As per usual // Christy & Penny
Penny’s eyes lit up at the girl’s request. “You mean, like, an old-fashioned jewelry box? With a ballerina? Oh my gosh, I have the perfect one! Just a sec.”
Penny scampered to the back of the store and through the “EMPLOYEES ONLY” door. Sometimes, when customers came in and Penny saw them eyeing something special, but they couldn’t afford it, Penny would stash it back with the storage. She knew this was totally against the rules, but she couldn’t help it. She loved making people happy more than anything else in the world, and she never forgot a face. So when the people would come back to the store, Penny would rush to the back and bring forth their prize. And, oh, the way their faces would light up!
This pastel pink jewelry box wasn’t being stored for anyone in particular. It had been slow one night a couple of weeks ago and Penny had helped stock the second-hand shelves with the toys from the donation box. When she’d come across the jewelry box decorated with tiny, golden, hand-painted roses, she’d actually gasped aloud. She knew it couldn’t be the one she’d had as a child, which had sat in a box in the attic for years before finally being sold at a garage sale before her parents moved to Dublin with their retirement money. But… it looked the same, it felt the same… and when she opened it, the same petite, brunette ballerina had a paint chip at the top of her bun (just like Penny’s used to have!) as it spun daintily on its pedestal to “Fur Elise”.
It couldn’t be Penny’s toy. It just couldn’t. The odds were too high. The manufacturer had misjudged the height of the ballerina; her head barely brushed the inside wall of the box as it closed. Any beloved one such as hers would surely have a paint chip in the same spot. Surely.
Penny had been saving the jewelry box for someone special, someone who truly deserved it. That’s why she’d hidden it — she didn’t want just anybody to take home such a magical toy.
To be fair, she’d forgotten all about it. But as soon as this girl mentioned it, Penny knew she was the one. Sure, she was a bit moody and ‘tudey, but Penny was a firm believer that if given the opportunity, people would rise to others’ expectations of them. As silly as it sounded, maybe this little box was exactly what Penny’s customer needed.
Penny grabbed the jewelry box from its hiding spot behind some storage boxes and hurried back out to the girl. She was surely grinning like a huge idiot, but she didn’t care. She was under the ridiculous notion that somehow this old toy would mean a lot to this girl, would touch her heart in some way like it had Penny’s.
Meanwhile, the girl was looking at Penny like she had three heads.
“Here, have a look at this!!” Penny handed the box over. “The ballerina has a small paint chip, but we can easily add a dab of paint to it should you choose to purchase it. It’s only $4.50!” She sighed dreamily as the girl opened the box and the familiar melody began to play. “Isn’t it fantastical?”
It was. It really was fantastical. Christy’s eyes widened calmly as the girl brought just what she had requested. Her cousin would surely appreciate it, and maybe even wouldn’t mind the little defect the girl talked about. But this was the sort of thing Christy had wished for as a child. She wished her parents had found her a special, one of a kind box to give to her, as a token of their love, and to make her remember them. But then she remembered she didn’t want to remember either of them that much. Positive sides they had, sure, but to Christy they’d ever only been negative. Or at least it felt like it. The box was, in short, absolutely perfect. As her entire life erupted in her eyes, Christy had to suffocate some of the emotions to look at the girl with a smile which the ghost of a scowl still lingered upon.
"Yeah… it’s fantastical," she said, pulling herself together. The smile faded, but did not entirely vanish. Christy reverted to stiff, polite indifference. "I’ll take it."
Taking it carefully in her hands, she waited for the girl to lead the way to the register. “If that little brat breaks this, she’s not even going to have the common fucking sense to take it back here and pay for reparation. She’ll throw it in the trash like all the other things she breaks.”
Christy eyed the girl, somewhat harshly again, though did not quite direct the harshness at the girl. “Could be I find her some clothes in some store and keep this for myself.”
The effect was slightly ruined thanks to Christy neither smiling nor grinning at what she said, but waited to be able to pay with thoughtful indifference.