Katie slouched down in the back of her Uber. She was so tired, and these seats were so comfortable. Something about the backseat of a car had always made her tired. With her not sleeping last night, she could almost fall asleep now. Too bad the news of yesterday and her mission today would never let that happen. When her eyes closed, all she saw was the doctor telling them the news. That’s why today was so important.
Katie checked the time as the car pulled up next to the mall doors. 9:02. She thanked the driver and hopped out, taking a brisk pace toward the sliding doors. She and Ben had been over the mall map so many times last night, she could probably get there blind. Katie walked up the escalator and turned toward the GameStop store in the corner, passing a few early shoppers on her way. As she came to the entrance of the store, she could see a customer at the counter at the back. When Katie walked in and stood behind the kid at the counter, she couldn’t help but hear the conversation.
“Your lucky you got one today. We never know when they are coming in.”
“Yeah, I always come and check in the morning, I’ve gotten a few like this”
“Yeah three total, reselling the other two has already paid for one for me.”
Katie leaned over to look at the counter. Sitting between the clerk and the kid was a PS5. He was buying one, probably the only one, and he didn’t even need it.
“Excuse me,” Katie said to the clerk. “Do you have another one for sale?”
“Sorry, this is the only one today.”
She turned to the kid.
“I couldn’t help but overhear you already have one, maybe you could let me get this one for my son, he doesn’t have one”
“Sorry lady, I’ve already paid”
“I can give you $40 for your time”
“They sell for an extra four hundred online, $40 aint worth it.”
“$40 extra is all I have.”
“Well, good luck, I’m sure one will come in eventually”
“Seriously? you’re picking greed over a little boy?”
“You should have got here earlier”
“I would have, if I wasn’t taking care of a sick little boy”
“Well, maybe you should be home taking care of him, instead of being out, trying to buy something you can barely afford. Your extra $40 wouldn’t even buy a game.”
Katie stood silent. She felt like she might cry. Or rip the box out of his hands and run. The indecision froze her in place. Figuring he won, the kid grabbed the PS5 off the counter and started walking away.
“I hope you’re happy walking away knowing you’re taking it from a kid with terminal cancer!” Katie yelled to his back.
She knew he heard, because he stopped briefly, but then kept walking. Katie stood at the entrance, staring at him. Everything she heard about his generation was right. So selfish.
Katie walked back up to the counter. The clerk hadn’t moved from his spot. He wasn’t much older than the kid who just walked away, which didn’t give her hope.
“Hi, Sandip,” Katie said, looking down at his nametag, “I know you said you don’t have any more PS5’s, but is there anywhere else we can check?”
“I can check the other stores, but most stores have people waiting outside, so it probably won’t help. The only thing I can do is put one on hold for you when it comes in.”
“Really? Katie gave him a puzzled look, “ I was told they couldn’t hold anything.”
“We’re not supposed to, but I can make an exception for you?”
“That would be amazing, thank you” Katie allowed herself to smile.
“I’ll just need your name and number,” Sandip said as he put his hands on the keyboard in front of him.
“Number?” she asked
“Yes, so I can call you when one comes in.”
Katies tiredness was already affecting her. This was only the first stop. She needed to get it together.
Katie gave him her phone number, making sure it was correct.
“That’s all I need. I’m sorry to hear about your son,” Said Sandip.
“Thank you. We told him we would get him anything, you know, anything at all. He only wanted a PS5 and to go fishing with Grandpa one more time.” Katie stuttered on the last part, but held in her tears.
“I can’t imagine, but I’m sure it will all work out”
“I hope so, thank you”
Katie turned around and headed back out into the mall. Now alone, she let a couple of tears roll down her face. Katie cleared them away and kept walking. Her next Uber would be outside soon, and she needed every minute of the day.
The next stop was Best Buy, which had already been open for an hour by the time she got there. If one came in, it was surely gone, but she needed to keep trying. The clerk behind the customer service counter was older, her age, her generation. She would surely understand.
Katie decided this time to go through the entire story, telling the lady about her son and what she was looking for. The lady behind the counter, whose name was Susan, was very nice, but again gave her bad news. The only ones in the building were ones that were prepaid, waiting for people to pick them up. Susan said she was going to call them. Maybe someone would be willing to wait for the next shipment. She gave Susan her name and number and headed out again, feeling a bit better. She felt sure that someone would give up their spot, once Susan shared the story.
Katie walked out into the parking lot to wait for her next Uber. Sitting alone stuck with her thoughts was torture. Ben was already calling places, so all she could do was keep trying places. Katie got into the small sedan and leaned her head back. She was glad it was her doing all this, Ben would have broken down completely at GameStop. He was normally the strong one, but he seemed to be taking this really hard. Something would work out, even with how things had gone so far , she did feel lucky.
Katie opened her eyes. She had fallen asleep in the Uber. She tried to speak, but it just came out as a grunt.
