Just the Right Price

Girls' World - - Fiction - BY KAREN BISCHER

Kamee­lah Tomp­kins was de­ter­mined to get an aquar­ium. She just needed to earn enough money at her fam­ily’s yard sale to af­ford it!

Kamee­lah won­dered if ev­ery­one en­joyed hav­ing yard sales just so they could stick price tags on things. She was al­most dis­ap­pointed that she’d tagged most of the toys she wanted to sell al­ready, but then she re­mem­bered her goal: Her par­ents had said she could keep all the money she made that day and put it to­ward her very own aquar­ium! As she peeled a lit­tle white sticker from its back­ing and slapped it onto an old board game she hadn’t played in a few years, she day­dreamed about the dif­fer­ent kinds of fish she wanted to get: The red-and-white gold­fish, the gold­fish with the goo­gly eyes and maybe even a cou­ple snails! Kamee­lah had wanted an aquar­ium for al­most two years, but the year be­fore, her mother had been laid off from her job so Kamee­lah’s al­lowance got cut in half, mak­ing it harder to save. Her mom found a new job a cou­ple of months ago, but Kamee­lah was still short of her goal and hoped the yard sale would help get her there. Af­ter think­ing for a mo­ment, she de­cided to charge $3 for the board game she was hold­ing and care­fully marked its price on the sticker. Kamee­lah then came to her last item that needed a price tag: Her Beau­ti­ful Bella doll’s Marvelous Man­sion. Kamee­lah had taken good care of it, and all its parts were in­tact — even the tiny fur­ni­ture that had come with the set. She wrin­kled her nose deep in thought. “Mom, how much do you think I should ask for this?” she asked.

Mrs. Tomp­kins, who was tag­ging a set of dishes on a ta­ble across from Kamee­lah, peered up at the doll­house. “You’ve kept it in really great shape, honey. I think you could prob­a­bly ask $15 or $20 for it.” Kamee­lah’s eyes lit up. If she sold all of the toys and books on the ta­ble, plus the doll­house, that would put her over what she needed for the fish tank, ac­ces­sories and the fish. She might even be able to get that cute shirt with the danc­ing cat on it she had seen at the mall last week, too! Soon, the Tomp­kins’ neigh­bors and even peo­ple they didn’t know started com­ing into their yard and check­ing out the goods they had for sale. Kamee­lah’s Aunt Keisha, who taught sec­ond grade, ar­rived and stud­ied the $5 price tag on Kamee­lah’s col­lec­tion of horse books. “Hmm, I think my read­ing class might enjoy these books,” she said. “Would you be will­ing to take $2 for all of them?” Kamee­lah nar­rowed her eyes in con­fu­sion. “But I have them priced at $5.” Mrs. Tomp­kins smiled from her ta­ble. “This is called bar­gain­ing, Kamee­lah,” she told her daugh­ter. “It’s very com­mon at yard sales. You ne­go­ti­ate a price you both agree on.” Kamee­lah nod­ded. This method seemed a bit odd — noth­ing like what hap­pens at a real store — but she fig­ured she’d give it a try. She turned back to her aunt. “How about $4.50?” she asked.

If she sold all of the toys and books on the ta­ble, plus the doll­house, that would put her over what she needed for the fish tank, ac­ces­sories and the fish.

“Hmm,” Aunt Keisha said. “$4?” “Sold!” Kamee­lah said, and handed her aunt the five books with a smile. “That was kind of fun, ac­tu­ally!” she gig­gled. While most of her toys and books sold fairly quickly, the doll­house still sat on the ta­ble. Kamee­lah watched as one wo­man seemed to think about buy­ing it, but then her hus­band re­minded her they’d have to carry it 10 blocks home — so she left empty-handed. “Ex­cuse me,” said Mr. Ro­driguez, an el­derly man who lived down the block. He was

