There is a large doll in a small rocking chair. The doll arrived on Bridget's birthday. Bridget's parents let her keep it, though not before it passed a close inspection—the doll, like gifts from prior birthdays, having arrived by mail anonymously. It is an expensive doll. Its head and hands are porcelain. It has fast become the sentinel of Bridget's cozy room—a room of cartoon characters, coloring books, toys, and jigsaw puzzles, a room with giraffe and zebra patterned walls, pandas on the curtains, mice on the quilted counterpanes, a room with loving care tucked into every corner.

Bridget's face is lamp lit. She is reading her favorite story—about a lion with a thorn in its paw. Her hair is set like the doll's, tied with identical ribbons. Her cheeks, and those of the doll, are the same soft shade of pink. Both mouths pout with pleasing puckers. The doll's, with Bridget's eyes, seem fixed upon the page—as if she, too, considers books her dearest friends.

Dimples, in the animate girl, betray a smile of empathy, as she views an illustration—Andy being thanked by the Lion—imagining a giant tongue, wet and rough as sandpaper, doling out its gratitude, making shoulder sneak toward ear, ticklish and endearing all in one. Bridget turns the final page, sighs, claps closed the covers, slips the book beneath her pillow, switches off the light, and tucks herself in bed alongside her protector.



angel food...

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