Published on 2011/02/27

The Little Entrepreneur

Hillary Lyon

Patricia was such a serious little girl -- you would never call her Trisha, Trish, Pat or Patty. She rose at six each morning, brushed her hair exactly sixty strokes (thirty left, thirty right), brushed her teeth for exactly one minute (thirty seconds up, thirty seconds down), dressed in clothes she'd laid out the night before, all before marching herself downstairs for breakfast. A breakfast, it must be added, that she prepared for herself, as usually her parents slept in.

Her parents were what she disdainfully thought of as "hippies;" though, at ten years old, she was not entirely clear as to what that word meant. Still, they slept late on weekends, never went to church, and would rather paint or write or make music in their free time than think up ways to make money. Her mother wore too much make-up and her father took afternoon naps. What else could they be, but hippies?

Patricia did not ask, but rather informed her parents that she was joining the Clover-Leaf Girls Club -- that time-honored organization that taught all girls between the ages of eight and twelve the joys of industry and household maintenance. Among other endeavors, the girls learned not only how to bake brownies and cookies from scratch, but how to market them as well. And the girls get to keep half the proceeds (the other half goes to support their own Clover-Leaf Girls Club chapter). In Patricia's mind, this was a perfect opportunity to start her own business. She would make a fortune, she decided, and move into her own house, without her lazy parents.

And so early one Saturday morning Patricia began to bake. She lined up her ingredients and utensils in an orderly fashion, washed her hands and went to work. By noon, when her parents shuffled into the kitchen (awoken, no doubt, by the delicious aroma of warm brownies), she had finished baking and was in the midst of clean-up.

"Wow, something smells yummy!" Her Dad mumbled.

"Did you do all this by yourself, sweetie? This is awesome!" Her Mom grabbed her and gave her a smothering bear hug. It was not enough to convince Patricia to offer her parents a sample of her baked goods.

Patricia simply smiled and announced that the brownies were for her "Cooking Confections Badge," and (sorry) she could not give them away, but she would sell them to her parents. That would help her earn her "Young Entrepreneurs Badge."

"Wow," was all her Mom said.

"Hey, I have a quarter here," her Dad offered up.

"Sorry, Dad, but my brownies sell for $1.00 each. So, if you have three more quarters, then we can talk."

Her parents looked at each other, and shook their heads.

* * *

After lunch, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that she made herself -- she was not about to eat her Mom's garlic and sun-dried tomato hummus with pita chips -- she packed up her aromatic brownies and put on her Clover-Leaf Girls uniform. Yelling goodbye to her folks, she marched through the front door, determined to make her fortune.

The first several houses on her street were very receptive; she raked in twenty dollars in as many minutes. The farther she traveled from her own home, the more challenging the sales became. By mid-afternoon, she was spending more and more time on her sales pitch, which meant a reduction in the number of houses she would be able to hit before she had go home for dinner at five. This did not please her in the least. So she upped her game: quickened her speech, gently (to her way of thinking) pressured her potential customers to buy her baked goods. By 4:30, she'd made forty dollars -- and she still had ten brownies to sell. Obviously, the remaining ten were cold, and therefore not nearly as aromatic (which she decided was the key to fast sales), but they were still tasty, and that should be enough.

She chose Mrs. Walldrip's house for her last target. Her daughter, Winona Walldrip, was one of Patricia's classmates. Winona the Wimp, Winona the Weird, as Patricia thought of her -- Winona, who didn't care if she made an A+ or a B+ on her math quiz! Winona, who had awful penmanship but still wrote poetry that her teachers loved! Winona, who could out run anyone in her class, even the boys! Winona, who looked like a budding Vampira in their class picture! Patricia did not understand why Winona was so well-liked and, consequently, had no patience with girl. Getting Winona's mother to buy her cold (and almost stale) brownies would be a sweet come-uppence, in her mind.

Mrs. Walldrip came to the front door on the ninth insistent knock.

"Well, hello, uh, Trish. Don't you look sharp in your Clover-Leaf Girls Club uniform! What are we selling today?"

