The Worse Birthday Present Ever – Short Story

Karen looked down at the total devastation in the lounge. How was it possible that a two-year-old could create such a mess in two hours. Lego, toy trains, dolls and that damn nesting doll were scattered everywhere.

Emily had finally crashed half an hour ago, after five stories and two bottles of milk. Having a child was the hardest thing Karen had ever done. Doing it on her own, for the last year, had made it impossible. A tear escaped her eye and ran down her cheek. She wiped it away, angry at herself. Not now, she had things to do.

With a sigh of exhaustion, she started to bend down and pick up all the toys, scattered on the floor. She looked down at the several different halves of the nesting dolls. God, how she hated their horrible smiling faces. All of them perfectly identical, getting smaller. As a child they had been her favourite, now she plain hated them. She would have thrown them away months ago if Emily hadn’t clung to them so much. Almost as if she realised they were the last part of her father.

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Dan and Karen had met in college. She was training to be a hairdresser, him a bricklayer. He had brilliant blue eyes and dark curly hair. He had let her in the queue, for coffee with a cheeky smile and a wink. She stared into his eyes, travelling down to his body. Wow-what a body not too thin, but muscly, his arm muscles strained against his T-shirt. His chest was broad and perfectly toned. He had smirked when he caught her looking at him.

For the next week, Karen made sure that she had coffee at the same time every day. Always to be able to chat with the handsome stranger. Dan later confessed that he had different breaks every day. He was cutting lessons to see her.

One week later, he asked her if she would go for a drink with him. They slept together that night. She liked to make men wait for her, but something told her it was pointless with Dan. They were always meant to be together. She had laid in his strong arms that night, running her fingers over his chest and knew she was in love.

They had moved in together a year later after they both graduated. After five years of hard work, they both had their own businesses and had moved into a larger two-bedroom house. They had talked about getting married, but then Karen had fallen pregnant with Emily.

The nesting dolls had been the last present Dan had bought her before he died.

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Karen put the last pieces of the dolls together and sat there looking at them in her hand. They were still smiling, that smug smile she hated.

It had been her birthday. Emily was at her Grandma’s for the night and both Karen and Dan had a romantic evening planned. It wasn’t easy to make time for romance when you had a toddler running around. Dan had put a little weight on, but Karen still fancied him like mad.

For a week, Karen had worked on the vision of the great romantic evening, they were going to share. The anticipation, was almost as much of a turn on, as the night was going to be.

That was why she reacted the way she had. Dan had been acting strange all evening, Karen thought it was because he was as nervous as her.

“Shit I forgot the wine,” he said as they got dressed.

She convinced him it didn’t matter. He had then with shaky hands presented her with her birthday present.

She had torn the paper off like a toddler and opened the box looking into his eyes. There sat in the box, the nesting dolls. She took them out and placed them beside her. This was a joke right, he hadn’t just bought her nesting dolls, there must be more.

“Play with them,” he had said.

That was when Karen had exploded. No wonder Dan was acting strange, he had forgotten her birthday completely.

“Fucking nesting dolls, fucking nesting dolls that is all I am worth?”

Dan has stammered, “but they are your favourite, go on, play with them.”

Karen couldn’t remember exactly what else she had shouted at Dan, but she knew it had been cruel. Ten minutes later, he had enough and told her he was going to buy the wine, storming out of the house.

Three hours later, the police had put Karen out of her misery. Dan had been found in the pub behind his car, strangled.

Photo by Kat Jon Unsplash
Karen finally let the tears fall, that had been threatening all day. She saw a large drop fall onto the nesting dolls smiling face.

God how she hated these dolls. She picked them up and threw them as hard as you could at the wall. She heard the pieces come apart and scatter around the lounge.

If only she had been more grateful for the stupid present, Dan would still be alive.

Looking up through her tears, the dolls lay at the various angles, all different sizes. That was when she saw something glittering in the light.

Walking over to the glittering shape she bent down and picked it up. A beautiful diamond engagement ring which had been hidden, in the smallest nesting doll.

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