“What men?” asked five-year-old Johnny.
“The men from the child rental place. They’ve come to take you back.”
“They’re going to take me away?” Johnny asked, his eyes growing wide.
“Of course! Goodness, you didn’t think we were going to keep you, did you? Silly boy.” Joan grinned at him. “Now hurry up. They’re very busy men and they don’t like to be kept waiting.”
“But I thought … ” His voice quavered and the brown eyes filled with tears.
Joan sighed a little. “So did I — once. But that was before Bill and I realized how much work you really were. New clothes, school, food, doctors when you’re sick. My word. Who would have ever thought one little boy could be so expensive. And the time you take up!” She rolled her eyes. “We’re not as young as we once were you know — and you’re really not a very good child.” She shook her head in wonderment. “It’s a good thing we went for the option-to-own agreement. Otherwise we might have been stuck with you the way the Smiths are stuck with little Joey.”
“But you’re my parents!” Johnny shrieked. “You can’t send me away. You borned me!”
“Borned you? Whoever gave you that silly idea? Probably that Joey kid.” She shuddered.
“But I came out of your stomach. Miss Jones said so at school!”
She laughed and ruffled his hair. “You are a funny child! That’s one of the things I might miss about you. But children coming out of women’s stomachs…! Well, that’s simply ridiculous. As foolish as believing in a stork. No, we picked you out at the child rental store like everyone else. Now hurry up and finish your soup and try to be calm about it. You don’t want them to have to put you in a sack do you?” She waved out the window. “You can come in now! He’s almost ready.”
When she finally had him settled down and asleep, Johnny’s mother stood over him smiling. She really thought she made a wonderful mother. Children were so much fun, she thought. The way they believed the most outlandish things.
And to think her friends had warned her that she’d find staying at home boring.