City Park

There was a minor rip on the bottom of her dress, and a pen mark on the side of her leg. The dress itself was rather faded, and her hair tangled and matted. Her eyes were tired, but her smile was just the same. And Olivia loved her like ever before. She had ten fingers, and no toes. She wore a red ribbon that matched her dress, and Olivia written underneath one of her feet.

Her name was Sandy because Olivia loved the sand at the beach. Sandy grew up with Olivia and never left her side. They went everywhere together. You never saw Olivia without Sandy.

One day while out in the play area behind the tables, Sandy showed Olivia a secret way outside the home and took her to a magical park. The park had many trees. And the trees had many birds. And they all had many stories.

Olivia would tell them about Sandy and the other toys at the home. And the tree would talk about the sun. And the birds, the sky. Any chance she got, Olivia would escape through the secret door and go to the park.

Olivia always wanted to ask the trees and the birds a lot of questions. And they would always answer her. But one day one of the trees wanted to ask Olivia something. She quieted down and the tree asked where her mom and dad were.

Olivia told them that she lived at the children’s home up the road, and that she didn’t know where her mom and dad were, and also that she didn’t like living at the home. She said that none of the other kids liked her and the mom at the home was mean to her. She called her mean and cruel mrs. boss mom, the home mom. But that’s why she always came to the park.

All the birds flew down from one of the branches to talk to her and cheer her up, and the tree leaned over and gave her a big hug. The tree promised her things would turn out o.k. and get better as well. And all the birds chirped and whistled in agreement. This made Olivia feel better and she headed back to the home before dark.

Olivia went to bed that night thinking about what the tree and the birds had told her. And she grew quiet and calm. The room and everything, including the other kids she shared the room with, evaporated and vanished away from her, and her eyes sealed easily, and she sunk into her bed, and into her dreams.

When she woke up the next morning she was still smiling and started to look forward to a good day. She thought she’d go to the park after lunch and tell the tree how things were going to start being different from now on. But when she rolled over, she saw Roger and Diane standing on the side of her bed looking at her.

Oh no. Roger and Diane were the worst. They were both horrible on their own. But together they were a nightmare in every way. Worst case scenario for Olivia. And they looked like they were up to no good. They both looked at Olivia with a scary smile on their face like they were some kind of jungle animals about to eat her. Then Diane looked at Roger and grinned even wider. Then Roger’s grin began to grow and his eyes began to sharpen on Olivia’s. He looked as though he hated everything about Olivia, but really enjoyed the hate. His eyes continued to pierce toward her, and at the same time he threw his hands out from behind his back and shoved them in Olivia’s direction. It was Sandy.

Sandy. Sandy, who knew Olivia even before the home. Sandy, who always stayed by her side. Sandy, who looked after her. Sandy, who showed her the secret passage to the park. Sandy…Sandy… Sandy! Sandy was all Olivia knew. All she had. Now she was in the hands of the worst possible person there could be.

Olivia screamed and jumped out of bed toward Roger, but he quickly turned his back and Diane stepped in front of her and knocked her back onto the bed and held her back. Olivia fought and pushed and broke free and reached for Sandy, but Diane turned and snarled__ and stuck her foot out and tripped her.

Olivia fell forward with her hands still reached out. Then Roger stepped toward Olivia and moved right in front of her and started waving Sandy in front of her face. Olivia tried to reach one more time from the ground. But Roger took one step back and ripped Sandy in half. Then he threw her on the ground next to Olivia, and Diane and him walked out laughing with one another.

As they were walking out, home mom came in. She saw Olivia lying there and asked, “What’s wrong Olivia? I heard screaming. What are you doing on the floor?” Olivia looked at her. She was already on the verge of crying. She picked up Sandy and stood up. Tears came pouring out of her and she showed home mom what happened to Sandy. Then home mom took Sandy and said she’d throw her out for her.

Olivia yelled and cried out, “No!” That was the only thing she could say. “She’s ripped in half sweetie. Don’t worry about it. There are plenty of dolls downstairs.” Olivia just kept yelling and crying. “No! No!” she screamed, “It’s fine. I’ll play with her like that. It’s fine. Please.” Home mom replied and said, “I don’t have time for this. Breakfast is waiting for you. Find another doll if you want to keep playing with dolls Olivia,” before she turned and started heading back out the door. “Mom! Please. I’ll fix her with glue and tape. Please let me have her back.” Home mom squinted her eyes and that same scary smile that possessed Roger ran across her face. Olivia felt her stomach turn over. “Roger did this, didn’t he?” She said nodding and agreeing with herself. “Serves you right Olivia. You had that doll for too long. And Roger’s just being Roger. That’s how it goes. If you want her, she’ll be in the trash. But if I ever catch her with you again, not only will I tear that ratty thing to shreds, but you’ll never play with any of the toys here, ever again. And I will make sure you are paired with Roger as much as possible for any group or partner activities.” Then she walked out taking Sandy with her. Olivia’s hands fell to her lap. Her face turned red. And her cries leapt out of her so hard it began to hurt. She stayed in bed the rest of the day until after lunch when she would usually go to the park.

When she finally sat up, she went blank. Her face turned numb and she lost her breath. It was like all her insides had disappeared. She couldn’t feel anything. She did nothing but cry all morning before finally passing out. When she opened her eyes and sat up, she went slowly. She knew something was wrong. Fear and worry creeped in and all over, and by the time she finished, the whole world was different. It was broken. It was empty. It was cold. And that was all could feel.

