Amy sat on the floor in her bedroom with her legs folded underneath her changing the outfit on her favorite paper doll.  She sighed loudly for her eight years removed the pink paper party dress and reached for the denim overall outfit she usually paired with the yellow hat that was meant for the rain slicker get-up.  Amy placed her doll behind the counter of the general store background the paper doll had come with and sat back looking rather than playing.  She could feel her mother’s eyes on her as she walked by on the way to the laundry room for the fourth time, and while Amy knew her mother couldn’t help herself she found it hard not to close the door and not play in private.

General store was the game she had liked to play the best it seemed to be much more exciting than the party game that Liza loved so much which had only one real ending presents and cake.  Amy had been less than fair generally overruling her friend’s party game rather than taking turns as her mother had suggested the first time she complained about the weird way Liza wanted to play at paper dolls.  However, even now she could not bring herself to agree that Danny, her paper doll, looked any better in the pink dress than she did in the overalls maybe it was the dog-eared pigtails that Danny wore were just more suited to pants than dresses.  Now Liza’s Bethany doll had been made with wide curling blonde hair that paper tiaras and headbands fit perfectly in maybe that was why Liz always wanted her doll in party dresses.

Amy stood and walked over to her reading chair, a small white rocking chair painted all over with lines from the Velveteen Rabbit and sat down looking out the window over to Liza’s house where she could barely make out the driveway for all the cars parked in it and along the street.  Her mother walked in quietly and put the paper doll stuff up on her dresser away from threatening foot fall and then walked over to Amy kneeling down to her eye level.

“Sweetheart, it’s time to go over to Liza’s…,” she paused unsure what to say next.

“Alright mom,” Amy answered her eyes never leaving the window.

Together the pair walked across the street winding their way through the parked cars and into the small split level with the green front door.  There were at least three times as many people as there had been cars outside and Amy felt out-of-place and held back tugging her mother’s arm unintentionally as her mother continued forward while she remained rooted to the entryway rug.

“How ’bout a piece of cake that might help huh dear?” Her mother asked already walking over to the table laden with finger sandwiches and sweets.

Amy sat in a folding chair next to the picture window that look out on Liza’s purple and pink swing-set, without meaning to her legs, which did not reach the floor, began to swing back-and-forth in sympathy of the swings lazily moving in the wind while she ate the bundt cake with chocolate frosting.  After she finished her treat she continued to sit trying to be good as her mother had asked of her on their short walk over, but boredom overtook her and before anyone noticed Amy was out of the folding chair and climbing the stairs to Liza’s room.

She opened the door and pushed it in cool dimness meet her; absently she reached for the light switch purple again and in the shape of a crown. Amy remembered wanting one so badly after seeing Liza had one.  Amy went farther into the room and pulled the paper doll case out from under Liza’s bed, Bethany was dressed in her nightgown.  She shifted through the paper clothes till she found what she had been looking for.

On the bed she spread out the party scene Liza loved so much and stood Bethany up next to the cake dressed in a dark purple dress with a bright pink headband on.  She stood back and looked at what she had done, “sorry Liza I should have let you play party last time,” she said to the doll.  “Just come back and we can play it next time I promise.  Just don’t be gone anymore.  I miss you…and Bethany, why did you have to go?”

At that moment Amy started to cry rubbing her eyes with the back of her hand her mom appeared at the top of the steps and quickly picked her up.  Liza’s mom was a step behind.  “I’m sorry Nancy but we better be going,” Amy’s mother placed her free hand on Nancy’s arm and then walked away.

Nancy watched the two walk out the door before she took the last few steps to her daughter’s room to see what had upset the little girl and saw Liza’s paper doll Bethany dressed just as Liza had been that morning.  She turned off the light and whispered “goodnight my sweet one,” before she backed out of the room and went back downstairs to face the rest of her company.

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