Tag Archives: family

Doll – Part VIII

“CJ?” Margie asked softly. “What’s wrong?”

Chalmers sat on the edge of the bed, half dressed. He started out all right, but something distracted him.

He knew he had to do this. He had to. It was one of those unfortunate things life threw at you and you had to stand there and take it. It might sting. It might hurt. Hell, it might break you in two and burn like hell, but life has very little interest in your discomforts when it decides to doll out its indiscriminate wisdom.

Still, when he shifted the suit that Margie laid out for him, she caught his eye.

They set the doll aside to make sure it would look perfect. Margie’s sister Pam even did the hair, which included working out a masterful snarl created the last time Paisley tried a style that was a little too exotic. Sitting on the nightstand, she stared at him with her long dark hair and bright blue eyes … smiling.

He took her in his hands and dropped to the bed. He stared into the glassy, careless gaze that looked back at him, and he grew envious of the times she got to stare back at Paisley as if they were secret sisters. He and Margie agreed that since Clarrissa was Paisley’s favorite, her “best friend in the world,” she would go with her to her rest. It made good sense. It did.

Chalmers stared into the doll’s face. His mind was mostly clear of the random thoughts that his brain was prone to conjuring. His head, his heart felt empty like an enormous vacant theatre where long ago, life used to play out before appreciative crowds of people nightly, but now sat hollow and stale and falling into disrepair.

He stared at the doll, longing to hear his daughter’s voice whisper just one last time, “Daddy, I love you.”

He stared at the doll, hoping against hope that she would give him a sign, some indication or reassurance that somewhere Paisley was fine, and safe, and happy, and that she would be all right … so the he could be all right.

Margie entered the room to see what was holding him up. They were late. And while they were both crushed right now, it was Chalmers who needed more from her. She recognized that. She respected that. She knew that when the time came, he would be there for her.

She found him sitting on the bed, not nearly ready, quietly holding the doll.

“Honey,” she said softly. “The car is here. It’s time.”

He sat still and stared into the glassy blue eyes.

“CJ, we need to go. Can you finish getting dressed? Everyone will be waiting.”

While is eyes never wavered from the doll’s, his head slowly shook once side-to-side, so subtly Margie might have missed it if she hadn’t been watching him so closely. She stepped closer to him and placed her hand on his shoulder. “Let me help you.”

The man’s head shook with more insistence, as a child might do when his mother was trying to feed him broccoli. Side-to-side it swung. No.

“Chalmers, please,” Margie said. “I know it’s hard. It’s so hard.” She started to cry. “Please. Get dressed and come with me. Paisley will want her doll.”

“I…” he whispered. He took a deep breath, which triggered a series of deep quick breaths. “I … I … can’t.” His head kept shaking side-to-side. “I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.” Tears streamed down his face as his sorrow contorted his features. He sobbed. “I can’t.”

“You need to say goodbye,” Margie whispered.

“I can’t.”

“If you don’t, you’ll regret it, for the rest of your life.”

“I can’t. I can’t.”

“Please. Come with me. Say goodbye with me,” Margie said, with a soft urgency through sobs of her own. “I can’t do this alone. Don’t leave me alone in this.”

“I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.”

At that point, whatever Chalmers Elk had left in him, whatever was holding him so loosely together then, evaporated. His hands let go of the doll, which Margie caught, and he crumpled to the floor. Sobbing without limits, he curled into a ball, repeating, “I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.”

Karrington Kipper

Karrington Kipper magnificent skipper,

Skipped all through the night and the day.

She skipped down to breakfast.

She skipped off to school.

She skipped through the garden on her way to play.


She skipped over puddles,

She skipped over bridges,

– through showers of April and flowers of May.

She skipped through the dark and the dangerous forest

– a trick that she learned to keep monsters at bay.


And if she was lonely or down in the dumps,

Or hurting, or angry, or blue,

Karrington Kipper, magnificent skipper

Seemed always to know the exact thing to do.

Her skips became bigger, or smaller, or louder,

or faster, or slower, or timid, or prouder.


She’d skip and she’d skip

and she’d skip, skip, skip, skip,

– until all was as well as it seems.

Then she’d skip off to bed and cover head,

so Karrington Kipper could skip in her dreams.


She awoke in the morning,
from a night of restless dreams,
where a faceless body screams out – you’re alive!

Then she stares at the mirror,
taking stock of body aches,
rubbing at the circles near her eyes.

And she welcomes the coffee,
something warm to fill her up,
once his hand but now this cup, oh why?

She retrieves the paper,
looking out into the sky,
wishing for another day to say goodbye.

When she clears the table,
the reporter on TV,
says another normal day has gone by.

And the light turns to darkness,
she runs her fingers through her hair,
one more hand of solitaire, oh my.

As she steps to the bedroom,
She says a silent solemn prayer,
to any angels who may care – oh please!

Stop this endless cycle.
All my work down here is done.
Take me home to the other part of me.


“Look,” Brin said to the sulking Lara. “You kids are lucky. You just don’t realize it. I met your father ‘pre-Internet.’ Do you know what that means?”

Lara pulled the Seventeen magazine on the table to her and began flipping through the pages aggressively. It was a half-baked attempt to show she wasn’t listening, but Brin knew that if she really wasn’t listening, she would have left by now.

“Yes, pre-Internet. Clearly, when I met the man who was to become your father, I didn’t have access to all the information that you people have today. After I met him, I had to talk to him – in person – to get to know him and he was the only source of information I had. You can’t imagine that, because it’s not the world you grew up in.

Sure, he had friends, but they only told me what a ‘great guy he was.’

Had I been able to look him up on Facebook or pull together some kind of Google search, you know…I might have made some different decisions.”

“Ugh…Mom, are you serious?”

“Look, I love your father. I’m just saying pre-Internet people had a huge learning curve to overcome. There was no ‘wikipedia’ to tell me all about what kind of person he was, no electronic photo albums, no friends lists, no texts, no Skype, no unlimited minute phone calls, no Twitter to let me know where he was, what he was doing, what he thought about things…none of it. So all I can say is we did the best we could with the information we had.

You know, come to think of it, maybe I found out he got on the dean’s list once…maybe not, I’m not sure. I’ve blocked so much.

Anyhow, the point is, people today, once you meet each other, and sometimes you don’t even actually meet, you have access to a world of information in minutes that can help you figure out what you might like or not like before you get too invested.”

“You think Daddy feels the same way?”

“Look, pre-Internet or not, your father is very lucky the way things worked out for him. You should have seen him when I found him.”

Lara slid the magazine back across the table. Her phone uttered a short beep causing her to look down immediately. “It’s Phil.”

“You see? How long did that take? Eleven minutes? Don’t even get me started on how long it took to ‘resolve issues’ before the Internet. You kids don’t even know what a fight is anymore. What does he say?”

“He wants to meet…to talk.”

“Uh huh. Let me give you one more piece of advice. One thing we did learn pre-Internet is that when it came time to work things out, we were already pretty good at actual real live talking. Do yourself a favor. If you really want to work on things, put the phone down. Stop texting and go talk to him.

Then…you can text me and to let me know how things go!”