Tina the Display Model

One of the first lies Jean told Sadie was that Santa brought me. Jean and I both know I came from that beautiful store with the hair salon and cafe.

The place where hundreds of parents walked by, inspecting my features to see if I had any resemblance to their daughters. There were many of me, but I was the Display Model. I had the fancy clothes and ringlets in my hair. I was sitting on lovely chrome cruiser with my puppy Meatball in the basket up front. I was not stuffed into a box with stock clothing on like the others. No, I was the Display Model and the rest were beneath me. Literally. Really, it’s just a fact.

By the time Jean came in, searching for a doll that looked just like her little six-year-old daughter for Christmas at the last minute, I was proud of my clones’s success. Having a stellar Display Model such as I, all my cohorts had sold out and I was the only one left in the entire store with blonde hair and brown eyes.

My real name is Tina and I was once a beautiful American Beauty Doll. Now, my name is Bella and my left eye droops and my ringlets have long given way to a tangle of fuzz. Better still, I have a big fat teddy bear’s bottom all but crushing me, and we’ve both been shoved into a tacky plastic bin on the top shelf of Sadie’s closet.

My fall from grace was a fast one indeed.

Jean begged the store clerk to let her have me no matter how many times the dizzy employee told her I was not for sale. But Jean, being Jean, was persistent. When she finally convinced the dizzy girl to give me up, Jean said, “How much for the bike?”

“Three hundred ma’am.”

“Fuck that.” Jean eloquently said.

Again, take note, Jean begged for me. Pleaded. Paid an extra fifty dollars for me, for the hair and clothes of course. Please keep that in mind as you listen to my tale.

I will say, just for honesty’s sake, that I was intrigued. Sure, this heathen of a woman wasn’t exactly the right fit for me, but it was getting lonely on top of the tower that had withered away into nothing. Others had tried to buy me, but only Jean was able to get me.

When I was shoved into a bag filled with tissue paper, I realized that Meatball was still in the basket of the bike that Jean didn’t want.

If I could make tears, I would have. Sometimes I think about how I longed for Meatball that entire night before Sadie opened me and I still get sad, but my grief was diverted when the whirlwind that was about to become my life began.

“Santa brought her, babes. What do you think?” I heard Jean say as Sadie lifted me up and out of the colorful gift bag and took me in her arms. She squeezed me a bit too tight, but I was fine with that. I missed Meatball. I needed a good hug, and it was the best hug I have ever received. It was at that exact moment that my ringlets began to unfurl, but I hardly noticed.

Sadie pushed me away so she could look at me. With flushed cheeks accenting her glowing, still baby-like complexion, I saw the rainbow colored lights of their Christmas tree reflecting off her big brown eyes. Big brown eyes that said, “I am the happiest little girl in the whole world.”

In all my struggles since, Sadie’s face at that moment is what keeps me proverbially breathing. It’s why I hope that someday, maybe I will be loved that way again.

I instantly loved my Sadie that morning even when said she didn’t want to read the brilliantly written, fictional tale entitled TINA SAVES THE DAY that came with me. I even loved her when she said she didn’t like the name Tina and wanted to call me Bella.

Now, as I’m sure you know, Tina is a far more fitting and downright prettier name than Bella, but young children can’t be expected to have inherit class, so I didn’t even try to object.

Sadie quickly fell asleep that night with me in my bed right next to hers, my eyes automatically closing when she tucked me in. I was listening to rhythms of Sadie’s sleep sounds when I felt someone lift me. When my eyes popped back open, I was so frightened that I tried to scream, but no noise came out.

The little girl who picked me up had dark brown skin, much darker than Sadie, but they both had the same big brown eyes. She looked a few years older than Sadie and significantly sadder despite the obvious infatuation she had with me. It was clear she had never seen anything like me in her entire life, and I had never seen anything like her either.

She looked as if she was stuck in the middle of a tiny, thin cloud. Unlike Sadie’s matching fluffy blue pajamas, the foggy little girl wore a stained and old fashioned dress and she had remnants of dirt on her face, but when she smiled, the grime and my fear faded away. She was really cute.

“Hi Bella. I’m Beatrice. You sure are pretty.”

To this day, I know she wasn’t a rotten little girl. She was lonely and just wanted to play with me, but she created the downfall which landed me here under Charlie the Bear’s big bum. My inability to speak, to people anyway, hasn’t helped either.

When Beatrice heard Jean’s and Hank’s voices get closer and closer to Sadie’s open doorway, she dropped me right on my face, and if I was able to feel pain, surely I would have felt it then. She scurried back into the closet leaving me on the chilly hardwood floor right next to my comfy bed. Beatrice wasn’t much of a people person.

