Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: CHILDHOOD (03/09/17)
- TITLE: How Momma Taught Me to Tell Lies
By Sandra Fischer
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“And what big plans does my favorite granddaughter have for her special day?”
“Nothing today, but a picnic at the fair tomorrow.”
“We’ll celebrate then.” Momma smiles, picks up the carrier and winks at Grandma. “She’s growing up. Can’t believe she’s six already.”
I hold the precious cargo on my lap as we drive home. “Can we have some cake today, since it is my birthday?”
She pats my leg. “Let’s wait until tomorrow.”
“Do I have to wait ‘til then for presents, too?”
“We’ll see,” she says. I hate “We’ll see”, the “maybe yes, maybe no” answer that’s no answer.
My older sister meets us at the front door. “Nice cake, Mandy. Too bad you can’t have some until tomorrow.”
Momma frowns at Mary Ellen and wraps me in her arms. “I have an idea, Mandy. Daddy said there’s something in the playhouse for you today. Go see.”
I scurry out to the playhouse Daddy built for us. As I approach the door I hear shuffling inside. “There’s something inside. I’m scared.”
“It’s all right.” Momma says.
I slowly open the door. I’m met with giggles and screams. “Happy Birthday, Mandy!” Alma, Sue, Carolyn, and Mary Alice dance around me. “Surprise!”
Later, I open gifts of paper dolls, crayons and coloring books. Soon, the angel food cake with green icing melts in our mouths as we drink kool aid in colored Dixie cups.
“Stand still,” Momma pulls on the flowered material covering me. “I can’t pin the hem straight if you’re moving.”
I shift my weight, but I’m tired. “Why can’t Aunt Millie make Carol’s housecoat?”
Momma takes the straight pins out from her lips. “Because it’s a birthday surprise and you’re about the same size. Besides, Millie works and doesn’t have time to sew.”
I sigh and look down at the pattern of yellow, pink and purple blossoms. Puffed sleeves sit on my shoulders, making me look taller than my ten years. I finger the bright green buttons tucked between the hand-sewn buttonholes.
“It’s nice, Momma. Cousin Carol will love it.”
My birthday comes a week before Carol’s. After our picnic of fried chicken, potato salad and Grandma’s angel food birthday cake with green icing, I open my gifts.
Mary Ellen’s is a charm bracelet with an “M” engraved on a heart. I give her a hug. Momma hands me a box wrapped in pink-striped paper. I open it and gasp at the contents.
“The housecoat!” I frown at Momma. “You said it was for Carol.”
Momma feigns shame. “How else could I get the hem the right length?”
I look at the bride doll in J.C. Penney’s Christmas catalog. “Isn’t she beautiful, Momma?”
“Yes, she is. She’s also expensive.”
Mary Ellen peers over my shoulder. “It would be nice to get her since it’s your last year to get a doll. Twelve is the cut-off date for dolls in our house.”
I love dolls. From the baby doll that says “Momma” when you tilt her head to my Sonja Henie doll with ice skates, I love them. If this is to be my last one, I want the bride doll. She has auburn hair like mine and her long satin gown is trimmed in pearls and lace. Her veil covers her brown eyes like mine. She's perfect.
December days drag by and I keep talking about the doll. “Do you think I might get the bride doll? I don’t care about anything else.”
“We’ll see,” Momma says. I hate “We’ll see”, the answer that’s no answer.
I help around the house more as Christmas draws near. I keep my room straightened and wash the dishes when it’s Mary Ellen’s turn. One day I iron the linens while Momma takes a nap. I cannot reach the shelf to put them away so I get a stool to reach the higher shelf. As I push the linens, I feel a box. I pull it closer and I gape at the image on the box—the bride doll.
My heart is pounding as I push it back, store the linens and put the stool away.
Christmas day arrives. We sing carols, read the Christmas story and exchange gifts. Momma smiles as I unwrap the box containing the bride doll.
“Oh, Momma!” I cry. “I can’t believe it! Thank you.” I hug her neck. “You always know how to surprise me!”
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