Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Touch (the sense of touch) (08/05/10)
TITLE: Useless No More
By Caitlyn Meissner
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Just a little bit more….
Ahhh! The light! It’s bright, blinding. I struggle against it, straining to see. Where am I?
That’s when the fingers lift me up, stick a hook through the metal loop on my cap, and hang me up on display with the rest of the Hallmark ornaments. The Christmas season has begun.
Turns out the fingers belong to a girl in a red smock, who stares at me for a minute before offering her verdict. “What a useless little snowman.”
She turns away to fetch more ornaments, leaving me full of questions. Useless? Why am I useless? I just got here. How does she know I’m useless?
Hunh? What’s that?
I look down, but see nothing except the sled I’m sitting on.
“Pssst! Over here!”
That voice. It’s coming from my left. Concentrating hard because my limbs are so stiff, I manage to swing myself sideways to face the speaker.
There, on the hook next to mine, sits not one, but three other snowmen, all staring at me.
“Who are you?” I ask.
“Yo!” says one, a tall snowman clutching a trumpet. “I’m Frost.”
“Sax,” mutters the snowman with the saxophone.
“And you can call me Egbert,” says the shortest snowman, a trombone player.
“Cool instruments,” I say. “Do they work?”
“In a manner of speaking,” says Egbert. “We perform whenever someone pushes our buttons.”
“Cool!” I say again. Then a thought strikes me. “Hey! I don’t have a button.”
“Unfortunate, but true. Which is why the girl said you were--”
“But that’s not fair!” I protest. “Why do some ornaments get buttons and others don’t?”
“Providence has decreed it.”
“You mean I was made to be useless?”
“Of course not. Don’t be absurd. Just because you weren’t fashioned to be as … shall we say … appealing as other ornaments….”
“What he means, man,” interrupted Frost, “is that no one’s gonna buy a shrimpy ornament like you before Christmas.”
“But what will happen to me?”
“There’s always the 50% off sale.”
“No!” I shout. “I know someone will buy me! I just know it!”
“Shhh!” Frost whispers. “Chill out, man. Customers.”
That’s when I see the woman in the dark coat looking at us.
Reaching out a hand, she presses a button in front of Frost. Instantly, Frost’s trumpet starts to play.
The woman does the same thing with Sax and Egbert, and soon their instruments are blending in with the trumpet.
The music is catchy, and the woman starts to smile as she listens.
I close my eyes to block out that smile. So it’s true. I am useless. I don’t have buttons like the others do. I’ll never make anyone smile like they can. I’ll always be a worthless little ornament.
Just as I’m gulping back a sob, I hear a voice say, “Mommy! Mommy! I want THAT one.”
I look down at the ground, and freeze. Two blue boy eyes are staring up at me from under a baseball cap. His mouth is a wide grin, and his hands are shoved deep into his coat pockets in an effort to keep them from exploring.
“Which one?” the woman asks absently.
“That one!” the boy says, pointing straight at me.
The woman looks from me to the little boy. “Why?”
“Because he’s ALIVE!”
The woman sighs. “Joseph, we’ve been through this before. Things don’t come alive.”
“Yes, they do!”
“Look,” she says, pulling me off the display and handing me to Joseph. “He can’t move. He isn’t alive.”
But then, to my surprise, I am moving. With a ‘whoosh’ of his arm, Joseph swings me through the air.
For a moment I want to scream, but then I realize how good this feels. I’m moving! I’m flying!
“It’s Snowy!” Joseph squeals. “Santa’s super snowman with the jet-propelled sled! Watch him coming in for a landing,” he adds, flipping me in circles before landing me safely on the ground.
I look up, dizzy. The woman’s smiling again, but this time it’s at Joseph and … me.
“All right,” she laughs, digging through her purse. “How can I resist? He’s cheaper than the other one. Let’s buy him.”
“Yay!” Joseph cries, rushing towards the front counter.
And, clutched safe between those life-giving fingers, I’m just as excited as he is.
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