Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: SHOP (01/03/19)
- TITLE: Child's Play
By Jennifer Woodley
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Becky finished putting the field daises in a large milking can and turned to her sister. ‘Well mummy says that Snuggle Pot and Cuddle Pie like to make their home in gum nuts, so they must be important. I think we should sell them for 10 cents each.’
Nodding approvingly, Joanne wrote 10 on a square of white cardboard in large black writing and put it beside the gum nuts. Shriveled mushrooms, bundles of thin withering carrots, a few squashed cumquats, and under-ripe figs covered the table. Joanne carefully put a few unwashed chicken eggs that she had hurriedly stolen from the old black hen in the shed, next to the other wares. ‘It was nice of mummy to lend us her best tablecloth wasn’t it, Becky?’
Her older sister blushed as she heaved a pumpkin, almost as big as Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage, onto the table, carefully avoiding the eggs. ‘Well actually, I haven’t told her we have it yet. But she won’t mind when she sees how much money we’ll make today.’
Joanne frowned at her sister. Even at four years of age, Joanne knew that stealing wasn’t the right thing. She said nothing, but began spooning cool, homemade lemonade into the frosty-colored metal cups she had arranged in rows. Joanne made a mental note not to spill any of the precious drink onto their mother’s lacy cloth.
Overhead, the wind whispered through the tall fire trees and the low, melancholy bleating of sheep came wafting towards them from the heavily-scented apple orchard across the road. That was their cousins’ farm, ‘Clear View’ and most of their shop business would be from cousins scampering periodically across the way between chores, to savor their merchandise.
‘I hope Phillip comes’ Becky cooed. ‘He always has the most money.’ But Joanne knew that her sister only wanted Phillip to come because he was much older and very handsome and always made big, lovesick eyes at Becky.
The morning grew hot as they waited patiently for customers. When Joanne wasn’t watching, little Becky couldn’t help but drink a few cups of lemonade to quench her thirst. No cousins came. In fact, the worst possible thing happened. Uncle Keith drove out of the drive of ‘Clear View’ in the family sedan and what do you think? The entire family, seven cousins and Aunty Heather were seated inside! Becky and Joanne were dismally sad as they waved forlornly to their vanishing customers and their primary means of making any money today.
Just when the girls were beginning to feel like playing shop was all hard work with no return, they heard the crunch of footsteps on the gravel drive behind them. Turning towards the soft laughter of women's voices, the sisters saw their mother and Aunty Ruth, who was visiting from the city. Two grown up sisters, who could recall in a past life the ups and downs of playing shop, had come to spend their money on two little sisters who were ready to pack up shop and go home.
Such joy as Becky and Joanne transformed themselves into efficient, helpful and persuasive shopkeepers! And with the same eagerness, the older women became animated customers in need of what seemed to be almost everything the little girls had to sell.
‘What a beautiful tablecloth!’ noted mother, without a hint of annoyance. ‘How much can I buy this for?’
Joanne was astounded, especially as one of the eggs had cracked and was now pouring its gooey contents out all over the lace. ‘Oh we will give it to you for free.’
But their mother wouldn’t hear of it. ‘One dollar or nothing!’ she announced generously.
And in just a few quick minutes, after waiting for a staggering long time all morning, the girls had sold everything and their shop had had the most successful day of sales on record.
Ruth and her sister winked at each other as they helped the girls pack up. Smiling knowingly, they remembered together a time long ago. A time when they too had been the recipients on one hot, long Saturday morning of their mother and her sister’s generosity. They recalled the thrill of being sold out in less than five minutes. ‘What goes around, comes around hey, dear sister?’
‘Yes indeed’ and they laughed, admiring their purchases.
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