[Prompt: Fill in the blanks and use this somewhere in your story: When Shelby arrived at the ______, she knew she was going to ______ for her ______. ]
When Shelby arrived at the mall, she knew she was going to have to run for her life. As the sun began to set and the turkey carcass was picked barren, the task ahead of her began to weigh heavily on her shoulders. She hunched as she began to mindlessly scrub at a plate, the counter had an endless line of dishes awaiting some sudsy action.
A creature of habit, Shelby’s cousin (and arch nemesis), Barbara always harassed her during their family Thanksgiving celebration. A successful ad executive, Barbara had travelled the world, made plenty of money, and practiced all the latest trends. Shelby, on the other hand, still lived in the town she’d grown up in, worked a boring job at the water company, and didn’t have the slightest clue or interest in what was trending.
This year upon arrival, Barbara had commented on Shelby’s ‘homely’ appearance, wondering aloud what year her sweater had been ordered out of the Sears Catalog. Shelby, never one to seek conflict, tried to let the comment roll off her woolen clad shoulder and change the subject.
Barbara’s next assault caught Shelby off guard as she whipped the mashed potatoes. Frantically skipping from one end of the kitchen to the other so that the meal could be served all at once, Barbara chose the opportune time to welcome the rest of the family to a toast in the living room, thanking them for spending another Thanksgiving with her.
It was during dinner that Shelby surprised the entire family, including herself, when she finally showed Barbara up. As Barbara explained to Aunt Maribelle the importance of shopping, and how only the most savviest shoppers (like herself) were brilliant enough to take advantage of shopping the day after Thanksgiving, Shelby scowled and listened to the absurdity. Apparently Barbara figured she’d take a break since the local mall hadn’t released an early ad, she concluded they were being underhanded.
“Actually, they did put out an early ad.” Shelby pipped up. She suddenly felt thankful for reading the wasted paper, skimming through to see what obnoxious items consumers would be vying for this year. But she knew seeing the ad wasn’t enough, she continued, “And I’m going, because there’s some once in a lifetime deals.”
After a momentary silence and odd looks from family members, Barbara had gone on to complain about the decline of the mail service in her part of the city, steering the conversation away from Shelby. But Shelby didn’t mind, for once, she knew more about something than Barbara.
But Barbara wasn’t a dummy. She struck back at Shelby during dessert, between bites of lemon meringue pie, “You know, I think I’ll go with you, Shelbs. I could show you the ropes, the biggest shopping day of the year isn’t like every other day.”
Shelby smiled outwardly but grimaced inside and replied, “I was hoping you’d say that.”
Black Friday. The shopping day to rule them all. The ultimate deal. Shop-a-geddon. Because only in America people are okay with trampling each other for pointless sales exactly one day after being thankful for what they have.
At 4:30 a.m., Shelby’s irritation with Barbara already overflowed. After spending the entirety of the previous day in the kitchen, Shelby barely managed to pull her hair into a sloppy ponytail and put on sweats and a tshirt. Barbara looked amazing, as usual. Curled hair, manicured nails, yoga pants with a flirty top, Shelby grated her teeth as she eyed Barbara sideways. Barbara flashed her a million dollar smile, reaching down to grab her foot and pull upward, stretching her leg.
Shelby felt the rage bubbling within her chest. Being in the crowd of people waiting to partake in the most asinine sale event of the season and standing next to Barbara looking like a frumpy dork, she experienced something she’d never felt before: motivation. Shelby’s life changed at that very moment.
The bells began to chime, and the mall doors opened. The crowd around Shelby and Barbara was like a school of fish, moving in unison as the way was cleared. But Shelby’s motivation dictated she was no longer a fish. She became a freaking dolphin.
Barbara looked at Shelby, a look of horror on her face as she saw the grin of insanity so fittingly claim Shelby’s lips. Shelby reached out and shoved Barbara to the ground, laughing and chanting, “For the sale!”
Mob mentality is a phenomenon that is difficult to understand from outside the crowd, but Shelby’s simple act and chant of victory fed the mass. People began shoving and pushing others to the ground, a frenzy of excitement spreading like wildfire through dry brush. “For the sale!” rang out from every direction, fueling the craze for the promise of savings. The school of fish continued to surge, moving towards the doors.
But Shelby was a dolphin, and she had worn her sneakers. She darted through the throngs of people; ducking, sliding, jumping. Calling upon her middle school track record, she tapped into her speed and made her way to the head of the crowd. She cheered and threw her hands into the air as she passed through the mall doors and into the victory hall of savings.
Shelby’s story went down in history. Barbara had sprained her ankle after falling to the pavement and being stepped on, so she had no glory on the day in question. Forever after, Shelby became known as the Black Friday Cleaner. She swept the shelves of merchandise, mopped the floors with savings. Then plowed through the bitch who tried to cut her in line. It became a family favorite, Shelby acting shy before launching into the epic tale, always sure to mention Barbaras injury and what a shame it had been to shop without her.
Thanksgiving became Shelby’s favorite holiday and she never had to endure comments from Barbara again. But regardless of the happy accidents it brought, Shelby never subjected herself to Black Friday shopping again.