Author's reading: https://soundcloud.com/user-968566758
This doll here, I’ve had her for ages. She may not be the prettiest - well, not now she’s a bit battered. But there’s comfort in familiarity. There she is with her smile and her softness, nothing scary, nothing untoward. She’s my everyday doll.
No, don’t open that box. Leave it alone.
This other doll, just over here, with the strings, she’s a bit smarter than the old everyday one. I’ve had her nearly as long, but I don’t get her out as much. Her clothes are a bit fresher than the everyday one. See? Yes, I thought you’d like her. She’s quite fun, isn’t she? Look, you can make her bow and wave and even do a little dance, if you want. One step, two steps, hop, jump… You can literally make her bend over backwards, if you know how to pull the strings. It took me a while to figure it out, but I’ve got it down pat now.
This one? Oh, I don’t get her out very often these days. I think she’s a bit scary. There was someone, once, who said she reminded him of that witch, Ursula, in The Little Mermaid. The Disney movie, you know? The horrid big fat woman in black who’s really evil, and wants to spoil everything for everyone. I never used to see her like that. I always thought she looks kind of majestic. A bit scary, like I say, but not horrid and mean. Just…not afraid of her own power. Sure of who she is. I saw her more as Galadriel, the elf queen in Lord of the Rings. Powerful, but kind, unless someone does something that she thinks is really wrong, and then she gets angry, very angry, roaringly, screamingly angry sometimes, but who wouldn’t? Still, once someone points it out to you, you can’t help but see it the other way. So I keep her there, on the shelf, and I only get her down when I’m on my own. Sometimes she looks like Ursula to me, too, and then I have to really concentrate to see Galadriel.
No, I told you. Leave the box alone.
These are just the ones I’ve held on to. I’ve had a lot of them over the years. Well, you know, some of them get a bit shabby, and a bit worn, and I don’t even like them myself after a while. Some of them I’ve looked at and thought, my goodness, what on earth was I thinking, but I liked them at the time, liked to show them off, thought other people might like them too. Sometimes I cringe when I think of how they must have seemed to others. Our tastes do change, as time passes. There are ones I miss, though. I’m sorry I let them go. There was one, she had this surprised, happy face, as though the world was a constant revelation, in a good way. As though there was a delighted little chuckle always hidden behind her lips, just waiting to get out. I’m not quite sure what happened to her. Got lost somewhere along the way.
Please, put the box down. Put it down.
Now this one – she’s a bit naughty, really. She’s got lovely hair, hasn’t she? And she’s beautifully modelled. A lot of people used to like playing with her, back in the day. All good fun, everyone enjoyed it, and most of them were careful with her. There were one or two…well, there’s always one or two, aren’t there? A bit heavy-handed. Some are careless, and some just get their kicks breaking things. She’s had a few repairs, but she’s more or less intact. She’s another one who spends her time on the shelf now. She’s a bit too creaky to come out to play. Anyway, who’d want to, with all those repairs, those bits of sticky tape holding things together?
What are you doing?
Well, what did you expect? You can go on opening boxes all day, you’ll never get to what’s inside. I don’t know why you wanted to. Look at all these beautiful dolls. Even the not so beautiful ones. Isn’t that enough for you? Why do you want to break through all the boxes for the one you can’t see?
You wouldn’t like her, anyway.
You have this one. I’ll show you how to work the strings. Make her dance. There, it’s easy, isn’t it? I knew you’d like her.