I bet you have never felt what it’s like to be abandoned. Never. Someone’s always been around to love you, even if you didn’t know it. It’ not been that way for me, though. I’m almost twelve years old now, and don’t remember being loved much at all. At first there was happiness and adoration, but now all I experience is pain. Pain, darkness, sadness and tears. I shouldn’t be sad, for I was told this would happen, but it still leaves an empty spot inside me. Sadly, this is the way of life for our kind. Your mommies will always love you. But when our mommies grow up, they don’t want us anymore.

They’re too big for dolls.

I don’t remember the beginning clearly, but I do remember how I was born. I came to being the same way as the rest of my sisters—molded, dressed, hairstyles coifed by people we did not know and then neatly sealed into separate boxes in a dark factory in China. That’s the way of these times. Almost no one makes us by hand anymore. One of a kind dolls, with distinct personalities and emotions, are not the style of this world. Nope, mass production is the way of things. I don’t know how many like me exist, but I know that I’m not the only one. I was sealed with plastic wrapping to hold me and my hair in place and stuffed into a box where the dark surrounded me. I couldn’t see anything then. I slept most of that time, there in that big box. You sleep a lot when you’re first born. I don’t recall most of that back there.

I do remember my first warm memory, though. My box was sitting on a display, with others like me in their own boxes. I could hear people walking past me, whispering, talking, and once in a while a child’s high-pitched voice. I felt the ones beside me being picked up, moved. Still, I stood there, quiet, as my box was moved around and shuffled. Then, with a jostle, I felt my casing being picked up. There was a sound, like tearing, and the top of my case opened. I was lifted out, still attached to the cardboard I’d seen for the longest. I could only look straight ahead—the way they kept us strapped down allowed for no movement. I was lucky though, that my box left a window to let me look out.

"Oh, she’s pretty!" I looked into the eyes of a small girl, with bright blue eyes like my own. "Mommy, can I get her?"

A larger face stared down at me, looking a lot like the small one. She didn’t look too pleased with the small one’s selection. "What is that thing?" she asked, crinkling her nose. I would have scowled if I could. Thing? I am no thing! I am a one of a kind, and don’t you forget it!

"A Baby Face doll! I saw a commercial about them while watching Saturday cartoons last week and you said I could pick any of them I wanted when we went to the store today to spend my birthday money. This one’s the one I want! Penny!" So that’s my name, I thought. Penny.

"But that ugly thing? She doesn’t even look that cute, with her mouth all wide open like that and those buck teeth. Why can’t you get that baby doll there?" I saw the larger one point to another display, to another one of my kind. Her face was vapid and blank, as if she’d been drugged. Staring straight ahead, without any sign of emotion. The classic "baby doll" face. Surrounding her were dresses and other such outfits surrounded by lace and ruffles, as if she was trying to make up for her lack of expression with material goods. If she was trying to pull off the baby look, she was failing miserably. Gauche and too bright, was all I could think. Surrounded by enough bright pink, frilly outfits and accessories to choke a horse. "Look, she even comes with accessories. This one doesn’t come with anything," her mother continued, trying to place me back into my box.

The little girl’s face crumpled. "But Mommy, I want her!" Her voice rose to a shrill wail. I would have clamped my hands over my ears if they weren’t tied down. "This is the one I wanted! I don’t want that ugly old doll!" I couldn’t disagree with her on that—it was definitely ugly.

Her mother sighed, as if defeated. "Fine, fine, if it will shut you up. Put her back in the box so we can pay for her." She turned away, mumbling something about the poor taste her daughter had in toys.

"Yippee!" I felt a rough hand shove me back into the box and close the top. I fell back into the deep sleep all dolls know how to fall into, knowing I was going home to a loving mother.

All of us want loving mothers. Mostly, we all get them. The problem is keeping them.


