Shattered Dreams

The doctor reached behind his back and tugged the tiny plastic ring that protruded from his gray, pin-stripe jacket. The wire hissed as it recoiled.

 “Relax, miss. I’m Doctor Cropwell. I’m here to help you.”

The ring tapped against his shoulder blades as he turned toward the beautiful woman on his couch. He noted in his record that she was extremely stiff.

She didn’t move a muscle.

With a light sigh, he pulled his ring again and continued. “For the record, please state your name.” The ring slowly recoiled into his back. Snap. 


He scribbled. “And your last name?”


“Okay. Miss Doll, how can I help you?”

“Call me Barbie.”

“Barbie, you appear stiff.”

“It’s just the way I am. Every time someone asks me to lie down, they – you know. I’m not that kind of girl.”

The doctor wrote guilt complex in his notes. “I just want you to relax.”

“I am relaxed.” Her opal-blue eyes were grayed by the dim overhead lamp.

The doctor crossed his legs as his half-amp motor whirred softly. “Tell me about yourself.”

“Not much to tell.” Her lips never moved. “I’m a goddess, I have a nice boyfriend, a three inch waist, the best hair in the universe, and a body to die – “ A long, painful pause ensued. A tear rolled down a perfectly-painted cheek.

“What do you do?”


The doctor scribbled in his notebook. “That is an odd occupation.”

“Well, that’s what I do. Nothing. I just stand around and look beautiful.”

“Is that a problem?” Snap.

“What do you think?

“Could you please stop pulling that ring. Your reel whines when it pulls back into your shoulders.”

He pulled the ring. “If I do that, we will not be able to converse.”

Barbie said nothing.

“Do you want to tell me about it?”

For the next eleven and a half minutes Cropwell waited. Finally, the doll spoke.

“I thought it would be different. You know, life.” She paused, hoping the doctor would say something. He didn’t.

“You know how it is. Everything comes together and you end up in a cute pink box, smiling out of a plastic window. You dream of doing Pilates and eating tofu. Then you get packed and shipped to Wal-Mart. Up on the shelf, and if you’re lucky, you get shoved to the front. And then some cute little girl – “

Her perfect, rose-tinted lips seemed to shudder.

“I was a Christmas present.” Her voice was soft and seemed to float through the room like cigarette smoke. “I didn’t mind the wrapping paper. The first thing I saw was her chubby fingers ripping the red paper to shreds. She didn’t just tear the paper to get me out. I fell, box and all, to the carpet and she ripped the paper into a million pieces. And all the time her eyes - Her eyes were like – uh”

She sniffled. The doctor handed her a tissue. Unable to lift her hands, Barbie let it fall to her sleek lap. The blank expression that covered her face never varied.

“Her eyes were?”


“You mean she was blind.”

“No. Her eyes were like mine. There was no life in them. She tore up the wrapping. And then she looked at me in that same dead way.

“In doll school they teach us to always smile and let our girls love us. It sounded simple, but as much as I smiled, she just stared at me. Maybe she was tired I thought.”

“What was her name?”

“Emma, I think. She wasn’t all that cute, you know, for a child. Not the usual big brown eyes, cute nose, and curly hair. And she didn’t talk.

“Not a word.” Barbie’s voice was a vapor. Her lips did not move, but then they never did. “It was hard to tell just how old she was. Maybe four, maybe more. I maxed kid- types in training, but this one was different. Her face was different, kind of white and off-center round; and she never smiled. She coughed a lot; then her eyes would go fuzzy.”

Barbie stared into nothingness, her fantastic chest, barely rising and falling.

“I laid on the floor for most of Christmas morning before she picked me up. She held right in front of her face and screamed ‘Barbie!’ Nearly broke my ears. When Mommy and Daddy heard it they went ballistic. They broke into tears and hugged each other like they just won the Power Ball.”

“What did Emma do?”

“She smiled or something. She drooled a lot. I thought I was in the Twilight Zone. Now I know my job is to bring happiness to little girls, so I was kind of happy when she finally paid attention to me.

“She grabbed me around the waist and kind of carried  me like a lunch box. I thought she was going to rip my Dior gown. I noticed the cool wrist band she had. It had two tiny white lights and a really pretty aquamarine-blue band with a fake gold clasp. I wanted to ask her where she got it, but since my lips don’t move -

“You know how you have everything going for you, but one little thing really screws it up?”

“I believe I do,” replied the doctor slowly as he held onto his ring to reduce the cable noise.

