The Stingiest Sip Of Root Beer
The Stingiest Sip of Root Beer
Johnny didn’t know she was thirsty. If he knew, he would’ve given her the last sip. It was just root beer. Why was he so mad? Nanna wasn’t angry. And she was the one who asked for the sip. But he was furious.
“I taught you better than that! I taught you not to be stingy!”
Johnny shuffled through Lincoln Park Zoo with a red face covered in dry tears. He clutched Nanna’s hand. His mom and dad walked ahead as they were shouting at each other. People who walked past turned their heads to eavesdrop the commotion. Johnny could hear them, but barely make out what they were saying. The only thing he could hear was his dad using words he was not allowed to speak. Nanna squeezed his hand and forced a purse-lipped smile down at him. His lips quivered a frown.
“Don’t cry, Sport,” she said. “Daddy thought you were selfish.”
“I wasn’t selfish,” said Johnny.
“I know,” said Nanna.
It was late afternoon, and the zoo was getting ready to close. The family still hadn’t seen the elephants, which were Johnny’s favorite. They were just like his family—small. Johnny and his dad would make horn sounds at them and hop around to try and get their attention. The other people would look at them funny, but he didn’t care. Nobody else understood.
His Mom and Dad were getting louder. Johnny could make out what they were saying now. He walked slower.
“Why do you have to ruin the whole day? Huh? He’s seven years old, John!”
“I don’t care if he’s 17, Tina! He should know better!”
“Maybe he just didn’t hear her ask!”
“You were right there. We all heard!”
When his Dad got mad, he was the scariest person on earth. He wanted to apologize and make it go away.
“Nanna? Should I say I’m sorry?”
“Not right now sweetheart. All of this anger will pass. You’ll see. And when the time is right, you can say sorry. Okay?”
Johnny didn’t know if there would be a right time. They’ve already seen the polar bears, the giraffes, the lions, the wolves, and the camels. They were probably going to leave without seeing the elephants, and he’d have to go right to bed as soon as they got home. He wished he never got that root beer.
“Are you mad at me, Nanna?”
“Not at all. I know you didn’t hear me. It’s just root beer. Dad’ll get over it.”
“I don’t know,” said Johnny.”
“He will,” said Nanna.
They were getting close to the elephants. Johnny could smell them. John walked ahead while Tina came back to Johnny and Nanna.
“Let’s go see the elephants,” said his Mom.
“What about Dad,” asked Johnny?
“He’ll meet us in there.”
But he didn’t. No matter how much Johnny looked at the door, his Dad never came. No matter how much the Elephants skipped and hooted and frolicked, the door didn’t open. His Dad didn’t care about the Elephants. And he didn’t care about Johnny.
“Let’s go,” said Johnny. “I want to go.”
“Are you sure,” asked Nanna?
“I want to go.”
They walked outside. The sun was shrouded in clouds, but Johnny didn’t bother looking around. Instead, he looked at his feet while Nanna took his right hand and his mom took his left. They led him through the zoo.
Before long, Johnny started to hear music. Somebody was singing and playing the guitar. And he looked up, and there was a little crowd that had formed. And his Dad was there. He looked back down, but they kept walking. The music sounded closer to them. They stopped, and Nanna let go of his hand.
Johnny kept his eyes down and clutched his Mom’s hand tightly. And then he felt it. The calloused paw of his dad take the soft bones of his little hand into his. He squeezed it, twice. Johnny looked up and responded with two squeezes.
“I’m sorry, Buckwheat.”
A tear fell from Johnny’s eye. His lips quivered a smile. “I’m sorry too, Dad.”
The music stopped. The crowd applauded. The man with the guitar had long white hair and an even longer white beard. He strummed a few chords.
“Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. Do we have any requests?”
“Yeah,” said Johnny’s dad. “How ‘bout Johnny B Goode?”
“You got it!”
The man picked the strings of the opening, and the crowd started to sway. John took his son by the armpits and hoisted him up on his shoulders, and they began to swing too. Johnny smiled the biggest of the day. It was his Dad’s favorite song, and Johnny knew all the words.
“Go Johnny Go Go!”
Read More Stories:
Check out: The Lincoln Park Zoo