“Oh no! Bella fell,” I heard Jean whisper as she knelt down, lifted me up and tucked me back into my bed, but not before smoothing my, still mostly intact, curls down behind my head to protect them from further damage.

“You look almost as happy as Sadie is,” Hank’s deep voice said.

“I think I am. I always wanted a doll like this. Ever notice that our daughter looks like an angel when she’s asleep?” Jean said.

“She always looks like an angel to me.”

“You’re not the one that stays home with her all day, every day.” I couldn’t see it, but I could hear her smile.

“Someone’s got to pay for Bella, right? She does look like Sadie though. Kind of creepy if you ask me.”

Did he just call me creepy? I thought. I had never been more insulted in my life. I couldn’t believe he was speaking about me as if I weren’t even in the room. This was the first, but not the last, time Jean and Hank invoked feelings of inadequacy into my being, the likes of which I surely will never recover from.

I heard Jean kiss Sadie and say, “You need to re-insulate this room Hank. It’s always freezing in here. Even in the summer. That’s what’s creepy.”

I couldn’t hear Hank’s response as they left the room. As soon as their footfalls ceased, Beatrice appeared again. I didn’t even hear her coming. She wasn’t a normal human being, I figured that out soon enough. I may be a doll, but I’m not daft. Beatrice just appeared and picked me up, making my eyes open unexpectedly, and just about frightened the bajeebers out of me again.

I wanted to yell at her. Hey, don’t you drop me on my face again! But like the tears I longed to shed just the night before, nothing came out.

“Hi again Bella. Sorry about that. You look a lot like Sadie. I have a doll that looks like me too, though she ain’t nearly as fancy as you.”

Of course your doll isn’t as fancy as me you dizzy little girl but since you apologized…

Beatrice interrupted my fantasy about being heard when she said, “This is Mary.” She pulled out a little cloth doll that was simply hideous with its hair made of yard and dress that looked like it had been made out of a handkerchief. Though, she did have a strange charm about her. “You will be the best of friends. Mary’s been waiting to find a good friend.”

“No I haven’t,” Mary said, but Beatrice didn’t seem to hear her.

“If you think I would ever be friends with a doll like you, you are sadly mistaken, my dear.”

“Just wait and see what happens to your beautiful curls and your fancy clothes.”

At first I was just taken aback by the fact that she could hear me and that I could hear her, but Beatrice couldn’t hear us. Such an absurd world we live in. Plus, Mary had scared me. What would become of my hair and clothes? So my response was simply to huff. Then, much to the dismay of both of us, Beatrice began to play with us in the way dolls hate the most.

She made Mary say, in an annoying voice, “Oh Bella what a pleasure it is to meet you. We will be the best of friends. I’m certain of it.” Then Beatrice made me say, “Oh Mary, I am certain of it too. Now let’s hug.”

Remember when I told you that the hug from Sadie was the best hug I ever received? Well, that hug from Mary, where Beatrice just smooshed us together, was the worst hug I ever received. I’m not even one hundred percent sure it was a hug at all.

That was when I truly noticed how different it felt to be held by Beatrice versus being held by Sadie. It was like she had no skin or bones at all. It felt more like I was floating than being carried.

Then the wretched cat came strolling in, and when she saw Beatrice, she meowed at her loudly enough to make Sadie stir. No sooner did the cat say “me” again, was I dropped to the floor once again, only this time on my side so my eyes stayed open, and I saw that I was much further away from the bed this time. When the cat finished with a “yow,” Beatrice was gone and Jean had reappeared.

“Shut up Missy,” she whispered violently as she crossed the room and picked up the cat, but froze when she saw I was on the floor again. She just stared at me for a minute, then slung the top half of her long, lanky cat over her shoulder and scurried out of the room, quickly glancing at her daughter, clearly contemplating waking Sadie up and taking her daughter into her bedroom for the night then thought better of it. I watched as Missy bobbed up and down from Jean’s quick strides and the cat looked completely confused and hurt by Beatrice’s rejection and Jean’s interruption of her nightly adventures.

Jean didn’t even bother to tuck me back in.

The next morning Sadie awoke with horror in her eyes.

“Oh no Bella! How did you make it all the way over there?”

For a moment I thought, who’s Bella?

When she picked me up and hugged me, I remembered, much to my dismay, that my name wasn’t Tina anymore. I tried to tell her it was Beatrice’s fault, that she just picked me up and dropped me twice, but not before crushing me into another doll who was in desperate need of a good washing, but my efforts were fruitless. She didn’t hear me. Only that uncivilized Mary could.

