This is a 500-word short story for a fiction class I am taking. The prompt was to turn on the radio and use the first thing that comes on as a springboard for a story. K-LOVE was talking about a post on Facebook, My child is not required to share with yours. Adults have boundaries and don’t share everything with everyone. Why do we insist our child share? Is it ever ok for a child not to share? How do you give a child a heart to share?
“Ellie, share your toy with Susan. Good little girls share their toys.” Betsy watched her mom discipline her two-year-old little sister as she heard her mom’s cell phone ringing and reached for her purse to hand it to her.
“What do you think you are doing, Little Miss? You do not go in my purse.”
Betsy backed away hurt and confused and sat in a corner with her book. She overheard her mom commenting to her aunt at what a good girl Betsy was, quiet, obedient and always reading. Yes, reading was good. In books kids could run and play, they laughed, and their world was bright and safe.
“You don’t just take a piece of pizza from the middle. That’s selfish of you to take the biggest piece. You take the next one in the circle.” Betsy drew her feet under her as her finger tapped rhythmically trying to stop the familiar spinning in her head as her field of vision grew smaller. The pizza she was looking forward to moments before felt like rocks in her mouth.
Her mom had come in her bedroom a half hour ago, “Come on, Betsy. Dad is surprising the family with pizza. Let’s go pick it up.” Betsy rose and followed her mom obediently to the car, never mentioning that she was taking a quiz for her fifth-grade Geography class.
Later that night as she laid in bed she felt her throat tightening, and a sense of dread come over her that accompanied bedtime. It would be hours before the sun went down and sleep came. When she would walk from the bedroom door to her top bunk ladder, she was never sure of what made the crunching noise under her feet. Every inch of the floor was covered with her sister’s toys, books, and clothes. She remembered the unfinished quiz knowing she would have to fake sick tomorrow during Geography rather than explain to the teacher why it wasn’t done. Finishing it now was not an option. The thought of doing anything but laying there never crossed her mind. She knew what was expected of her and she knew what would happen if she didn’t obey.
Across the hall she overhead her mom telling her dad about her concerns with Ellie not sharing well. She is nothing like Betsy. Betsy always shared her toys so well. She is such an easy, compliant child. Ellie, on the other hand, seemed to know her mind. It is exhausting trying to squelch that before it got out of hand.
Betsy tossed her bed and stuffed her opinions and her needs deeper inside her where no one would suspect they existed. She was good. She didn’t argue or talk back. Stay invisible. See what they might want and give them that -then maybe they would like her.