Her mother let out a long sigh as she knelt beside her. It seemed like the only things the girl did these days other than cry was bawl or sob. “What happened, honey,” the woman asked as patiently as she could, despite the grating nature of the girl’s wails.
“Sally broke,” the girl pushed through slobbering sobs.
“I see that,” replied the mother, lifting the arm and looking at the shoulder where the thin flesh had been torn. When she had first given Sally to her daughter the surface had been clean and light brown in color, but now it had taken on dingy, uneven patches of discoloration. Even without lifting it to her nose, the woman could smell the unpleasant odor coming off of the arm.
“We were dancing,” the girl muttered, “and I tripped.” Her mother cringed as the girl wiped her nose on Sally’s dress with a snort. Normally, she would tell her to wipe her nose on a tissue instead, but now didn’t seem like the right time. She was just glad that the crying was coming to a stop.
“It’s okay, baby, we can get you a new one,” the woman said, placing the arm back on the floor.
“I don’t want a new one, I want my Sally.” It was clear to her mother when the little girl looked up that another bout of crying lurked just below the surface.
“We both knew that she wouldn’t last forever. Didn’t we talk about that?”
“Yeah, I guess,” the girl said, her gaze returning thoughtfully to what remained of Sally’s golden hair, “She was starting to smell a little funny anyway.”
“I agree,” said her mother, lifting her hand to run it through the little girl’s hair.
The child looked back up at her and asked, “Can the next one have brown hair, like me?”
“Yes, sweetie,” she said with a smile, mentally running through the bodies that lay in the morgue where she worked, checking that there was, indeed, a pretty young Jane Doe with brown hair that nobody would miss. “She can indeed.”
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