“Hold on Bella, I have to pee.” Unlike Beatrice, Sadie placed me softly on my bed and tucked me in. I heard her scurry out of the room.

But then something even worse happened. I was lying down so my eyes were closed and out of nowhere I felt wet sandpaper scraping my face. The smell was rancid. It left a thin film of slime on my cheek. When the wet sandpaper stopped, it felt like my hair was being tugged and yanked so hard that I was starting to slip off the bed. Oh no! Not again! I thought.

When I thought the torture would never cease, I heard Sadie yell, “Hey you Missy! You stop that right now. Shoo! Bad kitty.”

Sadie lifted me and my left eye didn’t open all the way because of the yucky cat saliva.

“Mama!” Sadie screamed. I saw tears fill her eyes. “Maamaa!” Then the worst sound known to doll began. Sadie began to sob.

She held me out and I was forced to look at her red face with red eyes overflowing with tears so big, they looked like heavy raindrops.

I had seen the little brats in the store and how they hollered, making ungodly sounds, their mothers dragging them across the floor looking thoroughly embarrassed and in need of a stiff drink. This was different. My Sadie’s heart was broken. These were not the tears of a rotten little child. These were the tears of an angel.

“Sadie, you alright?” Jean sounded like she was out of breath. Then she crouched down to look at me. “Oh no! What happened?” She looked as if she were holding back a laugh. Evil. She is simply evil.

“Look what Missy did.” Sadie hiccuped, “I hate that cat.”

“Hey, what did we say about that word? Hate a very strong word.”

“I’m sorry.” Hiccup.

“It’s okay babes. You’re upset. I get it. Let’s go get Bella cleaned up.”

Sadie held me close and even though most of the gook on my face had dried, what little was left of the moist, slick slime rubbed off on Sadie’s pajamas.

“Here, give her to me.” Jean said and Sadie handed me over. Jean gently wiped my face with a clean, soft cloth and when my eye popped back open, she startled so harshly that she nearly dropped me on my head. I was beginning to see a pattern and it wasn’t a good one.

“Here baby.” Jean seemed frightened by me and I didn’t know why. Maybe it’s jealousy? I thought. I’d be jealous of me. But when Sadie grabbed me and smooshed my face right back into the spot that was still slightly damp with cat spit, I knew it couldn’t have been jealousy. Jean was afraid of me.

After that morning, my eye was never the same. One never fully recovers from such a torturous event, physically or mentally, I suppose.

“Bella isn’t going to leave my side ever!” Sadie declared after Jean had sat her down in front of a plate of eggs. Sadie placed me on her lap. I saw her fork glide above me and hoped against hope that none of the yellow lumps, slashed with red stuff, fell on me.

I saw Jean sit down and she looked at me. She looked at me as if I were an alien being not of this earth. I didn’t like it one bit.

“Can I take Bella to school with me after vacation is over?” Sadie said.

“No honey, I’m sorry. The school says no toys.”

“That’s no fair. How am I supposed to protect her from Missy?”

“We will put her in a high place when you’re gone.”

When she’s gone? What do you mean, when she’s gone? I was completely horrified at the thought of being left alone in this place that has ghostie little girls, beastie animals, and Jean roaming around.

“Okay, you better keep her safe when I’m at school Mama. I’m serious.”

Jean laughed a little. “I’ll do my best,” she said, then looked at me again.

When Sadie finally finished eating she asked, “Mama, did you see what Missy did to her hair?”

My hair, dear goodness, what has happened to my hair? I thought. That’s when we heard a horrendous sound coming from the beast right there in the middle of the kitchen. The thing was wrenching and then a big lump of something came spilling out of the cat’s mouth.

“Oh Missy, what the hell? Why do you do this?” Jean asked as if the cat could answer. Instead Missy just jetted from the room as if her life depended on it. When Jean stood and took a spray bottle and paper towels over to the vomit, she said, “Well, I can see now what Missy did to Bella’s hair.”

I think I fainted because everything faded to black and I don’t remember what happened next.

When the shock wore off, I found myself dressed and sitting in front of a tiny china plate that had little fish shaped crackers on it. Sadie had a wide brimmed hat with a big flower and there was a little stuffed bunny sitting next to me, also in front of a china plate with a little fish shaped cracker on it. Before I knew what was happening, Sadie was rubbing one of the crackers against my lips and saying, “Mmm…aren’t these tea biscuits just wonderful Bella?”

No Sadie, they are not.

