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Remember that doll you got for your birthday? You said, a Cabbage Patch Kid! – it was just want you always wanted. Said she looked just like the milkman. It was what Dad said when your best friend Sharon had to go home for her tea.
Remember what you said when you saw your doll’s birthday certificate? You said ‘What kind of stupid name is Adele?’ Said she was supposed to be called Lorraine or maybe Bernadette. You didn’t know that it was just a piece of paper, and you didn’t have to obey it like the law.
Remember how the scent of her filled up your whole bedroom? You said it reminded you of peaches and cream. Said she smelled just like a real baby. You didn’t know that real babies usually stink of sick. You’d sit her on your lap to watch an hour’s telly after dinner, her face pressed into the crook of your arm. Or you’d rub the shiny heart from her rah-rah dress against your tired skin.
Remember when her face got covered in small white patches? You said maybe it was chicken pox and wanted to smear her plastic limbs with soothing calamine. Said she’d be better in about a fortnight, after the scabs dropped off. Mum said it was where you’d left her out in the sun. And you asked, was it a ginger thing. Sharon and her sister Leanne weren’t allowed out without a faceful of sun cream, or the bits of white in between their freckles turned almost as pink as your luminous socks.
Remember how you cared for poor sick Adele right up to her end and beyond it? You said she liked her warm milk mixed with a half-spoon of honey. Said that you, and only you, were to let her sip it from your old toddler cup. You knew that if you prayed hard enough you could make a mountain topple over. You made a potion from Mum’s perfume and dandelion leaves: mixed it with water, and tore off cotton wool to brush on her blotchy skin. You said that you were anointing her. Had learnt that word at Sunday School. Said there was no way you would have touched Jesus’s stinky feet.
Remember the day when you knew it was all over? You said you’d had to accept she wasn’t going to get any better: that it was time to say your goodbyes and commit her body to the earth. Said you hoped the signature you’d found under her nappy wasn’t the same as getting a tattoo, as you’d heard a minister from the grown ups’ service say defacing your body was a sin.
Remember everything you did for her funeral? You said she could take your soft fleecy blanket. Said it was so you’d know she’d be cosy on her journey to the Kingdom of God. Mum said there was no way you were digging up the garden but when she saw Adele’s cardboard coffin, she let you take a handful of dirt.
Remember, after three days, when she got resurrected? You said you’d open the window wide to give her enough room to get to Heaven. Said you would throw her upwards, because even things that can already fly need a bit of a hand to take off. You dressed her in your fairy wings. Called her your little angel: kissed her. After her ascension you shut the curtains tightly. As she’d already risen from the dead you weren’t really sure whether to pray for her soul.
Remember how you cried when you saw that jumper Mum was making for baby Alfie? You said it was exactly the same colour as baby Adele’s wooly hair. Said you hoped that by now she’d met up with God. Or at least Great Nana. And when you went outside to check, you couldn’t see any sign of her on the grass. You thought you’d seen her disappear just behind that cloud.
Remember Mum’s face when it appeared at the window. You said you thought you’d left the lid off the biscuit tin. Said maybe she’d be worried that you’d gone and spoilt your tea. She came out into the garden: got there twice as quickly as usual. Her face was screwed up; ugly. Even though the boys at school said she was pretty for someone so old.
Remember how Mum said you were the most ungrateful little girl she had ever clapped eyes on. Said that if you hadn’t cracked its bleeding face then at least it could have gone to the charity shop rather than the bin bag. She said go to bed. Said forget about your hot milk this evening. Said didn’t you know there were kids in this world that respected their God-damned toys.