I found this strip with some friends in Champlain Place in Moncton, New Brunswick this winter. This is what I see:
Chelsea is the tallest girl in her eighth grade class, this doesn’t bother her much. Chelsea also has the largest shoe size and cup size and for the time being, this does bother her much. She is in the midst of the most awkward adolescent stage when even simple movements feel like she’s coordinating a giant, bulky marionette.
Chelsea still plays with her Barbie dolls but is very aware that this is not cool. She delves into the make-believe world with a new secrecy and caution. She plays with them behind her closed bedroom door, seated on the ground and if startled by a knock, she will in a flash, lance a doll underneath her bed to dispose of the evidence. On a few occasions Lois has come up to let Chelsea know dinner is ready and witnessed a Barbie hurdling past the bed skirt. Lois pretends not to notice.
Lois has been a registered nurse for sixteen years and is genuinely good at her chosen profession. She is an exceptional listener with both patients and friends. As a result Lois is a confidant to many and an excellent gift giver.
Lois has been a smoker for over twenty years and feels a great deal of shame about it, especially considering her chosen profession. She does her best to conceal her guilt-ridden pleasure from her coworkers, friends and daughter. At night, when Lois is sure Chelsea has called it in for the day, she lights up on the back deck. Occasionally Chelsea will get out of bed to confirm she can get a ride to school the next morning and catch her mother with a rigid hand cradling a cigarette, hovering just behind her hip. Chelsea pretends not to notice.
The ladies love shopping together and they make a good team. On this Saturday Lois needed to pick up a gift for a coworker’s baby shower and a few other miscellaneous items. At the end of every successful shopping day the mother-daughter team have a tradition to treat themselves to a cinnamon bun. Feeling extra perky after their treat, they decided to use the photobooth. Lois wanted an updated picture of them for her wallet and Chelsea would use the rest in her photo collage of her favourite things that occupied a full wall in her room.
It never occurred to them to do goofy things in a photobooth, their pictures always reflected their current mood, mostly happy. When the pictures came out of the dispenser Chelsea blew on them until the toner solution was dry and then placed them in her shallow coat pocket. On their way to the mall exit, the photos slipped out and fell to the ground.
Moments later a woman stepped on the photos and a pebble caught between the ridges in the sole of her boot scratched the last frame of the fresh strip. Noticing the photos under her foot she returned them to the photobooth with hope that the owners would retrieve them there.