But it was nice, sitting there, eating “tea biscuits” and watching Sadie drink copious amounts of water. Once she left and went to the bathroom, leaving me on the floor, anxiety coursed through my body but luckily neither Missy nor Beatrice were anywhere to be seen.

When Sadie returned, the tea party commenced for a little while longer. Then she took me around and we watched television, we drew pictures and that night she snuggled me in her bed and I when the sun rose, I was still next to Sadie.The night passed without a single run in with Beatrice or the cat.

That entire week went just about the same way. Sadie carried me everywhere and I became a little more beat up every day, but I also fell in love with Sadie more and more every day. Then, life as I knew it was over.

“Sadie, honey. It’s time to get up, babes. Time to go back to school.”

Sadie shot up. “I can’t wait to tell Kimberly about Bella.”

“I’m sure she will love to hear all about her. C’mon lover. Let’s get ready.”

Sadie grabbed me, hugged me close and reminded her mother, “Remember, you promised to keep her safe all day.”

“I will. Now, let’s go girly.”

After breakfast and getting dressed, Sadie gave me a huge hug, looked at me with sincere eyes and said, “Don’t worry Bella. I won’t be too long. I love you.” She kissed me on the cheek and handed me over to Jean.

Jean placed me on top of Sadie’s bureau and said, “There. She should be okay up here. And I will keep the door shut so Missy can’t come in, okay?”

“Okay Mama. Bye Bella. Love you,” Sadie said again.

I love you too Sadie, I thought as she walked out of the bedroom and shut the door behind her with a loud click of the knob securing it closed.

I didn’t hear much for a little while but then, guess who appeared? That’s right, that Beatrice girl with Mary in tow.

“Hi Bella,” Beatrice whispered.

She was a cute little thing. She had a hesitant shyness about her that made her incredibly sweet. Poor Beatrice. But still, she is the reason why I have a big teddy’s bum on top of me.

She took me down from my perch, sat cross legged on the floor and began to make Mary and I talk to each other. In between Beatrice’s batty rants, I asked Mary questions.

“Why is she doing this to us?”

“She’s lonely.” For the first time, and I didn’t think it was possible, I saw pity and sadness in her buttons.

“Are you ghosts?”

“I guess. We’ve been here a long, long time.”

“Sadie can’t see you.”

“No. None of them can. The house was vacant for a while because one family was spooked off by Beatrice but she likes this family so she tries to keep her antics to herself. She’s always been such an impulsive child. That’s what’s got us both in this pickle…”

Mary seemed to want to go on but then the torturous “hugging” began again.

All of a sudden, we all heard Jean singing, unsurprisingly horrendously, and the click of the doorknob opening and smash, I was dropped to the floor again. Jean had a large laundry basket in her hands and earbuds with loud music streaming but her singing quickly turned into a scream. Not a long one, but certainly a real one.

My eyes were closed but I heard and felt the laundry basket drop so hard that the floor trembled a bit and I was startled. If Jean thinks that she is the only one who’s frightened by this whole situation…then…then she’s as stupid as she looks. I was petrified then and I’m petrified now.

I felt Jean’s heavy footfalls boom out of the room before she slammed the door shut behind her. Beatrice didn’t come back out of the closet again that afternoon. I think she was scared too.

Jean didn’t come back into the room until right before Sadie got home and she picked me up by the side of my dress with just her fingertips and only touched me fully when she had to place me back onto the bureau. I watched as Jean snatched up the basket and ran full throttle out of the room, slamming the door shut again on her way out.

Sadie soon appeared and hollered for her mother to take me off of the bureau. She didn’t even put down her backpack or shed her winter gear before running to my side.

“Babes, please take your stuff off. You can grab the step stool and get her down. I’ll come help you.” Jean said.

Sadie didn’t hear the hesitation in her mother’s voice but I did.

“Okay!” Sadie squealed a bit and I thought, She is the cutest thing I have ever seen. 

She ran to the kitchen and quickly came back with a little wooden stool. I saw Jean standing in the doorway with Sadie’s coat and backpack in her hands, looking as if her bones were going to jump out of her skin. She looked like it was taking everything in her power not to drag her daughter away from me. Jean looked like she wanted to scream but some invisible person was holding a gun to her head so she couldn’t. A gun loaded with her daughter’s grief over losing a beloved doll. A gun whose trigger would eventually be pulled.

Sadie got me down and smiled wide. “I missed you Bella. Did you miss me?”

Oh Sadie! I missed you so much.

The rest of the week went okay and Beatrice didn’t bother me until, on the fourth day of Sadie leaving me for hours and hours at a time, Beatrice poked her head out of the closet and found the courage to walk around. She sat on Sadie’s bed, leaving a slight indent, and lightly touched Sadie’s toys and trinkets but didn’t move them. Then she came over to me and just stared, not touching me at all.

