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Bedtime Coming of Age

“I have good news and bad news. Which do you want first?”


A choice? Choices were usually for other people. Destiny didn’t choose to feel run down or to be limited to medical care at the free clinic. She didn’t choose to wait three hours just to be seen by whichever doctor was next in line, but at least she had this choice.


“What’s the bad news?”


Experience had taught Destiny that the bad news was typically far worse than the good news was good. Her choice, therefore, was determined by a primal need for self-preservation.


"The good news,” the doctor began, ignoring her, “is you’re not sick. In fact, you’re as healthy as a horse.”


“Then why do I feel like I just ran six furlongs?”


“Huh?” The doctor asked, looking up from his notes.


“It was a joke. You said a horse. Furlong? Oh never mind, what’s the bad news, doctor? Don’t leave me hanging.”


“You’re pregnant, dear. I’m guessing about two months along.”


“I’m gonna have a baby!” Destiny blurted out. It would be later in the day before she realized the doctor implied her being pregnant was bad news.


“Yes, I'm afraid so. I’ve arranged for you to meet with a family counselor. You do have options.”


“Options?” Destiny raised one eyebrow. “What the heck do you mean by that?”


“If you don’t want the…” the doctor paused mid-sentence.


“I want the ‘the’,” Destiny interrupted. “I want my baby with all my heart.”


The rest of the appointment was a blur. Destiny had so much adrenaline running through her veins that she couldn’t concentrate on what the doctor was saying. When he had finally given her the literature and prescriptions for prenatal vitamins, Destiny sprinted out of the office to the closest bus stop. She had some shopping to do.


Walking up and down the aisles of the baby boutique, Destiny quickly realized how expensive children were, a fact crystalized when she overheard a salesclerk completing another customer's transaction.


“That will be $798.15.”


The customer, a well dressed young woman with perfect hair and nails, pulled out a Visa from her purse and inserted it into the credit card chip reader. The clerk and the customer chit-chatted about strollers and cribs and bassinets, neither phased by the large total on the sales slip. Destiny paused and opened up her wallet which had just a SNAP card, a stick of gum, and four one-dollar bills. How could she provide for the baby to come when she could barely afford to take care of herself? Dejected, Destiny turned to leave the store. On the way out, however, she spotted the clearance rack. 


The mishmosh of garments was not inspiring to say the least. There were odd colored outfits and mismatched shoes, almost nothing worthy of a second look. Desperate yet determined Destiny discovered a lone light blue onesie with the word “LOVE” lettered in red on the front. It had been hidden behind a hooded parka with a ripped sleeve. Love, Destiny thought to herself. I can’t give you much, but I can give you love. 


The little outfit had been originally priced at $20.00, but had been reduced twice to $5.00. Destiny, commited to purchasing the adorable find, opened the change compartment in her wallet and poured out a handful of mostly bronze coins. As she started to count, she found a single quarter, four dimes, and three nickels. Without even counting the pennies, she grabbed the onesie and marched up to the counter. 


“$5.25, please,” the cashier announced, as she folded the outfit and placed it into a bag.


“I only have $4.92,” Destiny answered, as she quickly counted out the pennies. “I just found out today that I’m pregnant.”


“It’s ok, ma’am,” the cashier said with a wink. “I forgot the friends and family discount, so that will be $4.92 exactly.”


In her life, Destiny had never been so grateful. For thirty-three cents, the cashier had bought Destiny dignity and the new mother-to-be would never forget the kindness. 



* * * * * * * * * *



“I have good news and bad news.”


“Listen very carefully, Eli. I’m pregnant, perturbed, and I have to pee. Again! Are you sure you want to mess with me right now?”


“I’m sorry, baby doll, you know me. I joke. It’s my way.”


“Fine. What’s the bad news?”


“My mom just called—she’s on her way over.”


“Destiny is coming? How is that bad news? I love your mother.”


“You know how I feel. She’s always wearing that awful uniform. Can’t she take five minutes to change before she barges in?”


That uniform? Are you ashamed of your mother?”


“Well, no.”


“That woman is a saint. She worked her ass off to put food on your table.”


“I know—but the uniform…”


“You should love that uniform. She paid for your college—as a waitress.”


“But…”


“But nothing—your mom is on her way over. That’s the good news. Now go make some herbal tea.”


