Tobias Wielton was about to make his mark in the world. He ran home to tell his Mom. His breath short and staggered as he finally reached his mobile home at the Westminster Crest Trailer Community, close to the children's park around the rotary traffic circle in Westminster, Colorado. With the wired door slightly ajar on trailer number 39, he grabbed the handle and swung it open mightily.
"Mom, there is an election at school. Do you know what that means?" said Toby to his mother, as he ran to her and pulled on her dress as she prepared her green bean casserole in the kitchen.
"We'll have supper and talk about it, sweetie. Here, taste a little bit," she said, stuffing a little green bean casserole from a small spoon into his mouth.
"Oooh…cheesy, I love it," said Toby. "So I'm running for President."
"Wow. President?!" Joann said, as she turned her head to her son. The conversation was starting to sound more serious. "What are you planning to do for your people?"
"You know how you said Daddy left because you're fat? I don't think it's true," he said, bluntly.
Her face almost repressing a laugh, and said, "Go ahead honey, tell me what you really think."
"Well, I think he left because he didn't love you enough. I think you guys meet too quickly and didn't become friends enough. I know it's true," said Toby all in one breath.
Her shift at Wal-Mart just ended, but she didn't anticipate his full disclosure on the probable cause of the divorce a year ago.
"Is this about Josephine?" Joann pulled her chair and sat down. "You know I told you it's too soon, baby. You have to get to know her."
"I think if I become President, she'll be impressed by me that she'd fall in love," Toby said. "I asked Principal Smith and she said it's called, "Puppy Love."
"I see. I believe it," said Joann, rubbing her son's head. She picked him up to her lap as her one huge belly rolled into parts. Toby leanded on her soft large stomach.
"Mom, I know if I get to plan what I want to plan. I get to go with Josephine," said Toby, his brown eyes moistening into romanticism.
"So you got to do anything special for this?" said Joann, a little worried because she can barely pay for her rent and the shift at Wal-Mart was being cut short again. The usual 40 hours became 36 then became 30 and now she has to survive on 25 hours per week. "You know I have nothing, baby."
"I will do what you told me about, raising money? Remember we talked about it? Lemonade stands and some bake sales. I want a dance, I get to ask Josephine," said Toby. "But I won't have to pay anything because the money's been raised. We can dance together and be best friends."
"What if she says 'No' and you still become President?" asked Joann, as she hugged him.
"There are some other girls, but I want Josephine," said Toby. "I just feel it Mommy. I know it's Puppy Love."
"We'll we got to dress you up, and make sure you wear a tie and a jacket for the election," said Joann.
"I'll have everything done," said Toby. He ran to his room to prepare his speech and fill out the application for the Parkside Elementary School Student Body Presidency. "Mom, can you make Mac and Cheese if I win?"
"We can put some ham in it, baby," said Joann. "Come eat supper first before you write your speech. R'member to tell your friends about the dance plan. That's a good idea," she said, smiling and scooping some green bean casserole onto a plate for her and her son.
There was nothing special in the casserole, just the usual green beans, Campbell's Mushroom soup, cubed onions, cheddar cheese, and French's Fried Onions. But, Toby was running on Puppy Love and his whole soul and body were a mixture of passion, drive and sugar sweet intentions to meet Josephine that everything tasted divine.
"I never tasted better casseroles," said Toby.
The next day, the paper work for the Presidential Election had to be entered to the main office by noon, and the names of the candidates were revealed by 2: 45 pm. The election will be done after the next two weeks frame of the presidential campaign.
Principal Smith got on the school microphone, and announced the candidates, "We have three this year. Two Fifth Graders and one Fourth Grader," she said.
"First candidate, Nicholas Wells, Fifth grade, from Mrs. Stanapolous's class," said Principal Smith, as he placed the first piece of paper face down on her table. "Second, we have Jennifer Tanaka, Fifth Grader, from Mr. George's class." She put the second piece of paper down and she smiled as the third piece of paper was about to be read. "Our third candidate, never been done before, is from Fourth Grade, Mrs. Presley's class, Tobias Wielton. He also said that he is running on Puppy Love," said Principal Smith.
Everyone in Mrs. Presley's class turned to Toby in the middle row and a little boy asked him, "What's Puppy Love?"
"It's when you're still in Fourth Grade, but your heart gets all fuzzy when you see a certain person. It's called Puppy Love, because it's the same feeling when you fall in love with a puppy," said Toby, his hands gesticulating.
"Oh my gosh," said Josephine. She glanced to Toby and covered her face with her hands. Her cheeks all pinkish from the warmth. Toby smiled and looked down to his hands, and folded them.
Mrs. Presley walked to Toby and kneeled down to him, "Toby, I want you to write the best speech possible. It will be such an honor to have the student body president in my classroom," she said, as she kissed his forehead.
"I'll write it tonight," said Toby, with more than just the excitement of writing a speech. For the first time in his life, he felt significant to represent his Fourth Grade class as the Presidential Nominee.