“She doesn’t want to scare them off so I don’t think she will be making us hug anymore,” Mary said, after a moment

The feeling of proverbial heart stopping anxiety that I was feeling dulled a bit but wasn’t completely gone. “Thank goodness for that. What happened to her?”

“She was climbing one of the trees in the backyard and fell out. Such a busy child but a good girl. It was really sad. They buried me with her so I guess that’s why I’m here.”

“How come we can talk and they can’t hear us?”

“Your guess is as good as mine.”

Thankfully, right then, Sadie came running in and Beatrice went running away, leaving me unharmed for once, and the next day was the same but then bedtime for Sadie came and we snuggled as usual and I listened to the beautiful sleep sounds she made. Her slow, deep, rhythmic breathing was soothing and if I was able to sleep, I would have comfortably done so.

Problem was, a little while later, Beatrice came out of her hiding place and the worst night of my life began.

At first, all I heard the closet door hinges creak as if they were in pain. It was as if her presence hummed with a menacing static. My eyes were closed but I could feel hers staring at us.

I felt a cold breeze on my cheek and Sadie shivered in her sleep. Then Beatrice just snatched me up by my soon to be completely ruined locks, my eyes popped open and I saw the little puffs of vapor Sadie’s warm breath created against the freezing cold air that had filled her room.

Beatrice held me there for a minute and Mary said, “I’m sorry Bella. I don’t know what’s wrong with her tonight but it’s not nice.”

At that, I felt my hair tug sharply and next thing I knew I was flying across the room and smashing into the windowpane. The force of the impact was so hard that it almost felt like the blow could have taken my entire head off and before I hit the floor, I felt my left eye droop to the point of no return. Not without the American Beauty Ophthalmologist.

The noise was so loud, Sadie awoke with a start and immediately began to scream, “Maa-Maa!”

Jean and Hank ran into Sadie’s room, breathing laboriously.

“What baby? What happened?” Jean had genuine concern in her voice, I will give her that.

“Bella,” she said in between sobs. “She floated up in the air and hit the window. I saw her floating but it felt like a dream then there was a big crash and…and…” Sadie was too upset to finish. I pictured her pointing at me while she said this.

All I wanted to do was tell her the truth. I wanted to tell her that I wasn’t floating. I wanted to hug her and make her tears go away. Oh those tears, I could not see them but I could feel them.

“Okay, babes. You can sleep with us tonight. Hank, take care of the god damned doll. That thing is possessed or something.”

“But it’s not Bella’s fault,” Sadie screamed before I heard her sobs grow further and further away and they took any happiness I had left with them.

Hank didn’t say anything. I heard his heavy, deliberate footsteps go in the direction of the closet. He must have been ignorant (there’s a shocker!) of Beatrice, though I think I heard him shudder a bit. I heard a heavy thump on the floor that I soon found out was this wretched place that I reside now.

He also lifted me by my hair but only with his thumb and forefinger. My right eye popped open and my left did not pop so much as crawled halfway open and I saw a huge teddy bear on the floor with a large, clear, plastic bin next to it.

All I could think was, oh no, oh no, oh no!

But he did it. Dropped me right into the bin, face first so that I could see, only with my right eye, out of the corner of the box then jammed the teddy right on top of me as if he could smother me to death.

I pictured myself saying, Guess what Hank? I don’t breathe so you were unsuccessful you rotten neanderthal who never wears enough clothes at night, showing off that hideous fuzz that encases your bodyYou’re nothing more than a disgusting man beast and you make me grateful that I am not human! 

Needless to say, I was livid.

All of a sudden everything went much darker but I could still see out of the corner of the box. Hank lifted the bin up and put us on the shelf and I saw Beatrice’s eyes and Mary’s buttons follow us as Hank all but threw me, the teddy and whatever else inhabits this bin, onto the shelf. I saw Hank turn toward the door, look back at me with hesitation, and when he saw that I was facing him, he jumped as if I said, “Boo!” For a moment, Hank stood there, frozen in place, staring at me with absolute horror and freight in his eyes. He stayed that way for no more than a second and then I watched as he ran right out of the closet and slammed the door behind him like the big pussy cat he is.

When we heard Sadie’s bedroom door slam shut as well, Mary said, “Beatrice is real sorry. Honest, she is Bella.”

“MY NAME IS TINA!” I screamed at her. At that moment I didn’t want to be Bella anymore. I longed to be Tina the Display Model again, no matter how lonely it may have been sometimes.

