Beyond the Big Station at the End of the Line

 

A shadow descended on Patricia, and she felt her head being enclosed (by fingers?) and then (whoosh), she was lifted up into the air (by her head? That should hurt, shouldn't it?  It didn't.) Then she was being twiddled – felt her whole body spinning back and forth. The fingers smelled funny – like sweets.  She sniffed.   Parma Violets. She'd always hated those.  She heard a clatter as she fell – onto a hard surface.  That didn't hurt either.

She heard a voice.  ''No girls on my railway!!''   A sneering, nasty boy's voice.

Where was Jemima, her sister?   Her sister?   Was she?   She had a feeling Jemima wasn't her sister at all.   Her friend, then, yes, best friend.   Where was she?   Where was she, for that matter?   She tried to turn her head, and couldn't.   Couldn't move anything.   Ah.   She saw Jemima, lying close to her, only it didn't look much like Jemima at all.   She looked... shiny and plastic.   Her features were frozen in a look of outrage.   Well – that was not so unusual for Jemima.   Her mum was always telling her not to pull that face, because if the wind changed it would stay that way. Had the wind changed, then?   Must have, Patricia thought.

What look do I have on my face?   She tried to move her arms up to feel it;  tried really hard, but her arms wouldn't move even a tiny bit. It made her feel tired to try, so she stopped.   Anyway, she could feel that her face was frozen in a happy smile.   Yeah – that would be right.   Happy, smiling Patricia, that's me all right.   She didn't feel as if she ought to be smiling, and she didn't feel happy. She felt nothing, really.   Not even nervous.   That was a change. 

She felt herself being lifted up again, and the big Parma Violet smelling fingers were taking hold of her arm, and bending, bending, bending it backwards and forwards.   That didn't hurt, either, but it made her feel a tiny bit worried.  Just a tiny bit.  For a moment she thought the nasty boy was trying to help her move it up to feel her face.   Then she realised he was trying to break it off.   No, she thought, I need that.   But then she wondered if she did.   She heard another voice – sounded like a girl this time.

''John – don't!   Leave her alone!.''   She was dropped again,and felt herself bounce off the hard surface, and fly into the air.   She landed on thick blue soft stuff.   Carpet?   She could see her poor arm out of the corner of her eye now, because it was up at a strange angle – the elbow part was all white, and had little cracks in it.   She couldn't see the plastic Jemima any more.

Then she was lifted up again, no whoosh this time – more gently, and she found herself looking into huge, kind brown eyes, fringed with long, thick black lashes.

''Come on little girl – Sally'll look after you now.''

''You can have her, Sal.   And the other one.  I don't want 'em anyway, those girl ones.   They just came with the set.  I'll swap them for a couple of sheep from your farm - they'll look good.''

She lay in the hand of the girl – could see the lines and whorls on her fingertips.   What a lovely pattern, she thought.   Her fingers didn't smell of Parma Violets.   They smelled of some nice soap, maybe?   Then Jemima was deposited beside her, still looking outraged.   Are you outraged, Jemima? Are you even thinking?

The girl was carrying her and Jemima – oh, ever such a long way, it seemed.  Out of this room, along a corridor – she saw the wallpaper pattern change to red and white stripes.   Then through a door, into a pink and white room.   The girl's hand was going down, and she was set down on another carpet – a cream coloured one, this time.  Then she was lifted up again, and put – in a kitchen?

She was standing by a sink. She looked at the chrome taps – no, they were plastic too, like she was. There were plastic plates and cups on the shiny plastic steel draining board.

She stood, and looked. She wondered where Jemima was, again.

When she was a little girl, she used to lie in bed at night, and think and think. She used to wonder why the world seemed so strange sometimes. She used to wonder if she was the only person in it and that everyone else was part of her imagination, and that one day she would discover that she was right about that. It was almost as if life was a dream that only she was having, and she was waiting to wake up.

She always tried to please people, and be nice to everyone, and smile a lot, just in case she wasn't the only person, and it wasn't a dream - but she sometimes wondered if it would matter sometimes if she – just occasionally – was not so nice, not so accommodating, not so eager to please.  She always thought it would turn out all right.   Even when bad things had happened to her, she'd ended up, eventually, with a reason to smile.

She stood in the kitchen of the doll's house, and waited for this part of her dream to end.

The End

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