Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pink is for...

The elephant has to go. I place Tiny in the wagon next to the cow bank. Balancing the sailboat on the top of all my other treasures, I drag my radio flyer out of the pink garage. Can you believe it—our house is pink. I don’t know what my mother was thinking when she painted it that way. Dad said it was because the color was special to her. I don’t think she knows how silly I feel living in a pink house.

I line up my toys along the driveway in the grass, their price tags showing. Mom helped me decide on the prices. I might have enough for my Playstation after today. All I need is ten more dollars.

Waiting for the first customers, I touch Tiny’s chipped ear. I remember when Dad brought him home from his trip to India. It doesn’t look much different than the ones you can buy in a toy store. But because Dad dragged him all the way back across the ocean makes him that much more special. I pick him up and hold him so I can see the details painted along his back, and flipping him over, I see where Dad carved my initials. I can’t sell this one, he’s too special. So I tuck him in a hiding place in the garage so he won’t be sold.

Back at my place on the lawn, I notice the stuffed bear. Grandma gave it to me for Christmas when I was a baby. We used to live with her then because Daddy was going to school. I press my face into the matted fur and pretend I can smell her favorite perfume. Grandma sprayed it on its fur when we moved far away so I could remember her when I missed her. The smell is long gone, but I imagine lavender and mint. No, I can’t sell this one either. I put him with the elephant.

I wait for customers. A nice lady with a little girl picks up the Mickey Mouse hat. My insides feel funny. Not my hat, I think. I bought that with my own money when we went to Disneyland three years ago. That’s the year that Grandpa died. He used to make a squeaky mouse sound and tease me about my bug-eye glasses. He said they matched the ears on my hat. I snatch it. “I don’t know how that got in there.” I race it into the garage and hide it under the teddy bear.

The bully from the street wanders onto the driveway. His bike is parked next to the light pole. “Gotany dollies?” He picks up the green car and makes varoom varoom noises and bumps it along the cement, before crashing it into the wheel of the wagon.

“That’s not for sale!” I yank it from him, surprised that I had the guts to do so.

Mom looks up from her book. “Arnold, I think you best go on home now.”

Arnold kicks at the wagon, the ray gun topples out, but I’m fast and snatch it up. I race it and the car into the garage and hide them with my other treasures.

My wagon is almost empty now. Just an old pair of goggles from when I learned how to swim at summer camp and the birdhouse I built in cub scouts. I can’t sell those either. I spent too long painting the triangular piece of wood to house a nest. I’ll hang it in the back yard and put some seed in it. No sense in wasting a masterpiece.

Last is my sailboat. Just before we moved a year ago, Mom and I sailed it one more time on the lake behind our house. I just can’t get rid of this. I look over at Mom. She pulls her hat down over her bald head. I look back at the sailboat. It’s the last time we’ll ever get to do something like that again.

Dad brings out glasses of lemonade and hands a couple of pills to Mom. “How’s the sale coming?” He asks.

“Great.” She says. “Maybe we’ll have enough to pay for that trip back to Seattle after all.”
That’s where she is from, where Grandma still lives. Mom wants to go see her old home one more time before… My eyes mist up and I drag the back of my hand over my nose. I’m supposed to be too young to understand what’s happening. But I do.

I look at my empty wagon and then into the shadowed garage where my treasures are hidden, and then I steal a glance at Mom. Her eyes are tired from the treatments. I know what I have to do.

At the end of the day, I empty my cow bank. I look into Mom’s eyes and hand her not only my Playstation money, but my treasure sales. “Now you can go to Seattle.”


  1. Tender!

    Thanks for the sweet story, Betsy.

  2. Very touching story and well told with a lot of details. (One suggestion--I think you meant to write "she" instead of "her" in the third paragraph from the end, so you might want to change that.)

  3. Thank you for sharing that sweet story, Betsy. I love your style. big hugs~

  4. This is a very sweet story. I used to live in a pink house, too, so I know how embarassing that can be.

  5. This started out as an assignment for a high school creative writing class I teach. I handed out magazine photos of people and asked them to write descriptively and try and work their picture into a short story. My photo worked really well into the theme of Breast Cancer Awareness Week. Thanks for all your comments.

  6. Hi Betsy. You won a prize in the LDS Publisher comment contest. Send me your mailing address.