Buying a Memory

donut dog

© Yinglan Z.

“You’ve got to be kidding.” It was Martin’s first reaction to his wife Helen’s suggestion. “You want to buy this…this thing for our three-year-old granddaughter?”

“It’s adorable.”

“It’s ridiculous, and it’s made of porcelain. Couldn’t we get her a gift that won’t break when she drops it?”

“But she’ll love it.”

“She’ll love a lot of things that are cuter, less expensive, and less fragile.”

“But Marty…”

“Okay, let’s have it. What’s the real reason?”

Helen looked down at her shoes and when she faced Martin again, he saw tears streaming down her cheeks. He put his hands gently on her shoulders.

“What is it?” His voice was calm, soft, almost a whisper.

“My Grandpa gave something just like it to me for my fifth birthday. He…he died of a heart attack a month later.”

Martin pulled his wife close and held her. “Alright. We’ll get it for her.”

“Marty? Marty, you make me so happy.”

“But we’ll keep it high up on a shelf so she can admire until she’s older.”

I wrote this for the 180th FFfAW Challenge hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 172.

Yes, I think donut dog is ridiculous, too. However, I had to think of some reason for validating this choice of gift.

My son is divorced and the visitation schedule for his two children is that they spend one week with their Mom and the alternating week with him (and us). In addition, due to my ex-daughter-in-law’s work schedule, we babysit our three-year-old granddaughter Monday through Wednesday on her week.

My grandson has favorite stuffed animals that he carries back and forth for a sense of stability, but up until now, my granddaughter hasn’t done so. Yesterday, my wife took our granddaughter to the store and bought her an “Elsa” backpack plus two special stuffed animals she can always keep with her, just like her brother. They look ridiculous, but she adores them, and I adore her.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

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23 thoughts on “Buying a Memory

  1. Your character’s suggestion of placing such an object on a high shelf to be admired from a supposedly safe distance struck me as creating what is sometimes called an “attractive nuisance”. I can’t escape the vision of a curious toddler climbing up shelves or standing on a pile of objects stacked on a chair, trying to reach the object and pulling down everything in a grand cascade of object, shelf, pile and child. Stuffed animals are a much safer bet, because one is less tempted to place them supposedly out of reach. I don’t know if the image here of “donut dog” is in actuality a porcelain coin bank destined one day to be smashed open for the joy of purchasing something else more desirable, but even so it is not age-appropriate for a three-year-old, or even a five-year-old. If it is closely guarded by an adult who aggregates coins into it as a head-start for the child, it could be suitable to start before the child is ready to receive it and continue the practice. But I might suggest a more appropriate age to transfer such a gift could be more in the vicinity of eight-years-old.

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    • When my wife and I married decades ago, one of our wedding gifts was an ornately painted porclain cat. We keep it on top of a tall dresser. One day, my granddaughter saw it and wanted to pet it. I’ve let her do that on a few occasions, but only on the condition that I hold the cat in my hands. She’s long since forgotten about it.

      True story, when my daughter was a pre-teen, she wanted some sugar or chocolate or something my wife didn’t want her to have. The item was placed on the top shelf of our pantry. So, she started to climb the shelves, not realizing that at her age, she was too heavy. Of course she broke one of the shelves and was instantly busted. Now she’s 30 and is an avid runner, so I expect lots of sugar and chocolate are not on her current diet.

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    • PL, I like your response. It is a nice story, but I think it would be better to just own up that the pair are buying the item for Helen. Then Helen could tell her grandchild at some point that her grandfather had bought something like it for her when she was young and that it reminds her of her grandfather. It could go in a China cabinet and be off-limits. I was pleasantly surprised at how readily my oldest son understood that something belonged to someone else, so he shouldn’t touch it.

      But you reminded me of when my husband put a gumball machine on his desk in the family room — right in the middle of our living space, with the kitchen on one side and living room on the other and a completely open plan. And guess who is home all day to guard the freakin’ gumballs? No matter that I voiced the obvious. My third child was more like what you describe, not even once in a while. Always. Boggles my mind that there are people who say parents should do things like this.

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      • My “husband” continued to ignore the reality of the situation. Thus, the long-term outcome was I didn’t have time to guard the desk. You know, real-world consequences for an immature person.

        Oh… and I did have a china cabinet. The child who got into everything accessible didn’t ever bother it. I didn’t even have to guard it or remind him. This is because it made sense and was sentimental.

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  2. ……. Yesterday, my wife took our granddaughter to the store and bought her an “Elsa” backpack plus two special stuffed animals she can always keep with her, just like her brother. They look ridiculous, but she adores them, and I adore her.I

    Priceless, and certainly endearing.

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  3. A sweet little tale, James. My grandfather used to buy me old comic books when I was a kid and I used to treasure them. Mandrake the Magician and Phantom were a part of my childhood, thanks to grandpa.

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  4. I have to agree with the dad, keep the porcelain dog high on a shelf. That is sweet that your wife bought your granddaughter a backpack and stuffed animals. They will mean a lot to the little girl. Great story, James!

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