“Tina, I’m so sorry. She didn’t mean it. It’s just that sometimes…sometimes she losses her temper. She’s angry. She feels she wasn’t supposed to die that way…and maybe she wasn’t but she did. And her Grandmamma came today, telling her to join them in the light but she won’t go. And that just set her off real good. Really…her anger is really just freight. Please forgive her. She just a youngin’. Please forgive me…”

I ignored her and she stopped talking and I was grateful for that, except that the sounds of Beatrice crying all night made it impossible to forget that she was just a youngin’ as Mary had said.

The next day, Jean came in and took all of Sadie’s clothes and shoes out of the closet without once looking at me and when she was done, I heard her yell, “Hank, please come install the lock now.”

I couldn’t see but I could hear Hank tinkering with the doorknob and when he shut the door again, I could hear an additional click from the outside. It made I missed Sadie and Meatball more than ever.

Then an even longer amount of time went by. I couldn’t tell if it was day or night. Sometimes I could hear Sadie playing and it broke my heart not to be with her but I was delighted to hear that she was happy.

Mary didn’t talk to me and Beatrice stayed put until she didn’t. I’m pretty sure a long, long time went by before she did though.

One day, or night I couldn’t tell which, without warning, she went back out. Just walked right through the door. Silly Hank and Jean, thinking they could stop Beatrice with a flimsy lock. She was such a crazy child. I wondered if Sadie had ever acted so foolishly and doubted it.

My thoughts were interrupted when I heard my Sadie scream. Scream so loudly that it pierced right through the closet door, into the plastic bin and reverberated off everything around me. I heard Jean scream too, the bedroom door slammed shut, and then nothing else.

Beatrice returned, sobbing again.

“They saw her,” was all Mary said.

Another long amount of time went by until this queer woman entered the closet. Beatrice stared at her and started shaking.

“Beatrice,” the woman said, kind as can be. “Beatrice I’m here to help you. I want you to see your Grandmamma again. She’s waiting for you. She’s been waiting for you for a long time, dear.”

Beatrice recoiled deeper into the corner of the closet and began to cry. At first, I thought this woman was a ghost too but then Jean said to her, “Can you see her?”

“Yes. And she’s very scared.”

“What can we do to help her?” Jean’s voice was softer, almost kind, as if she felt pity for Beatrice.

“I want her to move on. But her grandmamma and I need your help. This is your home and your space. Sadie’s space now, not Beatrice’s.”

Beatrice looked angry for a moment than another woman arrived. This one was undoubtedly a ghost. She was an old woman, she was wrinkled but looked like a loving soul.

“Grandmamma?” Beatrice began to sob again.

“Yes, baby girl. These ladies are going to help me help you. We miss you darlin’. Uncle Charles misses you. Your mama misses you most. Please come to us.”

“Beatrice, you need to listen to your grandmamma,” the strange human lady said. Then she turned to Jean and said, “You ready?”

“Yes,” Jean said and took in a deep breath. “Beatrice, sweetie…I know you’re scared.”

Beatrice’s eyes opened wide and I saw her look at Grandmamma. The old woman only nodded.

“But honey, this is our home now. This is Sadie’s space. I know you didn’t mean it…but you scared us…I feel so sorry…” Jean began to sob but she quickly contained herself. “I’m sorry if we scared you too and I’m so, so sorry that you’re stuck and I’m so sorry you died the way you did. It wasn’t fair but now your family, who love you very much…” she had to stop again to wipe away more tears with her sleeve. “They want you with them and we need our space.”

I saw Grandmamma nod again and Beatrice stood and took her hand. Grandmamma then nodded at the strange lady and they just disappeared, but not before I heard Mary say, “Goodbye Tina.”

“Goodbye Mary,” I whispered back even though they were already gone.

Jean exhaled loudly and the strange lady hugged her. “You did great.”

“Is she gone?” for some reason, Jean’s voice was still trembling.

“Yes, honey. She’s gone to the light.”

“It’s just…that poor child,” Jean began to cry again.

I watched as the strange lady walked her out and have heard nothing more since.

Now Sadie is gone, Beatrice is gone and even that unsophisticated, but still somehow charming, Mary is gone. I’m completely alone…wait a minute. I think I hear Sadie…wait…the bin is moving. I’m moving down. Hank has taken me down and is lifting the dreaded teddy off of me.

“I told you it wasn’t Bella’s fault,” Sadie is saying and she’s lifting me out.

Now I am receiving the second best hug I have ever had and I am the happiest I have ever been.

Oh, and by the way, I go by the name Bella.

