I never understood how children could be so rough. When I was younger I knew the delicacy and permanence of my toys. But in parks or playgrounds or daycare, kids around me would smash and stomp and even chew on whatever poor unsuspecting train or teddy bear that was around. It horrified me, and I will neither confirm nor deny the multitude of fights I had started with classmates. And won. Easily.
I’m much older now, with my temper mostly at bay, in my own little toy shop. Well, it’s my mother’s shop, but I am tasked with the most important job: fixing them. I pound away in the back room of the store, mending together broken toys found in dumps and cheap thrift stores. My workshop consisted of miles of technicolor thread on posts, two or three sewing machines, and a dozen or so bags of tan and white stuffing. The most abundant thing, however, was a full wall packed with boxes of toy parts. Mismatched wheels, robot arms, legs of felt dolls, cabooses of trains, and button eyes popped off.
My mother was out one day, leaving me in my spot as usual, sewing into a stuffed bunny’s tail, keeping the door open so I don’t get high off fumes from my collection of Krazy Glue. I didn’t hear the front door chime. But as someone knocked on the workshop door I jumped out of my seat.
“Sorry! Sorry! I thought you-you heard me uh…sorry.” I turned around to face my favorite dumpster diver, Toby. He found most of the toys I needed to fix, along with any parts or pieces. I chuckled.
“It’s fine. My perception of reality is so clouded I’m surprised I haven’t hurt myself already.” I stood and leaned on my desk.
“What’s up?” I asked. He gave me the goofiest, dumb grin his face could stretch.
“Who is your favorite person in the whole wide world?” I furrowed my brows.
“My mom,” I replied without hesitation.
“You sure?” He stepped closer.
“Yes, I am sure.”
“No, she’s not.” He stepped even closer. Before I could snap at how annoying he was he beat me to it.
“Close your eyes.” I crossed my arms.
“Why?” I pressed myself more into the desk, trying to get away from him. He smelled like garbage.
“Just close your eyes.”
“I don’t trust you.”
“Will you just close them?” He kept his smile which made me hesitant. But I sighed and shut them, arms still crossed. I heard him pull something small from his pocket.
“Ok…open,” He said in a quiet tone.
“I swear to all that is holy if this is like a dead bug…” I opened my eyes and to my surprise, relief, and overwhelming joy what sat in his hand was a small piece of jagged porcelain, a bright blue eye painted with orange faded cheek. I gasped.
“You found it!?” I screeched making him flinch. A part of a doll I had long giving up on trying to complete. I pulled him into a deep hug, not caring about the scuffs of dirt and grime on his shirt and sneakers.
“Thank you thank you thank you!” I practically pushed him away, snatching the porcelain face. I plopped down at my seat, grabbing the busted doll from a drawer. After a few minutes, the glue set, and the doll was once again whole after so many years. I dabbed paint onto a brush, blending the crack.
“How did you even manage to find it?” I asked as I brushed small strokes onto her.
“It took a lot of digging at centuries old landfills, but it was nothing, really.” He put on his grin again.
“So, am I your favorite person now?” He asked. I side eyed him.
“Not a chance.”