Big Heart Part IV

Maggie pulled out her bottle of water from her My Little Pony backpack and took a swallow. She looked up at the sun. She didn’t have a lot of time because the school board meeting was over at 5. She walked the rest of the way on Egret until it ended in a traffic circle in front of City Hall. She walked into the building. There was a security guard at the front door.
“Hello, little one,” he said to Maggie.
“Hello,” she replied. She was confident.
“What are you doing here?” asked the guard.
“They are voting on an important question at the school board meeting today and I would like to participate,” she said.
“You have to get your mother, little one,” said the guard.
“I am a citizen, so I can participate. Besides, the school board has to do with school, and I go there, so I have something to say,” said Maggie. “You wouldn’t want to push around a little girl, now would you?”
“What do you want to say?” asked the guard.
“I want to explain to the school board how they can save hundreds of thousands of dollars and save some buses,” said Maggie with conviction. “If they save money on buses, they’ll have more money for your salary.”
The guard thought about it. After a pause, he led her to the meeting room.
“Now, just go in and sit down. When they ask for comments from the floor, raise your hand, go up to the microphone and let them have it,” he said. “Good luck.”
Maggie went into the large meeting room and saw that there weren’t a lot of people in the audience seats, but just some people sitting around the large bench. There were microphones and the woman sitting in the middle seat on the bench had a little hammer. It was like the judge shows on television that Maggie had seen once when she had stayed home from school because of the flu.
After a while, they asked for comments and Maggie raised her hand. A man in a uniform came up to her, led her to the front of the room and placed a small microphone on her shirt front.
“Hello everyone,” she said.
“State your name for the record, little lady,” said the woman.
“Margaret Savali,” she said.
“What is the purpose of your visit?” said the school board superintendent.
“The school bus Flyer line numbers 20 buses. They are due to be retired and replaced. That is unacceptable,” said Maggie.
“We have to retire the buses, Miss Savali. They are too old and pollute the air,” said the school board official.
“Their engines are diesel and do create air pollution, but they can be changed to electric engines which will not pollute the environment,” said Maggie.
“That will cost too much,” said the woman.
“Not as much as it will cost to get new ones like you are planning to. It costs $100,000 for each new bus which adds up to two million dollars, but changing the engines costs only $10,000. That’s $200,000. I am a little girl, but I know that’s a tenth as much,” she said. “Plus, those buses would end up in a garage where they would rust and pollute the ground and take up space. If you kept them running, you would have the space and the same buses that you already paid for. Plus, you could sell the old engines for parts to other cities that still use diesel buses.”
“It’s not just that Madam, this city could be known for conserving and preserving instead of wasting and spending. Think how good that would look for our city and for you,” Maggie concluded.
The members of the school board looked at each other. The superintendent looked at Maggie and smiled.
“Dear Miss Savali, you are a wonder. We shall investigate this,” she said. “Thank you.”
The usher went to Maggie’s side and asked her for the microphone. Maggie took her seat and listened quietly as the others talked of class changes, parking problems and new bathrooms. Maggie had never known how interesting school board meetings were. They always happened when she was in soccer practice.
The next day, Flyer #173 rumbled down Owl Street to pick up his friend Maggie. She jumped onto the bus and took her favorite seat. She felt her seat and realized that Flyer #173 was rumbling happily.
“I am getting a new heart, Maggie. Thanks to you, I won’t have to retire,” he said in his rumbling way. “You believed in yourself and saved us all.”
“You have to take care of your friends, #173. You’re my best friend,” said Maggie. The boy everyone called Red sat next to Maggie.
“Hi, I’m Red. Do you want some Sour Patch Kids?” he asked. Maggie looked at him and smiled.
“I have Chewy Chocolate Cookies, too. We can swap. I would feel bad about just taking your Sour Patch Kids,” she said.
“Deal,” he said.
“Red, this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

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