The Birthday Present

Copyright © 2013 C.L. Mannarino
All rights reserved.


Beyond the aperture, Clare could see the line of wooden dolls on her sister’s dresser.

“Oh my god,” she whispered, entering the room. A little bit of sunlight had trickled in through the curtains behind them, and it emphasized the wear and tear of their clothes, their faces. The dolls, each seated on the curved edge of the furniture, varied in size, where the tallest was a foot tall and the smallest was only two inches and barely propped up on her tiny butt.

With a small laugh, Clare lifted the first doll in the lineup. She recognized the painted eyes, the lightly carved hands and feet, as being hers from when she was a girl.

The door creaked. Holding her doll close, Clare turned and saw Harriet standing just inside the room, a small, uncertain smile growing across her face.

“I can’t believe you found them!” Clare said, turning back to the doll. She ran her hand over its dress.

“We found them in the attic,” Harriet said, looking at the second doll. She reached out as if to touch it, but then dropped her hand to her side again. “Mom said you put them there when you turned twelve because you said you didn’t need them anymore. She said you didn’t want to be seen playing with them.”

Clare watched her sister as she fingered the wooden arms of her old toy. Harriet wouldn’t meet her eyes, but there was still a ghost of a smile on her face. It occurred to her that her sister was looking for some kind of confirmation, or so it seemed.

Twelve can be such a difficult age, Clare remembered her mother saying that morning while she and Clare’s dad cooked Harriet’s birthday breakfast—streudel and fresh cream. She hadn’t thought much about it then, but now it made sense.

“I was wrong,” she told her sister.

Harriet blinked and glanced over her shoulder. It might’ve been her imagination, but Clare thought her sister was suddenly standing a little bit taller, which only spurred her on.

“And to prove it, I want to play dolls right now. C’mon,” she said, scooping the toys into her arms before Harriet could say anything, “I’ll teach you the games mom and I used to play.”

Clare led her sister out into the yard, tumbling onto the grass and letting the dolls drop to the ground between them. For the rest of the afternoon, they sat with their feet pressed together under the sun and filled their air with the silly accents they imagined for their toys. It was one of the best birthdays either girl had had to date.


Prompt: Word of the day: Aperture. From writeworld

The story and characters belong to me, but the photos do not. Enjoy! 🙂


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