Story by Teresa Higginbotham
I couldn’t believe my incredible luck. I had searched for years and now I had finally found it. The snow globe. Well, it wasn’t the exact snow globe but it was just like the one I had grown up with. It was just like the one I had seen sitting on the crocheted doily on top of my mother’s piano at Christmas time. It was sitting on a cluttered table at a flea market. The man sitting behind the table, inched his beer belly up to the edge and looked at me with blood-shot eyes.
“What’s it worth to you?” he said, a noticeable gap now showing in his teeth. “That’s a real pretty plaything there.” He tried to give me a look of neighborly warmth and all I could think of was how I would like to move out of his neighborhood.
I looked back down at the shimmering snow of the glass dome. “My mother had one just like this. After she died…it ended up going to somebody else.”
I explained it so matter-of-factly. As if there had been no emotional strain, no sadness. Just an object that went to a person. I had been devastated when I saw my older sister stick the snow globe in a box with her name on it. I never said anything though, because I just didn’t want to fight so soon after my mother’s death. We were all so sad already, I couldn’t handle someone being angry. I let it go. Whenever I visited my sister’s house I would see it, sitting on a white built-in bookcase in her new home, surrounded by art books and pottery bought at some upscale shop, no doubt. It never looked right to me.
I looked at it and wanted to hear my mother play jingle bells on her old piano. I wanted to smell gingerbread cookies in the oven and hear my father reading to my little brother in the old recliner. All I heard at my sister’s house was the sound of her answering machine “screening” her calls.
“So…how much?” he interrupted, now impatient with my daydreaming. “I can see it means a lot to you, being like your mama’s and all. You sure don’t want to let this get away from you.” He slanted his eyes toward and took a bargaining stance. “How’s about…$50?”
I staggered back at the price. My goodness, he was mercenary. I was sure my mother paid a tenth of that for hers. I set it down for a second, but as I did I looked at the little house inside the snow globe. My mother told me once, she always dreamed that could be our house someday. Because of my father’s job, we had always had to live in the city. My mother said she dreamed of us having a house in the country with room to spread out and no one around for miles. No traffic, no sirens, no crime on the evening news. This wasn’t just a snow globe; it was my mother’s dream. I couldn’t just let it go…not now.
I was jostled by a family that had come to look at items on the man’s table. I tried to focus on the snow globe when I could see on the other side of the sphere a pair of big brown eyes distorted by the glass. I pulled the snow globe up and saw a little girl about nine years old. She was fascinated by the cascading snow and the little house.
She drew in a breath, “It’s really beautiful, isn’t it?” She said, her voice a slight drawl. “It looks like my grandpa’s house. He doesn’t live there anymore. He had a farm out in the country, but didn’t have any money to run it. He lives with us now. I wish he was out there again and us with him. He’s so sad all the time now. He just wants to go back to his house. He said he even dreams about it.”
There was a sadness in this little girl that was way beyond her years. Her clothes were clean but worn. Her sneakers looked like they were on their last week of wear and her coat looked a little short at the sleeves. Her mother was trying to find kitchen utensils on beer belly’s table. This little one would not be getting too much for Christmas–I could just tell.
I looked back at Beer Belly. “I’ll give you $10.”
He picked up his double chin and eyed me in surprise. “Well, that’s got to be an antique. I’m sure I could get more…”
“O.k., $15 and that’s my final offer.” He looked at me again as if he was trying to see if he could squeeze any more money out of me.
“I shouldn’t, but alright…$15. You’re gettin’ quite a bargain there, regaining a family memento and all. Just cause I’m a nice guy, you know.”
I handed him the cash and he put the snow globe in my hands. I had it back. It was like it was a part of my mother standing there. I could feel her there with me, in the middle of the flea market mayhem. I could also feel what I knew she wanted me to do.
The little brown eyed girl looked up at me and smiled. “You bought it!” She said, excited for me. “Where you going to put it?”
I reached out and her took her little hands and put them face up, “I’m going to put it…right here.” Her eyes widened as I gently laid the snow globe into her tiny hands.
“You mean, you’re giving it to me?” She looked at me as if I had just bought a ticket to the loony bin. Her mother continued to dig through silverware looking for matching forks.
“Just promise you’ll take good care of it and think of your grandpa’s house.
Maybe someday your family will get back there. Everyone needs a dream, you know.”
I walked away from the flea market and zipped up my coat as I headed for the door. Faintly, ever so faintly, I could hear it…Jingle Bells.
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