The Cost of Wonder
by Leah Cypess
I’ll keep this one, I thought, that day at the fair, as the sunset cut a sharp line across the sky. Gina’s laughter rose in a crescendo of delighted giggles, and life seemed absolutely perfect: a sparkling gift of wonder and joy.
I could never afford a memory like this, but I wasn’t buying this one. I had made it, and it was mine, and I wanted it to last forever.
I’m not going to sell this day.
But even as I thought it, I was calculating, trying to guess just how much it was worth. I had known today would be magical; I had dressed Gina for the part, in a little denim dress and matching hat, both of which I’d bought with my earnings from last week’s trip to the playground. The hat flattened but didn’t tame her curls, and her round face was stretched by her smile. She squealed again as soap bubbles filled the air, trying to catch them with tiny, uncoordinated half-jumps, unaware of the iridescent globes settling all over her arms.
My heart swelled with a joy so potent it almost hurt, and I swore it again: I’ll keep this day for myself.
But the next morning Gina woke up sobbing, with a temperature so high she was hot to the touch. I had to beg the doctor to let me bring her in. He was busy, but he relented; I always paid on time.
It was, as I had feared, strep throat. I looked at the antibiotics prescription, which included the price, and knew the day at the fair was already gone.