It was an ordinary September 29th. I was studying scientific laws for school while the others were doing what they usually did – anything they put their minds to. Me? I just studied and studied. I was determined to make good grades this year, what with Madison throwing scientific laws in our face and whatnot.
Now, usually I have no problem tuning the world out for homework. But something about what the others were doing was so incredibly tempting I couldn’t possibly bear to keep my eyes on the formula numbers and letters for a moment longer. What on earth are they up to? I pondered as I slowly looked up.
Chloe and Cécile were whispering in hushed voices. “Party…surprise…Emelie…ten years old…” Josefina and Molly were doing the same thing. “Cookies or cupcakes…How about both? Can’t forget…her favorite flavor…ice cream…”
“Oh my lands!” I gasped. “Today’s my birthday!“
I slammed my comp book shut as I gasped, and in response to my cry, all heads turned my way.
“HAPPY BIRTHDAY, EMELIE!” Everyone shouted.
A huge smile lit up my face.
Oh my goodness…it’s the day I’ve been hoping for! The gorgeous doll..she’s going to be mine! My thoughts raced faster than a speeding train as the others gathered around and Ellie slid presents my way.
But all my enthusiasm faded as I saw the presents. Not one was that spectacular rectangle-shaped doll box I had been hoping for. My heart nearly broke! Didn’t…didn’t they know that…all I wanted was a doll of my very own?
“No harm done…”
As much as I wanted to say, “I’m afraid of what might not be in there,” all that came out was, “I’m afraid of what might be in there!”
I pulled the fluffy bow-ish thing off, then the lid, and then pulled out a bracelet with a heart on it. “It’s beautiful,” I choked out, putting it on. But my thoughts were on that square box. Maybe they put her in there…maybe…maybe….
Why on earth did they give me this? This would have been perfect for Chloe’s birthday. She’s always writing stuff. Thoughts jumbled together in my head, but all that came out was, “Thank you so much! I’ve been wanting to have a diary for some time now.”
Chloe didn’t seem to notice my disgust, for she asked happily, “Do you like it? Your hair always smells so nice, but I noticed you were running out of your favorite kind, so I got you some more! Pantene is the brand, right? Oh, I’m so glad you like it!” As if she knew my answer would be, “I love it, thank you so much.”
As I slid down from my bed and watched the others joyfully set out plates and treats, Molly caught my eye.
“Absolutely,” I replied crisply in my Brittish accent, blinking my wet eyes.
I used my gymnast strength too, but struggled a little. Last time I climbed onto something, I was afraid. I wasn’t so scared anymore, just wondering how Molly climbed up so effortlessly.
Remembering she had been a gymnast much longer than I have and probably had more muscle, I finally found myself atop of the rail-fence-post-thing.
“What are you talking about?”
“You can’t fool your best friend. Your act might have worked on the others, but not on me. Emelie, your friends worked really hard to prepare the party and presents for you, and all you can think about is some doll you didn’t get?”
Molly’s words stung, and I felt warmth come to my cheeks.
“Some poor kids around the world don’t even get a party or presents or anything! They’re dying of hunger and malnutrition, yet you stick up your nose at the blessings provided for you? Do you know how hard Josefina and Cécile worked in that hot kitchen making food for your party? What about the money spent to get your presents? It might not be much to you, but we all gave up our allowances for a week to get those gifts for you, because we LOVE you! Doll or no doll, look at what you DO have! A loving family, food to eat, clothes on your back and a roof over your head. How could you be so ungrateful, Emelie?”
“I just…I’ve always wanted a doll. Last year I didn’t get a doll for my birthday, or Christmas, and I really want one. But it seems silly and childish to yearn for one now – how thoughtless I’ve been to you, and everyone else, and Madison. I’m so sorry.” I couldn’t look her in the eyes anymore.
We both laughed so hard until we cried. It was over nothing really, just laughing and crying. All the emotions deep inside of us – the devastation of having to move, the frustrations of Florida, the yearn for a non-chaotic life – came out in a few moments.
We finally dried our eyes and pulled away and just stared at each other, smiling. “Oh, Molly, it feels so good to laugh and cry,” I told her breathlessly. The raining had turned to a soft drizzle, and when we turned to look at the wet world beyond us, we saw it through different eyes, as if those unshed tears were blinding us.
And, maybe I’d get the doll for Christmas.
“I know, I know. We better get in…they’re waiting for us.” I smiled reluctantly as we both climbed down and back to the party.
I felt warm and happy to be surrounded by my friends.