February 22, 2012 by Ray Yanek

***This is a Story Dam post!***

Story Dam is a networking site for bloggers and writers that I’ve been watching for some time, but not really participating in. I figured today was a good as any to start, so I got off my ass (well, not really I guess.  I am still sitting here.) and am going to give it a whirl.

As well as sharing blogs, Story Dam asks that memebers participate in various story writing activities.  The writing prompt for this week’s activity asked the writer to base his story around an antique store.

So I did.  Kinda.

I tried some different things with this story, at least things that are different for me.  I decided to give present tense a try (which I never do), to play with the viewpoint a bit, and to try a voice not like mine at all.

Not sure if it worked or not. I’ll guess I’ll have to let you decide!


Cars zip past on the road behind her.  Her dolly swings in her hand and she thinks her hair must look like cotton candy does as it swirls around the machine.  Cotton candy would taste good right now.  Maybe it would even make her feel better—as long as she didn’t eat too much.


She looks back at the window.  She doesn’t know what the words written on the glass are, but she knows her letters.  She knows the A and the N, and also the Q.  You don’t see many Q’s.  Not many at all.

But no matter what she thinks about, something is still afraid inside her.  Looking at her dolly would help. It always does, but she knows she needs to get used to not having  dolly there.

Because she’s going to sell dolly back.  She needs the money, because she is going to run away.

Besides, dolly is broken now anyway.

She peeks down.  A peek doesn’t count as a look.

Dolly’s brown hair is tangled. Matted.  Her face is hidden and she’s kind of glad.  Looking at the white face made out of the same stuff as the toilet (she doesn’t like to think about that, though) would make her sadder.  Even looking at the dress—no, just peeking, peeking at the dress—makes her sad too.  The dress, blue and flowing and lined with lacies, reminds her of the angel the other lady used to put on top of her Christmas tree.

Another car passes, washing her with wind.

The new lady doesn’t put an angel on her tree.  Only a stupid gold star marked with fingerprints.

She’s going to miss her dolly.  But it’s better this way.  She looks, doesn’t peek, back at the window.

“Look at how pretty this dolly is!” the other lady said to her, a long time ago, picking up dolly in both hands just beyond that glass.  “Whoever owned this doll before took very, very good care of it.  If I buy you this dolly, you have to promise you’ll always take good care of it too.”

She shook her head as hard as she could.

But she broke her promise.  She hasn’t taken very good care of dolly.  

She had asked the new lady if she would help comb dolly’s hair.  New Lady said she didn’t have time.  She asked if New Lady would put dolly’s dress in the washing machine.  She didn’t have time for that, either.

And then one of the boys, the one who always cried like a big baby at night, took her dolly.  He and another little boy who never wore a shirt and tried to make stupid farting noises with his hand and armpit, played “Keep Away” with it.

“Look at the little monkey, jumping up and down,” they chanted as dolly flew over her head.

Then the boy with no shirt dropped dolly.  A chip broke off her face and then dolly didn’t have a cheek anymore.

She tried to tell New Lady what happened, how much that had hurt her feelings.

But New Lady was too busy to listen.

No, she thinks, she hasn’t taken very good care of dolly.  The other owner did a much better job.

She looks down at dolly’s tangled hair.  She wipes her nose with the back of her hand. Then she turns and walks down the sidewalk, the cars moving by and buffeting her with wind.

She’s still going to run away, she decides, but she’s not going to sell dolly.

It’s probably not worth much anymore, anyway.


8 thoughts on “Porcelain

  1. Dammit, great story but anything that involves kids being hurt, mentally, emotionally, or physically tears me up inside.

    Adults, I can read just about anything happening to them and it does not effect me. Most of them probably deserve what they get.

    Anyway, sorry for the rant, great story, it touched me deeply.

    • Ray Yanek says:

      Sorry Beach! But I know what you mean. I feel the same way and this was hard to write. It kind of came together after reading some of my high school student’s essays.

      You want to talk about sad…

      And thanks again for the comments. Always look forward to you stopping by!

  2. SAM says:

    This is such a sad but beautifully written story. To answer your opening questions, YES it worked. Every last bit of it,from the first paragraph to the last. The only thing that bothered me was your reference to her face being made of the same stuff as the toilet. It’s just stuck in my head. I would enjoy this better if there was a different yet still unique reference of like maybe the teacups in her grandmother’s hutch or something. My heart hurts for this little girl. I just want to snatch her up, give her a hug, and fix dolly for her. You’ve used beautiful imagery to evoke some very intense emotions.

    • Ray Yanek says:

      Thank you, Sam! Your comments really mean a lot. You know, thinking about it now, I agree with your thoughts about the toilet line. I think I was trying to show the goofiness in a child’s thought, but I think now the remembering something a little more pleasant would have had a better impact.

      So thanks again for the comments and coming by in the first place Hope to see you again.

  3. A profound simplicity that evokes such devastating pain, sadness and the resilience of the young.

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