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An Unexpected Friend

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The young girl in Africa shaped the light fleshy pink material into a human form, two small arms, little legs and a small head and torso. She sewed light green pants and a florescent peach shirt. Thin florescent yellow-green yarn was knitted into a hat with flaps over the ears. Black thread was used to make hair and later stitching for eyes, eyebrows and a grinning mouth. Next teal thread was also stitched into a “Y” on the peach shirt and then tied around the waist creating a belt. The small doll was placed in a heart shaped wicker basket a top twenty five others.
* * *

“Uncle James your home!” I exclaimed, “I missed you so much!!!”

I ran into his muscular arms, enveloping me instantly. He then raised me up, bringing me to a six foot height, then swung me about in circles. When he put me on the floor I yelled, “Uncle James is home, Uncle James is home!!!”

“MAMMA, UNCLE JAMES IS HOME!” I screamed frenziedly dancing along the hallway.

Mamma came running in, gasped and ran to give Uncle James a hug.

After greeting and hugging, Uncle James told us, “I have a surprise for each of you from my journeys in Africa.” He pulled out a stunning sun dress of oranges and yellows. Momma gasped in delight smiling from ear to ear. She took the dress from her brother’s hand and held it against her body.

“Oh James, I love it!” Momma gushed. She hugged Uncle James and told him,” I’ll wear it tomorrow to the church picnic! Oh everyone will be admiring it!” She walked off into her bedroom mumbling about how much she needed a new dress.

Uncle James chuckled then turned to me and said, “Now for you my angel, I have something that caught my eye and made me think of you immediately.”

He removed a brown paper bag the size of a computer mouse from his luggage. I anxiously stood on my tippy toes as he revealed a small doll the size of my pointer finger, with black hair and bright clothing. I loved dolls and whenever I acquired a new one it was very exciting! I squeezed Uncle James tightly and when I let go he said,”I have a little anecdote to go along with your gift.”

Uncle James told me how he was walking around a marketplace one day and saw a little girl probably a year older than me sitting at a small table full of small dolls like the one I was holding, larger size ones and jewelry. He saw her making another little doll and asked her if she made everything by hand. She told him that everything on the table was. He glanced around and my doll caught his eye. He knew it would capture my heart. And he was right. It did.
* * *
That night I held the doll tightly, thinking about the little girl who made it and what it would be like to be a doll.
I was imagining myself as a doll and the clothes I would be wearing, when I felt something squirming in my sweaty fingers. I pulled my clenched fist out from under the covers and saw two petite legs wriggling, trying to get out of my hand. I opened my hand as instinct and heard a loud sigh, then, “Oh, thank goodness you opened your hand, it was getting very stuffy it there. And dark too!” the little voice added.
“Did you just…”I rubbed my eyes to see if I was clearly seeing the little doll stand on my palm and stretch its arms over its head.
“Why hello Sasha, I’m Ann. I’ve heard so much about you, it’s a pleasure to finally meet you honey!” she said this graciously and put her hand out proudly.
I stared at her blankly.
She took a hold of one of my limp fingers and shook it with both of her small hands. My jaw hung ajar when she said, “Oh, don’t look at me like that, I’m just talking to you, all dolls do, you must know that since you love them so much.”
“No, I…I…did…didn’t…kn-know…” I managed to stutter.
“No? Hmmm, maybe it’s different than in Africa. Well in that case, let me explain. At night in Africa, when somebody loves a doll with so much true heart, the doll will come to life in the night hours.”
“Wow, but how did you know I love dolls so much? This is our first time meeting,” I asked.
“Now dear, even when we’re not alive we still have hearing, sight, and even smell! So I know things I really shouldn’t. Now, enough with the explaining, let’s get this show on the road!”
Ann jumped off my hand and ran to the door. She lay on the floor, but before shimmying under the door she said to me, “C’mon, but make sure to be quiet!”
* * *
The night was humid, but there was a slight breeze to cool me off. I was running after Ann, her florescent clothes vivid in the dark night. Ann started to twirl around in the grass, dancing. She was very small, but even though the grass towered over her, it seemed to open up and sway with her. I danced with her, moving around like a snake, looping about.
I soon couldn’t run any longer, my legs fell beneath me and I lay in the grass. I began to laugh; I had never had so much fun in one night. Before long I could feel something running up my leg and Ann came crawling up. She traveled up my leg and over my stomach. She plopped in a pretzel and began to laugh along with me.
“I don’t really know why I’m laughing,” I panted.
“Fun does that to you I guess.” She smiled. “Now, lady, we’ve got to get back home because you have school tomorrow…”
* * *
It didn’t matter how much sleep I got. The next few days of school, all I thought about were Ann and my adventures and what we would do the next night. When I would get called on at school I wouldn’t know the question. Ann scolded me many times to straighten up because my Momma was not going to be pleased when she saw my grades. A few nights Ann would purposely not wake up just to show me how disappointed she was. I snapped out of my trance and began to work progressively again. Ann advised me not to bring me to school so I wouldn’t get sidetracked. I took her advice, and it benefited, it gave me and Ann something to talk about at night.
The exciting activities continued throughout life. Most nights I talked to Ann. Sometimes we would go on walks for many hours; others just lie in bed, or sit on the porch looking at stars. When I needed to study for SAT’s she was there to quiz me, when I went to college she was there to help make a checklist of all the things I needed, when I had my first love she was there. She was my best friend throughout life. She is sitting over my shoulder watching me now, helping me along as always. One day my children will find her and realize how much she was there for me throughout life when everyone turned away. It is so important to have a friend you know will be there always. They come in many shapes and sizes and this one happened to be a doll, in the beginning a gift, just a toy. In the end; a Best Friend.





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