TUESDAY: Worry Dolls

BY ERICA RICHMOND

Erica Richmond currently lives near Toronto, though she is often thinking up new adventures. Copyright is held by the author.

SHE WHISPERED their names as she kissed each worry doll on the head and tucked them under her pillow, happy to have released her anxieties yet again. At the very least, they kept the nightmares at bay. That couldn’t just be a coincidence, could it?

As usual, her eyes were drawn to the tree out the window. Its dark silhouette protruded in the glowing sky. From this angle she could almost pretend that the glow was due to the Northern Lights and not a mix of smog and city apartments. Her eyes focused on the complexity of the tree’s branches as she began her ritual of counting them. She had only got to branch number five when she saw the kite. Interesting. How long had it been there? Surely she would have noticed it this morning. Had it even been windy today? She couldn’t remember. The kite didn’t appear to be damaged and she wondered if it had even put up a fight. Had her tree reached out and plucked it from the sky or was she merely keeping it safe?

It was nearing the end of autumn and there were only a handful of leaves left scattered on each of the branches. The colourful vibrancy of the summer was gone. But even still, the tree breathed stoic life. She sensed this same silent strength in the kite. But where the tree’s energy seemed reflected inwardly, the kite’s energy was more focused on plotting its next move.

The kite looked to be sitting quietly playing dead, waiting for just the right gust of wind to jump into. She imagined its freedom. She imagined it soaring through the sky high above the heavy hearts trapped on the ground.

Through the clouds it had passed a flock of Canadian geese. And then on a whim it glided in line. It had probably been able to silently join their lopsided V formation without any of them the wiser. How could they have noticed anything with all that honking?

The noise had caught the attention of a toddler being pushed in a stroller. He looked up, laughed in surprise at the kite and pointed. “Geese,” his mom offered, too much in a hurry to really look.

For a while it had been nice to be part of a group — the hushed animosity in such perfect contrast to such a lively group. The kite had focused intently on their unified flapping. Their rhythm held a magnetic force field, which insisted that everyone stay in their place.

What went wrong? The geese must have taken an unexpected dive down to the park below. One had spotted a man tossing breadcrumbs by water. Their sudden descent had sent the kite spinning and disoriented. It fought the plight of gravity until it was face to face with her tree. In a quick moment, its freedom had been revoked. Her heart started breaking as she felt the devastation of the kite when it realized it was trapped.

She opened her night side table drawer and rummaged through the moisturizer, face cloths and cough candies. In a cloth bag, she found what she was looking for and wrapped her fingers around the tiny doll. Another worry to release. Another nightmare to be avoided.

Her eyes closed, even the suspense of the kite’s fate couldn’t keep them open any longer. The worry dolls tucked safely under her pillow  — except the newest friend whom she kept clutched in a hand pressed against the warmth of her heart. Her breathing settled into a deep rhythm, gently rocking the doll to sleep in the moonlit room.

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