Once upon a time, Raggedy Ann glanced at herself in the mirror atop a bureau. If her blue button eyes could have, surely they would have, grown larger. But, as they were buttons, they couldn’t and therefore didn’t.
But the thoughts beneath her curly hair certainly could and consequently did; and grew so expansive in fact as to come out in two tiny, but nonetheless largely expressive words, “Oh my.”
“What is it?” asked Andy, her brother.
“Have you seen yourself in the mirror lately?" And no doubt, she would have squinted if she could but as been said before she couldn’t, so she didn’t.
Andy cocked his head as if in deep thought and said, “Why should I? We’re always the same.”
“But we’re not,” Ann answered with a smile. And, had her smile not been stitched on, she surely would have answered with a frown; but as it were, in all appearances Ann seemed to be happy with what she saw in the mirror.
But, she wasn’t, no indeed. The thought did occur to her to stand on her head, to make it look like she was frowning, but she determined, and very astutely as well, that Andy would only follow suit and turn topsy-turvy to match her to be as a perfect pair of upside down smiling dolls.
“Look,” she pointed to her orange hair that had once been a vibrant red, “we’re fading.”
Andy sneaked a peek and answered quite profoundly. “What a curious way to age.”
“Do you think orange fades, too?” Ann asked, looking at her hair.
“At least we don’t age like humans.” Andy took her hand and led her away from the mirror to sit on the edge of bureau. With feet swinging, he said, “Just think how Valerie has changed over the years.”
Thinking such things could be very perplexing, especially when one’s thoughts are more on what the lighter shade of orange might be. But Ann bravely gave it a whirl and said quite oddly, “For sure at thirteen she’s taller than she was at four.”
Andy gave her a questionable glance. “And the way she talks. Every sentence seems a question.”
“Like I haven’t totally noticed.”
“Totally. Like the way she talks is way cool, you know.”
“And her clothes.”
“Like her clothes totally rock. You could gag me with a spoon with what she used to wear. I mean like the Cinderella look is so totally yesterday.”
Andy studied his sister for a moment. “Are you feeling all right?”
A tear seemed to form in her eyes. “Totally” she answered
“She used to share her dreams with you.”
“Duh, I am her best friend, you know. And friends way share their dreams you know. It’s like we’re, you know, totally one person. It’s awesome.”
“Then why did she take us off the bed and put us up here on the bureau?”
Ann glanced away, her voice a whisper. “Because we’re fading.”
Andy placed his arm around her shoulder. “Is that what this is all about?”
“I don’t want to lose her, Andy. I miss when she used to hold me close and tell me her secrets; and she doesn’t do that anymore. So, I thought by being more hip, we’d totally be closer again.”
“Quit saying totally.”
“She’s growing up, Annie. You need to let her. We played our part and now it’s over. Cinderella slippers break in the real world and Val senses that. It’s a good thing.”
“But I hear her crying at night.”
“Maybe her letting go is just as hard for her as it is for you. Maybe the hardest part of her growing up is not being strong enough to hold on to the past because of the impossible longing for the future she’s feeling. And this is what makes her cry, because it can be painful.”
“She can be a real snot, too.”
“Can’t we all, when we’re afraid and uncertain.”
“So you’re saying everything will work out, even though we’re fading?”
“Orange is but a gentler memory of red, Annie. Remember her grandma, Irene, when she went through this all those years back and put us up in her cedar chest?”
“I’d forgotten; and later she took us out to give us to Val.”
“Irene hadn’t forgotten us, Annie, and neither will Val. I promise.”
“Totally?” She smiled; blue-button eyes big as ever.
“Totally.” And possibly, because it was stitched on, he couldn’t help but smile back.
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