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Warm Beds and Ironed Clothes
“Caitlyn...pretty Caitlyn,” I murmured, gently smoothing my favourite doll's hair down, “What a good, pretty Caitlyn.”
We were sitting in the living room, playing near the big doll house with my new tea party set.
“Today, we're going to a party,” I said to Caitlyn, dressing her in a light pink outfit. “Yes, we are going to a big party with lots of beautiful people. And you are going to be the most beautiful of all.”
I finished dressing Caitlyn, and held her up for inspection.
“Your frock is all crumpled!” I exclaimed, “That won't do.”
I thought for a moment about what Mummy did last week with my wrinkled party dress. She made it all smooth and lovely with her big girl toy.
“I know, Caitlyn. We will use the iron.”
I got up and, carefully cradling Caitlyn in my arms, I walked down the hall to the laundry closet. I opened the door, sat Caitlyn down against the wall, and stood on my tippy-toes to reach for the iron. I pulled it off the shelf gently, and almost dropped it. The iron was much heavier that it looked up on the shelf. But being the big girl that I was, I was able to just hold it up. But not for very long, for it was hurting my arms. I put it down on the carpet and, grabbing Caitlyn with one arm, began dragging the iron towards my bedroom.
I hauled it all the way to the end of my bedroom, where there was an outlet. Luckily, I had been paying attention when Mummy had been using it and I knew exactly what to do.
I flicked the switch and a red dot of light came on. I sat down beside it and propped Caitlyn up against the wall.
“While we wait,” I said, “What would you like to do?”
We could maybe put some make up on, I thought to myself, Mummy had lots of it in her bathroom. I'm sure she wouldn't mind if we borrowed just a tiny bit. Or we could go and get my younger sister Anna. She always likes to play dolls with me, and sometimes she'll let me borrow her little black doll shoes. I thought how nice Caitlyn would look in the black shoes and her pink dress at the tea party.
“Stay here, Caitlyn. I'll be back in a minute.”
I rushed down the hall, towards the kitchen where I knew Anna would be. She had started to make a picture, and I knew how long it took her to colour one page. Hours and hours and hours, and always on the same page.
As I expected, she was still sitting at the table, drawing. Mummy was tidying up after supper.
I skipped over to her, “Anna, do you want to play with me? I've got a new big girl toy.”
She looked up, “Yes, I want to play!”
“You have to lend me your black doll shoes, if I let you play”
“Alright,” she said, putting her yellow crayon down and following me out of the kitchen.
“Good girl Anna, you've got your pyjamas on already,” Mummy said, rinsing a pot in the sink, “Clare, get ready for bed before you play.”
“Okay, Mummy!” I said rushing out the door, pulling Anna by the arm.
Back in our bedroom, I showed Anna the new toy that we were going to play with.
“But we're not allowed to play with the i-rom,” Anna said, plopping herself down on the floor and frowning, “We'll get in trouble.”
“It's called an iron, and Mummy won't mind if we use it for a bit. I always share my toys with her.”
I held up Caitlyn, “Look how rumpled her dress is. Wouldn't it look nicer if I fixed it?”
Anna nodded dubiously.
“Good then. Choose a dress for your doll and we'll make it all smooth and pretty too. Then you can come to the tea party with us”
Anna went over to the toy basket and began rummaging through it.
I slipped the dress over Caitlyn's head and laid it down on the carpet. Cautiously, I picked up the iron and placed it over the dress.
“Have you chosen an outfit yet, Anna?” I said, shifting the iron back and forth over the dress.
She held up a pair doll pyjamas.
“Are these good?”
“How about the fairy dress. We are going to a party, and your doll has to look nice.”
“Okay,” she agreed, bringing over the pink and purple dress.
“Now, put it on the floor, and spread it out...Here's the iron, just move it all over the dress. Not like that!” I took the iron from her hands and showed her how.
After ironing every piece of doll clothing that we owned, Anna lost interest and went back to the kitchen to finish her drawing.
I picked up my doll dress, and was surprised to feel how warm it was.
“Caitlyn, feel this! It's all lovely and warm.”
What if I put the iron in my bed? It would nice to have a warm bed to sleep in tonight. I picked up the iron, and tried to put it up on the top bed of the bunk bed I shared with Anna. Unfortunately, the cord couldn't reach up there.
But it reached to Anna's bed, which was lower. I decided to warm up Anna's bed, and switch beds with her for the night.
I placed the iron carefully in the bed, and covered it up with blankets.
“There, that should warm it up nicely,” I said, picking up Caitlyn and walking over to the tea party set. I opened the basket and began setting up the plates, tea saucers and cups on the ground.
“What should we have to eat at the party?” I asked Caitlyn, “Cakes,scones, biscuits, jam, tea, apples...”
“Clare, have you got your pyjamas on yet?” Mummy called, coming up the stairs.
Where are my pyjamas, I wondered. I'll just finish setting up the tea party and then I'll look for them.
Anna came bursting into the room, and thinking that it was Mummy who would see that I hadn't got my pyjamas on yet, I jumped in bed to hide from her. I pulled the covers over my head, and suddenly felt a horrible pain on my leg.
“Mummy! MUMMY!” I shrieked, immediately jumping out of bed. I had forgotten all about the iron but it had dealt me a searing reminder; a neat, pointed mark of the tip of the iron was now branded on the top of my thigh.
Mummy came rushing into the room at the sound of my scream of pain, knowing immediately that it wasn't a squawk of frustration or indignation,
“Good grief, darling, what's happening? What’s going on? Oh my goodness, what on earth has happened to your leg? Good Lord, that looks like a burn!” She looked around slightly wildly, searching for a possible explanation whilst still trying to comfort me as I sobbed into her arms. She, of course, wouldn't know to check the bed for a hot object and I realized that I wouldn't be getting away with a nonchalant shrug of the shoulders and a “I don't know”.
I confessed, while Mummy applied a cold cloth to my burn, that Anna and I had been ironing our dolls' clothes and that I just wanted to warm my bed up.
“Silly darling; irons are not meant as bed warming pans! All I can say is thank goodness it wasn't your face that went under the bedclothes first and thank goodness, too, that it isn't such a bad burn that a little bit of cold water and a few days won't heal!”
I clung to her, still crying, a chastened but much wiser child.