BETTER THAN GOLD
Sometimes chocolate is better than a golden ring.
Etta Bannon must endure another Christmas at the Indian Residential School for girls. With her heart heavy for home that is a two-day train ride away, all she has is the stolen moments with her beau to look forward to, but even the boy she cares deeply about cannot erase her longing for her family.
Charlie Shawanda is also stuck at the Indian Residential School for boys. Only a mere jog away from Etta, he longs to make their last Christmas at the school special before they graduate in the spring and go their separate ways. But what he truly years for is to call Etta his very own.
When a golden opportunity arises for Charlie to show his love, he must make a tough decision–endure the cruel punishment of the strap or miss out on a chance to tell Etta how he truly feels and maybe lose her forever.
Charlie stood with his friends inside Green’s. They had no money to join in on the fun where some men shot a game of pool for quarters at the back of the store. An older woman was at the main counter. He squinted and moved in closer.
The clerk held up the box of chocolates. Three bars of gold were on the top, and a red ribbon was painted from corner to corner. Better Than Gold.
He licked his lips. The brand was one of the finest in Canada. How could poor people from Spanish afford such a tasty treat? The woman must be passing through to Espanola or one of the other richer towns where people with money lived. Why the store carried such a delectable, expensive delight was beyond him.
Breathing was on the back of his neck. He glanced over his shoulder at Philip, tongue pretty much hanging out. Stanley was ready to start foaming between his teeth. Harlan’s lips formed into an O.
“We gotta get ourselves one of those,” Philip muttered. He swiped at his hair. “I hear they come in all kinds of flavors. They’re even wrapped in gold.”
“They are not.” Stanley snorted. “It’s gold paper.”
“It don’t matter,” Harlan murmured. “Gold paper. Real gold. Chocolate’s better than gold. Guess that’s why they call it that, huh?”
The clerk kept the other four boxes of chocolate behind the counter so someone couldn’t steal them. Smiling, the woman took her wrapped box of Better Than Gold and exited the store.
The whistling from the train carried inside. She was on her way to somewhere else. She’d probably had enough money to stay at the hotel, too. A fancy fine lady in a fur coat wouldn’t have to spend a night in jail to stay warm.
Etta, Beatrice, and two other girls also stared at the boxes of chocolate on the shelf, hunger in their gazes.
If Charlie couldn’t give Etta the ring for Christmas, he’d figure out a way to get her a box of those chocolates. She deserved to sink her teeth into the premium cocoa in Canada.
Shoot, the last time he’d gotten a piece of chocolate was when he’d been eight. He’d never forget when Old Myles from the reserve had been passing by on the road in his horse and wagon. He’d called out to Charlie and his friends to sing him a Christmas carol, and if they did, they’d get a piece of his chocolate bar.
But for Charlie to nab the box of Better Than Gold, he’d have to ask his friends for help, and asking for help meant splitting the steal fair and square. There had to be another way. There had to be.