A man who worked in a park is shocked to discover that a little girl had been sitting alone on a bench all night waiting for her mother and calls the police.
Albert Fairchild was the custodian of a lovely old Victorian park in the middle of the city and his time was spent making sure it was a little corner of heaven, a place where lovers met and people went to get in touch with nature or for a little peace of mind.
He loved his job. Every day he wandered through the park, raking the paths, emptying the bins, and making sure everything was perfect, and twice a week the city gardeners came around to take care of the lawns and the trees and plants.
One afternoon, Albert saw a little girl sitting quietly at one of the park’s picnic tables coloring in a picture book. She was surely no more than four or five but she was all alone! Albert looked around but he couldn’t see her parents. Something had to be wrong…
Albert approached the little girl and greeted her. “Hello there little miss, what are you doing out here all on your own? Trying to catch the fairies?”
The little girl looked up at Albert. “You’re a stranger, and I’m not supposed to talk to strangers,” she said.
Giving birth is a life-changing event and a huge responsibility.
“No, you are not,” Albert agreed. “But you’ll see I’m not asking you to go anywhere with me, and I’m not offering you candy. I’m just wanting to know where your mom is and why you’re alone.”
“I’m waiting for Mom,” the child said. “She had a job interview across the road, and she asked me to wait here for her. Mom said not to talk to strangers and not to go anywhere. I have my juice and a snack and she will be back very soon!”
Albert frowned. It wasn’t exactly safe to leave a child in a public park, but he knew that sometimes single moms with no resources or family had to do the best they could — and it sounded as if this mom was unemployed and desperate to boot.
“What’s your name, little miss?” Albert asked.
The girl giggled. “My name is Margaret,” she said.
“That’s a HUGE name!” cried Albert. “It’s three times as long as you are!”
“My mom calls me Meg,” she confessed, laughing. “And I DON’T believe in fairies!”
Albert gasped and clutched at his heart. “I’m shocked, little miss Meg!” he cried. “I believe in fairies, in fact, I see them all the time! I have to chase them away from the fountains ’cause they insist on taking showers and breaking the rainbows!”
Meg was grinning. “That’s a LIE!” she giggled. “That’s BAD!”
“Well,” Albert said. “I have a lot of work to do, but I’ll be keeping an eye on you, making sure the fairies don’t pull your pigtails. If you need me, Meg, just holler, and I’ll come running, OK?”
Albert walked away but he kept glancing back over his shoulder. He wished he had a little person just like Meg in his life, a little granddaughter, but he knew it was not to be.
The kindly man’s life hadn’t been easy. He had lost his job as a stockbroker back in 2008, and since then, working in the garden as a custodian was the only job he’d managed to land.
He’d worked for a famous bank that had caused a lot of people grief, and even though he had nothing to do with the crash that had bankrupted so many, that name on his CV was enough to put off any employer in the financial sector.
Back then, Albert had been a widowed single father of a fifteen-year-old daughter, Linda. He was unemployed and stripped of his medical insurance, his savings, and everything except Linda’s education fund which her grandparents had set up.
Then, two years later, Linda had been diagnosed with leukemia and subjected to several treatments to save her life, which included radio and chemotherapy.
The doctors had explained to Albert and Linda that even though the treatments had sent her disease into remission and saved her life, they had also robbed her of any chance of ever becoming a mother. Albert was so grateful to have his child alive that the reproductive issues didn’t even register.
Things came to a head over ten years later when Linda met a man she fell deeply in love with and he proposed. Linda had quietly explained that she was sterile. She would never be able to give the man-children, but she was more than happy to adopt. The man was shocked. He told Linda he wanted his own children, of his blood.
For a long time, Linda and the man she loved debated the issue, and finally, he broke off the engagement. He was devastated, and Linda was heartbroken.
From then on, Linda refused to have serious relationships. She dated occasionally, but early in the relationship, she explained her situation and invariably walked away.