by Cynthia Graae

My husband hadn’t seen the television ad that dazzled our six-year-old daughter into believing that its slogan, You’ll Love It, was Absolute Truth, so he said, “When she wanted to see tigers and giraffes, we went to the zoo. Why don’t we take her to that furniture store today? She’s been begging for weeks.”

I acquiesced, but I wasn’t happy. She was easily upset by our arguments. He wanted teak to go with his family’s Danish modern cast-offs. I wanted pine because of my family’s early American hand-me-downs. The two of us together in a furniture store didn’t seem like a good idea.

“We’re sightseeing, not buying,” he whispered as the three of us climbed into our second-hand car. “It’s not as if that will change our lives.”

“True enough,” I said, and off we drove to the suburbs. Our disputes over décor were hypothetical—he was in law school. We could barely afford the essentials.

When we reached the store, our daughter led us across the parking lot and into a cavernous warehouse filled with acres and acres of glitz. She chattered nonstop about sparkles as we passed curvilinear coffee tables, shimmering white arabesque sofas, silver-glow armchairs, tinselly mobiles, hammered-copper dinner tables, and ersatz-crystal chandeliers.

At some point, my husband leaned toward me and mouthed, “Get me out of here.” My head ached as if I were being assaulted by strobe lights. For once we were unified.

We continued to follow our daughter. As if she knew the route from her nightly dreams, she was striding toward the heart of the showroom, where a five- foot table lamp glittered with fake jewels and mirror shard inlays. She positioned us in front of it and pushed the button on its base. Instantly we were inside a circle of brilliant light.

She stood on tiptoes at the center. I will never forget how our little girl, who loved television ballets, twirled and twirled.

I glanced at my husband. What will we do if she wants us to buy the lamp? He had no answer.

When she finished twirling, she put my hand in his and danced ahead of us through the store. The bright light seemed to travel with her. At the entrance, she turned for one more glance. We studied her face. Was she longing for that lamp?

She was looking at us. Our fingers were entwined. She bowed.

“I knew you would love it,” she said.