The Last Doll

As I recall, it was a few weeks before Christmas. My mother and I were in a department store, riding the escalator, when she asked me what I wanted.

I would get one nice gift for Christmas. One year it was a metal globe that spun on an axis, another year a doll house. 

This Christmas I was twelve. My childhood was slipping away and I felt awkward about what would happen next. I was in my first year at junior high, a very good student but too shy to enjoy it.

My eyes searched the store from the escalator’s vantage point. I pointed toward a boxed doll positioned on a shelf high above the store’s counters. She was a couple of feet tall and wearing a blue ball gown of taffeta and satin. Her hair was blond.

“I’d like that doll,” I said.

My mother was doubtful. “Are you sure?” she asked.

I said yes, and then later wished I asked for something else. But my busy mother was relieved to get that out of the way.

As we approached Christmas, I was miserable. I felt the same when I unwrapped the gift and stared into the doll’s blue glass eyes. Her skin was made of a synthetic rubber to make it feel like it was real, sort of, if the doll were a corpse. Blonde and blue-eyed, she looked like no one in my Portuguese family. My guess is she was supposed to be a teenager at the prom. 

I had other dolls. Baby dolls, teenage dolls and even a Barbie. But this one was different. I named her Veronica. She sat on my bed and got played with a bit. She was not my favorite.

My parents held onto the doll in their attic after I grew up and moved away. One time, I brought Veronica back for my daughters, but they were not interested in her either. By then, someone had chopped her hair unevenly and the blue gown was raggedy. Her limbs were bent in a bow as if they had atrophied. Her shoes, sparkly high heels I believe, and her underpants were long gone. Eventually, I tossed her out.

I learned a lesson that year. Ask for what you want. But perhaps at that time in my life, at age twelve, the doll Veronica was what I really wanted: Finality.


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