Toy Home. Page 3 of 12
The little bear looked at the cracked rocker. “But what about you?” he asked. “Will they take you, because you’ve got, you’ve got --”
“A broken rocker?” she finished for him. “Maybe. It might take a little longer, too. But that can be even better, sometimes. Because the person who finally picks you picks you because you have the broken rocker and takes special care of you or even fixes you up. That’s what I think will happen to me.”
“Ah, come on,” the clown said, “you make it sound like it’s all sunshine and fun times. Let me tell you --”
Suddenly, the clown stopped talking. All the toys stopped talking, falling into the silence caused by the magic that kept them from talking whenever people approached. And two people were indeed walking down the long aisle of toys, their voices slowly becoming more distinct as they drew near.
“So how long you been workin’ for St. Vincent’s, girl?”
“‘Bout two year, now,” the second woman puffed. She was fat and made the floor creak as she puffed along.
“Lawd, the time sure do fly, don’t it?” said the first. “Think it goin’ snow tonight?”
“Don’ know. Nineteen ninety five cold enough already without no snow. Don’ need no snow.”
“Hey, lookit this ‘un here.” The first lady picked up the Punchinello clown. “My, but don’t he look rascally! He done been aroun’, ain’t he? Wonder what that brown stuff is on his leg?”
“Don’ know.” The second one chuckled suddenly, a low throbbing rumble. “Look like tobacco."
“Girl, you crazy!” The first lady made a move as if to put the clown away, then gave the second lady a sidelong glance. “Say, you done all your Christmas shopping yet?”
“How ‘bout that niece of yours?”
“Lemme see that doll.” The second lady turned the clown over in her fat brown hand. The other toys waited, hopeful, and time seemed to slow down. But at last she gave it back: “Nah. She prob’ly wouldn’t play with it. She wants one a them, you know, Power Rangers.”
The first lady chuckled as she put the clown back. “I know what you mean, girl, I know what you mean. Say, you know what? It’s almost quittin’ time. Let’s go warm up in the office a bit. Mr. Billings got a ‘lectric heater now.”
“A ‘lectric heater? Where’d he get one a those?”
“Donated, I ‘speck, like everthin’ else.” The voices faded as the two ladies moved down the hall.
When the little bear found he could speak again, he whispered, “Is it really almost Christmas?”
“It sure is, dearie,” the witch said, “although that probably won’t help me much: I was built for Halloween.”
“Yeah, you probably have a long wait,” said the clown.
“I’m sorry you didn’t get picked,” the little bear said. “I was hoping you would.”
“Trying to get rid of me, huh?” the clown snickered. “Just kidding.” In a different, smaller voice, he continued, “I didn’t really want to get picked, anyway. I don’t want to just sit on someone’s shelf and doze off.”
“Christmas!” the little bear breathed. He loved Christmas. He remembered waking up to squeals of joy, a little girl holding him close, a warm, brightly-lit room. And it had been Christmas.
“Christmas,” said the rocking horse. “I remember waking up one Christmas ... laughter ... a little boy riding me, then a little girl ... so warm and bright ... I think every toy wishes to wake up on Christmas.”
“Do you suppose we’ll...”
“Be in someone’s home for Christmas?” the rocking horse said. “Oh, I hope so, little bear. I hope someone will be able to fix me up so I can rock again, make some little person happy...I miss being able to give what toys can give to people...And I know you’ll be taken home, little bear. I know it. I can just feel it...”
“Christmas,” the little bear breathed again. He was remembering now, remembering the crinkly blue eyes of the little girl, a glimpse of a dining room table filled with desserts and things to drink; a warm bed; being read stories before being tucked in for the night ... Christmas ... He dozed off, with happy, warm visions floating around him ...