The girl picked up the doll and squealed with excitement, “Mommy! I want it!”
“No,” replied the mother in frustration. She had only come into the toy store to buy an action figure for her nephew’s birthday and didn’t need the extra bother of her own child’s wants. She quickly paid for her purchase and began to walk out of the store.
“Come on, honey, we’re leaving,” said the mother. She tore the doll out of her child’s hand and threw it into the bin where it came from. The girl looked down and saw that she was still holding the doll’s arm. She began to wail. The mother grabbed the doll arm, threw it in the trash, picked up her daughter, and rushed out into the mall.
The doll woke up in the store’s broken toy box. The box was kept in the back with the overstock. The owner liked to keep the toys that were broken by inconsiderate customers and then give them to less fortunate children. The doll didn’t know this. She just knew that she was somewhere different and that she didn’t know how she had arrived there. She sat up and tried to look around, but it was very dark and she couldn’t see much. Four walls with an open ceiling were all that she could make out. Then she remembered. It came in a flash. The pretty little girl and the large monster-woman. The pain. The doll gasped. She tried to bring her left hand up in front of her face, but it wouldn’t come. It wasn’t there. The doll screamed. She screamed until her head felt light and she began to see dots in front of her eyes. Then she collapsed into sobs. She was broken. No one wanted a broken doll.
After she had cried all of her tears she looked around again and was shocked to find that there was another toy in the box with her. It was a toy soldier. He was sitting in the corner and staring at her. When he realized that the doll had become aware of him, he began to crawl towards her. As the toy soldier approached, the doll saw that his right leg was mangled and almost broken off. He came to a stop directly in front of her and looked her in the eyes.
“I’m broken like you,” he said. He paused nervously. “Can we be friends?”
The doll’s plastic eyes widened with hope. Maybe there was someone who would want a broken doll. She looked down at the stump that used to be her left arm and looked back at the toy soldier with something wild in her eyes.
“No,” the doll said quietly, “we are broken and will always be alone.”
“Alone,” she repeated softly, and hit herself lightly on the chest.
“Alone,” she said a little louder and hit herself a little harder.
“Alone!” she yelled and tore off her doll’s clothes.
“ALONE!” she screamed and tore at the cloth that was her skin.
“ALONE!” she shrieked as she ripped out her cotton innards.
She howled and she pulled herself apart until there was nothing left but a pile of stuffing with a plastic head. The plastic eyes became dull and lifeless. The doll was dead.
The toy soldier watched all this sadly, unwilling to intervene. When it was done he slowly crawled back to his corner. He sighed, tilted his head back against the wall, closed his eyes, and went to sleep.
Mark Parenti works in theater. He composes music for money. He writes fiction for fun. It’s a good life.