Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Doll

I didn’t want it. I had lived fine for five years without it. It could stay in its box, wrapped up in its own paper. I didn’t care. I just knew that I didn’t want it. But Mother said that I needed it, so I kept it. It didn’t do anything and I couldn’t do anything with it. I couldn’t see why I needed it. It just winked its big brown glass eyes at me when I picked it up. I couldn’t even take it outside because I would ruin its “pretty little silk dress” by getting it dirty. I didn’t care. My dress was dirty, so why couldn’t I get its dress dirty? But Mother wouldn’t allow it. It wasn’t like the pigskin my brothers played with. I couldn’t throw it around. It would break. It was porcelain, and that was “something you do not simply throw around.” And so, like the good girl I was, I didn’t. I just held it and set it down very carefully.

Mother said I needed to name it. I told her I had named it “It”, but she didn’t seem to like that so much. She said it needed to be a real name, like mine, something that a real person would have as a name. Well I couldn’t name it Emily Sue, just like me; that would not work. So I named it Liza Jane after the rock Mother would go and sit by in the back yard. I thought Mother would be pleased with this. But no, Mother didn’t like this very much. She said that it made her sad. I didn’t know why, so I kept the name. Besides, I actually liked the name and it made me like it a little more. It became Liza Jane and we soon became inseparable. Then Mother didn’t mind her name so much anymore.

As soon as Liza Jane became something real to me I idolized her. Her little pink silk dress with the white lace trimming seemed exotic, princess like compared to my brown and sooty calico dress Mother had made for me. She had white panty hose, silk bloomers, and little white lace gloves. All I had where black panty hose, cotton bloomers, and dirty fingernails. I wanted to be daintier, more ladylike when I was with Liza Jane. Her perfectly curled hair and rosy pink cheeks looked like they came out of a picture book. She looked magical, and I wanted to as well.

I soon took Liza Jane with me everywhere I could. To the dinning room, the drawing room, the kitchen, my bedroom. She became my best friend. I loved her more than anything in the world, even more than Turkish Delight on Christmas morning. I didn’t know why I loved her so much; I just knew that I did. And somehow I knew she loved me back. She was someone I could talk to, no matter what the time or what the subject.

Mother died six years after she and Father had given me Liza Jane. I had to be the Mother not only to Liza Jane, but also to Edmund, Peter and Charles, my three brothers. Charles had just had his fourth birthday, Peter was eight, Edmund was sixteen, and I was not yet twelve. I was a good mother. I had to send Edmund to work with father in the factory and Peter went to school while Charles and I stayed home to tend to the house. Edmund had to work because we couldn’t afford to feed ourselves if he didn’t.

Mother used to make the most beautiful dresses; she was a seamstress in town. Her income plus father’s from the bank allowed us to get by with life's necessities and a few extras, but when she died father couldn’t keep up at work anymore and so he lost his job. He went to work at the factory so that he didn’t become a burden to us. Naturally the factory didn’t pay as well as the bank but it was all he could do, so he kept to it.

I kept Liza Jane close to me. She was the one thing that got me through Mother’s death. But soon I became too old for petty little things like her. I had become a woman. My growth into maturity happened so quickly that I cannot tell you exactly when it happened. But happened it did. As soon as Charles was old enough to go to school, I started to work as a seamstress. I was not as talented as Mother, no, but I could sew very well. My life became easier, better so to say. I had forgotten about Liza Jane. I didn’t need her anymore.

Edmund had met a girl at the factory and they were soon to be married. I was to make her dress. It was to be as beautiful as she was. In fact it was just as she was. It was pale, simple, pure, beautiful and charming all at the same time. Caroline’s beauty matched the handsomeness of Edmund. No better match could have been made. It was the night before their wedding, I was finishing up Caroline’s dress, when Henry from the factory came in and said there had been an accident. Edmund had been caught in the machines.

They brought him in, his body shredded, his limbs broken. Had they not told me, I would not have known him to be Edmund. It was evident that he would not make it. Even if we could put him back together, he had lost so much blood that death was inevitable. But we didn’t give up. I worked on him alongside Doctor Brown. It was eight o’clock when they brought him in and by nine o’clock his last breath had left him.

We buried him next to Mother and Liza Jane. Caroline sat by his grave and would not move. Father said not a word. I had realized now that he had lost a wife, a daughter, and now a son. I knew he was to be next. Edmunds death aged father three times quicker than Mother’s had. Somehow he blamed himself for his death. He said it was his fault Edmund had to work at the factory. It was his fault Edmund hadn’t had a better life. We all knew this wasn’t true, but he wouldn’t believe us, so we said nothing.

It was some years after Edmunds death that I became engaged to Joseph. I was cleaning out my things from my old bedroom, getting ready to be a wife. I stumbled across a box of old things. I opened the box and found Liza Jane. Floods of memory came back to me. I was a six years old again. Mother was there, Edmund was there, life was perfect.

On my wedding day I knew why Liza Jane had come back to me. She brought me closer to my family and to myself. She helped ease that nervousness inside of me that I hear everyone gets on their wedding day. That day and others to come where made easier, happier if possible because I knew she was there to get me through the hard times.

And now my wish is that when I die to be lain next to Edmund, Mother and Liza Jane. I want Liza Jane given to my Katherine May so she will never forget me. I will never forget Liza Jane. She is why I am who I am; a wife, a mother, a lady. At first I didn’t want her, now I wish to never let her go.