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I Want to Make It Smile
Jessy, Age 11, Langley, BC

In the East Park of Anazland, there was a golden statue of a man frowning. It looked like a normal statue made out of steel, but everyone at Anazland knew that it was one of the best toys for little kids. Whenever they put coins into the mouth of the frowning man, his frowning face turned into a smile, and a candy popped out of the hole in his hand. All the kids loved to do that, and so did little Phoebe. However, she never actually got to try it out, because the statue was much too tall and high up for her. There was a sign around the statue that read:

THIS GOLDEN STATUE IS ONLY FOR KIDS. ADULTS MAY NOT HELP THEM INSERT COINS – OR ELSE THE STATUE WILL SPIT OUT GARBAGE INSTEAD OF CANDY.
THANK YOU.

One of poor Phoebe’s wishes was to put a coin in the statue’s mouth and make it smile. Every day, she sat on the bench in the park and watched all the other kids make the statue smile and get candy. Every morning, she went to the park to see if she had grown tall enough overnight to reach the statue. However, she still had to grow a foot to reach. Day by day, Phoebe’s desire became bigger and bigger, until, one day, when Phoebe was sitting on the bench again, an old lady came up to her and smiled.

“What are you doing here, Miss? Why don’t you go try out the statue?” she said in her grandmotherly voice, as she handed Phoebe a shiny quarter.

Phoebe shook her head glumly.

“I can’t. I’m not tall enough. I will be a grandmother like you by the time I’m tall enough to reach that statue.”

The old lady looked very disappointed. Phoebe was disappointed too. Phoebe and the old lady departed, and Phoebe never knew the elderly woman would change her day.

The next morning, as usual, Phoebe went to the park to reach for the statue. No difference, still a foot short. Filled with disappointment, she sat on the bench, while kids gradually gathered around and lined up to play with the statue again.

Phoebe just sat there, with her head down, weeping.

“Hello again, Miss!” Phoebe heard a voice above. When she looked up, there she stood, the same old lady she had seen yesterday.

“Don’t lose hope Miss, you’ll do it some day,” The old lady said comfortingly.

“I’m not Miss,” Phoebe said. “My name is Phoebe.”

Day after day, night after night, Phoebe grew and grew. The frowning statue was still very popular to kids, and Phoebe was almost tall enough to reach – just an inch more.

However, the weird thing was, every time Phoebe went to the park, there was the old lady. They saw each other every day, and the old lady poured out a sweet smile every time. Phoebe truthfully thanked the old lady, because if it wasn’t for her, Phoebe would have given up, and regretted it for her lifetime.

The next morning, when Phoebe went to the park, she reached for the statue and realized she was almost there. She felt confident and happy now. When she went over to the bench, the old lady was already there.

“Hello, Phoebe! I saw you reach for the statue. Just a little bit more left!” he said.

“Yeah, thanks to you!” Phoebe beamed.

They both smiled at each other, and Phoebe went back home that day, filled with glee and pride, with the elderly woman’s sweet smile etched onto her heart.

The next morning, Phoebe was sure she could reach the statue. She put a quarter in her pocket and set out to the park.

However, when she got there, she noticed something very different about the statue. The statue was broken in half, its frowning face scraped and covered in yellow DANGER tape. The sign around the statue had different words too. Now it read:

THE GOLDEN STATUE IS GETTING REMOVED. WITH ALL THE MONEY CITIZENS HAVE DONATED, WE ARE GOING TO BE BUILDING A NEW CANDY STAND FOR OUR CHILDREN.

Phoebe was shocked. Now that she was finally tall enough to make the statue smile, it was gone. She went to the bench, crying hard. The old lady who was already there comforted Phoebe with a warm hug and a sweet smile.

“I can’t make the frowning man smile anymore,” Phoebe sobbed.

The old lady seemed to be in thought for a moment. Then she said, “You know what’s more important than making a statue smile? Making people hopeful. You made me hopeful, Phoebe. Seeing you smile and laugh, you made me smile in a long time.”

Those words were very soothing. Phoebe gained her happiness back, and also her love for the elderly woman grew.

“I’m guessing you won’t be coming to this park anymore?” the old lady said.

“Of course I am! We’ll meet every day here, so you can smile everyday!”

They both laughed very loud. Phoebe thought this was more worthy than making the golden statue smile.

As the sun went down, Phoebe said good bye to the lady and started to leave. When she looked back at the destroyed statue for the last time, she saw it smile and wink at her.

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