My daughter had to have Candy Sparkles for Christmas. Had to. I didn’t even know what the toy really was or what it did, except for the fact that it emanated bursts of cotton candy scented glitter. I tried to talk Savannah into getting a bicycle, or maybe a new pair of rollerblades instead, but the doll was the only thing she put down on her wish list. What kind of parent would I be if I didn’t go to the ends of the earth to get my child the one and only toy she asked for?
The wait at the mall on Thanksgiving morning was hellacious, but I knew I had to do it. If I didn’t get the damned toy now then it would be next to impossible to find once Christmas shopping season was really in swing. I parked my ass on the concrete outside of Sears behind another dedicated mom around three a.m. and played games on my phone to pass the time as the frigid November wind whipped my face and chapped my cheeks. It was freezing and miserable, but I didn’t care. I was going to get what I came for.
The doors opened at six a.m., and I was immediately glad that I showed up early. A line had formed during the wee hours, wrapping all the way around the mall probably for a quarter of a mile or so. I had my promotional flier at hand. I had my digital coupon ready. I was going to get that fucking Candy Sparkles doll if it killed me. And killed me it almost did.
No sooner than the teenage mall associate unlocked the doors did a wave of eager shoppers heave through the entry. Fuzzy boots stomped across tile, parka jackets swished and dozens of breathless parents swarmed toward the toy section like a horde. Candy Sparkles was the “It” toy of the season, and I knew from experience that an item in high demand wouldn’t be put out front, easily on display for just anyone to grab.
It was down to me and the other woman I had been waiting in line with all morning. We were the first to find a small stock of Candy Sparkles dolls in the very back by the video games where no one would suspect them to be. There were no more than two dozen dolls, gleaming in all of their technicolor glory from inside cellophane front packages. At $79.99 each, they were a steal; almost half their usual asking price. Most of these dolls would likely be put up online for four times the cost, but not my Candy Sparkles doll. Mine would be safely nestled under the tree for Savannah. I grabbed the first box I saw as a dozen customers swarmed in behind me to claim their prize. I cradled the cardboard box in my arms and headed to the register, triumphant with glee.
The sun was just beginning to rise as I shuffled to the car with my hard earned package in hand. I yawned, desperate for a nap before our home would be flooded with family expecting their Thanksgiving meal. I huffed against the frigid air and quickly turned over my engine, cranking the heat to full blast as Mariah Carey’s voice crackled and crooned through the speakers. I glanced over lovingly at the package in the seat next to me, flooded with relief and holiday cheer.
Yes, Candy Sparkles. All I wanted for Christmas was you, too.
I yawned again and pulled out of the mall parking lot, giddy with exhaustion. I was an excellent mom. The best. Only a lazy, uncaring mother wouldn’t want to wait out in the cold on Thanksgiving morning to get their child the Christmas gift of their dreams. Savannah would open up her present on Christmas morning and know that mommy gave a shit.
There were only green lights and smiles until I was about a half mile from home. It was at the stop light when I heard something rustling from inside the plastic Sears bag. From inside the Candy Sparkles box.
Shit. I forgot to check and see if this thing needs batteries.
I pulled the box out of its bag and examined the packaging in the early November morning light. I read the usual cautionary messages in small print, the barcode, the name Candy Sparkles in big, glittery bubble font. But there was no mention of needing batteries. Still, something moved again inside the box. I stared down at Candy Sparkles plastic, pink eyes behind a curtain of rainbow bangs. She smiled back at me with white, chipmunk teeth and a set of shiny, purple lips. What the fuck did this doll do anyway?
“You’re sweet!” The doll chirped at me, its animatronic mouth moving up and down. “Let’s sparkle!”
The light turned green. I rolled my eyes and tossed the box aside. Something rustled inside the package again as I pulled into my gated community. Another rustle. I glanced over and screamed as a pair of pink plastic eyes blinked back at me.
“Play with me!” Candy Sparkled giggled, her chubby plastic hands outstretched. The doll lunged for my steering wheel, her mouth stretched into a wide, gaping maw. The last thing I remembered was the scent of cotton candy and a burst of glitter as my car veered past the Johnson’s inflated snowman and straight into a brick wall.
Wendy Dalrymple writes cute, low-heat romances and sometimes spooky stuff too. When she’s not writing happily-ever-afters and tropical thrillers, you can find her camping with her family, painting (bad) wall art, and trying to grow as many pineapples as possible.