"Tell me a story, even if it's a lie." Simple words standing alone on an otherwise empty page. I like this beginning.
Pg. 21 -- I just finished the part about the father giving away Lala's Bobby doll while she watches, horrified. How is it that parents never understand the attachment that children form to that one special toy? The one that's battered and broken and torn, but is loved intensely not despite of its flaws, but because of them. Mine was "Ellie," a gray corduroy elephant my mother made for my 5th birthday. Ellie had black flannel patches for eyes and on his ears, and a wind up music box in his back. Ellie was my constant companion. I slept with him hugged to my chest at night for years. Ellie was the one toy I carried all the way through childhood, through my teen years, into college -- despite my mother's best efforts to rip him from me.
When I was 13 or so, she wanted to give Ellie to the little boy who lived next door. I refused, so she made him his own Ellie using the same pattern, but a green floral print fabric -- far inferior to the original. But behind my back, she cannibalized Ellie's music box, ripped it from his back, leaving behind a gaping wound I lovingly sewed. There were other rips and tears over the years. I sewed them all.
My mother tried to throw Ellie away a few times, but I always rescued him. She eventually got the hint and stopped trying. My mother never had any respect for the things I held dear. My emotions were disposable things to her.
Ellie traveled with me to Boston when I left home for the first time at age 17 to go off to college. He came back to Ohio with me a year later. It had been years since I'd hugged him to my chest in my sleep, but he remained a fixture in my life -- the one true constant. But as so often happens as children become adults, I ended up losing him through my own neglect. Somehow he ended up in a box as I was moving out of my very first apartment without roommates. I'm sure I intended to bring him with me, but in the frenzy and stress of moving, I threw the box out, thinking it contained only junk. It was later I realized I had lost him. I was tinged with sadness, but eventually Ellie faded into the hazy memories of childhood. I hadn't thought of him for years until reading that passage in Caramelo
tonight. And now I'm filled with regret that my loyal companion met such an ignoble end. I can only hope some child came along and found Ellie in that box I so carelessly threw out, rescued him, and showed him as much love as I once did. I hope he lives in some child's home still.