E G GS Mary MacLeod
Virginia Commonwealth University
Sadie was barefoot. A summer of running around on the black asphalt cul-de-sac in front of her house had armored her feet with calluses. Along with the t-shirt that her grandparents had gotten her from the Grand Canyon, she wore skinned knees, red cheeks, and a layer of baby fat. The eight year old was standing at the base of her driveway with a sign that read, “BABY FOR SALE!!! 20$” Each exclamation point was written in a different color marker for flare. Sadie didn’t notice the expression of horror on Mrs. Marshall’s face as she crawled by in her 1999 Honda Odyssey. Sadie desperately wanted a baby. A real baby. Her parents had tried to curtail this desire by purchasing an overpriced doll, which Sadie was initially reluctant to accept but eventually adopted. She named the doll Anne. Anne came with a small wooden cradle, and every night Sadie would carefully swaddle her and put her to bed. But after a few weeks it became clear to Sadie that Anne was both too realistic and not realistic enough. Sadie could feel Anne’s unblinking eyes follow her as she tried to sleep, and her cold plastic head lacked the milky sweet smell that Gabe’s had. As a result, Anne was relegated to the depths of Sadie’s closet, and soon after became the sole item for sale at her front yard auction. The August sun was beating down on Sadie, but she didn’t mind all that much. She avoided going inside. Up until July her biggest worry had been avoiding the pebbles that somehow always found a home in her heel, but now she had to press her ear against doors and enter rooms cautiously, acutely aware that she was out of place in her own family. For the past month her house had been turned into a museum of grief, and the entry price was apparently a frozen lasagna. After a few hours Sadie noticed the streetlamps come to life, which meant her father would be back from work soon. He would be furious if he found out she was pawning Anne off, so reluctantly she packed up shop and headed inside. As she entered her house she was greeted by a blast of AC and dead silence. Her mother was home, but she was there and not there. She usually spent the day asleep. The nights too.