The little tin heart

发表时间:2010/11/5   来源:《英语周报》(高中教师版)2010年第8期供稿   作者:Pauline Burgard
[导读] 所以,每次他经过时,我都会揉乱他的头发,或是拍拍他的胳膊。

Pauline Burgard
        After 20 years as a full-time wife and mother, I decided now that my kids were grown,
I needed a part-time job to keep me busy. I decided to drive a school bus.
        Charlie began riding my bus in September of my fourth year driving.Eight years old, with blond hair and crystalline gray eyes, he got on with a group of children. They all had stories to tell me about their summers. Charlie,though, ignored me. He didn’t even answer when I asked his name.
        From that day on, Charlie was a trial.If a fight broke out I didn’t have to turn my head to know who had started it. If someone was throwing spitballs I could guess the culprit’s name. If a girl was crying, chances were Charlie had pulled her hair. No matter how I spoke to him,gently or firmly, he wouldn’t say a word.He’d just stare at me with those big gray eyes of his.
        I asked around some, and found out Charlie’s father was dead and he didn’t live with his mother. He deserves my patience, I thought. So I practiced every bit of patience I could muster. To my cheery “Good morning,”he was silent.When I wished him a happy Halloween, he sneered. Many, many times I asked myself how I could reach Charlie. “I’m at my wit’s end,”I’d say. Still I was sure that this child needed to feel some warmth from me. So, when he’d pass by,I’d ruffle his hair or pat him on the arm.
        Toward the end of that year, the kids on my bus gave me a small trophy inscribed “To the Best Bus Driver Ever”.I propped it up on the dashboard. On top I hung a small tin heart that a little girl had given me. In red paint she had written, “I love Polly and Polly loves me.”
        On the next-to-last day of school I was delayed a few minutes talking to the principal. When I got on the bus I real-ized that the tin heart was gone.“Does anyone know what happened to the little heart that was up here?”I asked. For once with 39 children, there was silence.One boy piped up, “Charlie was the first one on the bus. I bet he took it.”Other
children joined the chorus, “Yeah!Charlie did it! Search him! ”
        I asked Charlie, “Have you seen the heart?”“I don’t know what you’re talking about,”he protested. Standing up, he took a few pennies and a small ball out of his pockets. “See, I don’t have it.”“I bet he does! ”insisted the girl who had given me the heart. “Check his pockets.”
        Charlie glowered when I asked him to come forward. His gaze burned into mine. I stuck my hand into one pocket. Nothing. I reached into the other pocket.Then I felt it—the familiar outline of the small tin heart. Charlie stared at me for a long time. There were no tears in
those big gray eyes, no plea for mercy.He seemed to be waiting for what he’d come to expect from the world. I was about to pull the tin heart out of Char- lie’s pocket when I stopped myself. Let him keep it, a voice seemed to whisper.
        “It must have fallen off before I got here,”I said to the kids. “I’ll probably find it back at the bus depot.”Without a word, Charlie returned to his seat. When he got off at his stop, he didn’t so much as glance at me. That summer Charlie moved away...
        Eventually I retired. And there my story as a school bus driver ends, except for one more incident. A dozen years af-ter retirement I was in a department store in Kansas City, when someone said ten-tatively, “Polly?”I turned to see a bald-ing man who was approaching middle age. “Yes?”His face didn’t look familiar until I noticed his big gray eyes. There was no doubt. It was Charlie.
        He told me he was living in Mon-tana and doing well. Then, to my sur-prise, he hugged me. After he let go, he pulled something from his pocket and held it up for me to see. An old key chain...bent out of shape, the lettering faded. You can probably guess what it was—the little tin heart that said, “I love Polly and Polly loves me.”
        “You were the only one who kept trying,”he explained. We hugged again, and went our separate ways. I am so happy I’d done a good job.
        过了20 年全职主妇的生活后,我下定决心:既然孩子们都长大了,我也需要做份兼职来打发时间。我决定去开校车。
        查理开始坐我的车是在我兼职开车第4 个年头的九月份。他当时8 岁,金发,灰色的眼睛清澈透亮,他跟一群孩子上了车。孩子们都有暑假故事和我分享,而查理却对我视而不见。就连我问他名字时,他都没有回答。
        从那天起,查理就成了惹麻烦的家伙。如果有人打架,我不用回头就知道是谁挑起的。如果有人扔唾沫纸团,我能猜出罪魁祸首的名字。要是有女孩子哭了,很可能是因为查理扯了她的头发。不管我怎样跟他说话,温和也好,严厉也罢,他就是一言不发,只是用他那双灰色的大眼睛盯着我。
        后来我打听到,查理的父亲去世了,他也没和妈妈住在一起。我想,我应该对他耐心些。于是我便尽可能拿出了所有的耐心。我愉快地跟他说“早上好”,回应我的却是沉默。当我祝他万圣节快乐时,他则报以冷笑。不知有多少次,我问自己怎样才能打动查理。我得说“我已经束手无策了”,但我依然确信这个孩子需要从我这里感受到一些温暖。所以,每次他经过时,我都会揉乱他的头发,或是拍拍他的胳膊。
        那年年末,校车上的孩子们送给我一个小纪念品,上面刻着“献给最棒的校车司机”几个字。我把它架在仪表板上。上面挂了一颗小锡心,是一个小女孩送给我的。她用红笔写道:“我爱波莉,波莉爱我。”
        在学校放假的前两天,我跟校长谈话耽搁了几分钟,上了校车后发现小锡心不见了。“有谁知道挂在这上面的小锡心哪儿去了吗?”我问道。只有这一次,39 个孩子全都沉默了。
        一个男孩尖声说:“查理第一个上的校车。我敢说是他拿的。”其他孩子也齐声说道:“没错浴是查理干的浴搜他的身浴”
        我问查理:“你见过那颗小锡心吗?”“我不知道你在说什么,”他抗议道。说着他站起来,从兜里掏出几枚硬币和一个小球:“看吧,我身上没有那东西。”“我敢肯定就在他身上浴”那个送我小锡心的女孩说,“检查他的口袋。”
        我让查理走上前来,他怒目而视。他那凝视的目光深深地烙在我的眼中。我把手伸到他的一只口袋里,什么也没有。然后我把手伸进另一只口袋,摸到了它要要那颗小锡心的熟悉轮廓。查理盯着我看了很长时间。那双灰色的大眼睛里没有眼泪,也没有对怜悯的乞求。他似乎正在等待着一个早已料到的结果。就在我要把小锡心从查理的口袋里拿出来的时候,我停住了。让他留着吧,一个声音似乎在轻轻地说。
        “一定是在我来这儿之前掉的,”我对孩子们说,“我或许能在车站把它找回来。”查理一言不发地回到了他的座位上。下车的时候,他甚至连看也没看我一眼。那年夏天,查理搬走了......
        后来我退休了,当校车司机的故事也随之结束,直到后来又发生了一件事。退休12 年后,在堪萨斯城的一家百货商店里,有人迟疑地叫我,“波莉?”我回过头,看到一个已近中年尧有些谢顶的男人。“你是?”他的脸看起来并不眼熟,直到我注意到他那双灰色的大眼睛。不用怀疑,他就是查理。
        他告诉我,他现在住在蒙大拿州,过得很好。然后,让我吃惊的是,他拥抱了我。放开我后,他从口袋里拿出了一样东西,举起来让我看。那是一个很旧的钥匙链......已经弯曲变形,上边的字也模糊褪色了。你可能已经猜到它是什么了要要就是那颗上面写着“我爱波莉,波莉爱我”的小锡心。“你是唯一一个没有放弃我的人。”
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