by Marilyn Churchill
I am a salesman. I find goods for cheap, and resell them for a profit. For a while, I sold dolls. I still had quite a few of them when I took on a new project. It was clear to me that I would no longer have time to sell dolls.
I unlocked the door to my locker to check my inventory, and saw the dolls, sitting all in a row, their eyes staring straight ahead. “I’m moving you all into deep storage,” I said firmly.
One of the dolls turned her head and looked at me with such a sad expression, that I was sure she was about to cry. In a tiny voice she said, “Can’t you find someone to love me? Can’t you find me a home?”
I looked at her plastic face and hair, her pink cheeks and button nose, and was filled with pity. Even dolls have a shelf life, I realized. In fact, she was already a little out of fashion. “All right,” I said. “I will try to find you a home.”
And so, we began our journey. Side by side, we walked through the wealthiest part of town, down a street with beautiful homes. “This would be a wonderful place for her to live,” I decided. Boldly, I peeked through the windows of a mansion, and saw priceless furnishings. At one end of a settee, leaned up against a pillow, sat a fancy doll with long, golden ringlets. She wore an elegant silk dress embellished with lace. I looked down at the little doll standing at my feet, and sighed. No, a rich family would have no interest in buying this doll.
And so we walked on. Now, the houses were not so fine, and with every house we passed, I asked myself, “What kind of person would buy this doll?” People hurried down the street, taking no notice of us, and the doll looked as discouraged as I was.
I picked up a piece of chalk-like rock. “Look,” I said, drawing a big question mark in the middle of the sidewalk. I took two more steps and drew an arrow. “If someone has an answer, they will know where to find us,” I explained. We continued our journey, with me bending down every so often to draw another arrow pointing in our direction.
When we reached the poor side of town, I thought, “Surely a poor girl would love this doll! But how far is the doll willing to go to find someone to love?” I imagined her dress dirty, and her hair all in tangles. I saw two possibilities. In one, a child took care of the doll, and thought her most precious. In another, a child had never been shown how to take care of anything, including herself.
I heard someone call, and looked over my shoulder. A little girl approached us, breathless, and excited. I could see by her bare feet and clothing that she was indeed poor.
“Do you want this doll?” I asked.
“Oh, yes!” she exclaimed, her eyes shining brightly.
But would she value this doll if I just give her away? “If you want her, you must give me something,” I said.
The child’s eyes fell, and her shoulders slumped. “I haven’t any coins,” she replied. “But … I have a song,” she said shyly.
“Good! Then give me your song!” I replied.
The child began to sing; a simple little song about a princess. But she sang it with feeling, holding on to each note, and when her song ended, I thanked her. With a smile, I picked the doll up and placed her into the child’s waiting arms. Then I turned, and walked home.
This was was a dream I had, and immediately recorded upon waking; January 4, 2010 at 7:56 AM. The story details have not been altered, augmented, or changed in any way. (What is more mysterious than a dream?)