Tuesday, August 24, 2010
The Doll Collector
She picks up the doll that her mother gave her when she was three. Auburn hair matted and one eye drooping from years of make-believe and play. A warm sour smell comes with the doll ... from the time she fed her real milk instead of water. She holds the doll as she looks at the others positioned carefully against the white eyelet bedspread, chosen because it frames the dolls so perfectly. The delicate porcelain face of the doll Aunt Jane gave her with its crocheted southern ball gown. The naked baby with the elastic bow around its head. The Mexican dancer her father brought from a trip long ago. The cheerleader. The little Amish doll. The wizened apple-faced grandma.
Carefully she picks up the twenty-three dolls and, once again, tries to find a place for them. The chair is already full of the Circle of Seventeen ... well-dressed dolls who claim that space. The dresser is filled with twelve dolls positioned with care ... they show no sign of being willing to move. The shelves are full and dolls form a border around every inch of the floor. She holds the dolls closely, sighs and sets them down once again onto their chosen places on the bed. She moves them slightly closer together so that she can pull back a few inches of the covers, slip in on her side with her knees extending over the edge. Finally she sleeps, but she does not dream.