She stands where she has stood for years, on the seat of my old desk chair, the one I inherited from my parents. I think they got it from their parents, but no one really knows. No one remembers that far back.
Dad never understood why I got her, my doll. Her eyes fell out when I was still a child. Her face got colored with magic marker, and paint, a dozen times. I gave up trying to fix it, and put a mask over it.
She stands there, in my chair, in the corner of my room, where she can see me at my desk, and my computer.
Dolls were for girls when I was young. Boys didn’t own them, and didn’t play with them. If a girl wanted to clear a room, she broke out her dolls, and all the boys left.
But, something drew me to my doll. I saved my allowance for months until I could afford her. That was Mom and Dad’s rule. My allowance was mine. I could spend it how I wanted, on what I wanted. But I could not ask for money. I had to make decisions about money, about what mattered to me, and learn to build up the funds to get what I wanted.
I’d wanted my doll.
She was my friend. The person I could always talk with. The person who would never argue with me. Never tell me I was wrong. Never tell me to be more mature. To toughen up. Or that boys don’t cry.
She was the only one I could hug. The only one who would put her head on my shoulder. The only one who would kiss the hurt parts, the skinned knees, the cut fingers, to try to make me feel better.
I knew she wasn’t real. No doll is. Perhaps, one day, with enough artificial intelligence, and enough advanced electronics, we humans might make dolls that could act like they were alive. That wasn’t going to happen in my lifetime.
I never gave her a name. She’d never needed one. When I spoke to her, I called her, “you”, because it made sense.
The worst fight I ever had, growing up, was over her. When the boys at the church found out I owned a doll, all hell broke loose. They taunted me, insulted me, called me a girl, named me “Sally”. Eventually, like anyone would expect, after months of torture, I made the mistake of responding to one of the boys. I told him what I thought about him, and his insults.
It took two weeks for the bruises to fade from my face.
I still have her. She still stands, in my chair. Like she did then. Now, I write stories of a warrior, with high tech armor that makes him invisible. With guns, and explosives, and the ability to do what he believes needs to be done. A warrior who defends little boys who like dolls. One who beats the living shit out of the fathers whose sons torture such little boys.
In my dreams, at night sometimes, my warrior talks with my doll, about how to change the world, make it better, turn it into a place that doesn’t kill the dreams of children, and doesn’t teach them boys hate dolls.
And she watches me sleep, as she stands on the seat of my chair, in the corner of my room, each night.
I would have it no other way.
I wrote this for week 140 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. It’s been a hard time, getting through the house repairs. I haven’t had the energy, or patience to write anything in weeks. That’s changing now. You can learn about Miranda’s challenge here. The stories people share for the weekly challenge are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. Please go read them all.