hold­ing Kamee­lah’s old toy cash reg­is­ter, which was marked $6. “Would you take $2 for this? I think my grand­son would like it.” “How about $5?” Kamee­lah said. “Hmm,” said Mr. Ro­driguez. “Let me think about it while I fin­ish look­ing around.” Kamee­lah nod­ded, try­ing not to look dis­ap­pointed. She’d loved that toy and felt it de­served a fair price. Then, a girl who looked a lit­tle younger than Kamee­lah walked up with her mom and started eye­ing the doll­house. Kamee­lah watched the girl “ooh” and “ahh” when she no­ticed the house had an el­e­va­tor and hot tub. She lov­ingly touched the lit­tle fur­ni­ture and laughed when she rang the doll­house’s door­bell. The girl quickly found her mother and tugged her sleeve, then made her come over to the ta­ble to see it. “Look at this, Mommy!” the lit­tle girl said ex­cit­edly. “It’s like that one we saw at the toy store! Do you think I could get it, please?” “I’m not sure, Jamie,” her mother said. “I know we said we’d get you a doll­house, but this one is still a lit­tle too ex­pen­sive.” “But it cost way less than that other one,”

Jamie frowned in dis­ap­point­ment. Jamie’s mom smoothed her hair. “You know we have to watch what we spend with your dad out of work,” she replied. “Why don’t you pick out some­thing else that’s a bit cheaper for now, and we’ll talk about it.” Jamie looked de­feated, but nod­ded. Kamee­lah felt a huge pang of sym­pa­thy. She re­mem­bered what it was like when her mom was out of work. Not only was Kamee­lah’s al­lowance cut, her fam­ily had to get rid of their ca­ble chan­nels and stop go­ing out to din­ner or to the movies. Kamee­lah even had to skip a few months of her dance class. It was really tough — fun things had been few and far be­tween. Plus, Kamee­lah had loved play­ing with that doll­house and wanted it to go to some­one who would ap­pre­ci­ate it as much as she did. “Ex­cuse me,” Kamee­lah said, as she walked over to Jamie and her mom. “If you want the doll­house, you can have it for free.” Jamie’s face bright­ened, but her mom looked con­fused. Kamee­lah even no­ticed Mr. Ro­driguez raise his eye­brows. “But it looks al­most new,” Jamie’s mom said. Kamee­lah shrugged. “It’s tak­ing for­ever to get rid of it. You’d be do­ing me a huge fa­vor.” Jamie clapped her hands and squealed in de­light, and her mother grinned. “Thank you so much — as long as you’re sure.” “It’s all yours,” Kamee­lah said, sweep­ing her

Kamee­lah frowned. Was he go­ing to ask for it for less than $2 now? she won­dered.

arm to­ward the doll­house. She watched as Jamie’s mother car­ried it to their car, where Jamie danced ex­cit­edly as the doll­house was loaded into the trunk. Kamee­lah smiled, glad to know it would still be loved. From across the ta­ble, where a cou­ple was ad­mir­ing an old paint­ing, Mrs. Tomp­kins caught Kamee­lah’s eye and mouthed, “Nice job!” Kamee­lah gave her mom a thumbs-up back. She felt good about her de­ci­sion. Just then, Mr. Ro­driguez walked back over. “I think I want to take another look at this cash reg­is­ter,” he told her. Mr. Ro­driguez re­turned to the ta­ble and

picked up the cash reg­is­ter again. “You know, I think I was mis­taken be­fore,” he said. Kamee­lah frowned. Was he go­ing to ask for it for less than $2 now? she won­dered. “How so?” Kamee­lah asked po­litely. “Well, this might ac­tu­ally be a col­lec­tor’s item,” he said. “Def­i­nitely not worth just $2. I think it might be worth more like $20!” Kamee­lah felt her eyes bug out, like that goo­gly-eyed fish she wanted. “Really?” “Now, I don’t want to hear a word of ar­gu­ment about it,” Mr. Ro­driguez said, as he opened his wal­let. Then he handed Kamee­lah a crisp $20 bill and smiled. “I hope you have a good day, Kamee­lah.” “Thank you so much, Mr. Ro­driguez!” Kamee­lah called af­ter him. Then she did her own happy dance — and started dream­ing up names for all of her new fish.

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