14 August 2014

a stuffed dog, a child's make-up kit, and a doll

I kneel beside the small vanity, unable to fit in the petite plastic chair. The paint peels and fades, ghosts of teddy-bears and princesses the only things that remain. The mirror reflects my image, distorted and warped; I can barely make it out. What would I see, if I could? All I can see is her. She used to sit here, in this petite plastic chair, brushing out her short locks; they would have transformed into long tresses, had she had more time. But she was beautiful, nonetheless. I swipe my hand across the chair, stirring the dust that has collected over years of neglect; it's cold to the touch, just like she was when I found her. Long gone, yet her presence still lingers here. On the small vanity, the make up case lies open, just the way she left it. Turning herself into a princess as little girls so often do. She didn't need it, wouldn't have needed it as she grew. She already was a princess, my princess.

I gaze across the room at the tiny bed she used to sleep in, where I'd sing her to sleep and read her favorite stories, where I scolded her for jumping and squealing in delight. The sheets have never been made; they lie in a tangled heap at the foot of the mattress, and it looks like she could have just tumbled out of dreams into waking. I can still see her bedhead, spikes and curls; she looked like a wild child and she loved it. Her pillows are strewn about, half on the bed, and half off. I think I can spot the tail of her favorite stuffed dog peeking out from beneath the bed-skirt. She refused to sleep without it; I can remember how peaceful she looked, snuggling with that dog, tucked into the blankets, sleeping soundly, deep breaths rumbling her frame. I can remember, also, her clutching her dog in one arm and her blanket in the other, as she came into my room seeking comfort, or maybe just a glass of water. Interruptions that the more selfish, less loving side of me used to resent. But I'd give anything now, anything, to wake up to her sweet face one more time.

If I'd been more alert, if I'd checked on her sooner, would things be different?

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