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The Gift

by William H. Coles

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The Gift  

In 1959, a week after her seventeenth birthday, Catherine missed her period in February, and then in March.  By late April she was not sleeping well and most of her waking hours were spoiled by nausea and hating everything she ate.  Her mother Agnes made an emergency appointment with Dr. Crowder.

“Stay here,” Dr. Crowder said to Catherine before he left the exam room. The receptionist had brought Agnes into his private office where she sat in the wing chair for consultations.

“She’s pregnant,” he said.

Agnes’ face paled with the accusation.  “She’s a child,” she said.

How often mothers would not let their children grow up.  He gave her time to absorb the truth.  “She’s a young woman who is going to have a baby,” he said.

Agnes wept with her hands to her face.  Dr. Crowder handed her tissues from a desk drawer.  After some moments, Agnes blew her nose and breathed deeply with a long exhale.

“Have you told her?” Agnes said.

“I’ve told only you.  But she’s not stupid.”

“Can something be . . . you know . . . done?”

Dr. Crowder stared.  He had been the family physician for over thirty years.  He had delivered Catherine.  “You might find someone.  But never ask me, Agnes.” he said.  “I do not approve.”

Agnes flushed.  Now she was ashamed.  “It will ruin us,” she explained.

Bullshit, thought the doctor.  Birth is a miracle.  Oh, yes.  Life was fragile, dangerous, and loaded with inexplicable injustices, but he still loved humanity.  And he stayed in practice well beyond retirement to marvel as his patients juggled life’s inflated minutia in their own creative ways.

“I’ll send her away,” Agnes continued.

“Let her make the decision,” Dr. Crowder said.

“No.  I’ll make up an excuse.”

“Think about it . . . there would be gossip if she stayed.  But if you and Harold were supportive and proud, the gossips would cease caring after a while.  And life would go on.”

“It’s a sin,” Agnes said.

“I doubt having a baby is a sin,” Dr. Crowder said.

But Agnes could not trust the advice of an idealistic doctor who she thought was immune to reality, nor the judgment of her errant child who was too young and too stubborn to know what her slip-up would do to a prominent family.

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54 comments on “The Gift

  • Reply
    Tara Taylor

    It was a wonderful story. A little rushed in the end and I didn’t like that Harold died and Agnes never got over her resentment. But never the less a very good story.. would’ve really liked it to be longer.. ????

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    I loved the story! Very good read. I was happy Catherine and Patricia did well in the end but a little upset that Harold dies and Agnes never learned how to love unconditionally and to be above what she thinks people thought. my favorite thing about it was that Agnes was the one with the true disability not Patricia. Thank you for sharing! :)

  • Reply

    What a wonderful, beautiful story and, I think, very progressive for the era it depicts. Your title is genius, and I think it could engender much discussion in a class setting or book club regarding just who or what exactly is the gift … or the gifts. It occurs to me, also, that this would be a perfect story, especially, for francophone learners of English. Which brings me to ask the following question: When Mary Margaret announces Patricia “miraculée”, is she calling her miraculously healed? Or “merely” miraculous?

    • Reply

      Thank you for you kind comment. It means a lot to know you enjoyed the story and I appreciate your taking the time to let me know. I meant Patricia to be a miracle, which I think she is in so many ways to so many people. All the best, WHC

      • Reply

        Eight years ago I was in the delivery room on one side of my daughter-in-law and her mother was on the other side when she keep birth to a little baby girl who had Down syndrome. I’m always a little ashamed to say that I never cried harder in my life. None of us knew in advance. But now I know that our family has been blessed by the gift of this precious one who is so full of love and laughter and life.

  • Reply

    Loved your story. When I was in hospital having my first baby, I had met an unmarried young lady who was in tears because she wanted to keep her baby, but felt that she had to abort the child due to peer pressures. I thought of the Virgin Mary, thinking that she would not be too pleased. I gave her advise to keep the child.

    Your story sure gives advice to parents and in-laws, who discriminate, instead of loving the greatest divine gift of all.

  • Reply
    sean marshall

    gr8 craic
    not suitable for children!!!
    i want yer cheese crackers

    but over all i love it

  • Reply
    gholamabbas houshmand

    i enjoyed. i do not knowenglish very good, but it was so attractive that i spent more time and went through it.i am a persian live in London .

  • Reply
    Ralph Serrette

    Can you lead me to an inspirational short story to motivate my soccer team? The story should relate to either “teamwork” or rebounding from a loss. Thank you!

    • Reply

      Thanks for your comment. I’ve thought about it and regret that I haven’t even come up with a memory of what you need or a resource where stories are categorized to help. I’m sure you have, but if not, you might just “Google” search short story and soccer. ” Sports stories” and similar might also work. Best of luck. WHC

  • Reply
    Sharon Gilbert

    I ‘happened’ across this story just after reading a ‘bibliography’ a dear little 96-year old friend had left hidden away prior to her passing last month. In her writing, she tells about her own longing for children when she and her husband married in 1937. She really desired four, but she would be grateful for just one healthy child. As it happened, she gave birth to a baby boy eleven months after conception, who had had a cerebral hemorhage (sp) and was unable to walk or talk all of his 53 years. The love and thanksgiving she expressed for her son was amazing. She demonstrated this her entire life, caring for him at home and then placing him in a special school where she spent nearly five hours a day with him until he died. She never complained and often spoke of him so lovingly until she, too, was laid to rest. I firmly believe God chooses special people, whom he equips, to share His love and be our ‘mentors’.

    Great story!

