The Doll

I was eight.

It was the Christmas holidays which meant Nana and Pop’s house. Nana was blind and Pop – well when they retired him from working at the mine he went home to bed. Literally. Stayed there for years. Nana and Pop had two daughters. Rita was the oldest, and Edna, the baby of the family.

Since I could remember I had lived with Auntie Rita. We were just the two of us – her husband had been killed and she had no children. Dad came down once every few weeks for a visit to Bellambi, he stayed for the weekend then went back to his life.

Christmas holidays (in Australia they are for 6 weeks from December until February) were spent in the Campsie (a suburb in Sydney) house of my Dad’s parents. I loved those holidays, for my Auntie Ed fascinated me. She had never married, but stayed on looking after her aged, and infirm, parents. But Auntie Ed was a firecracker.

Not much taller than me as an eight-year-old, that woman was full to the brim of EVERYTHING.

As usual I was wiping the dishes after dinner when there was a knock at the door and Auntie Ed got me to go to answer it. I am not sure if it was intentional on their part. Maybe they didn’t know she was coming that night. That seems more likely to me – neither of my aunts were ever intentionally cruel to anyone, especially me. And looking back – letting me answer that door, ignorant, would have been cruel if it was done intentionally.

A woman was standing in the porch. But it wasn’t her that drew my attention. In front of her was the biggest doll I had ever laid eyes on. It was almost as tall as I was. It took all of two seconds to want that doll with every fibre in me.

I never took my eyes off it as the lady asked to speak to one of my aunts. And it was painful to walk away from the door to get one of them.

What if she left and took that doll with her?

In truth I was never a covetous child. I didn’t have a lot in the way of toys and games, but that never bothered me. The only thing I can ever remember asking for until then was a sewing box. Things were just not that important – not then – not now.

But it was as if I was joined to that doll by some thread of possessiveness. Oh how I envied whoever that doll actually belonged to.

“Auntie Ed, ” I said.

“Yes,” she was still washing up, so in hindsight I guess she was oblivious to who was standing at the front door.

“There’s a lady at the door to see you. She has a really big doll with her.”

I wasn’t intuitive at eight, so if there were undercurrents going round I usually missed them, but only a dead person could have missed the undercurrents in that house after I made that statement.

I was ushered into the bedroom that I shared with Auntie Rita when we stayed, and given a book to read. My aunts weren’t silly, put my nose in a book and I was a goner for hours. Auntie Rita was hauled out of the room. Auntie Ed might be small but she was strong.

I don’t remember how long I stayed there, once I was in a book, time became irrelevant.

“Joanne,” Auntie Ed was at the door. “Come with me will you?”

In the dining room the lady was seated, still holding the doll. She smiled as I walked in. Auntie Rita stood near her, as if she was making sure she didn’t make off with the family silver. Auntie Ed’s hand was gripping my shoulder, squeezing the blood out of it it felt like.

I looked from one to the other.

“Joanne,” Auntie Ed was the only one doing any talking. “This is your mother.”

Well that sure got my eyes off the doll…

Part 2


    1. Thanks Theresa – well this could go on and on – lots of drama in the family history. If I hadn’t seen some of it myself – well I’m not sure I would believe it. 🙂


  1. Life throws curveballs sometimes, if we could have hindsight before a thing happens instead of after, growing up would be so much simpler. But instead, intuition and ignorance chase each others heels as quickly as doors can open and close. You have so much skill when you weave stories. I look forward to the next chapter.


  2. Woa! LOVE this! My eyes are blinking big and bright right beside yours. Hmmm… wonder how long I will have to keep holding my breath:)


  3. I agree with your comment about families Jo.. if we didnt see it we wouldnt believe it ourselves as I too could write a book.. Loved the way you have weaved your story together.. and I kinda knew it was your Mother.. even before you said… mine didnt speak to me.. 10 yrs… and arrgh well thats another Story! lol.. but its in my Blog somewhere… Life like your friend Midaevalmaiden said can throw a curved ball…. the trick is learning to duck or catch them…..
    You kept me spell bound with this one..
    Sue~ Dreamwalker


    1. Thanks Sue – life sure was interesting amongst my family – it was never dull. I don’t write about it for sympathy. Mum did what she could with what she knew and I have come to terms with her failings. She tried, and I guess that is all any of us can do.


  4. Aw Jo this really touched me as I only saw my mother twice in my life so I really identified with it, I knew too it was your mother even though I don’t know your back-story. Thanks for sharing, now pass the tissues….


  5. WOW! Even having read part 2 before part 1, I was wowed by how you grab my attention here and hold it to the very end! It almost feels like I was there spying on you al. Such vivid imagery you’ve crafted.

    Once again, I’ve got some teeny points:
    “But Auntie Ed was a firecracker.” I don’t get the “but” here, it distracted me. Is it really needed? I’d take it out and pull the line down to the following paragraph.

    “Not much taller than me as an eight-year-old” this writing style intrigued me. I re-read it several times then realized it was because I would’ve written something like ‘than me when I was eight” or “than my eight-year old self”…maybe it’s a tomaytow/towmahtow thing? Just wanted to let you know that it intrigued me.

    Now, if you’d be so kind: Tell us, when do we get to read pt 3? 😉


  6. Seems to me, sweet Jo, that this is the kind of writing you do best: capturing the emotions you feel so deeply. If I may be bold, I think this is where your talent is…finding the heart in the real…. xoxoxoxox


  7. A very good story so far, I wonder what happens next? 🙂
    Of course as I am backtracking now I don’t have to wait
    and so I will read the second chapter next Jo 🙂

    I am definitely getting behind my wickedly great friend
    but I will get round to reading all of your postings 🙂

    Thank you for sharing your lovely writings

    Androgoth XXx


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