As soon as the bell rang, everyone scattered as if a riot had broken out. They all ran home and couldn't wait to for the two weeks of presidential campaigns at their own elementary school. Toby walked to his home with a tinge of fear from the thoughts of the two weeks campaigns.
"I will just do what I need to do," he said under his breath. His eyes watered and his chest burned from the fear and worry of not having any money to campaign for his presidential election.
"I'm sorry, Mom," he said, feeling the pressure and sorrow of not having the means to excel in life. He started to cry on his way home, because he knew that without the campaign, people won't know his name and people won't remember him or his cause. He simply had nothing to campaign with. No money, no campaign, meant No Presidency and No School Dance and No Josephine. Puppy love will be done and over with.
Toby arrived home with nothing left inside his spirit, but anguish and grief. Joann saw his son's white shirt, all wet on the front and snot was all over his sleeves. "Baby, what happened?" She was worried that Toby might have been hurt on his way home.
"Campaign week, Mommy," said Toby.
Joann quickly grabbed him, lifting his whole body with her powerful arms and cuddled with him on the couch. She caressed his cheeks and told him, "I know baby. I went to elementary school too, you know. I also went to high school. May have been a drop out, but I remember some of it," said Joann.
"We don't have any money," said Toby. He sobbed and Joann felt the soft tender heart of his being torn apart.
"I got good news baby," said Joann. "We don't need to campaign, we just need to give them each a piece of paper with a smart slogan. That's like campaigning right?"
"Just a piece of paper?" asked Toby.
"We'll cut up some writing paper into fours and we draw on it and write something sweet. Then we tell them to vote for you," said Joann.
"I trust you. I love you," said Toby, hugging her.
"We'll get started with just 15 pieces of paper first, and that makes 60 pieces of flyers, then after two days, we do another 15, until the end of the campaign week," said Joann.
"What do you think we'll say on them?" Toby wondered.
"One will say, 'Driven by Puppy Love, vote for the sweetest President. Vote for Tobias Wielton," Joann said, "Another one will say, 'You are my friend. And I am yours. Let's choose friendships and love. Let's have a ball. Vote for Tobias Wielton."
Toby suddenly stood up out of the faith that everything will be okay. He jumped on the couch, and shouted, "The "ball" can be the lead to the school dance and I get to spend time with Josephine!"
"You need to make sure she knows how you feel. Tell her in class if she doesn't mind being in your speech," said Joann.
"What do you mean?" said Toby.
"Tell her you love her and that she's the reason you're running for President," said Joann.
"I trust you, Mom. Okay," said Toby.
Supper was as delicious as usual. This time, it was just a peanut butter sandwich, because poultry was a luxury and the vegetables weren't bought yet. But, there was always bread. They ate together and later on, made their flyers, which took almost four hours, until eleven at night. But, Joann knew that with hard work comes rewards.
The next two weeks, Toby kept working on distributing the flyers all over school. He even taped some in the boy's restroom, behind each stall, and next to every mirror. No one missed Toby's fliers, and as a matter of fact, Josephine told him, "This is a cute flyer. I can't believe you drew on each one!" Which gave him a huge boost of confidence that made him want to fly to the moon with her.
"I think you're a sweetheart," replied Toby. And for a moment, they locked eyes. He smiled and looked into her green eyes, and mesmerized by how exquisite she was.
Josephine smiled back and told him, "I'm voting for you." Toby almost fainted. He swayed to the side and his heart pumped in adrenaline. He wanted to hug her, but she ran to her father's van to go home.
The two weeks of campaigning were nothing but a victory for Tobias Wielton, and who knew that art won over the hearts of his people at Parkside Elementary. "All out of love, please let me win," Toby chanted those words in his heart and mind, as he walked home every day from school.
By the third week of that same month, it was time for the Presidential Election Speech, as the whole school gathered inside the auditorium. Each of the candidates were seated in their normal seats with their class and they were each asked to come up on the stage as they were being announced.
Nicholas Wells wore a dapper black jacket with a white button down shirt, blue jeans and a blue paisley tie. He spoke about the possibilities of having a school trip to Elitch Garden during the upcoming summer as they transition to Middle School. He would love to keep in touch with everyone. He also made a conjecture about separating the salads in the cafeteria as an optional choice, instead of a mandatory consumption.
Jennifer Tanaka was next and her speech was elaborately weaved into a story about how her mother had gotten into Harvard because it took a village to raise a child. Jennifer also talked about how the school should embrace cultural competency and have a "cultural night" where everyone should dress up in their native cultural attire. She wore a pretty green and white cranes print dress with a pearl necklace. She looked like an enchanting porcelain doll that Toby couldn't stop looking at her.
Josephine sat next to him in the auditorium and she noticed how charmed Toby was by Jennifer Tanaka. "I know. She's so pretty," said Josephine, her soft voice indicated a slight feeling of loss.
Toby heard her and looked to her, "I think she will make it into Harvard," he said. Then he took Josephine's hand and kissed it, "She's in Fifth Grade. She'll go to middle school soon."