I was awakened from the sleep when I was lifted out from my box to stare into the eyes of my new mommy. With the care of a surgeon the little girl was clipping the threads, removing the thin clear plastic from my body, freeing me from the factory imposed surroundings. The whole time her loving sweet face was staring at me, radiating warmth. Finally, when I was free, she placed me on her bed, grinning at me brightly. "Hi, Penny," she said happily. "My name’s Lucy. I’m your mommy." Mommy. I liked the sound of that. "And I’m going to keep you forever."

I grinned back at her brightly. She couldn’t see my grin, of course. No human can see doll grins. I’m going to be the best little doll you’ve ever had, Lucy, I thought to myself, wishing she could hear me.

I spent the whole day in Lucy’s arms, being carried around her house and snuggled close. That night, when Lucy went to bed, she placed me in my own little baby doll bed so I wouldn’t get dirty. As soon as she was asleep I sat up and took a good look around, to see if others of my doll-kind were there. I have to say, I was the only one of my specific kind. Around me were a lot of baby dolls, some who looked at me blankly as they slurped on their bottles. Some were asleep, their lidded beddy-bye eyes shut. There were also a lot of stuffed animals. All around I could see a lot of loved dolls and toys—a warm, comforting sight. I’m never going to be lonely again, I thought, snuggling down into my bed and closing my eyes. Never ever.

Don’t be so sure of yourself, missy, a high, cold voice from the corner laughed, waking me up. I sat up and turned to see the voice, finally discovering who it’s source was. A large floppy bear was stuffed in the corner behind the dresser with a limp, frayed, and very dirty red bow around his neck. In spots his fur was missing and it left bald spots, and it looked like at one point someone had sewn his left arm back on with black thread that didn’t match his white color.

Who are you? I asked, blinking at him with my long black lashes.

Name’s Bear. Nothing else Just Bear. He glared at me with his one good eye—his other was missing, a long dangling thread where it must have once been. I used to be Lucy’s favorite toy. Slept in her bed, went everywhere with her. I had many duties, but my main job was to ward off the monsters in the closet while she slept.

Monsters aren’t real, I snorted. Every toy and doll knows that.

Bear smirked in the way only toy-kind do. Oh, we know that. The young humans don’t. Her mother bought me long ago because Lucy was scared to sleep in the dark by herself. She chewed on me, twisted my eye off, dragged me through the dirt, dropped me into the mud. Even accidentally ripped my arm off when she caught me in the car door once. His good eye was a glossy black, shining as if to mock me. But then she started school. And big girls don’t take their bears to school. She dropped me in this corner and just left me there. At first she’d pick me up once in a while but nowadays she rarely gives me a second look. I’m no longer her treasure.

Well, that’s just your story. That won’t happen to me. I turned away from him.

It happens to every one of us. She’ll get older and won’t need or want you anymore. And you’ll share my corner.

Will not! I protested.

You may say that, Penny. Bear smirked again. But you can’t stop it.

She said forever, and she meant it! I pulled my covers over me and laid back down to sleep, ignoring Bear. But he had to get the last word in.

Forever is not long in the life of a little girl, and don’t you forget it.

I snorted and fell into my sleep. That Bear was crazy. Maybe he had lived out his usefulness, but I knew that I served a purpose. Lucy was not going to drop me in the corner. I would make sure of that.


Thus passed the first years. Lucy didn’t keep up with a lot of my original clothes, I have to admit. She was a creative child, and liked to make lots of new clothes for me to try on. They didn’t always fit properly, and sometimes they looked just plain ridiculous. Plaid tops with polka dot jeans, striped socks, big floppy hair bows all over the place. I could have passed as a clown. But Lucy was always so proud of the way I looked, so I grinned and bore it. Piece by piece my first outfit was lost—a shoe on the playground, a hair bow in the sand box—until the only thing I had that had been mine from the start was my hat. My hair became dry and disarrayed, and my skin got dirty and covered in smudges. But that’s a sign of love. That’s what I’d always been told.