“We’re here.” Said the driver.
“Oh, thanks” Katie said, clearing her throat, “I’m sorry, thank you”
“No worries, Ma’am, have a good day”
Katie pushed the door open and got out into the parking lot. This time, she needed a minute to gather herself. She closed the door so the driver could go, then walked a few steps and stopped against the building off to the side of the doors. Falling asleep was embarrassing. She hadn’t done that before. He also called her Ma’am. Was she a Ma’am? She probably looked older than she was today, and falling asleep wouldn’t help her case to seem younger. Katie rubbed her face and walked into the store.
“This will be the one,” she said to herself.
Katie made her way to the electronics department at the back. She was relieved to find someone that could help her right away.
“Hi, can I help you?” The man said as she walked towards him.
“Do you have any PS5s?”
“We just got our shipment, not sure how many we got, but that’s the line over there,” The Man pointed to the other counter, where a couple people were lined up.
“Thanks so much,” Katie said quickly as she headed over to the line. She looked again. There were only 2 people in line. They only needed to get more than 2 and one was hers. Things were looking up. Right as she got in the line, her phone buzzed in her pocket again. She pulled it out and looked at the display. Bestbuy. It was Susan.
“This is Katie”
“Hi Katie, it’s Susan from Best Buy”
“Yes, Hi Susan”
“I’m sorry to tell you I called everyone and they all say they are coming this week.”
“Yes, I’m sorry, I wanted you to know right away”
“Ok, thanks for trying”
“Your welcome, I hope you find one”
“Me too, thank you”
Katie fumbled with the button to hang up, her hand shaking. She wondered if Susan even tried. It had been like half an hour, but Katie didn’t actually ask how many there were. Maybe there were only 2. Probably young kids again, who were just getting them to sell them. Katie finally got her phone into her pocket and looked up. The man who was first in line had just picked up his PS5 and was walking away. She looked past him onto the back counter. There were 2 PS5s there. That meant one for her. Katie let out a quick breath, feeling stress go out with the air. This was over. She was going to go home, mission accomplished. She wasn’t waiting until Christmas, either. Every day meant something. He would get it today.
Katie brought her attention back to the counter as the kid behind the counter moved both PS5s in front of the woman, waiting. She then turned her attention back to the sign behind the counter. It was very clear. “One PS5 per person”. There was no way this lady was getting two. Katie watched as the woman clasped her hands on both boxes.
“Excuse me!” Katie said, stepping forward.
The kid behind the counter looked at her in terror.
“Are there more of those?” Katie said, pointing to the PS5.
“Umm… that’s it today, Ma’am”
There was Ma’am again. Katie could feel the heat building behind her forehead.
“So why does she get two?” Katie said, pointing at the woman
“I’m picking one up for a friend,” the woman said calmly
“Like Hell you are!”
“Excuse me?” The lady turned to face Katie. Katie stayed facing the kid.
“It clearly says one person, if her friend wants one, they can come themselves”
“He called and put it on hold!” chimed the woman
“Or you did! How could they know?”
“What are you accusing me of?!”
“Listen, my son has cancer, and all he wants is a PS5, so I’m buying him one,” Katie said as she pulled the one box towards her.
“Well that’s convenient,” snapped the woman
“Do you think I would lie about something like that?” Katie replied, appalled.
“So you can accuse me, but I can’t accuse you?” The woman snickered. “Either way, he already said I could buy them, its done, so good luck to you” She pointed at the kid, who was staring at both of them like a deer in the headlights.
Katie put her arms around the PS5 box and bolted, bumping shoulders against people as she ran out of the department. As she turned into the main aisle, she saw a security guard coming towards her. She turned and ran down a different aisle. This lady was not getting this. She was not giving into another scammer. Katie got to the end and turned toward the cashier. As she rounded the corner, she collided with another person and slid to the floor. As she went down, she turned her body, trying to keep the box up and not damaged. She landed painfully on her side, but the box didn’t even touch the floor. Within a second, she felt the weight of a person come down on her, forcing her to her stomach.
“Let go of the box, Ma’am”
“Let go of the box”
Katie had become manic.
“I’m not stealing it, I’m going to pay at the front,” Katie said, trying to push herself up. “It said one per person!”
She felt the box get pulled out of her hands
“Get off of me! I haven’t done anything!” Katie yelled from the floor.
“I’m not a thief!” Katie yelled again.
The weight came off her and she pushed herself up. A man standing behind her helped her up, but after a moment, she realized he wasn’t letting go.
“Let me go!”
“Why don’t you just come with us?” The man said from behind her.
Katie looked around. There were quite a few people standing and watching. She decided it would be better to explain everything in private. They walked her over to the side and through an employee only door, then sat her down in an office.
“Just wait here,”
Katie sat in silence, focusing on her breath.
“I wasn’t going to steal anything!” She said as soon as the man came back into the room.
