There weren’t loads of family members clambering to get into the delivery room when Debbie had Evie. In fact, there were none. Even her husband had taken off months ago. There were no pictures to document the event. Only the hazy epidural memories of a mother, alone.
As a single parent, Debbie would look at her new crying heap of flesh and daydream. She would daydream about long lost friends and imagine them surrounded by bubbly sophisticates at uppity social events or skipping town for last minute jaunts to exotic locales. She would daydream about old lovers and envision where she would be if she were still with them.
But just as Evie’s dark hair grew out, her personality grew as well, slowly turning into a real person. Their discourse could go on for hours. Questions that Debbie did not know the answer to were furiously investigated and the two girls would learn about the world together.
That was, until Evie’s father sent a dollhouse, a Christmas present from halfway across the country. Evie would spend hours studying the house in the cramped, dark, one bedroom apartment on the second floor of an old tenement building. Soft whispers of intricate conversations between dolls, ponies and princesses would fill the stale air, while Debbie worked her second job from home. Their companionship had hit a snag.
In the mornings, Evie would wake up the entire house and in the evenings she would put them to bed, pony and all. A “good morning” and a “goodnight” were only offered to plastic creatures.
As sirens blared and construction shook the apartment’s paper-thin walls, Evie fantasized about walking out of an enormous front door to display sprawling grounds, a light wind coming off the water while she brushed the pony’s long, pretty mane.
Debbie worries about the time that Evie spent in her own head, inside that dollhouse, even though her friends said that Evie’s behavior was normal for a five year old. Little girls should prance about in the playgrounds, singing and dancing, but not Evie.
So when the numbers added up, one weekend afternoon, Debbie and Evie spread out the real estate section and started circling. A bid was made and hands were shook as Evie stood three feet high with her thumb in her mouth. Boxes were packed as Debbie finally felt a glimmer of the freedom that she so desperately wanted.
Furniture was moved and junk discarded until the little city apartment was bare, except for one last dollhouse full of tenants. Together they walked down the stairs one last time while Evie carried her dollhouse with all her strength. From a certain angle it looked as though the dollhouse had legs and was walking itself. As they got to the curb, Evie put the toy down to catch her breath. The dollhouse now had mountain views of black garbage bags.
“Honey, do you need me to carry the house the rest of the way?” Debbie asked.
“Leave it, Mommy. I don’t need it anymore.” Evie started to walk away, looking from the dollhouse up to her mother’s face, “We have a real house now, Mommy.”
As Debbie quickly turned away as to not show the tears that rolled out from her eye, she smiled, for what felt like the first time in five years.