I should have guessed the honeymoon was over about the time Lucy turned eleven. I’d been with her for almost six years, going everywhere and seeing everything from her arms. That day, she was in the middle of cutting out an outfit. I was watching her cut out the fabric when I heard her mommy call out, "Lucy!"

"I’m making clothes for Penny in my room!" she chirped. chopping away at the fabric. I think this was going to be another pair of pants in a sort of lime green print.

Her mommy came into her room, hiding something behind her back. "I got you a present."

"What is it?" she asked, turning away from the fabric. I hoped it was an outfit that would fit me well and matched.

"A Barbie doll!" Her mother pulled the package from behind her back, and I could have shrieked my disgust. What kind of baby doll was this? She was thin and anorexic, with a blank grin and colored stuff all over her face. Makeup, I’d heard it called. There were pointy things on her chest, and the clothes she was wearing—if you could call them that; a small little lacy top and panties—were hideous. Even worse, her shoes had points that might hurt Lucy. All this in a garish pink box with a clear plastic window. She couldn’t even stand by herself; her toes were pointed so that she was always on her toes. I just knew that Lucy would demand that mockery of a doll be tossed into the corner.

"Ooo!" Lucy grabbed the box and held it in her hands, a grin all over her face. I blinked in shock. That—that thing wasn’t even pretty! She was tiny all over, and sharp—she wasn’t even huggable! Lucy! I cried, protesting. Lucy! you don’t want her!

Her mom smiled as if she’d finally defeated me. "I even got you a bunch of clothes to go with it. Look, a bride dress, and a work suit, and even a set of sundresses with matching hats and shoes." She pulled out package after package of little things and outfits—things that could easily fall into a vent or be lost behind a bed. All in the same ugly pink package. It was a nightmare. I shivered at the sight. There was no way Lucy would want all that…

Then I saw Lucy start to open rip the box, and I gasped. I’d seen that look before—that look she had on her face. It was the same one she’d had years ago, when she’d first gotten me. A look of pure delight. She was looking at that doll the way she’d looked at me once—as if that doll was the only doll ever made. "Mommy, can I play with her now?" she chirped.

"Sure, honey." Her mom headed out of the room. "Just clean up your mess first."

"Okay." Lucy grabbed me by my ankle, and flipped me upside down, making me dizzy. I whimpered, trying to protest this abuse. Swinging me by the leg, she tossed me in the corner, right by Bear. She didn’t even look at me. I could still see her, tearing open the Barbie’s package and turning her back to me.

Lucy! I cried. Lucy! What have I done to deserve this! Lucy!

You’ve been replaced. Bear had seen it all, and his good eye was laughing at me as he looked down on my topsy-turvy form. You aren’t her treasure anymore.

I am so! Lucy! I sobbed. Please pick me up! I begged, willed her to turn around and come away from those useless small parts.

Lucy didn’t hear me. She was too busy with her Barbie. The final blow was the hardest, though. She picked up the fabric—the fabric that was to make me a pair of pants—and started to chop it down. Smaller, to fit my replacement.

And I cried myself into doll-sleep.


Now I sit here, in the closet with Lucy’s other toys. None of us were sacred, as we had all hoped to be. There came the time when all of us were stuffed into a box and sealed up. Replaced with pictures of rock stars and movie actors, makeup and pop music and all night sleepovers and giggling about cute boys. Not even the Barbie who took my place was sacred—the day came when she was crammed into a bag. I can still hear her wails at times, but it is not my pain. I have my own pain. Abandoned, orphaned by the one who claimed she would love me forever.

It hurts to be abandoned.

Today, I thought that things would change. Today Lucy opened my box and looked down at us all from our position. Her face had changed a lot since the last I’d seen it—it was older and more distinguished, but it still looked down on me with disdain. "Mom, here’s a box of my old toys. Can you throw it out or something?"

I got a peek of her mother’s face for a second through the crack of the box flaps. I hadn’t seen a face in so long… "I’ll sell them or something. On Ebay."