The End

Advertisements

About Us

So, I’m going though my head thinking about what I should put in the “About Us” section of a project called Storytellers: The Collective and there are way too many things to say. We have,  in just two months, 25 posts by 14 writers including moi and my lovely lady friend Tara. We don’t care if our writers use real names, pen names or remain 100%  anonymous all they have to do is send us a messageWe just want to hear people’s stories and share them.

While I love all the contributions, these two felt like a punch in the gut. Raw emotion and complete honesty. I just want to hear more. This is a story that needs to be told and her bravery blows me away. It’s a must read. I know all my followers will be as touched as I am. I hope she’s working on a part three. You should follow us to see if she is.

Hope you’re having a wicked awesome summah. Much love. Now read these.

Ladybugs Part I

Ladybugs Part II

 

Until Then

I love writing posts on this blog. I love the over-whelming support and incredible feedback. But you may not see me for awhile.

I have found myself a part-time gig that pays money, have summer vacation coming up and have been ignoring the fiction itch that is coming back. I’m finding that the longer I practice yoga and meditation, the more I feel the need to look inward rather than outward. My true love is writing fiction and the ideas for a totally new project are eating away at me. Ultimately, I want to publish a book and its time for me to start thinking about that again.

If anyone of my friends out here in the blogging world, would like to proofread for grammar and constructive criticism certainly let me know. I need as many eyes as possible. You’re help would be greatly appreciated.

But I never know when inspiration, or what kind of inspiration for that matter, will pop up. My need for outward expression will pop up. This project means a lot to me and I will pop up.

Much love until then.

Regret

Dear Regret,

I am writing this letter to thank you for your never ending presence, the lessons you have taught me and for the future where I will get to reference you without actually feeling you. With your undying support, I have learned to keep certain words to myself, not repeat certain actions and try my best to not let you invade my life. We’ve had a mostly on again, off again relationship since I can remember. This break-up is going to be hard for me at times, please know that.

It’s not you, it’s me. The years we spent together were formative to say the least. You were always by my side, ready and waiting after every disaster I managed to get myself into.  Always there with open arms and absolutely no good answer to the question “Why?”

But, you see, I no longer have a reason to ask you. Because the answer is me. I am why you are in my life. I am why I have done anything, good or bad. It’s the bad that you like to talk about most and it’s really wearing me down. I can no longer keep up with your incessant rambles, repeating the same things over and over.

The words I’ve said, the actions I’ve taken and the disasters I created can never been erased. It’s over now. Whatever the latest thing I let you take a hold of, has already happened. Some things, even after years, you still like to talk about. Others, you let fall by the wayside. Now everything has fallen by the wayside for me and it’s time it has for you too.

This whole time I have questioned our relationship. I have always wondered what kind of reciprocation I was receiving. I gave you my time, my effort and my tears. All for what? You never gave anything back. I’ve even regretted regretting. I don’t mean to be harsh but that is the truth. I am too busy for you now. My life is moving on. I will never again say those words or take those actions. I will defuse disasters that are both in and out of my control. All because of you.

It was almost as if we were meant to be. Like soul mates. Destined to live and die together. I’ve come to realize we are not meant to be. We are not soul mates and while we may have lived together for a very long time, I will not die with you.

We’ve never had a healthy relationship so it’s best we  just walk away while we still can. I’m sure we will run into each other every now and then. Thank you for teaching me how to love myself enough to let you go.

Sincerely,

Melissa

Unicorns, Mermaids, Babies, Cupcakes and Rainbows

They are all very real. (Okay, maybe not unicorns, but mermaids, those bitches exist) And whether you’re male, female, old, young, you can not think of any of these things and attribute negativity (Okay, maybe since mermaids are vicious in real life and cupcakes are not always a good thing…) Anyway, you know what I mean.

Bright and cheery things, when Dorothy first sees Munchkin Land, when Eliot and E.T. fly over the moon, when Data tries his slick shoes, all magical moments that I reserve in my head for days like these.

The outside world can be ugly. There seems to be certain times when shit just hits the fan and perfect storms happen. Terrible things happen. Death happens. Loss happens. Tragedy happens. Sadness happens.

With that said, happiness happens. Love happens. Joy happens. Beauty happens. Miracles happen, damn it! Today, somewhere, somehow a miracle happened, we just don’t know about it. Or maybe you do.

So days that are like this, when everything outside my personal bubble is hard to look at, I picture babies, unicorns, mermaids, rainbows and cupcakes, let’s throw in a butterfly for good measure, and ride the wave. Because life happens.

