A short story

I wrote this in 1998. I did a lot of writing back then, mostly short stories, articles, and stuff for kids although I did write my first novel, ‘Buck’s Night’, in 1996.

I decided to post it because it’s a sweet, little story.

THROUGH LUCY’S EYES

I remember a time when we were never apart and I wanted to tell her that I missed her company but I just sat there, unable to get the words out, and I tried so hard to understand why she was so changeable. One minute she’d be all over me and the next she’d ignore me as if I didn’t exist. I wanted things to go back to how they were in earlier days when, together, we’d host little social do’s and she’d go out of her way to impress the likes of Theodore, Joe, and Ann, amongst others, with her fine china and culinary skills. And talk! She never stopped. She regaled tales of such adventures and our guests would sit quietly, happy to listen and when she’d run out of stories and everyone had had enough refreshments she’d either sit at the piano and play or she’d dance and sing songs she remembered from her younger days.

Oh how she loved to perform and entertain. She’d swish her dress around her knees and twirl until she was dizzy. She was so exuberant; so full of life. Occasionally, when she got upset, she’d cry on my shoulder and tell me all her woes then, when she was feeling better, she’d host another party and out of the woodwork would come all those friends who only ever saw her when she was happy. Unlike me, they were never around when she was sad.

As time went on, days would go by before she’d find any time for me. She was always rushing somewhere, as if she had such devastatingly important things to do and I could only ever watch her from the sidelines. Not once did she give me a reason for not including me in her activities. It was hard to get used to because we were inseparable. Sometimes, when she was alone again, she’d seek me out and be glad of the company I provided.

As happens to all good hostesses, invitations requesting her company at other people’s parties began to pour in. I was never invited because I wasn’t as much fun as she was and before long she forgot about me and we never hosted anything anymore because she was too busy being a guest now. I longed to see her serving drinks and delicate titbits again and I missed the sound of the piano. I suppose I could have organised a gathering but without her to tell the stories and dance, there was no point. The days and evenings were lonely without her. I wish I could have told her how I felt but I realised that it probably wouldn’t have made any difference. We had little in common anymore.

One day she suddenly went away. Without explanation. The loneliness that spread over me was indescribable. I sat and waited for word from her but none was forthcoming. I should have been used to being without her by now but she was the best friend I’d ever known and I should have let her go but that was easier said than done. Days turned into years and slowly I grew accustomed to her absence. I was coping quite nicely but when she suddenly showed up again and told me excitedly that she was getting married I could have sat and cried because I knew now she’d be lost to me forever. Instead I just stared at her and gave no hint of what I was feeling.

I didn’t go to the wedding. I caught an occasional snippet of conversation about it; about how beautiful she looked and how handsome her husband was. She danced and laughed and sang the entire night away and she helped serve the cake. Yes, I thought, she would have been in her element. It would have been like playing hostess again to her ever attentive audience.

Really, I was happy for her but days are long when you’re lonely and I was never the best at making new friends so I pretty much kept to myself. I didn’t see Theodore or Joe or Ann anymore. They had disappeared from sight too many years ago to remember. Every now and then her mother would have brief conversations with me and it was from her that I learnt she was pregnant. I hoped she would bring the baby to see me because babies are the most loving things in the world.

One summer’s day she did come to see me.

“Hello, old friend. There’s someone I’d like you to meet.”

She approached the bed where I lay, picked me up, smoothed my hair and dusted down my old, worn dress.

“This was my favourite doll,” she said to her daughter, who appeared from behind her legs. “Her name is Lucy. We’ll brush her hair, clean her up and make her a new dress and she can be yours.” She handed me to her daughter who grabbed me with delight and hugged me hard. “Let’s see who else we can find for you to take home.”

Opening the toy chest she pulled out Teddy, G.I. Joe and Raggedy Ann, amongst others, and lay them on the bed. So that’s where they’d been all this time. I was never so glad to see everyone. I sang a happy song, but no one could hear it. Piece by piece the tea set emerged and I knew there would be parties to host for a long time to come now and with a new dress I would once again be the toast of the tea-party social set.

*****

Reading it now, I see it has echoes of ‘Toy Story’, which was released in 1995. I don’t remember being influenced by it although, subconsciously, I probably was.

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