It was not that she wasn’t familiar. But THE DOLL had taken all my attention. After all I had seen her before, not that I remember my birth, whatever the new age greenies think. Little too traumatic an event to want to remember if you ask me.
And I had lived with her until she and Dad split up – now how long was that ? Oh yea, about the time it takes to take a deep breath. then Dad had taken me (now that’s a whole story on its own) and I’d lived with Auntie Rita until…
One day, I was about three I think, Mum turned up at the door. Apparently she had already spoken to the local police and what they told her was this. If Dad was not at my aunt’s house and I came outside to her, there was nothing they could do to stop her taking me.
At three I must have still known exactly who she was. I was having a nap when I heard her voice. Running at full speed I dodged around my aunt at the door and flew into her. Mum picked me up and stated her business to my aunt – she was reclaiming me – and waited patiently while Auntie Rita phoned the police.
Now you may not believe this – but I remember every moment of this. Well, not the words – but the sound of her voice, the running, the arms, the trip back in the car with Mum and my brother.
So how was it I didn’t recognise her now – well it wasn’t long before I was back with Auntie Rita, and she (Mum) was a very distant memory to me at eight.
So there she sat – with the THE DOLL – smiling at me. I was quite an articulate eight-year-old, but not at that moment. And Auntie Ed’s fingers were hurting as they dug deeper with every passing SILENT minute. The adults were not saying a lot, but I guessed my aunties were none to thrilled with Mum’s presence.
Mum looked, well, uncomfortable doesn’t describe it. And she kept smiling. Now you think silences are awkward for adults – let me tell you they are worse when you’re eight and you’re not sure what to do or say. Adults are supposed to give you direction. I guessed I was on my own on this one.
Besides it was starting to become apparent to me that I had a good chance of claiming THE DOLL if things went well.
Long lost mother + large doll + eight-year-old girl = present.
“Mum?’ I wanted to check to be sure.
“That’s me,” she said. And I felt the tug of a memory in the tone of those words.
“I’m Joanne,” I said, tugging, to free my shoulder from Auntie Ed’s grip. It wasn’t easy, but I did it and walked forward with my hand held out to shake hers.
I know – she knew who I was, but hey I was brought up with manners being a big priority.
She took my hand, her grip was almost as tight as Auntie Ed’s. After a minute she seemed to realise that fact and let go.
“You’ve grown, ” she said.
Nothing passed Mum’s eagle eye…she took them from me to look at both my aunts. To my surprise Auntie Ed mumbled (I had never heard Auntie Ed mumble in my life) about making some tea, then they both went out to the kitchen.
“I brought you something,” she said. And then she pushed THE DOLL toward me.
Now most other eight-year-old girls would have grabbed her with glee. And oh how I wanted to. I was the very girl I had envied a little while earlier as I walked away from the door, but my hands remained at my sides.
“I missed your birthday,” Mum pushed her further toward me.
“You missed a few.”
“Why the doll? Why now?” I was eight, not stupid.
“Because I missed all the others – I thought…well, I thought I’d need something big to make up for them. And because…”
“Because I want you to come home and spend the rest of the holidays with your brothers and me.”
It was time to take THE DOLL…