“She took me upstairs to her room. I got my head banged three times on the railing. She didn’t even walk good. At least I thought it was her room. It was hard to tell. The walls were smeared with a million drippy pastel paints, like Snow White lost her mind. Someone had written “Emma’s love wall.”  On it in crayon. I’m not that much into art, but it was scary. She giggled when she saw it, like it was the Mona Lisa for crying out loud. It was sickening. And there were toys everywhere.”

“They were all broken.” Her voice wavered, yet her face maintained its bright-eyed, fatuous mask. “She had a stuffed Elmo; his legs were torn off. I saw an American Girl; she was really fat. Too many carbs. Her face was cracked. All the toys were messed up.”

“Did that bother you?”

“What do you think?”

“You look fine to me.”

“Don’t go there, doc. I know every pickup line in the book. First the light compliment, then a friendly drink. Let me tell you, my guy Ken can kick your butt.”

“I apologize. Please continue.”

“There were these paint jars on her little table. She mumbled something and pulled off a lid. I tried to yell, but they didn’t give me a pull ring.  She pulled the lid off the teal jar – Teal! I hate teal! And she painted me. I was humiliated.”

“Water color?”

“I found out later.”

“Then what?”

“She swung me around and I banged into the door. Pulled my left arm right out of its socket.”

“Did it hurt?”

“I’m a toy for crying out loud. No it didn’t hurt. But what about my career?”

“You look well. I assume you sought medical help.”

“Plastic surgery.”

“What happened next?”

Barbie took a deep breath. “She – she -. I can’t do this. Pick me up and get me out of here.”

“You must face your past if you are to recover. Hang in there. Relax. You are still stiff. Try again. Remember what she did.”

“How much am I paying you for this?”

“Not enough. Your Mattel plan pays half that of unionized toy companies. Your co-pay is thirty-five dollars. Now please continue.”

Silence filled the room. Finally, Barbie spoke.

“You sound angry.”

“Please continue, Miss Doll.”

“She cried, huge sobs, like her guppy died.”

“That bothered you?”

“Not at first.”

“And? I feel you have more to say.”

“My hair was messed up. There, I said it. I was a mess. All I wanted was movable hands so I could strangle this little monster.”

“That’s a normal reaction.”


More silence. The doctor nodded slowly.

“She had this night table next to her bed. When I slammed into the door I ricocheted onto the table. I hit a Cinderella lamp and bounced off Dopey and up against a white box with flashing lights on it.  I thought they looked a lot like the ones on the wrist band.

“So I was laying there, humiliated.

“Then she screamed my name again and then she gagged. I thought she had swallowed Elmo’s leg. Her face turned blue. Good, I thought. Her wrist band blinked and buzzed, and at the same time, the white box that was right next to my ear, blasted me.

“Her mommy came tearing up the steps with her cell phone in her ear. She didn’t even close the phone, just threw it to the floor. Those things are expensive; I know.

“She was bawling like a baby. Then she grabbed the kid and started kissing her; you know, like French kissing without the tongue. She pushed on her chest, crying the whole time.

“Finally, Daddy showed up and turned off the  noise maker. They stood there crying and  mumbling atrial-something, brachial-something, and lots of other stuff like autumnism. We didn’t learn that stuff at the factory.

Emma slept like a rock until two good looking guys came with a stretcher and carted the little girl off.”

She fall silent for a moment. “I laid on that table for a long time and she never came back. Mommy and Daddy cried a lot. I could hear them downstairs. Then one day they came into the room and started packing up the toys. I got thrown into a sink and got the paint washed off me. They laid me on a towel with Big Bird to dry. Then I got dumped with my arm into a box with some of the other toys. Next thing I know, I was in the Toy Sanctuary on Third Street.  They put me back together. They sent me here.”

“Barbie, I feel your pain. But I sense there is more.”



“I failed her. Is that what you want to hear?”

The doctor made a check mark in his book. “How?” he asked.

“When I was laying there next to Big Bird, naked, with my dress drying on the counter, Mommy tapped Daddy on the shoulder. She said something weird. She said, ‘the only word she ever spoke.’ Beats me why. Then she said I was the best thing that ever happened to Emma, that she really loved me. Then she kinda smiled.”

Barbie choked back a cough.

“She loved me. She really loved me in her own way. I was just too plastic to get it.”

“Is that why you tried to crawl into the oven?”

Barbie said nothing.


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Short Story
writing TheTaleMonger
If at first you don't succeed, you're about average.
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Barbie expected her life to be much different.