Booky by Hannah Garson

“I lost my Booky,” I tell my father. 

After a full day’s work for a clothing manufacturer, a gobbled dinner at the Automat, night classes in pattern-making, and finally a subway ride home to the Bronx, my father walks through our apartment door at ten o’clock to find me waiting up for him. 

He quickly glances at my mother. “She must have dropped it when we were out today,” she says. 

Almost three years old, I carried Booky, my hard-covered Golden Book about a cat, wherever I went. I loved to trace its square edges, turn the pages and bend my head to the pretty illustrations. “Read again,” I would say when the story was over. But that day, Booky was gone.

My father hugs me close. “I’ll find Booky,” he promises. The door closes behind him.

Unable to coax me to bed, my mother pulls two chairs to the kitchen window.    Together we watch the night.  I look down at the parked cars waiting for their morning drivers.  My mother points to the moon.

I yawn.

“How about going to sleep now?”

I shake my head, no.  “I’m hungry,” I tell her. Upset over the loss of Booky, I hadn’t eaten dinner. 

My mother spoons cream cheese into my mouth from a silver-foiled brick.  She fights to keep her eyes open as she feeds me. 

Finally, we see my father approach our building and enter.  Moments later, the key clicks, the doorknob turns and he is back home.  

“Booky!” I say, jumping off my chair and reaching up to him.  He places it in my hands. I look at my father. He is magic. When things disappear, all I have to do is ask him, and he makes them reappear.

“Where did you find it?” my mother asks.

“Somewhere,” he says.

My father bends, lifts me gently and we move down the hall to the bedroom.  With Booky tucked under my arm, I fall asleep.

***

Thirty years later, flipping through family albums, I find a photograph of me holding a book.

“Look at this one, Pop,” I say, passing it to my father. 

“Ah…Booky.” A smile broadens across his face. “Remember when you lost it?”

“Sure do and you found it.”

He passes the photo back to me.  “I never found your Booky.”

“What?  Yes, you did.  You brought it back that night.”

“You were so upset,” my father starts, his voice soft. “You loved that book.”

“I did.  And you went out looking for it and found it.”

 “I looked for hours. I walked the streets your mother pushed your stroller through that day. I looked in every gutter, thinking maybe it got kicked there.  No luck. I walked down every alley and rummaged through garbage cans.  I searched the stoops of all the buildings lining the avenues, hoping it was picked up and left on one of them. Nothing.”

I understand now that my father wasn’t coming home without my book; he couldn’t bear to disappoint me. I reach out, place my hand on top of his, and give it a squeeze.

“Go on.”  

“Just before midnight, I came to an all-night pharmacy. At the back of the store was a bookrack.  I bought another copy of your Booky.”

Hannah Garson taught special needs children in New York City for 35 years. Her puzzles, short stories, essays and articles have appeared in Highlights for Children, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Art Times and Potato Soup Journal. She got her love for books from her parents.

13 thoughts on “Booky by Hannah Garson”

  1. Oh, such a beautiful story, written by a beautiful person. I can “see” everything that is written, oh, so clearly!!!!

  2. I am so proud of my sweet cousin. I see my Uncle doing just that… It is wonderful to learn more about him through your writings.

  3. What a wonder-filled tribute to your dad. The story helps to illuminate his big heart and his love for you. It’s a beautiful memory to hold close.

  4. It’s a lovely story and so fits with my memories of your father, a quiet and gentle soul who loved his family very, very much. Thank you for sharing a little piece of your childhood with us.

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