Belinda the Cryer
Belinda knew that the easiest way to get what she wanted, especially when she wasn’t getting what she wanted… was to cry.
“Belinda, time to put your monster cards away. We need to go to the grocery store.”
“Just five more minutes, Mom?!?”
“No, Belinda, we need to go now before the traffic hits.”
“Belinda Josephine Linnell!”
Belinda could cry for hours, barely stopping to catch her breath, until at last her mother gave in to her relentless tears.
She was an expert at choosing inappropriate moments to throw tantrums–on packed subway trains, in library lines, or on that dreaded long flight to Aunt Claudia’s. She’d wait for these moments and then request a butterscotch or a kitten or a ride on the ferris-copter. The moment she didn’t get what she thought she perfectly deserved, the tears would flood the stage…
One day, Belinda’s mother decided that she had had enough. So she hatched a plan…
The very next morning, Belinda arrived at the breakfast table to find that her mother had made poached eggs and prawns instead of dishing out the usual Toasted Sugar Clouds.
“Mom, where are my Toasted Sugar Clouds?”
“I thought we’d try something new! Something different!”
“But, MO-OM! I want my Sugar Clouds!!!”
Her mother casually returned to her poaching. This was Belinda’s cue to begin. Her nose met her eyebrows in a crinkled, gruesome grimace and her stubby talons began to push against her wrinkly palms. But just as she went to open her wretched mouth in retaliation, a Mariachi band appeared:
“La cucaracha, la cucaracha,
ya no puede caminar
porque no tiene,
porque le falta
las dos patitas de atrás.”
The band circled the kitchen table in a conga line. Belinda’s mother joined the parade, balancing a freshly poached egg on her spatula, as they made their way out through the dining room. In a flash, they were gone. Belinda’s mouth hung open in disbelief. Had that really just happened? She looked down at her poached eggs and prawns, and because there was no one to cry to, she took a bite.
Later that day, still in a silent stupor from the morning’s events, Belinda was detaching her Barbie’s heads from their bodies when she heard her mother’s voice from downstairs.
“Belinda, it’s time to go. We’ve got to run some errands this afternoon and I was hoping to stop into the T.F. Maxx to get you some new school shirts.”
“Can’t I just stay home? Pleeeeeease???”
“Not an option, Belinda.”
“But I’m old enough to watch myself, Mom! I’m nearly seven!!”
Belinda’s cry stopped short as two butterflies fluttered out of the air conditioning vent. Before she could think, hundreds more flooded into the room, circling her head, landing on her knees, and resting on her barbie dolls’ detached heads.
“Belinda, it’s time.”
Belinda stared around the room in wonder. Would the butterflies still be there when she got back? What would she feed them? How did they get in her room in the first place?!? They began to fly out the hallway, down the stairs, through the front door and into her mom’s station wagon. Belinda followed after, lacing up her shoes along the way and landing in the backseat of the car. The butterflies flew right through her passenger seat window and dispersed into the sunshine.
A few hours later, Belinda and her mother were standing in line at the T.F. Maxx waiting to check out.
“Mom, can I have this glitter pen set?”
“Belinda, love, you’ve got three pen sets at home that you never use.”
“But this one has GLITTER!”
“Not today, Belinda.”
Belinda would not take no for an answer. Her face soured and she held the glitter pens high above her head, preparing to launch them through the air. But as she opened her mouth to release the dreaded scream, the manager of T.F. Maxx proclaimed,
“Ladies and gentlemen, at this very moment a live chicken will be released into the aisles of the home accessories department! The first guest to catch it will win a free shopping spree!”
The store. Went. Wild.
Belinda looked around in utter amazement and frustration. Everyone was running around the store, LIKE CHICKENS, AFTER A CHICKEN!. Eventually the real chicken squawked and so did Lady Madie, the town librarian, as she clutched the little beast, heaving a breathless, “I won, I won!”
Things calmed down for a half-second and Belinda went to seize her opportunity.
She began to launch a cry to top all cries, but the roar of a dozen motorcycles muted her attempt. Twelve old motorcycles steered by twelve older biker dudes skidded through the aisles of the T.F. Maxx.
“Ladies and gentleman, do we have a treat for you!” announced the store manager. “Please welcome the Minnesota Motorcyclin’ Monsters fresh from their fiftieth anniversary ride!”
“WHAT ON MONSTEARTH IS GOING ON?” yelled Belinda. “CAN’T A GIRL SHED A TEAR AROUND HERE? SOMEONE PAY ATTENTION TO ME!!!”
Her prayers were immediately answered. A very big celebrity walked in. She was like a queen and her name was Ofrah. Belinda was awestruck and reverently closed her mouth.
“I know,” said Belinda in her most polite voice.
“You need to STOP what you’re doing and look around you–mariachi bands, butterflies, runaway chickens, motorcycle gangs and the most powerful monster on earth. We’ve all come to visit you to say: LOOK UP! LOOK OUT! There’s a world out here. There’s more to life than what we think we need in one particular moment. Get over yourself! Stop crying! Let Go! Oh, and listen to your mother.”
Then Ofrah turned, winked at Belinda’s mother, and power-walked out of the T.F. Maxx, followed by the motorcyclists, Lady Madie and her chicken and her 11 bags of shopping spree, a couple of butterflies who had come along for the ride, and one Mariachi band member who desperately needed new socks.
In a matter of a minute, the store was back to normal.
Belinda’s mother stood a few feet away, with the newly-purchased school shirts.
“Come on, Belinda, we’ve got to get home before the traffic hits.”
“Okay,” said Belinda. “‘Cause who knows what might happen along the way, right?”
“Exactly,” said her mom. “I was just thinking the same thing.”