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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Comedy · #2266233
Pieces of painted driftwood change a family's life.
Walk Barefoot in the Sand Every Day

"Here are more pieces of driftwood, Daddy."

"Nice!" Curt took them out of his daughter's hands.

He carried the treasure to his workshop. The room was filled with heaps of driftwood pieces. Some leaned against the walls. Others precariously stacked on tables. A large metal shelf held recently found driftwood that still dried out.

Curt was a fine woodworker. He prided himself of making all of his pieces by hand without the use of any power tools. As every day, he choose a few pieces of driftwood and sat down with sandpaper to smooth them just enough for his purposes. His day trickled by in the peaceful rhythm of work and family.

After dinner, he told his wife and daughter, "I have come up with a new type of product to sell. I finished some of them. Will you both take a look?"

Live love laugh. All good things grow with love. Home sweet home. Walk barefoot in the sand every day. These and more inspirational phrases shone freshly stenciled off some extra smooth pieces of driftwood, proudly displayed on the worktop.

"These are wonderful," Melissa said. She put an arm around her husband. "I even have an idea where to put them in the store to sell them to the tourists. But we're keeping this one for the living room." She picked Walk barefoot in the sand every day.

Walk barefoot in the sand every day received a prominent spot right above the couch, the wall that caught the eye of anyone entering the room for the first time. "It captures our life to a t."

The next day, Melissa and Curt carefully placed his new creations all around their little shop along the beach. Melissa had inherited a house at the beach right around the time Doris was born. They had remodeled the part that faced the beach into a store. Refreshments, beach necessities, and the artwork from local artists along with Curt's creations attracted locals and visitors. It wasn't large living, but they had been able to make a go out of this for years and life was good. Life was just like those inspirational quotes.

A couple of tourists bought smaller pieces. Over dinner, Melissa wondered out loud, "Do you think I priced the phrase wood pieces too high?"

Curt shrugged his shoulders. "Let's keep the prices the way they are. Each piece is unique. The wood pieces are unique and I painted each by hand. I think they're worth the amount we're asking."

Sales were slow, but neither Curt nor Melissa cared. Art wasn't high on the list of their usual customers. Curt had started thinking of different things to do with the driftwood, when a man in a suit, not at all beachy looking, came into the store. "Who makes these inspirational d├ęcor pieces?"

"That would be me," Curt said.

The suit held out a hand. "Billy Ball. Purchasing agent for Bed, Bath, and Beyond." He guffawed. "It still sounds silly, but I can't help my own name."

Curt shook the hand. "Curt. How can I help you?"

"We want to hire you to design more of these pieces to sell nationwide."

"I don't know that I will find that much driftwood."

"We wouldn't use driftwood. We have factories in China that churn these things out in large quantities. All you have to do is design them."

Doris came from the back of the store and held on to Curt's legs. She stared up at the stranger who didn't behave like all the other customers. Instead of browsing the shop in a leisurely way, this man's voice had a hardness to it that was unusual to her ears. Everyone else around here was laid-back and relaxed.

Billy Ball held out a card. "Call me. Don't take too long. BBB wants to make a move on this before Pier One does." He held out his hand to shake to Curt again and gave Doris an expression that was probably what he called a smile.

Over dinner, Melissa and Curt discussed the offer.

"A real job would bring more stability. We have to think of Doris. She's going to kindergarten after summer," Curt said.

"But what about you and me? We like our life the way it is. Doris going to school is only a few hours a day. We never thought that we had to keep up with city people," Melissa countered.

"We could afford a little sibling for Doris," Curt said with a loving smile to his wife.

"I guess it can't hurt if you do this for a couple of years. I can hold down the shop alone with how little traffic it gets."

Weeks later, Doris's feet were pressed into the hard shapes of black lacquered leather shoes, she was stuffed into a little dress, and her hair was held back from her face with a little ribbon. The family had to stand still for pictures. The day was long. The drive to those picture taking places was longer. The air in the city stank of things that Doris had no name for.

Without her daddy at home, puttering around in the workshop, Doris felt the house grow cold. Melissa was trapped in the shop until one morning, she didn't open it up. The house became lonely and colder without the daily trickle of people stopping by for a coffee, a cookie, and a chit-chat.

Twenty years later, Doris had built a living in stand-up comedy. "That Curmudgeon Gal" was the title of her show. Her brand was to hold up industrially made items and talk trash about them. The audiences loved her. Her props were entirely made up of those stupid inspirational quote things. They were everywhere and on everything now. Shower curtains, mugs, welcome mats, framed, urns for pet ashes. Except driftwood. They weren't driftwood anymore.

And nobody in her family ever went back to walking barefoot in the sand.

993 words

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