I am sitting by the kitchen window daydreaming about what a wonderful thing it would be if the Angel brought me a real barbie this time.

I mean, this character lives in the Heavens and travels the world bringing toys to children, so how hard could it be for him to drop me one of those dolls? 

I know, I have one of those Romanian imitation barbies, but her right leg always falls off and it is not fun always having to look for it.

Besides it never sticks for long: as soon as she walks or tries to do the splits, off it goes. Beti from third floor has a real one and she is really gorgeous. She does not have leg problems.

I have been good: I did my homework regularly, though not always jumping with joy (trying to write the same words thousands of times, delivering a good calligraphy by the light of the petroleum lamp… well you do the math); I listened to the teacher and did exactly what she told us.

I also listened to my mom and dad. I did not yell or run in the apartment to piss the neighbors off. I always said „csókolom“* to people and never opened the door to anyone while I was home alone.

I mean, just the other day somebody knocked on the door. So I did what every good girl would do: I went for my small chair with my name carved into it, carried it to the peephole very quietly, climbed on it and looked at the person who was knocking.

I saw her and heard her say „Monica, it’s me, aunt Gizi. I can see you. You can open the door, it is fine.“ But I did not.

If your parents told you not to open the door to anybody, then that’s what you do.


Besides, I always wash my hands, say grace before a meal and say my prayers before going to bed. Always in the exact same order: „Our father“,Ave Maria“ and „Jesus, my eyes are closing.“

And some others too, if I have some extra wishes. Alright, I fell asleep once two weeks ago while I was reciting them, but it was not on purpose.

And I am going to confess it next Sunday in church. 

While I am gathering evidence of my being a good girl and suggesting the Angel that I am worth a real barbie, I see some of the neighbors from across our block of apartments running. 

„Mom, János bácsi* and Erzsi néni* are running,“ I yell at my mom who is in the bathroom. 

„What are you yelling for?“ she says. „The neighbors will hear you.“

So I go to the bathroom door and say to her „János bácsi and Erzsi néni are running.“ 

„Why? What are they selling?“ she asks. 

„I don’t know! I just saw them through the window.“ 

„Ok, get dressed! Quickly! We must see what they are selling!“ 

Within five minutes we are dressed and ready for the fight. In the stairway Jutka néni opens her door and sticks her head out as she hears us running down the stairs. „What are they selling?“ she asks.

„Don’t know. We just saw the others…“ 

„Alright, I will get ready. Please hold the line for me,“ she says while she hands my mom a plastic bag.

On our way to the store we find out from other running people that they are selling several goods: besides flour, oil, eggs and sugar they also sell oranges, lemons and chocolates. That makes sense as Christmas is coming. It is the only time we see oranges and get to eat them if we are fast enough to make it to the store. 

At the store you cannot see the end of the line. Looks like many people found out about this a lot earlier than we did. That is not so cool as it is freezing and it has just started snowing again. Damn! I wish I was on the hill with my sleigh and my friends. The fresh snow is just perfect for sliding down and so fluffy. 

„So, do we know how much of the goods they got?“ anxiously asks a woman in the line. 

„We saw two large trucks, so it should be enough for us to get some.“ 

„Yes, if people stopped cutting the line – STOP CUTTING THE LINE AND GO TO THE BACK AS DID EACH ONE OF US,“ yells her husband to the pregnant woman going to the front of the line where apparently her line has been hold. 

Jutka néni arrives and comes up to us. The line behind us tripled within two minutes. 

„Thanks for holding the line for me,“ she says breathing hard from the running.

„Hey, what’s this?“ another woman from behind us angrily asks. 

„They have been holding the line for me, ok?! See? This is my plastic bag,“ Jutka néni says while she takes the bag out of my mom’s hands. 

Just seconds later my best friend Erika arrives hand in hand with her mom and her brother Csaba. What a relief! So she is not on the hill either! 

„Hi Eri,“ I shout to her. 

„Stop yelling,“ my mom says. 

Eri smiles back at me. „Will you go up the hill later?“ I ask her. 

„Sure! It is snowing,“ she answers jumping up with joy. 

„There will be no going up the hill! First we have to make it to the front here and then we will have lunch. Besides you promised your father to help him prepare the decorations for the Angel.“ This stupid Angel… if it fails to bring me that barbie… 

„Please, just for one hour!“ I beg of her. 

„I know your concept of an hour! You go up the hill and then there is no way you want to come down…“ Damn, she is right. 

„Nooo, I promise. See, Erika may go. Why can’t I?“ 

„Stop yelling and begging. People are staring at us!“ 

Two hours later we are actually in the store. „We are out of flour, and oil is limited, too. So no more than one bottle for each“ one of the sales ladies says. „And please stop pushing each other!“ 

„Well, as long as we get something,“ Jutka néni says. „I don’t feel my toes anymore and I have to pee.“

I wish I had her problems. In the meantime the snow has gotten really big. All of the neighbor kids must have already ruined it with their sleighs. What a waste. And I still need to persuade my mom to let me go up to the hill. I shouldn’t have said anything about the running neighbors. Maybe she wouldn’t have found out and I would long be gone for the hill, sleighing down and yelling „heppááá“*. 

*Csókolom – a very respectful way of greeting grownups
*Néni – Mrs. *bácsi – Mr.
*heppá – Warning to get people out of the way