The summer I turned five, my parents emptied our home into brown boxes and scattered loose items throughout our garage and driveway for a summer garage sale. Strangers pulled up and parked around our cul-de-sac in small clusters and made their way in and out of our garage in waves. I watched them browse and pick items up, one by one, taking the things I had learned to associate with my family and daily life. Some of them noticed and smiled at me as if they knew me; I didn’t smile back.
A lady with short blond hair and a particularly wide smile gazed at me. Looking back, I am sure she must’ve been a mother herself, perhaps seeing her own daughter in my size and presence. After slowly perusing our things, she picked up a tiny watering can and made her way over to my mom. Until then, I hadn’t noticed the watering can was among the items spread throughout the garage on display.
I stared at her as she talked with my mom, still smiling as her long fingers clutched the watering can handle like it was her own. Assuming my mom was telling her about how I had helped her water our backyard flowers just last week with it, and how I had done such a good job doing it, I stayed mostly relaxed while I observed them from afar. Then I watched the lady walk away, out of the garage and down our driveway with my watering can still in her grip as she made her way towards a wood-paneled station wagon. She opened the backseat door, put my watering can in the back and then began to get into the driver’s seat.
When the backseat door shut and the watering can was no longer in view, I shifted from watching what was happening to action by running towards the woman and her car. Pounding on the window of the station wagon, I yelled at her, calling her a thief and demanding my plastic watering can’s release.
My mom interjected quickly, visibly embarrassed that her usually quiet little girl was causing such a scene, telling the no-longer-smiling lady to go ahead and leave with the watering can, while reassuring me she would buy me a new one after we moved and that this nice lady was going to give it to her own daughter. My mom stood beside me, the woman’s face framed by her open car window, smiling at both of us like it was no big deal. I stared at my mom with wide eyes, burst into tears and ran inside to sulk on one of the steps on our staircase.
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