It didn’t take long for Eli to make the tea or for his mother to make it to the house.


“I’ll get it,” Eli shouted when the doorbell broke the silence.


“Be nice,” Melody yelled back, causing Eli to laugh out loud just as he opened the door.


“Hello, Elijah,” Destiny said, wrapping her arms around her son’s neck. In his whole life, Eli couldn’t remember a single time that his mother failed to hug him the first time she saw him. He loved the attention as a boy, but, like most teenagers, he resisted it as he got older. On this day, however, he welcomed the display of affection. His wife had reminded him just how lucky he was, and he wanted his mom to know as well.


“Hi mom,” he said as he stepped to the side, motioning her in. “It’s really nice to see you.”


“Are you sure?” Destiny responded with a wink. “Should I have changed before I came over?”


“No, mom,” Eli answered, feeling a bit guilty, giving his mother an unexpected second hug. 


“How is Melody? You aren’t annoying her, are you?”


“A little.”


“That’s what I thought. You be nice to that girl. She's been good for you and to you.”


“She’s upstairs in bed, Mom, but I know she’d love to see you.”


“In a minute. First, I brought something I wanted you to have.” Eli looked down and saw a perfectly wrapped gift in his mother’s hands.


“Mom, you shouldn’t have. I told you we have all we need.”


“You don’t have this, and I’ve been waiting so long to give it to you.” Destiny said, handing Eli the package.


“Should I open it now?”


“You’d better,” she answered with a smile.


Eli found the seam and carefully tore off the blue bunny-covered wrapping paper. Inside was a plain white box, taped on all four sides. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small pen knife which he promptly used to cut the tape. Finally able to open the box, he pulled off the top, allowing him to see a small faded light blue onesie with the word “LOVE” printed in red on the front.


“Mom, I can’t take this. It’s important to you.”


The story of the onesie, the clerk, and the thirty-three cents was cherished family history and the outfit was Destiny’s most prized possession.


“When I was young,” Destiny explained, “this was my way of showing you I loved you. I bought it myself, and I gave it to you. It’s time to give it to you again so you will always remember the only thing that is truly necessary to give your child is love. Please give it to your son. Will you do that for me?”


“Of course I will,” Eli answered, “Let’s go show Melody.”



* * * * * * * * * *



“I have good news, dad.”


“What’s that, kiddo?” Eli asked, looking down at his son.


“Grandma isn’t really dead. Wanna know how I know?”


“I do, Ben,” Eli responded, genuinely interested in what his five-year-old son was about to say.


“Well, my teacher, Mrs. Conroy, she told me that as long as we keep loving people, they never die. That’s true, isn’t it dad?


“It sure is, champ. Mrs. Conroy knows what she’s talking about.”


“Then I want to do something for grandma. Is that alright?”


“Well that depends, kiddo. What do you want to do?”


“Wait, I’ll show you.” The little boy answered, charging out of the room, only to return a moment later.


“I want to give her this,” Ben said, holding up a little light blue outfit for Eli to see. “L. O. V. E. That spells love. Grandma taught me the letters. Can I give it to her so she knows we love her then she won't really be dead?”


“Ben, where did you get that?”


“I found it in my closet. Grandma told me all about it.”


“Of course, you can give it to her,” Eli said, holding back tears. “I think she’d like that very much.”


There wasn’t much talk on the way to the funeral home or during the service. Ben made sure to keep very quiet, waiting for the opportunity to give his grandmother her gift. When most of the crowd had left, Eli found Ben.


“Are you ready?”


“Ready.”


“Great, let’s go.”


Taking his hand, Eli walked with Ben up to the casket where Destiny lay.


“She looks like she’s sleeping.” Ben observed, looking up at his father then back down at Destiny. “I think she is smiling,”


“I think so, too.”


“I love you, Grandma,” Ben said as he laid the small light blue onesie near Destiny’s heart. He then reached into his pocket and pulled out a quarter, a dime, and three pennies, laying the coins under his grandmother’s hand. He whispered something Eli could not hear. Then the two turned around and walked out of the chapel.


“What did you tell Grandma?” Eli asked.


“It’s a secret,” Ben answered, with a serious look on his round little face.


“It’s okay, I promise I won’t tell a soul.”


