Only Five

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Shopping for
shea butter hand cream
and new plaid tablecloths
isn’t really how most kids
wish to spend their time.
But my marvelous mother
dragged me everywhere with her
like a stray Shih Tzu.
I tagged along
when she went to the cleaners,
the mall,
and even Walmart.
What’s there to do at Walmart?
Yeah, I didn’t know either.
I was five.

One day,
while she was sniffing
colorful candles in aisle six,
I snuck off.
I didn’t know where I was headed.
All I knew
was that I didn’t want to be there.
At Walmart.
With nothing to do.
I was five.

I took spacious strides
and garnered a few stares,
but no one said anything to me.
I didn’t look lost
or scared
or helpless.
I was just glad
that I wasn’t standing around
waiting for my mother
while she took two hours
deciding between red or blue décor.
I was five.

As I strolled towards
the back of the giant store,
I spotted Barbie in her red convertible.
Ken was right next to her,
with tickle-me-Elmo
and Buzz Lightyear
on the shelf above their dream house.
Jackpot.
I was five.

I don’t know
how long I stayed in that toy aisle.
But I didn’t want to leave.
That was until
the intercom above my minuscule head
raucously boomed my name.
Of course I knew my own name.
I was five.

The intercom repeated my name twice before a teenaged employee
in a loose red shirt
found me
and led me back to my hysterical mother.
Now everyone was staring at me
like I had bacterial-fungi
growing out of my head.
I was five.

My parents almost killed me that day.
I wasn’t allowed out of their sight
for the next six years of my life.
But can you blame me?
I didn’t know any better.
I was only five.





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