The story of the China Doll began in 1952 when she arrived at my home for my birthday. I wasn’t allowed to play with her because I was told she was fragile. Made out of porcelain, the doll had eyes that blinked when she was tipped, and head moved back and forth when you moved her legs. She was dressed in a spectacular lace dress. I never really liked that doll. She sat on my bed and watched.
THE CHINA DOLL
By Deborah M. Stankevich
The doll sat on the back of the couch, its hair raggedy and twisted into knots. The beautiful porcelain face was smudged with the grime of years, but its pouty lips were firm and as red as blood. The eyes were blue cut glass. My God, they almost looked as though they were looking back at you. The dark eyelashes were all intact, thick and lush. The crystal blue eyes were nestled behind porcelain lids that were not fully opened but moved where the doll was sat up or laid down. One of its arms rested by its side while the other was slightly higher. Not much. Just enough for it to look unnatural. There was not even a chip on any of its slim china fingers. The tips were painted red and slightly posed to a semi-natural position. Its legs were forced out in front of its body with its toes slightly pointed out. There was not one chip on either of its feet either. Amazing! You would never know that the fine porcelain china doll was well over 100 years old and still made the old woman as uncomfortable as it had when she was a mere girl. Miss Ginger was the doll’s name. Miss Ginger of the Great Manor. Miss Ginger had sat on the old woman’s bed for many years while she was growing up – watching, watching her dress, watching her play, watching her dream. That was what upset the old woman the most – watching her dream. She wondered if the doll ever slept. Probably not.
She slowly rose from her rocker, her eyes never leaving the doll’s dead blue eyes. Moving gingerly, the old woman stepped toward the couch, reaching out to touch the hemline of Miss Ginger’s worn billowing dress. The lace was now yellow with age and stray threads hung like the misplaced grey hairs in her masses of salt and pepper locks. She ran her fingers absently through her hair pushing it off to the side and out of her rheumy eyes. She touched the fabric between her fingers. The doll did not move. The hem felt stiff and hard with age, as though it would break or crack if she folded or straightened it. Standing closer, she remembered how the doll “talked” to her. She tried to remember what Miss Ginger had “said” to her. She leaned closer looking for the rise and fall of the chest. The old woman gently placed the tip of her bent finger on Miss Ginger’s cheek. The porcelain felt smooth and cold to the touch. She placed her crippled hand under the doll’s head, supporting and lifting it as she had her son’s head when he was a baby. The twisted, rough hair strands fell lifelessly over her wrists. The old woman breathed deeply, trying to calm herself. Her other hand began to shake as she removed it from her apron pocket, the long hat pin held firmly between her fingers. The doll’s head lay in her hand. It did not move. She looked for a good spot on the doll’s face to insert the pin.