Mandy & Molly Chapter Two

Thursday, December 8, 2016

I’ll never forget how Molly looked on her first day of school. She wore a pink backpack with cat shaped charms dangling from the zippers. A sky blue headband tamed her wild curls.

I wanted to go to school with her, but I wasn’t old enough. I wouldn’t be able to go until the next year. Staying home without having Molly there was difficult.

Mom was around, but she was so used to letting Molly interact with me that when it was just the two of us, she seemed lost. To fill the time, she would give me crayons and say, “Go color.”Or point to the toy box full of dolls and tell me, “Go play.”

I don’t hold this against my mom because I’ve babysat my cousins before, and sometimes steps need to be taken to get a break from the little people. I get it.

But sometimes I wish I had the ability to communicate back then. I wish I could have expressed how much I needed Molly to be there with me. Then maybe instead of sitting in the corner playing dolls by myself, Mom would’ve taken a little time to give a voice to the mermaid fashion doll that Molly loved to play with so much.

Okay, so I do hold it against my mom a little, but I don’t know if anything could have changed what happened.

The quiet days of the school year went on. Mom spent her time talking to Aunt Myra on the phone and watching TV. I would color a little, but I spent most of my time playing with dolls. Sometimes I would think, “Wouldn’t it be great to have dolls that I created myself?” If I had the ability to make dolls, believe me, they wouldn’t have been these dead, plastic things.

They would move on their own and have their own personalities. Maybe I could be friends with them. Maybe they could fill the void that Molly left.

Of course, I didn’t have the ability to make the type of doll that I dreamed of or any type of doll for that matter. Still, I would imagine it.

Active play eventually became staring at walls. The vivid images in my mind engrossed me so much that the real world would melt away. Over time, my dreams of the living dolls grew into dreams about a specific girl.

Her name was Winter. And in my mind, she was my best friend.

Looking back, I realize that she was more of an eager antagonist than a friend. I would share with her how lonely I felt. She would listen sympathetically and then point out that the reason why I was so lonely was because I was an ugly girl. Then she would remind me that there was nothing I could do to change that. We were the same age, and she had a talent for delivering these words in such a warm way, that I believed her.

After creating Winter, I began to alternate between playing with dolls and daydreaming, which was an improvement over the straight out wall staring contest.

One day in the spring, I decided to change things up and play with my dolls outside. I played under a huge tree in our front yard. Its thick branches full of leaves provided the perfect amount of shade. Sometimes Molly and I would fantasize about climbing it, but it was too big for little girls like us to get a good grip on it. Instead, it served as the home base for hide-and-seek.

I sat in the shade and played with my dolls. Sometimes I would leap up, thinking that a bug was crawling on me, but then I would see that it was an awkward blade of grass or something like that brushing against my leg. I seriously needed to get outside more often.

After I stopped jumping at every little thing, I fully absorbed myself in playing. The sounds of the birds and the crisp breeze created an atmosphere of pleasantness that I wouldn’t have found indoors. Still, in the variety of those natural sounds, my ears picked up something a little different. Footsteps.

I looked up from my pretend picnic with my dolls to see a girl. She looked similar to me--dark skin, hair braided into pigtails, a little nose, large eyes. However, unlike me, she wore a plaid skirt, a white collared blouse with a bow tied around the neck, and a wide grin. That's the only feature we didn't share. Her smile was different.

Yet, I knew her.

"Winter?" I said.

"Hey, Mandy! What are you doing?"

"Playing with dolls."

"Can I join you?"


She sat down in the grass next to me and picked up the mermaid doll.

"I want to be this one," she said.

Although I spent much of my time daydreaming, I maintained a good grasp of what was real. I was one of those kids who wondered why the toy oven couldn't cook anything, or why the toy phone couldn't make phone calls. Yes, I would pretend anyways, but the fakeness awareness stayed with me. I knew my daydreams were pretend.

That awareness made my experience with Winter more confusing. Her voice was not inside of my head, but coming from outside of me. When our fingers brushed, I felt the warmth of her skin. Everything about her was real.

For a long time, she lived only in my imagination. I feared that maybe no one else could see her. Despite that, we were friends. She would often sneak into my room via the window, so we could talk.

"I think Mom is ignoring me," I would say.

"Yeah, because she likes Molly more."

"You think so?"

"Yeah. Molly's cool. Why wouldn't she?"

Why wouldn't she? Molly had much more interesting things going on. After school, she would come home with vibrant stories about her teachers and new friends. All I had were boring days with Mom and these depressing conversations with Winter. Regardless, I never resented my sister. Instead, I wished that I could be more like her.

One afternoon, Winter and I were playing outside. We were chasing each other, sticking rocks and leaves into anthills and attempting to climb trees. While hunting for bugs in the front yard Winter said, "Maybe if you weren't so ugly and stupid, your mom would like you more."

Although her words hurt, I never disagreed with them. But someone else did.

"What did you just say about my sister?"

We both turned to see Molly. Her tiny hands balled up into fists.The school bus had dropped her off a moment ago.

"What did you say about Mandy?"

For a rare moment, Winter was speechless. A tense few seconds passed between her and my sister. They sized each other up. Then Winter said, "I don't know why you're asking. You heard me."

As soon as she said it, and before Molly could respond, she turned and started running. Molly went after her. I ran after both of them, yelling for Molly to stop the chase. My sister was a decent runner, but Winter was faster.

Molly slowed down, but in her anger, she picked up some rocks from the side of the street and hurled them in Winter's general direction.

"You are gross! Don't you EVER come here again! Don't ever bother Mandy again!" She was screaming. The rocks she threw didn't even come close to hitting Winter; she was too far gone. We could barely see her. But I'm sure Molly's words were still within earshot. Her voice reverberated in the street.

Rapid footsteps came up behind us. It was Mom. Worry filled her face. "Girls, what's going on? Why are you out here?"

Molly turned to her, almost in tears. "There was a horrible girl here bullying Mandy."

Now, Mom was angry. "Where is she?" she asked.

Both Molly and I looked ahead into the distance, into emptiness. Mom knelt down to my level and took my shoulders in her hands.

"Molly, what is the girl's name?"

"Winter," I said, not sure if I was telling the truth. I wasn't sure if any of this was really happening.

"Where does Winter live?"

"I don't know. She just came up to me." I couldn't begin talking about the confusing reality in detail. I understood it, but then I didn't. My mom's eyes scanned my face as if looking for more information. Then out of nowhere, she pulled me into a hug.

"If that girl shows up again, you come running to me," she said. At that moment, I realized that Winter was wrong. My mom's love warmed me.

"If you see her again, you can tell me too," said Molly.

Winter has shown up in my life several times since that moment. I didn't go running to my mom about her. I didn't want to be a burden. However, I did reveal my beliefs about Winter's existence to my sister. It took some time and tons of patience, but eventually she understood that Winter was my own creation. The first friend I made turned out to be my enemy with a personality starved of empathy.

If I have the ability to bring such a person into the world, what does that say about me?


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Author's Note: In the comic version, this event starts to happen in the third chapter. I think it's interesting how for the novel I found making this even the second chapter was way more natural.

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