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Heaven's Child

by Jami K. Withers, age 11, from US

It was a cold evening, and a homeless man named Peter was walking down the street toward his box. He thought he was lucky to have such a pretty box that the Lord had given him. It even said some pretty words: Washing Machine --> Handle With Care. He was so happy when he crawled into his box.

"Here ya go, Ratsy, baby! I got us some food!" he said as he handed a skinny rat a large piece of a hotdog. What a nice man who had given him this food.

"Shes' all I got left and it's gonna get cold and nasty overnight so you can have it." the street vendor had said to him as he wheeled his cart away.

"Thanks, lord, for this lovely meal and for Ratsy and this beautiful box. And bless that nice stranger. Amen." Peter sneezed and Ratsy scurried away with her bounty. Peter bit into the hotdog. Mmmmmmmmmm! Still warm.

After Peter had finished his supper, he lay down to sleep. That night he dreamed of his grandpappy and Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. This dream was familiar. He had had the same exact dream every night for sixty-two years. Every morning before Ratsy woke him up, he would see Grandpappy beckoning to him. Tonight was no different. Grandpappy beckoned to Peter as before. Peter wanted so badly to go to him, but he just couldn't reach. He felt his arms were growing longer every night. Soon he would be able to go with Grandpappy.

The next day passed quickly, and that night he had a different dream: He was in his box, safe and sound. All of a sudden, snow was everywhere, surrounding him and Ratsy. When he closed his eyes, he saw Grandpappy. This time Grandpappy had wings. He flew over to him and took his hand. With the other hand, Peter scooped up Ratsy. Then he realized that he had wings, too. He flew away with Grandpappy into a world of clouds and gold. He had a wonderful feast and he and Grandpappy talked for all hours of the night. When dawn came, Peter was sad to tell Grandpappy goodbye.

"Ratsy's gonna wake me up soon. I guess I'll see you tomorrow night.? Then Grandpappy got the strangest look on his face. He pointed toward a hole in the clouds. Peter looked through. There was a box just like his, but he knew it wasn't his because someone else was creeping towards it. A police officer, then two. As he watched, one police officer got down on his hands and knees and pulled out what looked like a stiff wax figurine of a little old man holding a tiny rat. Clearly, both the man and the rat were dead; frozen stiff with the cold. Some people cry and mourn and weep for their families, but no one wept for these two figures of a cruel but fast death.

Peter turned away, tears in his eyes. "Who are those poor tortured souls, Grandpappy?"

"That's you, Sonny, and your little Ratsy. You get to stay here in Heaven with me till the end of eternity. I'm sorry, but this really is a great life."

Peter was shocked but happy at the same time. Then he turned back to the hole and looked over the snow covered ground. The snow hadn't been a dream, after all. Neither had any of this. As he watched, the two figures were being carried away on a stretcher, hand in hand. No one would mourn these two souls; nor would anyone care about the the story of Peter and his Ratsy. Then Peter and Grandpappy and a newly joining Granny flew away toward the sunrise and toward an eternal life of endless bliss.


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