He took a seat at a desk across from her and leaned forward, putting his elbows on the desk.
“We were really more concerned with you knocking people over” The man paused for effect, “And running away when you saw me didn’t help your case.
Katie took a minute to calm herself and explained the story to him. She told him getting her son’s terminal diagnosis yesterday, that all he wanted was a PS5 and all about her day so far.
He, in turn, explained that, based on everything, they were going to let her go home, but that the PS5 was sold to another customer and that she couldn’t come back to this store for 30 days. Katie was fuming, but she had gained enough self-control back to know she needed to stay quiet. The last thing they needed was for her to get arrested. She provided Ben’s number and sat waiting for him. This chair was not comfortable, so she wasn’t going to fall asleep. She wanted to though, she didn’t want to think about things anymore. Katie still believed that lady was scamming that other PS5, but what could she do? She just needed to get herself together and start again tomorrow.
Ben arrived about 20 minutes later to get her, still in his work suit. She instantly felt bad. He would have had to leave work to get her. As soon as he walked in, she got up and hugged him.
“I’m sorry,” she said
“It’s ok, it’s been a long two days” Ben kissed her on the forehead, “It will all work out”
“I know it will.”
Katie pulled her arms away from him and looked towards the way he came in. The security guard was waiting to escort them out. He led them a different way to the parking lot, which was a relief. She didn’t want to deal with anyone anymore. They headed to the car and right as Katie was about to open the door to Ben’s truck, her phone buzzed in her pocket.
“Hold on, Ben”
She looked at the display, but it was just a number.
“This is Katie”
“Hi Katie, it’s Sandip from GameStop. Were you able to find a PS5?”
“No, not yet, why?”
“I was able to get one for you. Are you able to come right away?”
“Oh my god, yes, we will come right now”
Katie opened the door and jumped into the passenger seat. Ben was already waiting for her on the other side. That was GameStop, they found one. We need to go now. Ben pulled his seatbelt on and backed out of the stall.
“See, I told you” Ben said
“Yeah, just would have been nice if it worked out before I got banned from Walmart”
Katie caught Ben’s smile as he turned back to the road. She couldn’t be mad at him. It was funny.
When they got to the mall, Ben pulled up to the curb next to the doors
“Ill find a spot and meet you,” Ben Said
“Ok,” she said, closing the truck door.
Katie bolted up the stairs, moving fast, but making sure to not knock anyone over. Sandip was waiting in front of the counter when she came in. He had his hand on the box on the counter.
“I can’t believe you found one. Where was it?”
“That’s a bit of a story, but I can tell you later. I’m sure you want to get home to your son”
“Oh, sure,” Katie said, pulling out her wallet.
“You won’t need that,” Said Sandip
“What do you mean? Is GameStop giving it away?”
“It’s not GameStop's, it’s mine.”
“What do you mean?”
“After you left, I found out there were no more shipments. You weren’t going to get one before Christmas. So I went home and got mine. I’ve only had it a week, so I still had all the packaging and stuff. I reset it, and did all the updates, so it will work right away for him.”
“I can’t take…” Katie couldn’t finish her sentence
“Yes, you can. I can wait a couple weeks for another one. I know you didn’t really give me the details, but I’m sure a couple weeks is a lot to your son, so just take it. You can come buy me one when they come in again.”
He pushed the box towards her and handed her a piece of paper. She stared down at the paper, which had a random string of letters and numbers on it.
“What’s? what is this?” Katie stuttered
“It’s my gamer tag. He can add me as a friend and join our group. If he wants to.”
She walked up to Sandip, put her arms around him, and cried. They stood there silent for a minute, Sandip with his arms hanging at his sides. Katie saw Ben walk in and stop when he saw them standing in front of the counter. Without saying a word, Ben came up next to them, put his arms around both of them and also started to cry.
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Very enjoyable story. I could feel the pressure. It reminded me of the scarcity in grocery stores at the start of the pandemic. Looking at everyone wondering, "Do you really need that, or are you just hoarding?" Sandip is a wonderful person. Loved the ending. Great job!
Thanks so much! I really like how much these prompts challenge me. I hope I don't run out of juice before I get a few more stories out. You have 24, that's amazing!
Hey Jaden, great stuff with this story. I liked how the tension builds and you get more and more invested in Katie getting the PS5 as more obstacles stack up (like that annoying scalper kid in Gamestop)! And I wonder if that other lady really was picking one up for a friend... Just a small note by the way, there's a few full stops missing here and there in the dialogue. But overall I enjoyed this. :)
Yeah, I tried to tie in some real life experiences into the story. Thanks, ill go back though the dialogue.
You want to change that tag from "happy" to "will move you to tears". Just sayin'
Thanks lol. was hoping for that. There wasn't a tag for happy tears.
I had to cut a bunch (800 words) from my first draft on this, I wasnt happy in the beginning, but I think it worked out really nice.