The doll sleeps beside me now, I thought you’d like to know that. I thought you’d like to know that I still have her. I still look after her, just as I promised you I would, just as you promised her you would.
Her hair has grown straggly and her cheeks are smudged bare of the pink bloom they used to have. But to me she is beautiful.
Mum thinks I’ve gone simple, sleeping with a doll. I wasn’t even that into dolls when I was younger. But I don’t mind. After all we went through it seems silly to care about whether people think you’re being babyish. I’ll take this doll everywhere. Maybe one day my kids will play with her, and then their kids. Or maybe we’ll just grow old together and she’ll be buried beside me.
Sometimes when I’m sitting in class and there’s that bored silence because we’re supposed to be reading something, but no one is, not really, instead their secretly tapping out text messages to each other, or doodling on their pencil cases, or picking their spots. That’s when I think of you the most. I sit there and remember.
I remember the rain. It was streaming down the street, turning the gutters into rivers and I was hanging about outside MacDonalds waiting for Sarah, and then you entered my life and turned it upside down.
This is how I saw you:
A skinny girl with lank brown hair and eyes like saucers. You were wearing a red dress. Deep crimson in fact. It was like a ball gown and it went down to your feet in ruffles. You were standing in the rain holding a doll and you were looking right at me. You had eyes that seemed too large and I couldn’t look away.
This is how you saw me:
A girl with dirty trainers and cheap clothes with her hair pulled too tight. A girl with desperation written all over her.
You stepped up to me. Your hair was plastered over your heart shaped face. You held out the doll and I said:
‘You have got to be kidding me. Are you nuts?’
And you smiled. Your lips twisted into this weird smile that was almost like crying and you reached out a hand towards me and your fingers had a strange paleness. Your hand slipped over my arm and I felt my mouth widen to holler at you, felt my anger rise up at you, but no words came out because we were gone.
The street was still there. MacDonalds was still there. Sarah was hurrying around the corner, her mobile glued to her ear, but we were gone.