Posted by: Helen Gobble | November 26, 2010

The Broken Doll


Originally uploaded by Helen Gobble

“The Broken Doll” is an original story included in my book Bits and Pieces and More. There are a few Christmas stories and other Christmas items in the book, but this is my personal favorite.:

The Broken Doll

It was December 23rd, and Tinys Toy House was proof positive that Christmas was near. A petite gray-haired lady pushed through to a doll display, selected one with a cloud of dark hair and large brown eyes, laid it aside to reach for another, and tipped it off to the floor. She picked it up carefully. A leg was broken off at the knee and lay down in the box.

Moments later, driving home, she replayed the entire unfortunate incident. She did need two more gifts — but not today she was too upset. She was a regular customer of Tinys, and the clerk was reassuring, telling her to leave the broken doll on the back of a shelf, which she had, and choose another if she wished, which she did not., and she was to call Madge in the morning. “She will make it right,” the clerk had said.

At home she began to unwind, “There’s still tomorrow…”

Madge, returning from a much-needed break, surveyed her department, found the “out of place” doll, automatically replaced it, not noticing it was broken, and counted “two–four–seven in the nearest aisle, two hours till closing…”

Angela, eight, tossed in bed. Her new prosthesis lay on a chair beside her. Her leg, the part she still had, ached. It seemed her toes hurt, although they were gone. Shopping was so hard for her, she was tired, “One more day…”

Angela’s mother sat listlessly, TV remote in hand, with no idea what was on. She was staring beyond the screen.

Holidays were so hard since the accident which snatched her handsome young husband and took half of Angela’s leg four years ago. Tears ran down her face onto the burgundy lounger he had wrapped for her on December 23rd, four long years ago.

Angela must have a gift, but days of shopping yielded zero. The tree was up colorful decorations inside and out, but her heart was empty and cold. Slumping lower into the big chair he always sat in, she whispered, “Tomorrow, there’s tomorrow…”

Tomorrow came, crisp and cold, but sunny.

The petite grandmother, an early riser, decided she’d rather talk to Madge personally; besides, she needed to shop. She was first at Tiny’s door.

“Angie, are you ready?”

“Yes, Mommie.”

Fortified with waffles, hot chocolate, and warm wraps, they went to Tiny’s. “There’s only one store we haven’t been to, Angie, and you know what today is.”

Strangely, Angela felt an unusual sense of expectation today, anxious to look around… “I know, Mommie,” she said dreamily.

They saw the little lady at the door, hugging herself against the chill. She greeted them with a cheery smile and they chatted for a moment or two. When the doors opened, she called, “Glad to meet you both. I have to talk to someone about a broken doll.”

As Angela browsed, her mother stayed close, glancing ever so often, intrigued, she was really looking.

Suddenly, she heard an excited cry. “I found her, I found her, Mommie!” Angela was pointing. “Look! Isn’t she beautiful?”

“But Angie, Honey, look, she’s broken.” Angela was looking, at her mother. She was holding the doll close to her chest. “I want her, Mommie. Please?”

“Honey, you haven’t even wanted to see a doll since — since –“ Tears burned her eyes, her throat tightened. But Angela was oblivious to anything or anyone except the doll. She started walking slowly toward the check-out lanes, and her mother followed.

The petite grandmother, Madge, and a cashier were having an animated conversation. As they came close, they heard Madge say, “I looked all over, twice. There’s no broken doll anywhere…” they all turned to see Angela with the doll. Madge continued softly,”Honey, let me see your doll, it might be …”

“No,” the child interrupted. “She’s mine. I want her, tell them, Mommie.”

And Mommie, not understanding herself, attempted to explain to the others. “I’ll pay full price,” she added.

“No,” the grandmother responded, “I’ll pay, I broke it.”

“I’m glad you did,” the mother replied.


“Yes, Dear?”

“You do love me, don’t you?”

“You precious, precious child.” She stooped to reach for her. “You know I love you.”

“Well, my leg got broken off — she’s like me, see?” She shook her long dark hair free of her hood, raised enormous dark brown eyes to look at all of them, and continued. “She looks like me, she is like me. See her broken leg? She needs somebody to love her, too.”

The four women looked at each other, apparently unaware of the curious crowd gathering. It seemed for a brief moment they were frozen in time. They all knew they had been a part of something — something awesome and unique and wonderful, but neither could capture a word to define it. ~~.~~



  1. I love this story!

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