The Large Heart


Angie shook the tin box, and the loose change rattled against the metal sides. Opening the lid, she let the coins fall onto the carpeted floor where she was sitting. “Seventy-three cents,” she muttered, remembering the lace-trimmed valentine in the store that cost a dollar. Frustrated, Angie kicked the box and it went flying across the room.

The front door opened, and Angie looked up.

“Hi,” said her brother David. “You beat me home from school today. Is Mom home from work yet?”

“No,” said Angie, as she stooped to pick up her money.

“What’s all this doing on the floor?” David asked.

Angie looked up, trying to force her tears back. “Oh, David, I saw this beautiful valentine yesterday, and I really wanted to buy it for Mom. But I only have seventy-three cents, and it costs a dollar.”

David bent down to help pick up the scattered coins. “I wish I could help you, Angie. But I only have about six cents to my name.”

“I just can’t ask Mom for money to buy a card for her,” sighed Angie.

“Why don’t you make her one?” asked David. “You know how much she likes things that we make for her.”

“I do that all the time,” wailed Angie. “But I wanted to get her a really fancy valentine.”

David dropped the rest of the change into the box. “Well, go back to the store and find a smaller card that won’t cost as much as the big one you liked.”

“OK, but I hope I can find one I like,” Angie said, taking the box from David.

It was almost closing time when Angie arrived at the store, and no one else was in the card department. Angie looked again at the large card that she had wanted to buy. Flowers decorated the edges, and rows of paper lace peeked from behind the red heart. Angie sighed, then turned to look through the smaller valentines.

She opened and closed several cards, but none appealed to her like the big valentine on which she had set her heart. Angie read the verses on some of the cards, then turned around to leave.

On a rack by the card department were rows of colored paper and paper doilies. Angie stopped. Just maybe, she thought, looking back at the large valentine in the card section, maybe I can make Mom a big card! Angie picked out a large piece of red construction paper and some paper doilies. Next she went to the candy counter and searched the showcase until she found the red and white striped peppermints that were her mother’s favorite candy. Smiling, Angie opened her box and counted out the money. She had more than enough for four paper-wrapped candies.

David was waiting by the door when she returned home. “I was just getting ready to come looking for you. What took so long? Did you find a smaller card?”

Angie smiled. “I’m going to give Mom a giant valentine. And I still have some money left.” She rattled the little box and walked into the living room with a large brown paper sack.

“Let me see what you have,” said David.

“Not yet. It’s a secret,” said Angie, and she went into her bedroom with the package.

After dinner Angie gathered up some old magazines and scissors and went back into her room. She came out once for glue.

“Do you want some help?” asked David. “I’m finished with my homework.”

“No,” said Angie, “but thanks anyway. I don’t want to ruin your surprise.”

“Mine?” asked David.

Angie carefully shut her bedroom door. She smiled, thinking about David’s surprised expression. Again, she began to look through the old magazines.

Two stacks of words surrounded Angie. One set described her mother; the other described David. Carefully Angie glued the paper lace around a red heart, then she began to position the words in place.

As she glued the picture of a football on David’s valentine, she thought, They’ll know right away which valentine is theirs. Then, pulling off some tape, she attached the peppermint candies to the one for her mother. She had just finished when Mom knocked on her bedroom door. Angie quickly pushed the valentines under her bed.

“Time to get ready for bed,” said Mom, coming into the room. “You must be tired. You haven’t been out of your room all evening. Is everything OK?”

Angie smiled. “Everything is super, Mom. I can hardly wait for tomorrow.”

“Neither can I,” replied her mother with a wink as she noticed a large, lacy valentine with the word Mom on the bottom poking out from under Angie’s bed.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Julie F. Young