"Wilson Fenniwig was running as fast as he could. Over pavement, over path, over cobblestone, over grass. He clambered atop wooden benches only to roar off toward a stray mallard or goose; he hurled himself at lopsided trashcans merely to zag at the last second toward a tree or a statue or a dangerously nonchalant bird. His legs pumped, his arms were a blur of balancing motion, his eyes roamed constantly in search of yet another squat Please Stay Off The Grass! triangle that he could defy."
Public Garden Penny is a short story by Daniel Kelley.
Wilson is a ten-year-old boy, enjoying his days of youth. He spends most of his time playing with his best-friend Davey, whose family lives in the same apartment complex. The two are practically inseparable, and one of their favourite haunts is the Public Garden in Boston.
One day, Wilson finds a shiny penny on the gravelled ground of the Garden paths. A boy who makes finding old coins a hobby, he immediately checks the date. He is amazed to see the coin is nearly a century old. Especially since it's in mint condition.
But this shiny penny is even more special and magical than he knows. It can grant wishes. With a metallic genie in his pocket, the world is now his oyster, the penny his enabler. As the enormity of his discovery dawns, Wilson struggles to comprehend his new power.
Meanwhile, his home life is anything but special. Spending most of his free time with Davey and his warm family just intensifies his lack of one. His mother is constantly plagued with migraines and lives out her days in a darkened room alone, while his father drinks himself to an early grave. He wishes it was different, and now his has something that can make it happen.
But Wilson is about to learn, the grass is rarely greener on the other side.
Full of charm, this short story is as enchanting as Kelley's others. Here he explores the ramifications of instant gratification, and the ways it they can affect other people, all mixed up with the chaotic energy of a ten-year-old boy. The range of relationships we have with people, and how differently we treat someone based on our connections with them. How easy it is to take someone who's always there for granted. It's interesting that the more we care about someone, the closer we are to them, the less we tolerate from them. How many of your friends would you get along with so well if you were related?
Kelley's characters are always very warm and welcoming, pulling you into their world and along for the ride. I've enjoyed every one of Kelley's stories that I've read so far, no doubt I'll be checking out more.
I have reviews of a couple of his other books too.
Cupcakes here: http://needtoreadgottowatch.blogspot.com/2013/07/delicious-fun-drenched-in-rosy.html A story about growing up.
Going Out in Style here: http://needtoreadgottowatch.blogspot.com/2013/05/how-many-ways-can-you-go-out-in-style.html A collection of six short stories, all focusing on the different meanings of the title phrase.
Disclaimer: I received this book from the author. This is not a sponsored review. All opinions are 100% my own.