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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Lost Doll Story

I preferred spiders to dolls until I was a girl of eleven years old, when the first glossy American Girl doll catalogue showed up in our mailbox. Our hilltop house had a huge swooping roof, and black widow spiders who nested amid rocks in our yard. I would sit on a ledge of boulders and stare down into the cottony webs, jealous of the sleek spiders with their long glossy legs and how they conjured respect and fear in my cruel classmates, who I feared far more than any venomous spider.

I was an outsider. My generically Protestant family had moved to a small Mormon town in Utah smack dab at the beginning of sixth grade. A tall, gawking fat girl, and a religious outsider at that, I was an easy target for my peers. I wore new bruises, physical and emotional, home at the end of each school day.

On Christmas morning I unwrapped the burgundy Pleasant Company box. Kirsten’s tight blonde braids and blue eyes shone even brighter than in the catalogue photo I’d pressed to my cheek for many nights prior, wishing out the window on every star. It doesn’t get much more outsider than being a brave immigrant, so Kirsten was a sympathetic ear for my troubles. Day after day I poured my troubles out to her. I carried her into the desert behind our house, and talked to her over sage cakes and juniper berry tarts.

I dressed Kirsten in new outfits my mom had sewn, and saved my allowance week after week until I could order each new accessory kit. I cried into her shiny hair as we moved to the Midwest and I endured more (and more complicated and grown-up) bullying. I entered painful adolescence and Kirsten’s joints loosened and her hair frizzed. Her soft body gathered stains. I loved her.

I was eighteen when I moved into a cramped house full of other misfit young adults, and a few short months later I moved out and into a college dorm. It was during this move that the burgundy box, now quite worn, was stolen. I never saw my Kirsten, or many of her accessories or outfits my mother had sewn her, again.

Years of bullying behind me, I took solid root into my present and shot into the future determined to live with a sensitive, compassionate heart. I received a replacement Kirsten one year as a Christmas gift, but she could not replace the Kirsten I had loved during my formative years.

I have a small daughter now. She is sensitive and beautiful, and I want for her to have an easier time of things than I did. I’ve wanted to take the Fröken Skicklig e-course for quite some time now but cannot afford it. If I win this contest for a spot in the January e-course, I’ll stitch up the softest, kindest doll for Alice to carry into her childhood – though I think the doll carries the child, as a bridge does, bearing her over the treacherous spaces with grace.

Thank you for the chance to win.


  1. Thank you so much for your story. I can relate to that girl you once have been and to the need of having such a friend when you grow up to relieve the distress of adolescence (which can be quite tough at times).

    Maybe that box didn´t get stolen. Maybe it was Kirsten who decided that it was time for her to leave you. Maybe that was also the reason why the new doll couldn´t become such a true friend - you had strength and confidence then and didn´t need a doll by your side.

    I wish you good luck for the contest - it would be lovely to see you at the class!

    Warm greetings from snowy Sweden (last night we had the first snowstorm, the meadow is glittery and looks as if someone has emptied a package with icing sugar)


  2. Oh Deborah, you made me cry. Lovely writing, thank you for sharing, as I know that couldn't have been easy. Hugs....Jennifer

  3. Deborah,
    Good Luck! Loved your account & Julia's comments.


  4. Your story is heartbreaking. How hard it must have been at times for you. How wonderful that you had a doll like Kirsten to releive some of your burdens.

    I am sure your daughter will one day have a loving doll as well!

    Good luck in the contest!

    warm regards,

  5. Thanks so much, you four, for your lovely comments. I tried writing a fictional but more cheerful lost doll story before this, but kept coming back to this one, which was real.

    Juliana, your comments were especially touching. I hope you are right and that Kirsten went to live with someone who needed her more than I did then.