“I told Grandma I was giving her thirty-three cents.”


“Thirty-three cents?”


“Yes, Dad. Just in case they don’t have the friends and family discount in heaven.”


May 10, 2022 19:58

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29 comments

K. Antonio
13:23 May 15, 2022

Aww, this was cute. I liked how this is a blend of three moments, all revolving around a singular past event. The use of dialogue also kept the story very light and made it all a very easy read. The ending, bringing the story back to the beginning was nice, and heart-warming. My favorite moment in the entire piece was when Destiny was buying the garment and received the discount. It was just such a tender, human moment.

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Thom Brodkin
16:34 May 15, 2022

K I know I tell you this all the time but it’s an honor when you visit my page. I’m such a fan of your writing so comments and compliments from you are special. Thanks for taking the time and giving me feedback. It means so much to me.

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Shea West
20:58 May 10, 2022

Thom, Please take this compliment with the utmost sincerity- I genuinely feel like you could write for the Hallmark channel! You have such a soft and tender way with stories that melt and break and repair the heart back together all at once. **FYI, they do open calls for books once a year I think!** There's one line edit: make the tea or for his mother (I think you mean make the tea for his mother). I loved the playful title, (But I'll admit I was waiting for Beyonce to sing me something good). The separation of each generation was ...

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Thom Brodkin
21:17 May 10, 2022

Shea, Reedsy would be a much darker place without you. This story was so clear in my head but I wasn’t sure how it would play out in print. If I get no other likes or no other comments I’ll know it was worth sharing because of your encouragement. You are good people. By the way congrats on the finalist designation on Globe Soup. It doesn’t surprise me in the least though, you are an extremely talented writer.

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Shea West
22:32 May 10, 2022

I dunno about that... What I wrote this week was freakishly dark😂 Thank you for calling me good people, I hope that I am in fact good people! Appreciate the love for my Globe Soup nod. I just submitted my next one to the 7 day contest. Fingers crossed!

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Sharon Hancock
13:21 May 20, 2022

Omg this is the sweetest story I’ve ever read. Excellent characterization and the dialogue is fantastic. The ending was perfect. I don’t usually go for sappy heart-tug stories but this is just the right amount of sweetness and doesn’t go overboard. I enjoyed it very much😻

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Thom Brodkin
15:42 May 20, 2022

This was about the nicest thing you could say. I want to be able to reach people without tricking them. It's nice to know that sometimes I do. Thanks so much.

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Jay Mc Kenzie
21:04 May 19, 2022

Oh Thom! You teared me up! I can see the little garment so clearly, fading over time, although the love doesn't fade at all. I thought the ending was delightful.

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Thom Brodkin
22:21 May 19, 2022

Jay, I am so glad you enjoyed my story. It was a teary write too. When are you going on Read Lots Write Lots. I want to hear the stories behind your stories. I’m a secret fan of yours. Good luck this week.

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Jay Mc Kenzie
06:42 May 20, 2022

Yes! Going to do that in June. I'm not sure my stories behind the stories are that interesting! Hope I don't disappoint!!

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19:03 May 15, 2022

"For thirty-three cents, the cashier had bought Destiny dignity and the new mother-to-be would never forget the kindness." One of my favorite sentences in your story. That cashier was truly an angel Destiny needed in her life at that particular moment. Who knows what would have happened if the girl were turned down? Not be able to buy one garment for her baby? "It's time to give it to you again so you will always remember the only thing that's truly necessary to give your child is love. Please give it to your son..." Destiny is such an impre...

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Thom Brodkin
20:19 May 15, 2022

How incredibly sweet. I think, like most writers, our characters become real to us and Destiny is someone to love and root for. I’m so glad she touched you too and I really appreciate you taking the time to let me know. Thanks so much.

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Holly Guy
18:45 May 14, 2022

This was such a lovely and endearing story, Thom. I particularly enjoyed the dry humour laced in the beginning, very engaging! You write so descriptively, it's beautiful! I also really like your structure. It really sets the pace and keeps up the drama! Brilliant work, Thom!

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Thom Brodkin
19:13 May 14, 2022

Thank you for being so kind. By the way I think you have four stories this week. Count me very impressed, especially because you keep your standards high with all your offerings.