The Blanket and Our Dead Troublemaker

This is by far the saddest post to date. At about four in the morning this past Monday, my next door neighbor was found dead on his front porch. He was 26, beyond friendly, super successful (as in drove a 2013 chevy impala successful) and classically handsome. He had sparkly blue eyes, dark brown hair and a smile so bright and so perfect, it was evident he had been well taken care of his entire life. But he was not a snob. In fact, he was the opposite of a snob and almost as open about his substance abuse as he was his homosexuality.

I often thought that when he decide to get his shit together, (I really believed he would) and settle down, whoever he chose to be with was going to be a lucky guy. I’d go over there on the weekends that I didn’t have my daughter and smoke butts in the back yard with him. On Sunday mornings, he’d tell me about his various adventures,  funny stories and hideous decision making.  He’d drive drunk and do all kinds of crazy drugs yet I was the one who looked hungover despite me having just spent my Saturday night in bed with my head buried in a book. The abuse he did on his body was far away from taking its toll. I’d mock yell at him in a motherly tone to convey a non-judgmental type of genuine concern.

But the last time I spoke to him, right before I quit smoking 8 months ago, he was telling me an entirely different story. He was on suboxone and was very happy.  He said he had no desire to do heroine or pills. Phillip Seymour Hoffman having just died of an overdose after 22 years or so of being sober is proof it can happen to anyone never mind a twenty-something year old with just a few months worth of notches on his sobriety belt. I can’t say for sure as to what his actual cause of death is, of course, but we all knew he was a big party-er.

Since we’ve moved nine years ago, I’ve become even closer to the feisty as hell 70-something year old who lives on the first floor of the four apartment house. I’d go over and have long talks with her about everything and anything. She too, is very open about her past drinking and life struggles as a result. But man, I wouldn’t fuck with her. She will blast you. She gives my daughter a huge bag of candy for Halloween, always with a toothbrush added. She’s an absolutely wonderful person with rough edges only city people can appreciate. While my kid loves her and brings her home-made Mother’s Day cards , the other neighborhood kids think she’s creepy. They suck.

But she is also the neighborhood gossip who knows everything about everyone and if not will grill you for what you know. When she saw our young troublemaker passed out in the chair on the porch the night of Superbowl Sunday, she tried her hardest to wake him up. While her spirit and mind is that of a tiger, her body is far from it. She has tons of medical issues so she called her daughter asking her what the hell should she do. It wasn’t that cold and she couldn’t move him so she covered him up with a blanket like her daughter said to. Now before you go judging her for not having tried hard enough or that you would have done more, you need to understand that this was not the first time we have seen him this way. You really don’t know what you would have done if it were you.

Apparently the uncle, who had been staying with him at the time, came out and found him very early that morning. Police cars and ambulances lined our street and the porch was taped up. Luckily they cleared it all before the kids headed out to school. Everything except the blanket. Between dropping my daughter off and going to yoga, I went to check on my neighbor. No amount of toughness can stand up to the guilt she felt. She’s didn’t cry but stared at the blue afghan through her window. The moment she said, “I will never use that blanket again,” I knew what I had to do.

I ran back to my house, grabbed a big trash bag and ran back. I wrapped my hands with the edges of the bag to use as makeshift gloves. When I got a closer look, I could tell it was handmade. I wondered how many memories were attached to that blanket; how many times it was used to warm her legs while watching shitty daytime t.v.  I grabbed it by its sides and flipped it into the bag. It swooshed by me to the point where it created a breeze on my cheek and nearly touched my face. I was both grossed out and numb at the same time, if that makes sense. I put the bag onto the pile of other bags filled with police droppings and wondered why the fuck they didn’t throw the blanket out for her too. It would have been so easy. I was running late. I blew my shaken, loving neighbor a kiss, ran back into my place, washed my face and hands and ran to yoga as if what I had done was some normal act. Like it was just another errand.

I headed to gentle yoga feeling unfazed only to begin crying right in the middle of class. I pictured the blanket. I pictured all the people I knew who died too young and too unnecessarily. I have the name of my cousin who died of an overdose tattooed on my shoulder. Trust me, I know what that particular type of loss feels like. Then I pictured his family. They must have been a mess at that very moment. They may not be able to sleep right now wondering what they could have done, trying to look for signs unseen that they should have noticed. I tried my best to hide my tears but the other yogis saw them. I know it. Since my instructor lives at the end of my street I told her what had happened after class. But mainly what I talked about was the stupid blanket. That cozy looking blanket with invisible stains of death. The trash bags were thankfully picked up this morning. I will never forget that fucking blanket and the sweet boy that was underneath it.