January 15, 2007
By Jim Kittelberger
Lotta Stores is bored. Lotta is eight years old and is a nice little girl. Her family is very rich, and she can have anything that money can buy, but she is very lonely. She has a nurse to help her dress and bathe and brush her hair. There is also a maid and a butler around. Her daddy is always busy making money and her mama is always going to teas and garden parties and things like that. She wishes she had a brother or sister or a dog or a cat or a bird or a fish or a horse, but alas she is not allowed to have any pets. But most of all Lotta wishes she had a friend.
Today, the weather outside is terrible, it's raining and thundering, and blowing, so she is not allowed to go out. She is told to amuse herself. Her home is at the top of her fathers' biggest building. At street level is the entrance to "THEGREATSTUFFSTORE". The store is five stories tall. Offices of the store are on floors six to ten. Floors rented out to other business are on eleven to forty nine. At the very top, on floor fifty, is where Lotta and her parents live. There are lots of windows but no blinds because no one is tall enough to look in. She can look out her window and see birds flying below. People on the street look like little toys walking around. Since she is alone most of the time, she uses her imagination and makes up stories in her head. Sometimes when she looks down and sees the little people and cabs and buses, she holds her hand in front of her face while she is looking down and imagines she can pick up whole handfuls of people and cars. If she is extremely lonely she pretends that she turns her hand over and all the little people and cars are on her palm and she talks to them. Usually the people are very scared, but she talks real nice to them and they calm down. One day as she was talking to her palm people, a boy of eighteen, told her, "I know just what you mean, I'm an only child also and there were many times I wished I had someone to play with or especially to talk to. I had so many questions that I couldn't ask my parents. They were too busy or I was too embarrassed to ask them."
"Yes, yes, that's exactly right. I have so many questions and my mama and daddy are too busy for me and that's when I wish I had a friend." Lotta said excitedly discovering that someone else felt the same way.
"Can I ask you what your name is?" Lotta asked, a little nervous.
"Sure you can. My name is Ozzie, actually it's Oscar. That was one bad name to have when I was younger. Kids made fun of me and it made it hard to make friends, and so many times I wanted to ask my parents why did you name me that? I guess it was my moms favorite uncles name so she just didn't think what it would do to me. But when you get older, it's O.K. you learn how to handle those things." Ozzie said smiling at Lotta.
Lotta was beaming. She loved talking to Ozzie, he was like a big brother. He knows what problems and questions I need answered.
Just then Ozzie said, "I am going to have to go now Lotta, I have to get to the other side of town before three o'clock and I will have to change buses three times to get there."
"Oh no, do you really have to go? Lotta asked, feeling sad that she would probably not see him again. All of the sudden a great idea occurred to her. "Wait right here Ozzie, I will be right back." As she laid him gently down on the windowsill. "Don't fall." She said and off she ran.
She ran to the elevator and told the attendant that she wanted to go down to the store. The man asked her what floor and she said. "Please take me to the toy floor." The man knowing who she was said, "Yes Miss Lotta, here we go." When she arrived at the toy floor, she ran directly to the boy's section and the model cars. She told the lady that she wanted to take two of the model cars that had little engines in them. I would like the red sports car and the black pickup truck. Everyone knew Lotta and gave her what she wanted. They would just write it down and it would be O.K. The lady came back with the two she wanted and off she flew back to the elevator. When she arrived back at the apartment she went directly to the windowsill, and Ozzie was still there, gazing at the birds flying outside the window.
Beaming, Lotta sat the two vehicles down on the coffee table. Ozzie crawled back up on her palm and Lotta asked, "What if you had your own car? Would that help you get to where you have to go quicker?
"Why sure it would, Ozzie said, but I can't afford to have my own car. I am just getting started in this job and it'll be a long time before I can do that."
With that she took Ozzie over to the coffee table and sat him down beside the red car and the black pickup.
"They are yours Ozzie for being so nice to me. I only ask one thing in return."
Ozzie was flabbergasted and couldn't keep his eyes off the red sports car. "Absolutely Lotta, what is you want me to do?"
Lotta asked nervously, "Would you please come to see me every day and let me ask you things and maybe have lunch with me sometimes?"
Ozzie looked at her with understanding eyes. "Of course I will. I would be very glad to come have lunch with you and we can talk about anything you would like. But now I have to fly, well I don't think I can do that, but maybe you can set me back down on the sidewalk."
With that she picked up Ozzie and his red car and put them in the palm of her hand and put her hand in front of her eyes and set them gently down. Thank you for coming Ozzie. Will I see you tomorrow?"
"You sure will," he said as he jumped into the red car and drove off down the street.
That evening as Lotta and her parents were sitting down to eat, her father said, "You seem especially happy tonight sweetheart, it does my heart good to see you smiling. Did something happen today to cause these smiles?"
Lotta gave him a bigger smile yet, and told him about Ozzie and the car. Mr. Stores smile left his face, and he looked at Lotta and asked, "Didn't we have a talk about your imagining."
"Yes we did daddy, but this was real, I did talk to him, I did give him the car, He is going to come back and have lunch with me." Lotta said, a little sad because her daddy would not believe her.
Mr. Stores sat back in his chair and sighed. "Oh Lotta, I love you so much, but I worry about you. You know you were only imagining and Ozzie is not real. Now please eat, and I don't want to hear anymore of this nonsense."
The next day Lotta stood by the window at lunchtime and stared down at the street. "Oh no." she said as she was about to give up waiting, when she saw a little red car pull up to the front of the store and park. She put her hand in front of her face and lowered it, and picked up Ozzie and sat him on the windowsill. "Oh Ozzie, I am so glad you came. I was getting very worried that you would not come." She said breathing a sign of relief.
"Why heck, there was nothing for you to worry about, you're my friend and I said I would be here. Now what's for lunch"?
Ozzie and Lotta had a wonderful lunch and she told him of her fears and asked many questions about growing up, until it was time for him to go. Ozzie said as he was getting ready to go, "I almost forgot. I got you this friendship ring, so you will always remember me and smile." He took the ring and put it on the coffee table, and Lotta started to cry. "Don't cry Lotta, it was supposed to make you happy." He said concerned.
"I am crying because I am so happy. Thank you very much. Now you had better go or you will be late for work. Will I see you tomorrow?
"You will see me every tomorrow until you don't need me anymore." He said as he jumped into her palm and she gently lowered him to the street.
That evening at dinner, Lotta was uncommonly quiet as they ate and her daddy asked, "You seem very quiet tonight, is everything alright?"
"Why yes daddy, everything is fine"
"Well I'm glad to hear that, and I hope you are finished with that silly talk of that imaginary boy and his car. I worry about you and only want you to be happy. By the way, what's that ring you're wearing?"