Sally’s Sticky Situation

15 Sep

Sally’s short stubby fingers grazed over the gum packages in the candy aisle at the grocery mart. She touched blazing red packets, tropical fruit covered boxes, and striped rainbow packages.

“What’s it going to be today, Sally?” announced a familiar voice. She followed the voice’s trail and landed on the owner of the grocery store, Margaret, a middle-aged woman who was twirling her long, black, straggly hair.

Sally could never make a quick decision as to which pack of gum she was going to buy with her weekly allowance money. “I’m not sure. I’ve never tried the gum with the fruit in the middle – maybe I’ll try that one this week. But, my friend Tommy told me that this one blows really big bubbles,” said Sally, holding up the Big Chew pack.

“Hmm…that’s a tough decision, Sally,” Margaret answered back, not offering any help to the young 10-year-old.

Sally squeezed shut her big blue eyes, circled her short arm in the air two times, and then pointed to a spot on the rack. This was her reliable method of choosing a pack of gum if she couldn’t make up her mind. Her rounded finger pointed to the pack with the fruit in the middle. She clapped her small hands together and rapidly picked up the pack of gum. Sally’s hand reached up to the counter and plopped down a dollar in change.

“See you next week!” chimed Margaret in unison with the bell above the exit door.

“Bye!” Sally waved over her shoulder as she bursted out of the mart. Sally ran the entire three blocks home and approached the back door of the house, that led to the kitchen, out of breath.
“Where have you been?” questioned Sally’s mother, with a stern look on her weathered face.

“At The Corner Store, getting some gum.”

“Go clean up for dinner. We’re having chicken cutlets and mashed potatoes tonight – your favorite.”

“Yay!” exclaimed Sally as she started to strut up the stairs.

“Go get Lisa – she’s doing her homework.”

Sally’s sister, Lisa, was sprawled out on the floor, next to her unused pine desk, surrounded by papers and books when Sally barged into her room. Sally was only 18 months older than Lisa and they were always mistaken for twins. Their closeness in age and resemblance in looks was as far as the bond between the two of them stretched. Lisa and Sally were always in an unspoken rivalry. Whether it was playing sports, reading, or playing the clarinet – the competitive list between the two could scroll all the way from The Golden Gate Bridge to the Statue of Liberty.
“Hey butt face, Ma said to clean up for dinner.”

“Yeah, yeah. I’ll be down in a minute.”

“You ready for the race this weekend?” Sally was talking about the big track meet that her and Lisa were competing in that Saturday.

“Yep. More ready than you’ll ever be!”

Sally was not as good of a runner as Lisa. Sports – that was one arena that was not her strength. Sally could read Judy Blume’s Superfudge three times over by the time Lisa could finish it once. Sally could breeze through her math and literature assignments with ease that Lisa did not contain. But Lisa – she could outrun Sally any day of the week and that constantly haunted Sally.

After dinner, Sally laid in bed staring at the ceiling filled with glow-in-the-dark stars, contemplating how she could win the race. She rolled over on her side and came face to face with the newly bought pack of gum that neatly sat on her nightstand next to her glass of water.

That’s it! This is my best idea yet! Lisa can’t win the race if she can’t run in it at all! Sally jumped out of bed to grab her sneakers. She walked them over to her night stand and plopped down on her bed. She grabbed the fruit-filled gum and started chewing three pieces at a time. Then she pulled the Pepto-Bismol pink-colored gum out of her mouth and started to stick it on the bottom of the white shoes with sparkly blue laces. She was already through her new pack of gum and only filled one sneaker’s worth with the sticky sweet treat.

Sally glanced over at the pink porcelain pig poised on her dresser. I’m going to have to break into my piggy bank to get the rest of my allowance. I’ll go right after school to The Corner Store tomorrow.

And that was exactly what Sally did to deepen the plot against her sister and Saturday’s race. Margaret, standing as tall as a beam pole behind the cash register, was surprised to see Sally back so soon. Sally always went in once a week, never did Margaret see her two days in a row.

“What are you doing back so soon – the fruit-filled gum was no good?”

“No – it was great! I’m back for more!” Sally ran to the candy aisle, grabbed the gum, put the change on the counter, and ran out the door. She was a whirlwind of energy trying to finish her scheme to make her sister lose at something she never placed lower than first place.

“Bye!” Margaret yelled to the Road Runner image bursting through the door.

When Sally’s family went to sleep that night, Sally climbed out of her big comfy bed and put the new pack of chewed gum on the bottom of the other sneaker. She then tip-toed into Lisa’s room and slithered like a slippery snake into Lisa’s gym bag where she replaced her sister’s star performer sneakers with the rotten gum soled shoes. I got her now, thought Sally with a mischievous smile spreading across her chubby chipmunk cheeks, she won’t even be able to step over the start line.