Josephine's lips curved to a smile and told him, "I'm voting for you."
Everyone clapped as Jennifer Tanaka slowly made her way back to her seat. Principal Smith took the stage and announced the final candidate.
"This year, we have a Fourth Grader with a courageous and loving heart who said he was "driven by Puppy Love," to run for the Presidential Election," said Principal Smith.
Toby looked to Josephine, and said, "I want you to help me for the speech."
"What do I need to do?" asked Josephine.
"Just stand up," said Toby.
Principal Smith looked to Toby and said over the microphone, "Now let's hear from one of our own pupils, Tobias Wielton, with his speech for the Presidential Campaign for Parkside Elementary!"
The whole auditorium clapped as Toby walked onto the stage. Toby had on his cargo pants and a brown jacket with a navy tie, as he fixed it to look presentable for the audience. He opened his piece of paper and began reading it:
"This is the first time I have ever ran for anything. It is not because I couldn't but it is because I finally have a reason to do so. I know I'm only in Fourth Grade, but I have a year to go and that will be a year of experience for me to run for your next presidential election when I am in Fifth Grade. I want to grow with you and I want to be friends with you.
I am running for this Presidential Election because I am suffering from Puppy Love and she knows and she approves. She is why I am driven to success and why I plan to have a school dance where every boy will ask a girl to the dance, so they can begin a friendship that will last a lifetime.
My Mom is alone, and she met my Dad in high school, but I think they weren't friends that much. I think if we have a dance at school, we will have the chance to raise money and work together. We will meet each other and become friends, even best friends for life. That's why I want to be your President, because I want to build friendships for all us. I may not have a library card yet, but I can help you just as much as a Fifth Grader can. Vote for me, the boy with the Puppy Love, Tobias Wielton." Tobias said, as he ended his speech and waved to the audience.
The audience clapped and all of the fourth graders were so happy because they felt empowered by their classmate. His bravery to run for the presidency out of the pure intent of building relationships, was a compliment to the Fourth Graders.
"And I have already made sure that my Puppy Love will come with me," said Toby. He looked to Josephine, and said, "Josephine, if you have me as your date for our Parkside School Dance, will you stand up?"
Josephine stood up and waved at everyone and nodded to Tobias.
"That's how friendships build," said Toby. "Thank you, Josephine."
Josephine sat down and covered her face with her palms. Mrs. Presley sneaked to her side and gave her a hug to tell her how brave and sweet she was to help Toby. Josephine whispered to her, and said, "I hope we have a dance." Mrs. Presley giggled.
Principal Smith walked to the microphone as the audience were still clapping and some even stood up after Tobias made his speech. Toby walked back to his seat next to Josephine and held her hand. As Principal Smith made her announcement about lunch being served, the teachers handed out the election ballots with check boxes next to the candidate's names.
The election was in progress.
Tobias checked the box next to his name and Josephine showed him her ballot with his name checked as well. They resumed holding hands.
Lunch was next and the whole student body walked to the cafeteria and ate for the next half hour as the teachers counted the ballots.
Principal Smith was back on the microphone, "We have the results. This year, we will have Tobias Wielton as the Student Body President for Parkside Elementary."
The whole cafeteria shouted Toby's name. Toby couldn't believe he truly won the Presidential Election.
"We will have a fundraising committee to start meeting and planning for the school dance, as Toby had already told us," said Principal Smith over the microphone.
"Oh, my gosh!" said Toby. His eyes glistened and Josephine jumped up and down.
Toby was so happy because out of this whole experience, he grew closer to the girl he loved the most at Parkside Elementary. Not just friends, but their relationship might be officially called "boyfriend-girlfriend-ish."
The whole cafeteria roared and some tapped their trays to show their support. Jennifer Tanaka walked to Toby and gave him a hug. "Tell me if you would like some help planning, I'm very smart," said Jennifer.
"I will definitely need your help," said Toby, as they shook hands.
Nicholas Wells gave Toby a high-five. "I know Jennifer will say yes, too," said Nicholas. Nicholas walked behind Jennifer and asked her, "So what do you think Americans should wear as a native attire?"
Jennifer giggled and said, "I don't know, it was an idea. Maybe you can just be who you are or where your ancestors came from."
"Oh good, because I'm Polish and English," said Nicholas. He looked into her eyes and said, "I hope you'll come with me to the dance."
Jennifer replied, "I'd love to." She smiled from ear to ear as Nicholas took her hand and they walked together to their table inside the cafeteria.
"Isn't Puppy Love grand?" said Joann, beside Toby unexpectedly.
"Oh my gosh! Mom!" shouted Toby, as he jumped into her arms.
"I saw your speech. You were brilliant, baby," said Joann.
"You taught me, Mom. It was all you!" said Toby, as he pushed his lips onto her cheeks.
"So who is your friend?" Joann asked about Josephine, standing behind Toby, all teary eyed and eager to meet Joann.
"Oh, I forgot," Toby got down from his mother's arms and took Josephine to his mother. "This is Puppy Love," said Tobias.
The end. Just write.