One Reply to “Daily Journal Prompt #123”

  1. It came in a plain brown cardboard box so that it might be something for the house. A put-it-together-yourself bedside table perhaps, or cushions for the front room, or pillows for the spare room. The postman had to knock at the door and I had to sign for it. My hand was shaking. The postman smiled and nodded, almost as if he knew.

    I set the box down on the floor of the front room and just stared at it for a while. I was breathing fast, as though I knew this was somehow wrong. But I was excited, too, and interested in what it looked like. I got up and went through to the kitchen and made myself a cup of tea. I made Lindy a cup, too, even though she was gone. I was always doing that, for almost a year I’d been doing it.

    Then I went back through to the front room and the box was still there, just as I had left it. I turned it the right way up and began picking at the brown tape that held it closed. It made a noise like tearing, even though I tried taking it slow. Inside was another box, in bright colours and with a cellophane window so you could see inside.

    It took about an hour to unpack and then to assemble. I took my time. My tea was cold before I had finished and Lindy’s tea was cold, too. I sat back on the sofa and looked at what I had. It was a doll, a life-size doll. Not one of those blow-up toys that men send for when they don;t have enough sex with their wives, dolls with sit-up tits and a vagina that looks like a flattened hairy caterpillar or a misplaced bad moustache. This was something more substantial than that. The box said her name was Marie, but I didn’t like the taste of ‘Marie’ in my mouth. She was naked and I thought perhaps I should pull the curtains against anyone looking in.

    ‘We should get you dressed,’ I said. ‘See if we’ve got something that would do.’

    My voice felt a little odd. Like something that was new and old at the same time. Like something that had not been used in a while.

    I dressed her in some of Lindy’s clothes – underwear and pants and tights that I rolled over her toes and pulled up to her waist, and a yellow dress that Lindy’d never worn because she said she had bought it a size too small and she didn’t dare take it back and risk facing the snickering of the shop-girl. I put shoes on the doll’s feet, but they didn’t quite fit so I removed them again. Then I took her back downstairs and sat her on a chair in the kitchen, adjusting her posture and her clothes so she looked right.

    ‘I’ll make some fresh tea, if you like,’ I said.

    I fussed over her hair and lifted one hand and set it to rest on the table. It looked more natural like that. Then I made two cups of tea and two seemed about right this time. I added milk and one sugar to hers, that way her cup was different from mine.

    ‘Just the way you like it,’ I said.

    We talked for most of the morning, like people do when they first meet. The words came a little easier as the time passed. I told her stories of who I was and where I’d been and I told her about Lindy, enough so she wouldn’t think it strange that I had women’s clothes in a wardrobe upstairs. She looked at me funny when I said that Lindy had gone, as though ‘gone’ wasn’t enough for her to understand. ‘Really gone,’ I said.

    Sara smiled – ‘Sara’ tasted better in my mouth though I had also tried Helen and Kitty – and she said it was ok if I didn’t want to talk about Lindy and she said I should sit down and not be always pacing. I sat beside Sara and held her doll-hand in mine, and the world felt righted again and not aslant, which was the first I had felt that for almost a year. And me and Sara, we sat in silence a while, letting our tea go cold again and just looking out at the day through the kitchen window.

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