Palo Alto Weekly 20th Annual Short Story Contest
Second Place Child

A Doll Named Maya

by Lisa Wu

Lisa Wu

Andrea lay on her bed staring at the cracks in her bedroom ceiling. Her gaze then circled the room, on her desk, on a chair, then on her bookshelf.   There, a beautiful doll laid, a doll named Maya.  

Her blue eyes sparkled in the sun filtering through the window.   The whole room was aglow with light, the golden hour just before night, as the sun lowers into the horizon.

Now as she gazed at Maya, illuminated in cheery sunlight, she remembered the day where the doll became more than a doll.   It was a piece of her mother, who had died that day, that day so long ago.  

Andrea pondered over the memories melting around her...

***

A gust of wind tickled me with soft invisible fingers.   I lifted my head and gazed at the sky, covered in heavy gray clouds. Even the sky was crying today, I thought, as I felt a raindrop touch my cheek.  

I was at my mother's funeral, a funeral I never thought I would attend.   I saw them lift my mother into the coffin, and then lower her into the ground. She was so full of life, and love...   And now she was gone.  

I ran all the way home, wind whipping my cheek, and tears blurring my view.   My Mother, sweet, sweet, Mother...   The thought of her tore at my heart.  

As the door slammed behind me, a shroud of loneliness surrounded me. I barely heard the door creak open again. I felt my father's warm, sturdy hand on my shoulder.   "Andrea..." he began.  

  I didn't know what else to do. The whole world was spiraling down, and was becoming a blurry mass of confusion. I buried myself in my father's shoulder.   The tears in my eyes escaped from my eyes like a wild river.

My father frowned, pulled away from me.   "Andy, look at me."   I turned, and looked into my fathers gentle brown eyes.   "Now flip that frown upside down, young lady." He gave me a weak smile.   That's what Mother always said. I almost laughed, but stopped myself.   

"Dad, Mother died today. What are we doing joking around, when she is all alone? Why are we laughing and having a good time, when she is gone?   Gone forever. "

"Andy, don't worry. Someone like Mother will never really be gone.   I'm sure Mother went somewhere warm and sunny. She will be watching over us in paradise.   Put on a big smile, and be strong for her.   It's what she would have wanted."   He pulled me into my arm again. .

Part of me wanted to scream out that Mother was lying in a cold dark coffin, and would never be back.   The other part of me just wanted to believe that she would be watching us.   What was I supposed to believe?  

I lifted myself out of his arms. I saw a pearly drop trickle down his face. Hurriedly, he rubbed his eyes, and hid his face from view. "Andy, I... uh... gotta go.   Have a lot of phone calls to make, lots of arrangements to plan." With a giant sniff, he walked away.  

I looked at the retreating figure in dismay.   Was this my father - the bravest person I knew - crying? I sat there for a few moments, having a wild debate in my mind.   Slowly I crept up the stairs after him.   Reaching his bedroom door, I poked my head in.  

What I saw was shocking. My father had completely destroyed the room.   The bed sheets had been ripped off the bed.   The curtains were completely askew. Papers, binders, and portfolios were lying all over the desk, pulled out of their organized slots.   At last, I noticed it. All memories of my mother - were gone.

Her grinning pictures were ripped into shreds. A pool of her favorite orange perfume stained the carpet. Everything that had belonged to her had been carelessly flung across the room. And lying on the ground, her face cracked and her dress ripped was Maya.

Maya was a perfect china doll.   Her sapphire glass bead eyes stared at me, as I rearranged her pink bonnet, lying across her flaxen curls.    Maya had rosy painted cheeks and a beautiful painted smile.  

It was the most beautiful dress ever, surrounding the doll in fluffy pink billows.   It was the most gorgeous doll in the world.   At least, she used to be. I stifled a cry. That was Mother's favorite doll in the whole wide world.   I inched into the room, groping for the broken doll.

Grabbing Maya in a swift motion, I hurried out the room.   I cast one last glance into the ruined bedroom.   Dad was crouching over a worn old ottoman, one my mother had made herself.  

I suddenly realized now, after all those years Dad had taken care of me and reassured me, it was my turn to take care of him. As I reached my bedroom, and plopped down on my bed, I decided, that yes, I would somehow just have to grown up and be brave - for him. Just seeing that crouching figure in the bedroom made me swell with confidence.  

"Hello Andy," I heard someone say with a strangled voice, feigning cheerfulness.I dropped the doll with a clatter.   It was Dad, standing in the doorway. His eyes were red and puffy; his clothes askew and wrinkled, but now staring defiantly ahead.  

As he saw the doll drop to the ground, he bit his lip. "Oh, Andy." He whispered in hopelessness.   I took a deep breath and put on a smile.

"Yeah, Dad? What's up?" My smile hurting my face, but I still held it.

"Andy, what's the matter?" He sat down next to me and frowned at my porcelain smile.

"Nothin'. I'm perfectly fine. Nothing wrong in here." I said, loudly, laughing. I groaned inwardly at my fakey voice.

"Andy. I'm your father. You're my little Andrea. We tell each other everything. Absolutely everything.   And especially at a tough time like this, we really need to stick together." His eyes began to get wet, but he hastily bowed his head.

"I saw... everything, Dad."   I murmured.   

My father faltered a bit, and then in a spill of tears, he took me in his arms and held me tight.  

In an overwhelming rush of memories, I remembered the time she came late to pick me up at soccer practice, and I thought she had left me behind.   Then I saw her face, grimacing in worry.   And then she had told me that she loved me, and would never leave me. I bit my lip at the memory of those words.

But then I remembered all the good times we had, from making puppet shows, to having tea parties, and when I was older, talking in my bedroom.   She would always be here, always and forever - in my heart.

***

In a sudden jolt, the room came back into view. Andrea was still overwhelmed with memories, as she held Maya up to her chest, once more.   She frowned and looked into Maya's flawless, yet lifeless face.   Andrea smiled. Andrea loved Maya with all her heart, but knew that she was just a lump of shaped china. Her mother was in herself, and she would always know that.

"Andrea! Light's out!" Her father's head poked into the door frame. His face was wrought with smile and illuminated with golden light. The golden hour was slowly turning purple, but her father's face was exuberant as the setting sun.  

Years after her mother's death, she and her father were finally living a happy life.   Andrea smiled at her father's exultant face, and then plopped down onto her bed.

She and her father exchanged a "Good night," and then each of them settled down into the night.   Andrea snuggled down into her blankets, and hugged Maya close to her. The sun had already dipped into the horizon, a flaming red pearl, and had unveiled an expanse of black sky. Under a blanket of stars, Andrea fell asleep, hugging her doll to close. In her mind's eye, her mother smiled down at her, her eyes twinkling like the stars.