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The Boy Who Wanted A Tail

Story ID:5432
Written by:Nancy J. Kopp (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Fiction
Location:Manhattan KS USA
Year:2009
Person:Kirby
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The following children's story was published in the November issue of Knowonder! magazine, already released. The story is fiction but based on an actual happening in my family. When our son was about 4, he came to me one morning asking for a tail. He'd seen a segment on tails on Captain Kangaroo and thought it would be neat to have one. No amount of talking changed his mind, so I took him shopping. Once he saw that no store in our town had a tail for a little boy, he gave up the idea (reluctantly!) In this story, I changed the ending a little bit. Knowonder! is a new magazine that publishes both a print version and an online edition. You can look at the magazine online at www.knowonder.com It is made up of a fiction story for every day of the month and articles for parents. Readers vote for the three best stories each month. Read my story below:

The Boy Who Wanted A Tail
By Nancy Julien Kopp

Kirby looked out the window at the steady rain and drummed his fingers on the windowsill. “I think I would like to have a tail.”

Kirby’s mother stopped clearing the table. She asked “And why would you want a tail? I don’t know any other boy who has one.”

Kirby frowned. “I liked the ones I saw on Pirate Pete’s show this morning.”

“Well,” Mother said, “what kind of tail do you want? She crossed her arms but said no more.

Kirby said, “I don’t care if it’s long and skinny like a mouse or short and fluffy like a bunny tail.”

Mother leaned down and put her hand on Kirby’s shoulder. “I don’t think you’d like having a tail at all. What good would it be? Have you thought about that?”

Kirby paced in front of the breakfast table. “If it was long, I could swish it at bugs. If people asked me about it, I could teach them all about tails.”

“All right,” Mother said, “you go upstairs and get dressed, and we’ll see if we can find a tail when we shop this morning.”

Kirby hurried to his room. He dressed in bright blue shorts and a blue and white shirt. He put his sneakers on, brushed his teeth, and combed his messed-up hair. Then he rushed back to the kitchen.

“You certainly get dressed mighty fast when you have something to do.” Mother laughed and reached for Kirby’s hand. “Let’s get started looking for that tail.”

They drove downtown in the soft summer rain.

Kirby held Mother’s hand as they stopped in almost every shop on both sides of Main Street. Inside each one, Mother asked, “Do you sell tails for little boys.?”

Mother had no smiles, no laugh. She sounded very serious. Each shopkeeper looked surprised at the question. They looked at Mother, then down at Kirby, but none of them laughed either.

They tried the card shop, the pharmacy, the book shop, a children’s clothing store, even the bakery. They heard words like, “No, we don’t sell tails here.” Or “I’m sorry, but we can’t help you.”

Finally, there was only one shop left—the hardware store. On the way in, Kirby said, “Let me ask this time.”

Mr. Sanders, the owner, sat on a high stool by a very big and very old cash register. Mr. Sanders also looked very big and very old.

In his loudest voice, Kirby said, “Do you sell tails here?”

“Never have and never will,” Mr. Sanders said, quick as a wink. “Nobody sells tails, boy.” His glasses perched on the end of his great nose, and he peered over them at Kirby.

Kirby looked at the wooden floor. His shoulders drooped a bit. He thanked Mr. Sanders, took Mother’s hand and led her across the squeaky floor to the door.

The rain had stopped, and the sun blazed in the sky, but Kirby didn’t even notice. They’d been searching all morning and hadn’t found a tail.

Mother started the car. She looked at Kirby who was quietly buckling his seatbelt. “Maybe we should stop at Biggie Burgers and have some lunch.”

“O.K.” answered Kirby in a whisper.

Mother waited for a big, shaggy dog to move before she backed out. “C’mon doggie,
she said, “I have a hungry boy here.

When they were seated and eating lunch, Kirby didn’t talk. Mother nibbled her hamburger and didn’t say anything either. It was not a talking kind of lunch. It was a thinking lunch.

Finally Mother said, “Kirby, I truly am sorry we couldn’t find a tail. I know you wanted one very much.”

Kirby put his hamburger down. “I’ve been thinking. Maybe I wasn’t meant to have a tail of my own, and that’s why didn’t find one.” He let out a big sigh. “And, maybe if I had one, I might not like it at all. It could get in my way, or people would laugh at me.”

Mother reached across the table and patted Kirby’s hand.

He smiled then, a really big smile. “I think I know an easier way to have a tail. Let’s find one attached to a nice dog!”

Suddenly, it was a laughing kind of lunch. They ate and laughed and made some plans.

Kirby said, “I’ll tell Daddy I found a perfect way to have a tail.”

Published in Knowonder! November 2009