A Lesson in Stealing

September 14, 2010

posted by caroline picard

what follows in an excerpt from erica adam’s book: on the mutation of fortune (due out via green lantern press this spring!!)

a lesson in stealing

Listen: the doll I stole was thumb size, and had the face of a fox. We had been playing in a basement crowded with boxes, and I held the doll in my fist as I went upstairs to the bathroom. I shoved the doll in my cotton underwear and my mother called for us to go home. I stood under an oak tree, felt the rub of the small doll.

I took the doll, the little fox decked in a christening gown and bonnet, and gave it to my godmother. She lived across the street. She put the doll in a wooden cradle large enough to rock a real child. It lay on the cushion, its face a small mark in the sea of white.
But it was not enough. When the moon was a fat lamp in the sky, I went to my mother in a nightgown struck with tears. I sobbed my story. She made me telephone my godmother, and I spooled the cord around my finger, winding it with every unanswered ring. When I hung up, my finger had darkened into the blue of a dead infant.

In the morning, I knocked on the door of my godmother’s house. Again, there was no answer.
My mother said, You must give one of your dolls. Put it there, on her doorstep.
I had only one. It was the size of my palm, a little brown bear in a yellow dress. A surrogate mother to the child I had stolen. I gave that one.

Then I had none.