Marisa saved for months. Every dime went towards her goal. It was hard, she was a spender, but she kept her target in sight. When she could, she went to the store to look at it. Her eyes would widen and her heart would swell each time as she admired its perfection. The shopkeeper kept a spotlight on it, clearly it was the most important item in the store. She worried sometimes about them running out of stock. She wasn’t the only one who regularly admired the prize after all. But all she could do was keep saving and keep her fingers crossed it would be there when she was ready.
At times, she regretted not having access to more money but as her mother always told her, she would appreciate it more because she worked hard to get it. She’d done everything she possibly could to earn enough so she knew she had the right to be proud of herself.
Today was the day. She woke up early and got ready carefully. In the car on the way to the store she had to force herself not to freak out or cry from excitement.
Finally they arrived, but a few minutes early. She took her mom’s hand and dragged her to the window for the last time.
There it was, the world’s most perfect doll. At forty dollars, it had been completely out of her price range. She had to do all her brother’s chores for a month to get him to give her his allowance. With a lot of begging, she managed to talk her mom into showing her how to load the dishwasher and to mop so she could do both to come up with most of the rest.
She even helped her dad rake leaves and take out the trash to get the last couple of dollars. Staring up at the doll’s long dark hair and skin exactly the same color her own, Marisa knew it was all worth it.
She would have to get creative to come up with ways to earn enough money for clothing for the doll. She was too small to use the washing machine and not strong enough to push the mower like her brother did sometimes, but she would find a way.
After an eternity the store opened. Marisa ran straight to the window display and picked up her future doll. It was the very last one that looked the way she wanted and she almost wept with joy. Her mom told her this close to Christmas there wouldn’t be any more coming in.
As she started to make her way to the front, a girl from her class named Lily ran past her. Curious, she turned to see if the other child was going to get one of the special dolls.
“Mom, they only have blond ones left,” Lily cried.
Her mom tried to calm the girl by telling her they might be able to order one or get one after Christmas. Marissa’s heart broke for her friend. She knew there would be no more, at least not for a long time.
“But I’ve been saving for six months.” The girl sat on the floor, put her head on her knees and cried.
Six months? Marissa didn’t even know the doll existed until three months ago. She looked at her friend and then her doll. They had the same color skin too, with the same long black hair. She wasn’t surprised they both wanted the same doll.
As she thought about what she wanted to do, she walked back to the display window and glanced at the dolls still on the table. It took her a few minutes but she found one on the bottom of the stack with the same dark skin but much shorter and much lighter brown hair. It’s hair wasn’t black but it still had the same beautiful face. She picked it up and went to the crying girl.
“Lily, how about you buy this one,” she said and handed her friend the doll she’d worked so hard to get.
“Are you sure?”
“I found one I like better,” she lied.
Lily dried her tears and they went to the register together. She hugged her friend tight and they made a pact to share clothes as they got them. Their mothers had those weird expressions parents sometimes wear that neither of them understood.
Back in the car Marissa looked over every detail of her purchase. “Mom, her hair is nice right?”
“She still looks like me doesn’t she?”
“Yes she does.”
“Good. Can I get a haircut?”
“Let’s go make an appointment now.”
This story came to me from a writing prompt I found this morning.
I was sitting at the dentist’s office while my daughter got a temporary crown after having a root canal. I knew it would take a while so I brought my laptop. They didn’t have Wi-Fi so I didn’t work on my Nanowrimo project.
Instead, I pulled out my phone, went to WordPress and looked up writing prompts. I found a couple I liked and wrote two pieces of flash fiction. Since I was on a roll I looked up more and found the one I used for this story. As soon as I read it I knew I wouldn’t be writing about buying a car or a refrigerator. I also knew I would be writing something involving someone who didn’t have much money.
I wrote a couple of tentative starters out but neither really spoke to me. Then I thought about what a large purchase would be to a young child. I didn’t know I was going to write about a doll at first, only that the kid had been saving for months.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get any further because my daughter came out and I had to pack up my stuff and go. We stopped for lunch and by the time we got home my back hurt and I wasn’t able to write.
At some point I got a message from some people in my writing group. Actually, this message came in at the same time as I was silently pissing and moaning about being tired of laying down. I was having one of those angry at pain moments and I’m sick. So when one of them suggested we do a 25 minute writing prompt I was hesitant.
I wanted to, but was afraid I wouldn’t be able to. So I said maybe. Then I got stubborn. I got up, opened my laptop and pulled up the story I started this morning. By the time I got all set up the timer had started so I did too.
I wrote 535 words in that sprint and kept going until the above story was almost 800 words. I’m so thankful writing can pull me out of the kind of funk I was in. I’m even more thankful for my writing group. They more unknowingly knocked me out of my BS mode than pulled though, which is exactly what I needed.
There is a chance I’ll feel sorry for myself again tonight. I feel myself going downhill but at least I got a few things accomplished. Hell, I even threw something in the slow cooker earlier! So I’ll take an Advil, a Sudophed (spelling?), make some hot tea, and hope for the best.
Also, pardon the terrible title. I couldn’t think of anything that wouldn’t give it away.