The next morning was race day. To her dismay, Sally’s gym bag was gone. “Mom, where is my race stuff?”

“I already loaded up the car. C’mon we’re running late. Go brush your teeth. We’ve got to get a move on, girls! Lisa…do you hear me?” Sally’s mother screamed, intending to reach the top of the stairs, but easily could have been heard in the neighboring town.

Sally was nervous the whole ride to the race. She started to feel sick with regret. It was like a wrench was lodged in her stomach trying to tighten up a loose bolt that wouldn’t budge. Maybe she did something wrong. Her sister didn’t deserve this kind of treatment when Lisa never really tried to harm her. There was no turning back now. The victim and her culprit were already on their way to doom.

The car screeched to a halt in the elementary school parking lot. Sally unbuckled her seat belt and grabbed her gear.

“Wait,” whined Lisa, “That’s my bag. See it has my name on it,” Lisa’s long finger was pointing to the black duffel bag.

“Oh, you’re right,” said Sally, who was reluctant to hand the bag to an overly excited Lisa.

Sally was in a cold sweat on the side of the track tying up her laces, while trying to wipe the ice cubed drops falling from her brow. Her sky-blue eyes never left Lisa, who was doing the same thing as Sally, but instead was surrounded by other team mates laughing about a joke someone just told. Sally carefully considered her options and decided she had to tell her sister about the tacky adhesive on the bottom of her glorious sneakers. Sally leapt up and steadily put her shoes on the hot steamy pavement. Within one second Sally’s face hit that same blacktop.

Her evil plot to ruin her sister’s running record backfired like an old truck producing smoke from its tailpipe. What Sally did not know, but figured out in that split second, was that her bag with her personalized name tag was in Lisa’s room the night before. The bags were mistakenly switched from the last track meet and the sticky shoes went into Sally’s bag. Her personal treasure, the gum she desired to purchase each week, became her own worst enemy.

Sally craved for no one to look at her so she could slowly peel her pancaked face off the pavement. There was a ringing in her ears and when she finally cleared the fog out of her eyes, she could see everyone laughing at her. Those weren’t bells in her ears, those were hyena-like shrieks flooding the stadium. Her eyes went blurry with big tear drops and as she wiped her eyes with the back of her bloody hand, she saw another, more polished looking hand in front of her face. Like someone putting a needle to a balloon, Sally slowly let out the air of her lungs.

Lisa looked like an angel to Sally, with a halo of light shining around the crown of her head. Every one’s laughter stopped as they watched the sisters walk arm in arm out of the stadium. Lisa found the closest bench and sat Sally down.

“Are you OK?” asked Lisa with a furrowed brow of concern.

“I’m fine. Thanks for your help back there. Lisa, listen, there’s something I have to…”

“Why in the world is there so much gum on your shoes?!” Lisa shrieked.

“Well, that’s what I was going to tell you,” and with a long pause Sally told the entire truth to Lisa.

“I can’t believe this. You’re my sister. I…I…can’t even believe this…” Lisa stammered.

Lisa started running toward the stadium. The first round of races were about to start, so she jumped in line with the other runners. She broke a personal best and the school record in that race.

Sally missed Lisa’s win that day because she was wrapped in her own self-pity on the lonely bench outside the stadium. After the race, Sally attempted to make amends with Lisa every day but Lisa refused to even look in her despicable sister’s direction.

It wasn’t until a few weeks after the dreadful day of Sally’s decline that she finally stepped foot into the place that brought so much success and joy to Lisa’s life. Touching foot in the stadium was Sally’s attempt to reconcile with Lisa and, in a way, step into a place in Lisa’s heart again.

This track meet was different than race days of the past because Sally wasn’t in her blue track clothes; instead she was sitting next to her parents as a spectator. Sally couldn’t find Lisa and was searching all over the track to see where she stood in line with the other runners. A familiar voice that she hadn’t heard in what seemed like years questioned, “Want a piece?”

Sally glanced up at Lisa’s dark, lean silhouette that was blocking the sun from hitting Sally’s baby blues. Bashfully, Sally looked at the pink pack of gum hanging from Lisa’s long elegant fingers, “Um, no thanks. I gave that stuff up a little while ago.”

With a grin and a nod, Lisa ran off to the track. Sally watched her sister bounce down to join her teammates; all the while, Sally was beaming a wide toothy smile that could have stretched from The Golden Gate Bridge to the Statue of Liberty.
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2 Responses to “Sally’s Sticky Situation”

  1. Anonymous September 17, 2009 at 10:20 pm #

    Ali,I loved the story. Keep me interested all the way.Mom

  2. Anonymous September 16, 2009 at 4:30 pm #

    Excellent!-Karin

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