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The Frantic Shopper



There are mobs of minions,
shopping for their younguns’.
They push their carts
in stops and starts,
carrying their bags
looking at tags,
searching for the perfect gift.
A frantic shopper wades through the crowds.
“They’re all quite loud,”
she thinks to herself, then moves on.
“Where’s the toy my child wanted?”
She asks the clerk, his eyes looking haunted.
“Sorry we’re out.
Check back later,” he shouts
above the din.
“What? You haven’t got it in?
Call another store.
Surely, there’ve got to be more.”
“OK. I’ll check,” he says and picks up the phone.
“Yes,” he nods. “There’s one and one alone.”
“Hold it for me,” she demands,
“I’ll be right there.”
“OK,” the clerk says, as the others stare,
though the frantic shopper is quite unaware.

She weaves through traffic, passing other cars.
The speedometer pushes
higher and higher than ever before.
The landscape blurs past,
her eyes intent,
hell-bent
on getting that toy.
“Please be there for my little boy,”
she says under her breath,
but the lot is full, a fate worse than death.
“There’s no place to park,” she screams.
But she is wrong it seems.
A family strolls casually by
with a toddler waving hi
to all passersby.
“Come on. Come on.
Get in your car,” she urges them on.
They climb in their car
and strap their child in his seat.
Their running lights come on.
The frantic shopper grits her teeth.
Time feels frozen, her heart just as cold.
She curses and beats the old
steering wheel.
With impatience, she tamps her heel.
The family’s car cautiously eases out.
The frantic shopper swerves in and gets out
of her car, swiftly finding a cart.
The cool handle of the cart
hastens her nerves.
She spits out.
“If that jerk
sales clerk
told me wrong:
It’s on
like Donkey Kong!”
She rushes inside,
pushed by her pride.

She overwhelms the cashier.
“Do you have it? Do we have a deal?”
“Sorry ma’am but this customer has the last,”
the cashier whispers as she accepts a frail, old woman’s cash.
The frail lady with the toy just smiles,
an ironic smile, the frantic shopper thinks.
I’ll wipe it off and take what’s mine.
She grits her teeth, baring them all.
The frail lady just smiles again and extends her hand.
“Here. You have it. Merry Christmas.
We already bought one for my grandson last week.
This was for a homeless boy I used to teach.”
The frantic shopper extends her hand
and grasps the gift.
“It’s mine,” she screams.
“The toy of my son’s dreams!”
Then the frantic shopper’s eyes drift
down to the frail ladies sweatshirt.
Penned in cursive in homemade stitching, it says:
“Merry Christmas, our Lord is the only gift we need.”
The frantic shopper fights her greed,
beats her breast,
crosses her chest,
and finally gathers herself.
Suddenly, her lips crack a warm smile
“Please. Take it. Give it to the boy in need.”
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Submitted on January 05, 2011

2:34 min read
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