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Makayla Crockett
16:31 May 12, 2022

This was so good! I loved the ending and how it tied back into the beginning! This was amazing! Great job!

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Thom Brodkin
16:40 May 12, 2022

You are so kind. I like stories that are circles. In one way or another they end where they begin. I'm glad you saw and liked that. Welcome to Reedsy. Keep writing and you're not a nerd. :-)

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Makayla Crockett
18:52 May 12, 2022

Thank you. :)

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Jexica Marcell
16:20 May 11, 2022

The ENDING!!!! I love this story so much, i mean, this is one I wont forget. It was so emotional when each generation was told, and it was nice that the story of the onesie was one of the stories that each of them knew about. This was so good, the emotions that were portrayed and the story line. I really need to learn how you write such good stories!!!

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Thom Brodkin
16:34 May 11, 2022

Jex!!! Once again you make my day. Thank you for being such an encouraging friend. I also have to say, you also write good stories. Keep doing what you're doing. Let your imagination be your guide. Being willing to put yourself out there is 3/4ths of the battle, the rest is just perseverance.

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Jexica Marcell
17:50 May 11, 2022

OMG BESTIE THATS WHAT IM HERE FOR!!!!! Thank you so much, I really do try with my stories. Its the amount of patience that it takes to write that KILLS me, because I get so excited to write and end the book because I want to see how it'll turn out, so I write so much and get frustrated when it takes too long. But your stories are amazing, some of these need to be turned into t.v shows or movies, and I would totally watch them!!! I'm always on your side, no matter what you write. HAVE A GOOD DAYYYYY!!!!!! <33

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05:52 May 17, 2022

That was a very nice story. I always want the nice people in stories to have nice things happen to them (regrettably this is not always the way in real life, but a bit of escapism in stories is nice.) It was well-written, and had a good sort of arc for a short story. Well done.

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Rebecca Miles
06:00 May 15, 2022

Strong cross -generational storytelling here with the symbolic onesie uniting them across time and space. Well done.

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15:30 May 14, 2022

Oh Thom! I loved this from the first word. We are rooting for this mother from the get go. Who hasn't felt crushed, thinking they cannot afford to provide the best for their treasured little one? You always conjure up the warmest and charming tales. The Hallmark Channel should have you on retainer for crafting all the families we wish we had. This line made me teary-eyed: “I told Grandma I was giving her thirty-three cents.”

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Thom Brodkin
16:09 May 14, 2022

You always know the right thing to say. It inspires me to write more.

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Aeris Walker
17:34 May 12, 2022

“It’s ok, ma’am,” the cashier said with a wink. “I forgot the friends and family discount, so that will be $4.92 exactly.” Like, why can’t everybody in the world be like this. I really enjoyed your story and I love how you tied in the discount/$.33 at the end. Perfect, perfect ending. Having an almost five-year-old boy myself, I found the conversation between Eli and his son very realistic and heartwarming. It made me smile. The tone of this whole story was warm, and hopeful, even though it ended with a death. Love and family are alway...

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Thom Brodkin
17:49 May 12, 2022

A five year old. I have good news and bad news. It get's worse but then it gets better, so much better. Thanks so much for taking the time to visit my page. There really is a community here on Reedsy and the encouragement, back and forth, keeps us writers writing. If you haven't found yourself on the recommended list, just find stories up at the top and select one of the categories you chose for your story, fiction was one. There are up to three stories showing under the recommended section and the winners are chosen from that group. T...

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Aeris Walker
18:15 May 12, 2022

That’s what I tell people about the newborn stage 🥴 Oh wow! Thank you for explaining that to me! I had no idea. Geeze, so exciting! And yes, exactly. Sometimes it’s hard to find someone who’s interested/has the time to critique your writing, so Reedsy really is a wonderful community.

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Cindy Strube
21:05 May 11, 2022

So tender and sweet! I like the fact that the blue onesie is like a family legend. It was right that it should go with Destiny. Also, you didn’t shield Ben from his grandma’s death - you allowed him closure.

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Calvin Kirby
18:59 May 11, 2022

Thom, right after I responded to your comments on my story, I read this one and, Wow!!! I found the story to use for my literary shorts group. It is such a wonderful story and so touching. You really have a way with words. I love how you eased through the generations and told such a deep family history. I'll be in touch on email. Thanks for making my day. Cal

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