She didn’t know what to do, but before she realized that she got out of bed and went to the kitchen to look for Sandy. She was quiet and waited for it to be safe. But she looked in both trash cans that were in the kitchen and Sandy wasn’t there. She went out in the back and again waited for it to be safe. When no one was around, she actually went and climbed in the dumpster, and began sifting through everything that was in there. She never did anything or felt so gross in her life, but within a couple minutes she found Sandy’s legs and the bottom half of her dress and right next to them was the upper half.

She climbed out of the dumpster, became very angry and upset, and started heading for the park. She zipped through the park and when she saw the tree, she ran up to it and threw both pieces of the torn doll at it. She turned bright red. Tears streamed down her cheeks and she yelled as loud as she was able at the tree, “How could you!? You said things were going to be ok. You said things were going to get better. I believed you. I trusted you. I thought we were friends!?”

The tree leaned in, saddened by what happened to Sandy, and assured her that they were friends, but Olivia didn’t stop. “No. They hate me. There’s no one there for me. I’m all alone. I don’t want to be there. And now Sandy is gone. I have nothing. And you lied! You’re a liar. I shouldn’t have ever listened to you. No… No… You’re just a tree. You’re just a tree!”

She turned around and walked away. The birds began to follow her, but she didn’t pay any attention. They whistled and chirped and even flew and kept right above her, but she barely noticed. She went back to the home and straight to bed.

Most of the night she cried, tossed, and turned, and was unable to sleep. She got up a few times and looked out the window toward the direction of the park, but couldn’t see it. So she looked at the moon instead. She cried every time she started thinking about Sandy, and worried a lot about not having her around. Looking up, she thought of the park, and of the tree. She felt sort of confused and uncomfortable, different than she ever felt before. And just sad. She had no idea what was going on, but still she wished she hadn’t have said those things to the tree. Still looking up at the moon, she kind of hoped that the moon and the tree might be talking somehow.

Little did she know, late, late that night, when all around were sleeping, the tree and the moon did talk to each other. And not only that, but the tree had told all the trees of the park to get together that night so they could help Olivia, and they did. All the trees gathered, and the birds joined them, and soon the moon. And together they whispered to the stars. And a handful of the stars winked at one another. And right after that a large breeze ran amongst the trees, weaving though each of them, rustling their leaves and echoing through the night sky.

The stars, the moon, the trees, and the night went to sleep soon after that. The next morning the sun rose and shined right through Olivia’s window. It shined so bright it woke Olivia up. She wiped her eyes and felt comforted by the warmth of the room. She laid there for a second and watched a reflection glimmer and dance across the ceiling. She followed it for a second more before loud bangs began pounding on the door and crashing against the walls.

“Olivia! Olivia! Breakfast in five minutes. Don’t be late or you’re not going out today. I don’t have time to wake all you kids up like this!” It was home mom reaming from behind the door. Olivia rolled out of bed still really tired, threw clothes on, and marched down. She pleaded with home mom to let her take her breakfast up to her room, but she refused and told her not to sit next to Roger. She saw Roger sitting at one end of the table so she walked to the other end and sat down. Right when she sat down though, every kid at the table started snickering under their breath. Then Jacob, the kid she sat down next to asked her “Hey Olivia, where’s Sandy?” And the whole table erupted in laughter after that.

Olivia stood up mortified as she looked and glanced around the table at all the other kids. Her heart wanted to die. Then she snapped. She picked up Jacob’s plate next to her and dumped it on his lap. Jacob bounced up out of his seat, but home mom flung herself through the room and grabbed Olivia by the arm before anything more could happen and dragged her to the staircase. “What’s the matter with you…” she started in. Olivia kinda just looked at her though. She couldn’t hear anything she was saying. All she wanted to do was leave.

Home mom sent her up to her room after scolding her, but Olivia didn’t hear any of it. She just saw home mom’s mouth close and the noise stopped, and she bolted up the stairs and into her bed once again. She buried her face in her pillow and held her heart, and just cried.

While this was happening at the home, back at the park, something else entirely was going on. The air was crisp. It was quiet. The sun was still bright, and the wind carried with it just a little touch of magic over everything. A couple small moments passed before things started happening.

Jonathon and Mackenzie, a young couple was on their way to the home to adopt one of the kids and as they were approaching the border of the park and about to step onto the grass, out of the sky dropped Sandy’s legs right in front of them. The couple stopped and Jonathon bent down and picked them up. They both looked up and around and saw nothing, until a little more investigation uncovered Olivia’s name on the bottom of Sandy’s foot.

They held onto it and kept walking through the park. They walked, and were about half way through the park, and neither one of them had said a word to each other. They had never been to that park before, and both were struck by how calm and peaceful it was. And they had a feeling almost like the trees were hugging them as they glided on by. A little further and they saw the tree that was friends with Olivia, and on the ground at its base was the rest of the doll. The couple hurried over and saw that it matched the lower half, and picked it up. All the birds that were perched in the tree flew off and upwards toward the direction of the children’s home in that instance. The two watched the birds fly off like that and then looked at each other with wonder, a lot of joy, and astonishment.

They both looked back down at the doll and before either one of them could get upset, Mackenzie was pulling out a mini sewing kit from her purse and stitching Sandy back together. They sat down underneath the tree a few minutes while Mackenzie finished sewing the two halves back together. After she finished they practically jumped up and started running toward the children’s home. They reached the edge of the park and both looked back, and silently to themselves said “thank you,” before turning to each other and clasping hands and going to the home. And the tree was happy.