  • Reply

    Like others, I happened upon this story quite by accident. Your story is beautiful, not at all flowery, nothing superfluous, not sickening in sentimentality but very touching, and mostly, it provides a lot of heart along with many lessons. I see many comments asking for “an ending” or “more story”, but in my humble opinion, like life itself, this story ended on just the right note, with human imperfection: Agnes’s selfishness, judgmental attitude and inability to see past “flaws” to the greater truth. But, there is love aplenty in this story–even in Agnes–and your protagonist is a wonderful example of strength and character. I think this story is about imperfection and about acceptance and forgiveness. It is well-written and satisfies both the mind and the heart. Your characters are fully-developed in such a short space and your reader feels a kinship with Catherine and Patricia immediately. Thank you for the gift of your story–so appropriately named–and for the warmth that lingers and for the important life lessons. This was beautiful in so many ways. A pleasure to read. Best wishes with your writing.

  • Reply
    gaza babe

    this is wonderful story i really enjoyed it, it made me get the full concept about narrative essay.thank you

  • Reply
    Susan S.

    Beautifully written! I disagree with those who demand “an ending.” Love transcends the small details of our day to day, but for Agnes…she only ever wanted to learn to love. The most she could muster seems to be a grudging silence, and it is her lack of transcendent love that makes the ending ring with truth. Outstanding!

  • Reply
    Paula Murphy

    I located this when looking for the story about the Passion Flower. I am so glad because I couldn’t stop reading it. I really enjoyed it and plan to revisit

  • Reply
    carol cooper

    Loved the story but disappointed in the ending. Come on, I know you can finish this off with some unusual twist.Must say though thatI often have the same problem.

  • Reply

    I was searching for a concordace bible
    reference when I came across this story.
    I could not stop reading it. It’s a wonderful true to life story. The end was great because it was more real to life and shows that you can’t always have a fairy tale ending.Great job.

  • Reply
    Lisa Fee

    wow what a graet story, really enjoyed it though it would of been nice if her mother had come around at the end

    • Reply

      You seem to share the frustration of a number of readers. Thanks for getting in touch and expressing your thoughts. It provides a learning experience in the art of story telling. Best regards. WHC

  • Reply
    Julee Hart

    The story just ended with no ending. I think I must have missed something. At the end of the 3rd page it had an arrow stating to go to previous page, but there was no ending. What happened? The story couldn’t have ended with Agnes’ bitter thoughts and then no more. I just don’t understand. Please send me the rest of the story.

    • Reply

      Thanks for getting in touch. And apologies for story ending. Others have wanted more to this story also. I thank you for taking the time to read but regret that it was unsatisfactory at the end. WHC

  • Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful story, so full of love and hope. I stumbled across it quite by accident. which is sometimes how life seems to put the things you need at the time directly in front of your face. You have no idea how appropriate and meaningful this story was for me to read at precisely this moment. . . to say more would negate what a true “gift” this was for me to read. Many, many thanks.

  • Reply
    Joey Chacon

    I loved this short story. I would have loved more. I think Mr. Coles style of writing makes all of us wanting to turn the page. God gave us a “fail safe” that reminds us that maybe our life isn’t so bad. We really do have many things to be thankful for. It just takes the talant that Mr. Cole has that brings out sadness, empathy and finally happiness that makes me want more. He knew exactly what he was doing. Reading The Gift at this very moment in my life has been uplifting and I’m not in that little funk we all have once in awhile. Thank you Sir. I just hope I made sense to those that may actually read this.

  • Reply

    That was a heart felt story,it has inspired me not to give up and to have faith …always trusting in God and what he can do for us if we only believe and trust him.Am sure that others who read this story will be inspired as have …This was a story well written.Keep up the good work god bless u!

  • Reply
    Mervyn D O

    Thank you for this truly Human and Humane story. Human weaknes, Strength, Patience and Love are all traits of character vividly ‘word-pictured’.
    Congratulations on a story well written.

  • Reply
    Corey (Mongoose)

    WOW! What a suberb story or human character!!! I will think of it everytime I see a baby and a person of a so called disability. Thanx … This affected me now and will benefit me in the future.

  • Reply

    What a beautiful story! I don’t usually like literary fiction (I’m all about fantasy), but this was beautiful and meaningful to me.

    What a great mother Catherine is, and what a great father she has. The amazing thing is that the greatest gift may have been that disability — because it allowed Catherine to keep her baby. And Patricia sounds like a major blessing.

    You might like the true story One Tattered Angel, by Blaine Yorgasen — it made me cry in the same sort of way.

    Thank you for sharing this story!

  • Reply

    Life is amusing. This is a great story and very real in the person of Agnus. We all know our Agnus’ and mine just so happens to be my own mother of the same name. This would be a great novel I agree!

  • Reply

    Awesome story! The others are right it would make an wonderful novel. Very refreshing and yes we all now an Agnus in our lives, mine is my own mother by the same name. Life is amusing don’t you think!

  • Reply
    Silent reader

    I really enjoyed this story, even within the short amount of time we spent with them, we really got to know the characters. I can’t say I like the ending though. It’s a happy ending for mom and daughter but just too short. I don’t like agnes and I think everyone can relate her to someone they know.. Keep up the good work!!

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  • Reply

    what a wonderful story.I too wanted more. This is so applicable to daily life.It really gives you lots to think about. thank you.

  • Reply

    hey jst wanted to say great story and its given me a gud idea on what to write for my short story in my exam. :)

  • Reply

    I just got done reading your story and I think it is wonderful. I write childrens stories and hope one day to be published, but to write a story like this… you are very talented and a very good writer. I had to leave a comment on this because I’ve never read anything like it and I do appriciate a very good story. I do however wish it were a long novel, I could only imagine the things you could come up with for that. I hope you continue to write more stories like this, and I’ll continue to read them.

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