Scenic Park Elementary was a small school with small class sizes. Teachers normally would have between ten to fifteen kids per grade due to its location deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Principal Marshall Graham was proud of his school and would make sure to be at the bus stop every day to see all the students, to make sure they knew that if they ever needed anything, he would be there to help. Before this day ended, he would be the financial backer for a love that would last approximately two weeks.
Jasper Quintley was a third grader who was known for being shy, polite, friendly and almost intelligent. He came off the bus like normal but when Principal Graham looked at him, he could tell that Jasper had something on his mind. “Good Morning, Jasper”, gently stated the school leader as he glanced toward the cautious student. “Hello Mr. Graham”, he gave a halfhearted greeting due to being preoccupied with a huge dilemma. “Jasper, are you ok?””Uhh, I’m not sure, I got a lot on my mind!” replied the perplexed eight-year-old. As the bus unloaded, Mr. Graham guided Jasper over to a narrow hallway that lead to his office. There was a small bench just outside his door and he tapped the bench to indicate to Jasper that he wanted him to sit down beside him.
Jasper nervously sat down, unsure what the next few minutes would be like. “Did I do something wrong, Mr. Graham?”, asked the suddenly anxiety filled child. A long smile cracked the educator’s demeanor, “Of course not Jasper, I am just concerned because you just don’t seem like yourself, can I help you in any way?” His nerves faded into hope as he looked up at Mr. Graham, “I am too poor to be in love!” A look of confusion and amusement waltzed across the eyebrows of the elder administrator.
“Jasper, real love rarely has a monetary amount.” The proud words instantly turned to realization that the third grader had no idea what the words “monetary amount” meant. Mr. Graham tried again, “Jasper, if you really like someone and they like you back, money will really not matter, do you understand what I mean?” Jasper took a deep breath and said nervously, “You are wrong, it cost $.50 for a popsicle and Paula Grace Manitti said if I wanted her to be my girlfriend, I would have to buy her a popsicle during break and I do not have it and now she won’t be my girlfriend because I do not have $.50 because my Mama said no and Daddy won’t be back because he is in the Army and I will never be in love and I will never have a girlfriend and Bobby and Roger and Marvin and Austin and….” As he rambled off more of his friend’s names that he claims would make fun of him for not having a girlfriend, Mr. Graham easily interrupted, “Shhhh, it is going to be ok Jasper, you will not believe it but I can help you out. I was outside waiting for the buses and I happen to look down and I found two quarters, just this morning.” As he made up the story he wanted to be cautious of being a giver of money to anyone that ever needed a “girlfriend”, “I tell you what I will do Jasper, if you promise to keep this secret between me and you, just this one time, I will give you the two quarters that I found, is that a deal.” Emotional fireworks lit up the small boys face and he squealed, “OH YES, I promise Mr. Graham, I will promise.” As the educator gave the two shiny pieces to the gleeful child, Jasper grabbed them and ran down the hall to get to his classroom. Mr. Graham then got off the bench and went into his office, awaiting him was a note from the Frozen Fun Time Ice Cream company saying that popsicle prices will be going up to $.75 the next week. He pondered that the price of love usually rises as time goes on.