The edge of play

North Vancouver 2019

North Vancouver 2019

Writing Prompt No. 127

Her hands caressed the baby’s head before placing it in the cart.

One eyelid was broken and kept getting stuck up into the back of its head. Milly’s small fingers jabbed at the stiff lashes trying to push the lid closed over its eye. The other lid bobbed up and down unhindered. The doll’s body was made from soft fabric stuffed with tiny pellets that moved around under Milly’s hands. She was gentle but not that gentle. When her mother called her in for tea she tossed the doll into her toy cart and ran inside. Her mother had promised ice-cream if she ate her peas.

The next door neighbour’s dog sauntered out and over to check the abandoned baby. He gave it a good sniff all over then picked it up by its middle. The baby’s arms dangled out of the dog’s mouth, the expression on its face blank except for a slight smile that captured the corners of its mouth. The dog trotted back to his front garden where he shook the baby fast and hard, the plastic feet and hands clattering and knocking about his head. After a few violent minutes the dog dropped the baby and rested a paw on its body. He looked up, his body still, ears forward, listening. A faint voice called his name from the house. He gave the baby one last push with his wet nose and ran inside.

When Milly ventured outside into the sunlight she looked up and down the road for the baby. She spied its pink lifeless body lying in the uncut grass at the edge of the neighbour’s front lawn. She ran over, knelt down and picked it up, hugging it hard into her chest. The dog jumped up at the window when he heard her. Milly skipped back over the road and slung the doll back into the cart by its arm. It made a clang as its plastic limbs hit the metal. The dog from over the road ran up and down the sofa while it barked and barked and barked at Milly, through the open window.

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