I am a special doll, especially imported from the Far East. I got delicate porcelain hand-painted face and beautifully crafted hands. My silky black hair rival that of the real women. To be honest, I do think my hair might be prettier actually. My beautiful silk dress has the colour of sunset in all its glorious hues. The little umbrella I am carrying is of the same material with fine lace trimmings. The owner of the store where I am to be displayed handled me with care, all the while smiling. ‘Let’s put her up on the top shelf,’ he told his wife,’ she’s special we don’t want little children to be touching her. She’ll fetch a good price’.
So I was placed on my place of honour at the top shelf. From there it seems I can see forever. It seems that all I survey is mine as it should be as I am a special doll. The highest priced to be exact. I look down to the next level of shelf, I saw that there were other porcelain dolls but they were made locally hence not as expensive as I am. They waved to me but I only nodded my head towards them. Surely, they know their superior when they see one and not expect me to return their enthusiasm. Hmmm…Another tier down are those plastic dolls awkwardly dressed in contemporary clothes made obviously of cheap materials. Hmph…I thought that it’s ok for them to be within reach of the little children with dirty grubby hands. No way Jose! Only the privileged can handle me, after all I am a special doll, the highest priced in fact.
The doll store I am in does have a lot of customers. Almost all of them would stare in awe at me. I am, after all, on the top shelf with the spotlight directed at me. Several little girls pointed at me; some too shabby for my taste that it sends shivers down my spine, but their mothers would look at my price and tell the little girls to choose instead from the second tier. The plastic dolls got sold fast, well, that is to be expected. They were cheap anyway and suitable for common people. Surely, somebody with superb taste will walk into this store, take one look at me and decide that she can’t leave the store without buying me. That will happen, I’m sure… after all I am a special doll, the highest priced in fact.
One day a group of wealthy looking girls walked into the store. As expected they stared at me so I stood in the glory of my spotlight. Well, I am getting tired of standing here… they will do, I thought. They look like they can provide me a decent doll house even if it’s not up to my standards. But they look at the tier below me and saw the locally made porcelain dolls. They had a discussion among themselves and I heard tidbits like ‘ she’s really pretty but she’s too expensive,’ ‘she will look pretty awkward in my old doll house’…’can buy other things…’ In the end they bought the dolls on the second tier. The little girls were smiling happily with their new purchases. Somehow I felt a stab of pain in my heart, almost to the point of lowering the pretty umbrella I am proudly holding up. I watch the girls walk out of the store with their dolls into the sunshine. I wonder what it feels like to be in that sunshine and be held lovingly by an owner. But I shook off the unreasonable feeling, after all, somebody will purchase me. I have to remind myself that I am a special doll, the highest priced in fact. I turned my face slightly to the side so I won’t be staring directly at the beckoning sunlight.
There was such fuss around the store one day. The owners dust around and brought in more dolls. The bustle of activities made me dizzy. Then the owners did something strange, they were sticking red labels on the dolls. I looked closely and read what it says ‘sale’. Surely not! They will not dare stick a red label on me! Me! I am a special doll, surely not…The owner’s wife came near me with that dreadful sticker then turned to her husband, ‘Should she be on sale as well?’ she asked him. The owner looked at me wistfully then smiled,’ Nah! Some collector will walk into this store and pay a good price for her.’ So I was spared from the indignation of being red tagged. I am a special doll… I don’t deserve such callous treatment.
The day of the sale came and plenty of people came to buy dolls. Most of them look at me but few dared touch me for my price tag was glaringly visible. The others were being sold almost by the minute and some were even played by the little girls in the store. Laughter can be heard in the store yet I am not part of it. I am in it yet not really in it. Then a young lady walked into the store. The owners seem to recognise her as they were asking about her ‘collection’. I straightened my back more and held my umbrella higher. This must be the moment I have been waiting for. Somebody, worthy of me, has walked into the store, looking for something special. As expected she looked my way and asked to inspect me closely. I felt excitement and joy in my heart. This is it, surely. Her eyes were sparkling as she turned me this way and that, inspecting my delicate features then she asked ‘ Does she come in blue?’. I cannot describe fully what I feel at that moment. Blue?! I am not in blue, that’s a common enough colour. I am in rare shades of the sunset, surely she can appreciate that. The owner replied ‘ No, she’s one of a kind,’ and the young lady replied softly ‘ Oh, I was hoping to get a doll in a beautiful blue dress.’ at the same time she handed me back to the owner who put me back on the top shelf.
At that moment I wanted to disappear from sight. Blue, she wanted blue…that’s such a common colour while I am in the glorious hues of sunset but…she wanted blue. The rest of the sale day went in a blur. I couldn’t really care much… I wasn’t in blue. The owner and his wife were closing up, happy at the success of their sale. The wife moved me slightly to the centre and said ‘It’s a pity that the collector did not buy her. Do you think we should lower her price?’ The owner looked closely at me then shakes his head, ‘It’s a pity to lower her price as she’s worth that price. It will be a loss for us. Nah! Leave it as it is. She’ll be a good display doll, something to pull people in. Some dolls were not meant to be owned by an individual. If they cannot afford her price then they can look at the other dolls. It will be a win- win situation.’ I wanted to shout at my owner to lower my price, surely a few pounds knocked off my price is worth a moment in that sunshine and being held by someone who adores me not from a distance.
The owner and his wife slowly made their way to the door then put off the lights yet the spotlight on me remains. With a heavy heart I looked longingly at the sunshine through the window. I am a special doll, the highest priced in fact but I am also the last doll on the shelf.
Note by the author: the idiom ‘ last on the shelf’ is something that I only learned and heard used in UK a few years ago. Guess to whom that statement was referred to? Welcome to my world. the real Bridget Jones—in the flesh
written on 23 June 2006 (so glad that I managed to save this one)