"Do something with them." Lucy’s voice was cold, as if she couldn’t remember a time that she wanted me. "I’m much too old for these things." She pushed the box away from me.

Thing. I’m now a thing. I sat there, depressed, as Lucy’s mom lifted us all out of the box one by one. She looked at me carefully and gave me a good brush over to knock off some of the loose dirt. "I’ve seen these sell pretty good." She pulled out a camera and sat me on a table, then snapped a picture of me with my hat—the only thing I had that was mine—before placing me in a box. A different box, sure, but a box nonetheless. I was so used to boxes that I didn’t even protest. My voice had long died. I curled up and sniffled. Abandonment hurts.

It was a few weeks before she picked me up, before wrapping me in plastic and placing me in another box. This time though, she sealed the top with tape. Tape meant one thing. No release. I would stay in here forever, an orphan to the ways of children. It was too much to bear, and I started crying again until I fell asleep.


I was awaked somewhat by a sound that sounded like ripping tape. I didn’t move—I was probably being put into another box or something, so this box could be used for something much more useful than me.

"Why, hello, Penny." A soft voice whispered, before gentle hands reached in to lift me out and pull off the bags that covered me.

Penny? No one had said my name in years. I’d almost forgotten it, in those years in my box, surrounded by baby dolls that no one hugged and stuffed toys that were delegated to the darkest recesses of closets. Carefully the hands set me on a table. It was messy and cluttered with scraps of fabric, candy wrappers, and what looked like pens and pencils on the desk. I looked around to see toys and stuffed animals, merged with clothes and textbooks, and a large computer sat on the desk to the side. This didn’t look like a little girl’s room.

The hands turned me around, to look into a face much older than Lucy’s was. This one still had a glow of youth in her eyes, though there was more wisdom than Lucy had ever had herself. She grinned at me, and I blinked, scared. What was she going to do with me? Put me in a new box? Give me away? Throw me away?

She reached over into a pile of fabric scraps and pulled out what looked like a neat pants suit. "Welcome to your new home, sweetie," the voice crooned, unhooking the fastenings on the outfit and slipping it on me. She then pulled out a brush and carefully, lovingly brushed my hair back into place, looking on her computer once in a while. Finally, she leaned back and looked at me with a pleased grin. "I bet you like being dressed and cleaned, yes?" she crooned softly, patting me on the head.

It was the grin. The grin of love and warmness. This—this big girl wanted me?

She reached over and picked up two other little dolls—two of my doll sisters from the factory. "This is Suzie and Cynthia," she said softly. "They’re your sisters now, I adopted them into the family. Say hello to Penny, girls."

Suzie grinned perkily, holding out a hand. She looked like her bangs at one point had been chopped badly, but now it was fairly even and her ponytails were tied up with little red bows. Hello!

Cynthia shyly smiled. Her one ponytail was not as long as Suzie’s but she had it neatly brushed and pulled up with a rainbow yarn bow. She’d been redressed in a rainbow trimmed blue crocheted dress and matching sandals. You’ll like it here, Penny, she greeted. My name's Candace--she gave me a new name to match the new me.

Where am I? Did some new little girl get me? I asked, looking around.

Suzie shook her head. A very big girl. Our new mommy’s in her twenties, and very smart as well. Her name’s Nethie. But she loves dolls and stuffed animals and always has. She doesn’t give us away or stuff us in closets if she can help it.

She got us the same way you came, Cynthia--no, Candance--added. She adopts the orphans like us from the Ebay Orphanage and cleans us all up. And she makes us pretty clothes too so we don’t have to be naked.

I looked around. In various stages of completion were dresses and tops, shoes and tanks—all types of clothes. She—she keeps us?

Yup! Suzie chirped. You’ve got a great home here and a wonderful mommy.

A mommy. Something I hadn’t had in a long time. I grinned. No more pain and tears for me.


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