"The Water Globe"

I thought real hard about what to get you for your eleventh birthday. I don't know if you knew it or not, but yours was the first party I was invited to since moving here. Sure, I spent half the school year here and I'd come to be friends with all of your friends, but it was eight months before anyone thought to invite me. And, of course, you were the first. I'm not surprised that you ere, or, like, bitter that it took so long or anything. I'm sure if you'd've been born any earlier in the year you'd've invited me then.

It was about fifteen minutes after your party had already started and I was still in Wal-Mart, staring at the display in the jewelry department so hard my eyeballs felt dried up and started to ache sharply in the back. But I couldn't help it. It was perfect. “It” was one of those happy, sunshine Precious Moments water globes-- the kind that was exactly like their line of sentimental pastel snow globes. Only instead of little kids with mittens and skates, the figurines in this globe had shovels and pails, ready for their play on the carved little beach scene. They had those picturesque carved little cherub faces with smiles that somehow managed to be both demure and excited at the same time. Their little bathing suit-clad bodies were pudgy, but gracefully rounded, not lumpy and ugly the way chubby kids like me were in real life.

That was part of its allure, of course. The perfect tiny sculptures trapped in an all encompassing glass bowl seemed imperfect enough to relate to. They looked like us. One of the girls in the globe had your faded, reddish brown hair cut short and playful around the chin. The other had blond hair like mine-- or at least how mine looked when it was freshly washed and my mother spent over an hour wrangling the thick waves with a hot rod of iron to produce those JonBenet style curls.

And when I picked up that globe to shake it, rolling the too-bright blue gelatinous water of the beach scene up high like a tsunami, nothing changed really. The resin blond's curls stayed perfect. The sand didn't move. The words that had been carved into the shore line never washed away. Best-friends, it said.