Lira looked around the store and smiled widely. Her dream of having a business is now fulfilled. She was hands-on during the preparation and plans for the store. She was the one who talked to the suppliers. She also designed the store with a little help from her husband.
Today is the grand opening of her store, and she felt giddy and nervous at the same time. Her stomach had been upset the night before. Now, she is sweating non-stop. She took a peek outside and saw a lot of people in front of the store. Mostly kids with their parents.
She took a deep breath and exhaled before standing up and walking outside. She would give a short speech and cut the ribbon with her husband and a business partner — her beast friend, Linda.
The crowd became louder the moment she went outside. The kids are pulling their mother or father’s hand while pointing at a toy they want. She smiled and decided to start the speech since the kids are becoming impatient.
“Good morning to all of you, and thank you for coming to our grand opening. I will make this speech short because the kids are getting impatient,” The crowd laughed with her, then she cleared her throat, “I remember myself with these fellas. When I was their age, I would always ask my parents to buy me toys for every occasion. Sometimes they bought it, but most of the time they didn’t, and I’d start crying. We aren’t rich, and we only have enough money for us to pass the month or until my father gets his pay.” A tear escaped from her eye, and she immediately wiped it.
“I’m sorry about that. I built this store because I want children to be happy and enjoy their childhood until it lasts. Welcome to Toy Galore!” She cut her speech short because she is becoming emotional.
After the ribbon-cutting, everyone went inside to take a look and buy a toy for their child. Lira decided to go to her office.
She sat there in silence for minutes. Her eyes landed on something under her table. She bent down to take a look and saw the first and last toy given to her by her parents. She picked the fluffy teddy bear and hugged it tightly.
“You’re so dusty, Fro,” She smelled the bear and scrunched her nose. “and you smell bad. I’ll shower you later or tomorrow.” She looked at the bear tenderly, and her mind went down a trip to memory lane.
“Mama, papa. Please buy me that toy,” The little girl did the puppy dog eyes to look cute, but her mother shook her head.
“I’m sorry, baby.” The little girl started crying, silently. Her mother bent down to level their eyes. “I’d like to buy you that toy, but w-we need to survive for a month.” A lump is stuck on the mother’s throat then cleared it. “We need food and water in our stomachs, a roof above our heads, and clean clothes.” A tear slipped down the mother’s cheek, and the little girl stopped crying.
“I’m sorry, mom. It won’t happen again.” She hugged her mom. Her dad was standing still with a sad expression on his eyes.
“I’m sorry, Lira. Papa would work harder to earn more money.” The father looked at the teddy bear’s price tag, and it costs $56.78. He gulped and smiled bitterly at her daughter. “Father will work hard for you, my princess.” He kissed her forehead and left the toy store.
“Lira doesn’t have a toy. Lira doesn’t have a toy.” The other children sang again and again.
Lira ignored them and continued playing on the sand. After a while of ignoring and them teasing her, someone pulled her hair hard, making her wince in pain.
“You don’t have a toy, friends, or money.” The little girl who is still pulling her hair said then laughed.
Lira couldn’t do anything because she was taught not to fight back. Her mother always tells her to ignore people who fight her and just leave peacefully. She ignored her remark, and stood up, pulled her hair from her grip.
She held back the tears and started walking out of the park. She suddenly tripped and saw an extended foot. She ignored him and stood up again. She has a scratch on her knee, which was partly bleeding. Her palms and clothes are covered with sand.
She was hurt but did nothing to fight back instead she looked at them and smiled as widely as she can then walked away from them.
“Today’s supposed to be a special day for me since it’s my birthday. I know mama and papa can’t buy me a toy or even buy me a cake to celebrate. I only wanted to play but-” She started crying while walking home.
When she opened the door, the lights were off, so she decided to open them, and to her surprise, the living room was decorated. A ‘Happy Birthday Lira’ sign hung above the couch, her parents in the middle of the living room with wide grins. Her mother is holding a cake while her father is holding the teddy bear she asked before.
Tears started pouring from her eyes then she ran towards her parents to hug them tightly. She managed to say. “T-thank you.”
“Anything for you,” Her parents said in unison. Their eyes landed on her messy state. Worried eyes replaced the happy ones. They didn’t have to ask what happened because this wasn’t the first time. They knelt and hugged their loving daughter.
A cry coming from a child brought her back to the present time. A girl with a braided hair is currently weeping on the floor, while pointing at a teddy bear similar to what she has on hand. Her mother in a state of panic because she doesn’t know what to do for her to stop.
“I think it’s time for you to make someone else happy,” She said to the teddy bear.
She stood up and walked towards the little girl, which reminded her of the little Lira. She bent down and raised the teddy bear.
“Hello, little girl. Why are you crying?” She said while wiggling the toy’s arms like a puppet.
The little girl stopped crying and started wiping her face. “I-I want a t-teddy bear b-but mommy doesn’t want to buy me one.”
“That’ alright. Do you want me?” She asked — pretending to be the teddy bear at hand — and the girl nodded enthusiastically. She chuckled and sat on the floor. “Okay. I’ll give you this bear and another toy if you want.”
“It’s okay, miss. We don’t have extra money to pay for it.” The mother said shyly. Lira shook her head and looked at the little girl again.
“It’s for free. I know the feeling.” She looked at the mother. “I’ve been there.” She smiled, and the mother’s eyes started to water.
“Thank you very much.” She stood up and hugged the mother tightly.
“No need to thank me. It’s time for me to give back.” She looked at the sky and smiled. “and I think that’s what they’d like me to do right now.”
She asked the little girl to pick another toy and guided them towards the cashier for it to be wrapped together with her teddy.
“Bye-bye, Ms. Beautiful.” The little girl waved the teddy with a huge smile on her face. She waved her hand to say goodbye. After a while, she decided to lend a hand with a happy smile plastered on her face the whole day.