Title: The Present
Genre: Original Fiction
A/N: The ideas and characters presented in this story are copyrighted to the author and may not be used for monetary gain. Thanks to libra_traveller for giving me a prompt. You're great, girl.
It was mid-morning on a blustery Wednsday in March. The weatherman had said it would warm up later, but at the moment, Susan was glad for the protection her soft flannel jacket provided from the wind as she hurried from her car to the mall entrance. Her cheeks, which had gone numb from the punishing gusts, prickled uncomfortably as she stepped into the warm interior of the Parks at Arlington. She quickly shrugged it off, though.
She was on a mission, and no amount of discomfort was going to deter her.
Shrugging the large strap of the bag she called a purse over her shoulder, she determinedly walked past all the tempting signs of "40 percent off!" and other excellent buys, that, on any other day, she would have spent hours browsing through.
In just four short weeks, Bobby would celebrate his twenty-third birthday, and the first birthday since they had been married only three months ago. It was important that the gift she found was absolutely perfect, a testiment to how much she loved and appreciated him. She knew he loved sports, mostly football (who in Texas didn't?), but somehow, getting him another jersey just didn't seem personal enough. So she passed up the sports store on her right, and contemplated the music store on the left.
Bobby, though the stereotypical jock in many ways, adored classical music. He volunteered at recreation centers all over the state to teach piano and violin. Susan slowly walked into the store, keeping her eyes on the merchandise, pretending like she knew what she was looking for. Otherwise, a sales clerk would come over to ask if she needed help, and this gift had to come soley from her. She'd know it when she saw it.
Passing up the racks that held the latest in contemporary music genres, she made her way to the classical section. Bobby already had everything from Mozart, Beethoven and other largely known composers, as well as many from the lesser known, more modern composers.
After selecting several titles that she thought might be interesting, she put on the headphones that every music store had, and scanned the barcode. Two of the compositions on one of the cd's were moving enough to bring tears to her eyes, but, they just weren't special enough. She reluctantly laid them aside. She wasn't buying for herself after all.
Just as she was about to leave, her purse knocked into a display rack, knocking several cd's and tapes onto the floor. Flushing with embarrassment, Susan bent down to pick them up, even as a clerk hurried over to do the same.
"I am so sorry," she apologized, holding the last one in her hand, "sometimes I dont' know the strength of my own purse."
The clerk waved it away with a hand, smiling brightly. He was young, probably only sixteen, with pimples dotting his face. Unlike most teenagers though, he exuded a confidence and friendliness. "Don't worry about it. I was getting a little bored watching the time tick away. That's an excellent band you've chosen," he added, pointing to the cd in her hand.
Susan blinked and looked at the cover; a shiver coursed down her spine. It was a ninteen forties swing band, "The Johnny Rocketts". And, in the center of the album, was a picture of the lead singer. He looked exactly like Bobby.
"Oh my God..."
Johnny Forrest had fathered a little girl in the fifties. A little girl who had grown up to be Bobby Jordan's mother, and who had instilled in her son a love of music. Bobby had been looking for this album for ages, but no one seemed to remember anything about it, or about the band that had created it.
This was it, the perfect gift. Tears unexpectedly filled her eyes, and she quickly wiped them away as she followed the clerk to the register.
"That'll be fifteen dollars even ma'am," the boy said, after ringing it up.
Susan smiled and handed him the bills in exchange for the bag with the cd. As she left the store, the kid remarked, "Bobby's a great guy, and luckier than he knows."
Shocked, she whirled around and found herself facing an empty storefront, with a sign that said "Coming Soon, Pets, Pets and More Pets." Susan stared at it, a frown on her face, then looked down at the plastic bag she was holding. It still contained the Johnny Rocketts cd. Another tremor passed through her body, even as something white on the ground caught her eye.
It was a nametag that read "Johnny Forrest".