JUST ONE WISH
Chapter 1 I would have expected to see this sort of line if, say, Elvis had returned from the dead to give a concert. Or if some eccentric yet ultra-cool billionaire was blessing the lives of deserving teens by handing out free sports cars. But I hadn‟t expected to see this many people lined up in the dark waiting for the Day-After-Thanksgiving sale at Toys “R” Us. Really, whatever happened to good oldfashioned procrastination? Apparently every resident of Henderson, Nevada, had come out, and it was still only 4:50 A.M. The store didn‟t even open for another ten minutes. Madison zipped her jacket up higher as we climbed out of my minivan. “This is a prime example of commercialism run amok.” I didn‟t answer, because I was too busy rushing across the parking lot to the end of the line. Besides, Madison really shouldn‟t talk— every year she gets so many gifts you have to listen to her complain until New Year‟s about how she has to reorganize her room to fit them all in. Madison is not only my best friend, but probably the only friend I could convince to get up this early to track down a Talking Teen Robin Hood action figure for my six-year-old brother. I myself wouldn‟t have woken up at four-thirty if it weren‟t so important. Madison folded her arms around herself for warmth. We‟d only worn light jackets because we hadn‟t expected to wait outside very long, but even the Nevada desert is cold at ten to five in the morning. Madison‟s usually tidy shoulder-length hair—she calls it strawberry blond, but it is way more strawberry than blond— looked as though she hadn‟t even combed it. I‟d thrown on sweats and shoved my hair into a ponytail. Now I wished I‟d thought to bring a hat.
Madison peered at the line in front of us. “You know, Annika, if you can‟t find a Teen Robin Hood, I‟m sure Jeremy would be fine with a different gift. Maybe you could get him a real bow and arrow set like yours.” I thought about my compound bow, but I couldn‟t imagine Jeremy with something like that. It was nearly as big as he was, and he might not have the strength to pull it back all the way. The thought made my throat feel tight. I shook my head. “It has to be Teen Robin Hood.” Jeremy had said he wanted the Teen Robin Hood action figure, and kept saying it every time he watched the TV show, so that was the toy I had to get him. The husband and wife in front of us were busy planning their buying strategy. “I‟ll call you as soon as I have the PlayStation in my hands. You grab one of those bikes that‟s on sale. Throw yourself over it if you have to.” I pulled my sleeves over my hands to keep out the chill. Why did Jeremy have to love Robin Hood? Why couldn‟t he still want to be Hercules? I bet you no one was throwing themselves over the Hercules toys. At five o‟clock the doors opened, but it took us another twenty minutes to get in. By that time the aisles buzzed with people grabbing toys from shelves, and lines had already formed at the registers. I told Madison, “Why don‟t you go stand in line while I look for action figures. It will take less time that way.” I didn‟t wait for her answer, just weaved my way down an aisle. I wanted to hurry past people but continually found myself trapped behind carts with mammoth toys that blocked the way.
I cut across the Barbie doll aisle and momentarily considered picking up a girlfriend for Teen Robin Hood, one who was a little more suitable for him than Maid Marion. I‟m sorry, but the actress who plays her is a total flake. All she does is flutter, cry, and wait for rescue. She never would have made it two days in the real Middle Ages, which is why I started rooting for Robin Hood to dump her after the third episode. I bet even Barbie could have taken her on in a serious smack down. Finally I found the action figure row. I walked up and down, scanning the shelves for the green boxes of the Nottingham characters. The four-inch set Jeremy already owned sat prominently on the shelf, but I...
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