“Mom, can I please have that?” asked Joanne, a girl of 7, pointing at a muffin.
“No, dear,” said her mother.
Joanne, her brother Jake and their mother were carefully searching for items on sale and items of the cheapest rates.
Joanne suddenly saw her favourite swiss roll that her father used to buy for her. She quickly ran over to the aisle and picked it up.
Jack leaped towards a giant packet of wafers that were on sale and picked it up. Joanne felt her happiness level decreasing, knowing her mother would never allow her to buy the rolls if her brother buys the wafers.
She kept the rolls back and pouted.
Her mother noticed this and said, “My dear, you can pick something special for grandpa tomorrow. It’s his birthday.”
Joanne got over her sadness and nodded and ran over to the cakes aisle. That was when she saw a butterscotch cake. Her Grandpa’s favourite flavour. She tried to reach it, but it was too high.
Suddenly, a man in a white shirt took the cake and sighed, “Finally. A gift for my daughter.”
Then he looked at Joanne and asked if she wanted it.
Joanne nodded slightly, not wanting to offend the man.
The man smiled widely and said, “Never mind. Here, have it. You need it more than I do.”
Joanne said thank you and ran away with the cake.
When they reached the counter, the cashier checked all the items and said, “54 dollars.”
“54? Uhm… Okay. Please wait,” said Joanne’s mother and started viewing their coupons and vouchers.
Jack counted down the money and saw that there was only 20 dollars.
“In that case, please remove the cake from the bill… thank you,” said their mother.
“Mom. I wanted that for Grandpa. Please let me buy that,” Joanne begged.
“No, my dear. We can’t afford it now. Maybe we’ll buy it next time.”
“You said that the last time too,” Joanne grumbled.
Her mother sighed and ruffled her hair.
“So shall I remove it?” asked the cashier.
“Okay. Done. Here’s your bill…”
After they left, the man in the white shirt also was paying for his items when he noticed the cake.
“Aren’t they buying it?”
“No, sir. Shall I proceed to create the bill?”
“Add that cake, please. Thanks.”
The man paid for the cake as well.
Joanne seemed disappointed that she couldn’t buy anything for her grandpa. Jake and his mother also were a bit sad. They were heading out when they heard someone running behind them.
They saw a man in a white shirt. Joanne smiled a little recognizing the man.
“Hello. I saw you at the counter, paying for your items. I have a present for the little girl, here. What’s your name?”
“Joanne,” the girl said quietly.
“Hey Joanne. I don’t want you to feel sad. Here’s the cake,” he said, handing the same butterscotch cake that Joanne really wanted for her grandpa.
“We cannot accept that, sir,” said her mother.
“Please… Keep it. I remember facing the same situation when I was a small boy. We were really poor and we could not afford anything. One day, it was my birthday. We were in the market looking for a cake. When I selected the cake I loved, my mom pulled me close and said quietly that we could not afford it and that she was really sorry. That was when a man in a white shirt heard me and used up all his money to buy the cake for me.”
“That’s really beautiful… but sir, please tell me your name,” asked mother.
“I am the man in the white shirt… but just promise me this, Joanne. When you grow up and when you can help others, please do that. That is the only price, I’m asking for. Will you do that for me?”
The rain started, the lightning cracked.
The girl nodded.