily’s nose. She looked around to see that the soldier had returned holding a large cup of hot chocolate.
“You look like you could use this”. He said as he handed Emily the cup. She smiled up at him.
“Nothing beats a Hot cocoa out in the cold. Oh, and this?” He held up the two dollars that Emily had given him previously.
“I do thank you but, I got others at home just like these. You keep it”. He then placed the bills back into the can.
The soldier nodded at the mom and headed off to the parking lot.
Emily took a sip out of her cup, filling the inside of her mouth with hot sweetness. She watched the soldier get into his car and drive off. She thought about how special that soldier was to her and many others. She smiled, suddenly realizing something. It had occurred to her that today was the day that Emily met her hero.
November Writing Prompt- Her Hero -Day 30/30