A New Doll for Polly
1412 words long
You may think there are only two kinds of dolls in the world, dear reader: the kinds you like to play with and the kinds you don't. You may think that. You may be wrong.
Notes from the author:
One Christmas when I was maybe ten years old, my uncle and my two oldest cousins decided to play a prank on my grandmother.
She had bought each of her children's families an animated angel doll. This child-like cherub, about two feet tall, would repeatedly raise and lower a little candle in her hand. A music box inside her played a Christmas carol; I don't remember which one.
My uncle and these two cousins discovered that the candle was detachable. They removed it, replaced it with a table knife, and brought it back to my grandmother so she could see the angel making up-and-down stabbing motions. To make sure no one missed the point, they imitated the screeching violin music from the shower scene from Psycho.
My grandmother burst into tears. All the other adults in the room either flocked to comfort her or mobbed the perpetrators with recriminations.
It was kind of funny. It was mostly cruel. And it was entirely a relief that for once it wasn't me they were picking on. Usually my uncle was egging those cousins (the youngest of the two probably ten years my elder) into teasing me, relentlessly, until I ran away crying. And every year, I'd be told--sometimes by that very grandmother who was now sobbing that her son was so mean to her--to act my age and grow a sense of humor.
Years later, when a discussion about bullying introduced me to the phrase "safe targets," I had an a-ha moment. But then the Psycho angel image would have stuck with me anyway. Creepy dolls are a staple of the horror genre, especially in film. Just ask Chucky.
...But it seemed very important to Grandma Mosely that Polly also like baby dolls. She brought her a new one every time she visited, and Polly was supposed to say Thank You.
"But that would be a lie," Polly protested. "I'm not thankful."
Mother sighed. "It's not lying, it's more like playing the Glad Game. Even if you don't like the present itself, you can still thank her for thinking kindly enough of you to give you presents, right?"
Polly had the uncomfortable notion that Grandma Mosely did not think kindly of her, but that she wanted to change Polly into someone who liked baby dolls. It seemed easier to Polly to change the latest baby doll into something she liked better. If she cut and stapled the silly dress so that it was more like cargo pants, and if she made the baby doll a pretend machete out of cardboard, why, then, they could go Exploring the Amazon Rain Forest together. And Grandma Mosely would be happy to see Polly playing with the doll she'd given her.
But Grandma Mosely took one look and started crying. Mother and Father told Polly to put the doll away in her room, and maybe Polly should stay up there too until Grandma Mosely went home. Later, Mother came in and boxed away Polly's action figures, as punishment for hurting Grandma Mosely's feelings. "I will give them back to you in a week. No arguing! Meanwhile, you will write your grandmother a sincere note of apology for destroying the present she gave you. What were you thinking?"
Except Mother didn't really want to hear what Polly had been thinking. She cut her off. "No excuses, Polly. That was a hateful thing to do." So Polly was deprived of her favorite toys, just because Grandma Mosely couldn't tell the difference between "destroyed" and "altered." It was unfair.
So Polly decided to go looking for her action figures in the storage room....
This has been an excerpt from the Friday Fictionette for May 15, 2015. Subscribers can download the full-length fictionette (1412 words) from Patreon in PDF or MP3 format depending on their pledge tier.
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