The Gift

Windy Lynn Harris

“They fit,” she said in her disappointed tone. I waited for more but she was done with the subject. She
didn’t elaborate. She didn’t thank me for the gift. And that was that.

I was on the phone with my long time friend Holly. I knew no matter what I chose for a Christmas
present she wasn’t going to like it. I knew it the minute I picked her name in the gift exchange.
“Ugh,” I thought when I saw her name on the pink slip of paper. “Not again.”

I was sick to my stomach. Anyone else in the group would have been easy to shop for. Music for
Courtney, something handmade for Rachel, cosmetics for Heather, and Kristina would like whatever
I picked out because she’s just easy that way. But Holly, well, I knew better.

A book?  No. She said she doesn’t have much time to read. Jewelry?  No, she doesn’t dress up much
since she started working at the dry cleaner. Scarf?  Not personal enough. No. No. No. Every time I
picked something up I heard her voice in my head telling me why it wasn’t right. It was agonizing.
And exhausting.

The date was drawing near so I HAD to make a choice. After shopping several stores and endless
websites I chose a three piece pajama set:  pants, tank top, and matching hooded jacket. They were
made of soft cotton jersey with cropped pants, perfect for my 5’1” friend. I loved the set. I was happy.
Anyone would like these, I thought. Even Holly.

I boxed them carefully and wrapped them in foiled paper. As I tied ribbons to the package my
anxiety was back. “Please like them,” I willed to the universe. My daughter came in to see what I was
doing. I told her I was wrapping Holly’s gift. “I hope she likes them,” I said.

“Of course she will,” she said. “They’re from you.”  She smiled at me and that was that. She left the
room, off to play a game with her brother.

I looked down at the package. I wanted it to be perfect. Something to cheer up my continuously
depressed friend. She doesn’t like her husband or job and doesn’t get out much so I felt myself
wanting to make up for all that by way of this gift. I started to worry the pajamas would be too
boring or too black but I stopped myself and thought about my daughter’s words.

It wasn’t up to me to fix anything in Holly’s life, I realized. Just get her a sincere gift and have it there
on time. I stopped thinking of these pajamas as the thing that would fix her marriage or make her
appreciate my friendship. They were just pajamas. And if she didn’t appreciate them, I decided, then
she didn’t appreciate me.

The package went out the next day. The week came and went without a phone call from Holly. I
knew she got them. I hoped she liked them. I hoped she liked me. I tried to picture her wearing them
and being so glad we were friends. I called her then, hoping to hear her delight. I wanted to know I
was important to her. I wanted to be thanked for once.

“They fit,” she said. And I knew:  that was that.

Windy Lynn Harris writes essays and short stories from her home in Arizona . She also writes a monthly column for The Phoenix Writers’ Club. She is currently finishing her first novel, a humorous story about a woman trying to redefine her self worth as her youngest child goes off to high school and she no longer feels needed.