"Good afternoon, Mrs. Walldrip. Thank you for the compliment. I am selling my home-made brownies -- baked fresh this morning! -- to earn both my Cooking Confections Badge and my Young Entrepreneur Badge. An entrepreneur is 'a person who organizes, operates, and assumes the risk for a business venture,' according to The American Heritage Dictionary."

"Ah, yes, thank you for that information, but I already know what an entrepreneur is, dear."

"Yes, well, Mrs. Walldrip, and I prefer people call me Patricia, not Trish. I have ten delicious home-baked brownies for sale today for only $1.00 each. How many would you like? Five, or all ten?"

"Thank you for the offer, Patricia, but we don't have much of a sweet tooth in this house, so . . . "

"So you only want -- how many then? Four? Six?"

"No, honey, we don't want any. But I wish you the best of luck selling them! Perhaps the Greenbriars down the street would like them? All those kids -- surely they'll snap those brownies right up!"

"I've already been there, and they only took ten. I doubt they would want ten more. How about you take three -- one for you, one for Mr. Walldrip, and one for Winona? A wholesome home-made delicious brownie might help her with her, uh, studies."

"Patricia, thanks for your, uh, concern, but no thanks."

At this point, Patricia gave Mrs. Walldrip her "hard squint" -- which she had overheard her teachers call her "icy dagger eyes." It usually worked to break down any opponent. Mrs. Walldrip merely smiled and began to close the door. Patricia stuck her foot in the doorway, preventing Mrs. Walldrip from shutting the door.

"Now, Patricia, that's not very nice, and it's not going to convince me to buy your brownies. Please remove your foot and be on your way."

"But Mrs. Walldrop, er, -drip, I baked these myself this morning! I have to sell ten more to get my badge! You have to buy my brownies! You have to! Pleeeeeaaassse?"

"Child, I do not have to do anything. I am, however, about to call your parents if you do not leave. Right. This. Minute."

"My parents are asleep. They won't answer the phone. Please buy my brownies! All I need is ten dollars! I have to get my badges!"

"No."

Here, Mrs. Walldrip took her own foot and began slowly pushing Patricia's foot out of the doorway. Patricia turned bright red with indignation. She dropped her basket of brownies and raised her clenched fists up to her head.

"They. Are. Delicious! Buy. My. Brownies!"

"No."

Patricia grabbed her own pigtails and pulled them up like horns.

"Ten brownies. Ten Dollars!"

"No."

Upon the utterance, again, of this dreadful word, Patricia's plain brown eyes hardened into onyx. Her fingernails extended into silvery talons, her skin hardened into scales. Her shoulder blades protruded through the back of her uniform, quickly tearing the olive-green fabric, and sprouted into thin, leathery wings. Her stiff smile stretched into a grimace, and from a grimace into venom-dripping death's head grin.

Mrs. Waldrip, being ever so diplomatic, chose not to notice Patricia's transformation.

Smoke curled from the corners of Patricia's lips as she said, "How about ten brownies for eight dollars?"

"Ten for five."

Patricia hissed steam like an angry little tea kettle.

"Ten for seven."

"Ten for six. Last offer."

"Fine."

Patricia picked up her brownie basket. She counted out Mrs. Walldrip's ten brownies as Mrs. Walldrip counted out six dollars.

"It was a pleasure doing business with you, Patricia."

"Indeed. Thank you for your patronage."

Patricia turned on her heel and trudged away. By the time she reached the street, she was merely a scowling, ten year old girl again.

Mrs. Walldrip quietly closed the front door, and looking through the sheer curtains of the front window, watched the little aspiring entrepreneur recede into the green suburban twilight. She smoothed her hair, arched her back, and sighed as the fabric of her house-coat ripped. The woman laughed to herself at the insolence of some kids these days! She nibbled absent-mindedly on one of those darned brownies -- actually, they were quite tasty -- and with a sharpened coppery talon, blissfully scratched that hard-to-reach spot on one of her own leathery wings.


Hillary is editor for Subsynchronous Press (subsyncpress.wordpress.com), publisher of two small press poetry journals (The Laughing Dog, and Veil: Journal of Darker Musings). Her fiction has appeared recently in Midnight Screaming and Twisted Dreams. Visit, if you dare, her on-going post-apocalyptic fiction blog, ReAnimated Girlfriend, at reanimatedgirlfriend.wordpress.com