Six-year-old Julie is walking alongside her mom at the grocery store. Bored out of her mind, she watches her mom put food and drinks into the shopping cart and checking off her list. Julie examines the shelves with curiosity. She wishes she could take a package of cookies off the shelf and sneak them into the cart but she has been in enough trouble already.
Recently, Julie had broken her toys during playtime and her mother grew furious. As punishment, her mother prohibits her from having anymore toys until she can prove to be responsible with them. The little girl argued that her toys were cheaply-made and her friends had better quality ones. It’s not like she did it intentionally but her mother wouldn’t listen to her side of the story. Her mother retorted that she was just irresponsible. Julie has been irritable ever since.
Once groceries were collected and purchased, Julie and her mother were exiting out of the store when they both hear, “Alexandra? Alexandra Munson?” An old, well-groomed woman in a stylish business suit approaches them. Despite all of the makeup she has on, her face has more wrinkles than a New York road map.
“Hello, Eleanor! I haven’t seen you in a while.” Julie’s mother excitedly greets the old woman with a tight hug. “How have you been?” “I’ve been doing well…” The old woman begins to converse with Julie’s mother and Julie does what six-year-olds do best: immediately grow bored.
Glimpsing around the area, she discovers a randomly placed playground in a sand lot to the left of the grocery store. The absence of children gave Julie disappointment but something intriguing catches her eye.
A colorful merry-go-round sits isolated from the rest of the playground equipment. The riding seats were the strangest things she has ever seen, but that’s not what she was staring at.
Underneath it, there is an abandoned Barbie doll. Julie had to have it. She knew her mother would confiscate the doll if she discovers it but Julie wants to prove that she can be responsible. She does not want to break another toy if she can help it.
As the two women are heavily involved in their conversation, Julie runs over to the playground. When she reached the merry-go-round, she looks under the steel platform and finds a sand-covered Barbie resting next the center beam. Too far for her to reach, Julie stands up and dusts the sand off of her hands. She made a check on the women and finds that they still haven’t noticed that she ran off.
Taking a deep breath, Julie grips the cold metal platform with her tiny hands. With the greatest of ease, she lifts the merry-go-round off to one side like an ant picking up a small leaf. Then the tiny girl kneels under, holding the playground equipment with one hand, and gingerly picks up the Barbie doll.
Suddenly the little girl hears her mother ask, “Have you met my daughter Julie?” and panics. She tosses the Barbie on top of the metal platform and quickly, but gently, puts the merry-go-round back down. She spins around and hides the doll behind her just in time for her mom and the old woman to spot her.
“Julie, what are you doing over there? Come here and meet Miss Eleanor.” Her mother calls her.
“Coming!” Julie shouts back. When the two women look back to each other, she inconspicuously buries half of the doll into the back of her pants and covers the rest with her shirt. From the corner of her eye, there is a small boy on the other side of the playground. His jaw appears completely unhinged and the ice cream cone he is holding drips all over his hand.
Smiling brightly, Julie makes a zip-your-lips motion to the boy and runs off to her mother.
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