Once upon a time, a seven-year-old boy who regularly introduced himself as James Dillon Collin Francis, was feeling overwhelmingly excited. That afternoon, he had finished cleaning his father’s boots, meaning he was about to receive his one dollar allowance for the week, taking his grand total of savings up to five dollars. His mother congratulated him on another terrific week of work, hugged him, and proudly placed the dollar in his hand, which James accepted with grace. Clutching the dollar, he strode back to his bedroom, took out his piggy bank and opened it up to take out four one dollar coins. He asked his parents’ permission to leave the house before strutting to the local store to see what he might be able to purchase.
The front of the store had a set of smaller windows at the top with four larger windows underneath. Every window had a green frame and large, green columns separated the windows from the entry. Green tiles bordered the very bottom of the store front and green, wooden panels marked the ceiling of the entryway. A warm, welcoming glow shone through the windows. A sight that had kept James motivated in his quest to save enough money to buy something of worth. The local store was known as P.J’s, though the owner was simply known as The Storeman. On the glass panel that took up the top half of the door, there was a black and white sign that read, OPEN. James confidently gripped the brass door handle and excitedly entered the store.
The Storeman was polishing some rather grimy jars when James entered with a thud or two and continued polishing as he turned to face the young boy. James promptly introduced himself. “Good afternoon, Mr Storeman, my name is James Dillon Collin Francis and I have saved up enough money to finally purchase something from your fine store.” Slightly taken aback by the young boy’s grown-up manner, The Storeman put down his jar and cloth and leaned over the counter, staring at James.
“Is that a fact, Young James?” he said with a smirk. “Well, what can I get for you?”
James tapped his foot on the bare, wooden floor as he stared at the jars lining the rows of shelves behind The Storeman.
“I’ll take that jar of happiness please, sir.”
The Storeman breathed deeply through his nose and made a clicking sound with his tongue as he turned around to view the jar.
“You can’t have that,” The Storeman said.
James stopped tapping his foot. “What do you mean?”
“I mean, you can’t have that. You can’t afford it.”
“But I have five dollars,” James responded proudly holding up the coins to show The Storeman.
“I understand that,” The Storeman replied with a slight nod. “Which means you can’t afford that jar of happiness.”
“Well, then,” James began, “What can I get with my money?”
The Storeman leaned over and tapped on the pane of glass at the front of the counter. “You can have a lollypop from the cabinet.”
“But I don’t want a lollypop from the cabinet,” James took a step towards the counter, pointing at the shelves, “I want that jar of happiness.”
The Storeman shook his head. “Look, Master Francis, you’re not ready for that, yet. Just stick with the lollypop and be done with it, hey?”
James started to look a little defeated. “Well, it took me five weeks to get this money, so, you tell me how long I have to work before I can take that jar of happiness home.”
“I’d say well past your best years for certain,” The Storeman replied. “And, just to let you know, I’ve been here for a very long time, and no one has been able to afford that jar of happiness the whole time I’ve worked here.”
Filled with disappointment, James attempted to put his concerns into words. “So, you’re saying that I can either have a lollypop now or keep my money and, only hopefully, one day be able to afford the happiness inside of that jar?”
“That’s the nuts and bolts of it, young James.” The two of them stood in silence for some time as James tried to make up his mind.
“Tell you what,” The Storeman said breaking the silence, “I”ll throw in a second lollypop for free just because I’ve enjoyed spending the afternoon with you.”
James huffed, took three small steps forwards and placed his money on the counter. The Storeman gave James two lollypops, placed the money into his cash register and thanked James for his business.
James Dillon Collin Francis walked home eating his lollypop and, although he enjoyed each taste and mouthful immensely, he couldn’t help wondering if he had made the right choice. He walked back into his house and asked his mother if there were any more chores for him to do around the house.
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