The brightness of the cloudy sky blinded the ballerina figurine, but was quickly, mercifully, blocked from view as heavy, grime-covered hands wrapped in fingerless gloves moved the flaps of the box aside.
“What have we here?” A gruff, smoke-scratched voice emerged from the thick, wiry brown beard that covered most of the man’s face. His blue eyes glittered at the sight of the ballerina, and she was gingerly scooped into his massive hands. He ran a dirty thumb over her, inspecting the nicks and scratches. He turned her over a few times, his initially critical stare turning into a hopeful gaze with more than a touch of sadness written in his sapphire-colored eyes.
Abruptly, he grinned a crooked grin. “You’ll do,” he said to the ballerina before shoving her in one of the many pockets that were sewn sloppily onto his dark overcoat.
When the man pulled the ballerina from his pocket, she was engulfed in his hands and hidden behind his back. Through his fingers, she could catch a sliver of her surroundings: a brick alleyway with a dumpster at the end, the entire place covered with a heavy blanket of slush. The ballerina wondered where she was when the man began speaking in his rumbling voice.
“I know it ain’t much, sweetheart,” he was saying. “But we don’t got any money. Anyway, I found this little thing in the landfill, and she reminded me of you ’cause you love to dance so much.”
With that, the man showed the ballerina to a little girl who couldn’t have been more than seven years old. She wore numerous layers of clothes — all of them too big for her tiny frame — and grime and dirt covered her from head to foot. One of her shoes had a hole in the toe. Her blonde hair was tangled and greasy. When she saw the ballerina, her wide blue eyes shone.
“Daddy, it’s perfect!” The little girl exclaimed as she snatched the doll from her father’s hands. “Oh, she’s beautiful and perfect and lovely and she even kind of looks like me! I’m going to keep her forever!” She grinned at her father.
“Happy birthday, my little dancer,” the man said as he kissed his daughter on the forehead. “I thought you might like it.”
The original story was much longer, but this was inspired by the saying, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” A hundred thousand Thank Yous to the crew over at Diamonds Or Dust for helping me edit this!