Boxed Up

by Lucy Yip

It had been one of those days.  Broke a nail in the morning, ripped her hose first thing at work, had the boss up her ass most of the day . . . for Lucy it had been as close to hell on Earth as she could experience.

Lately everything had been like this.  For the last few months it seemed like there had been nothing but bad times.  Taxes had went up on the house, her car needed work, the guy she'd been dating had dumped her— nothing but shit.  It just pissed her off and left her depressed.

And there was only one thing to get rid of her depression.

She was wandering the mall, looking for bargains.


Shopping was her panacea; it was how she dealt with problems.  Except today it wasn't helping.  No matter what she looked at, what she bought, she still felt this funk that was weighing her down.  It was this whole life thing, this feeling that what was happening to her now would keep happening, and it just wouldn't get any better.  I'm 29, she thought.  If shit sucks this bad now, what's it going to be like when I'm 35?  Or 40?  She shook her head, not wanting to think about what all this could mean.

She was surprised to find herself standing in front of the toy store.  She was well past the age for playing with kid's things, but there was a sign in the window that caught her eyes:  ALL DOLLS HALF PRICE!  She smiled.  Dolls.  She used to have a very large collection of Barbie dolls when she was a kid, maybe thirty altogether.  She didn't have them anymore; when she went off to college her mother gave them all to Goodwill, something that pissed her off to this day.

Lucy remembered back to those days in her room.  She'd play for hours and hours with her dolls, talking to them, taking them on adventures— the sort of things that a young girl would do.  She'd even wished . . . well, it was dumb, but there had been times when she wishes she was like Barbie, that she could be her real friend and wear her clothes and talk to her and just hang out . . . just like she was a real person.  She knew it was only a fantasy, that something like that could never happen, but still, she'd dreamed about it a lot.

Particularly after she'd left home.

She always wondered what had happened to her dolls.  If they'd gotten a good home.  If they were still played with.  If the girl who'd gotten them had taken good care of them.  Lucy was hit with a wave of nostalgia as she though about her childhood and her plastic friends.

"What the hell, it wouldn't hurt to look," she said to no one in particular.  She headed into the store.

It had been a long time since she'd taken a look at dolls.  There wasn't just Barbie anymore; there were many more to choose from.  The thing Lucy noticed immediately were the celebrity dolls, the ones modeled after real people.  These were usually pretty high quality so they could get the look right.  There was the Brittany doll, and the Christina doll, the Jennifer doll, the Beyoncé doll . . . there were a ton of them.

She was pulled to one that was sitting all by itself: A Jessica Simpson doll.  Lucy didn't even know "Miss Chicken of the Sea" had her own doll, but here it was in all its blondness.  Lucy was amazed at how well they'd captured her likeness; she could almost swear it was her in the box and not a doll.

"They do a good job on them these days, don't they?"

Lucy turned towards the voice.  A man in his late thirties, maybe early forties, was standing only a few feet from her.  She'd been so intent on looking at these dolls she hadn't hear him approach.

"Yes, yes they are," she replied.  "I haven't really checked them out for a while . . . very life-like."

"You a collector?"

"Not really," she said, shaking her head.  "Just . . . well, I used to really be into dolls when I was younger.  Just thought I'd look them over today."  Lucy shrugged.  "In one of those moods, you know?"

The man chuckled.  "I'm somewhat acquatinted with that feeling, yes."  He looked around.  "Sort of a little depressed and looking for something to cheer you up, right?"

Lucy sighed and nodded.  "Yep."

"So, you like Jessica?"  The man touched the box.  "She's rather new, you know.  Not many on the market."

Lucy smiles.  "Well, she's a bit of a bimbo, but, hey, you have to admit she has a hell of a life."

"She does at that."

Looking at the doll, Lucy said, "Lately everything in my life sucks.  I wouldn't mind being her for a while."  She looked at the man.  "Just for a change of pace, you know?"

"Being Jessica, or . . . being her doll?"  The man sighed a little, something Lucy didn't pick up.

Lucy chuckled.  Being a Jessica doll?  Sure, why not?  It brought her back to when she used to pretend she was chatting with Barbie and riding around in her jeep and all that crap.  "Well . . ." She tried not to look embarrassed.  "I mean, being a doll, that's a little strange—"

"You could be a friend of Jessica's if you were one — right?"

"Sure."  Lucy looked back to the doll.  "Yeah, I could be Lucy, Jessica's Asian actress friend.  We could have a lot of fun together."

Lucy hadn't noticed that the guy was standing close enough that his hand was lightly touching her shoulder.  "Is that what you wish, Lucy?"

The fact that she was having this conversation didn't even bother her.  Lucy just accepted that she was telling this guy that she wouldn't mind being a doll, an accessory to the Jessica doll.  It was something she'd never mentioned to anyone before, never, not even her best friend.  But what the guy was saying — it made sense.  I wouldn't have any more problems, she thought.  I'd be pretty, young, without trouble all the time.  Forever and ever.  Just like if I had been Barbie's friend.

She didn't even think about what she said next.  "Yeah, I would like that.  I wish I could be her friend."

There was a moment where it felt like she was falling, but Lucy didn't scream, didn't say a word.  She went along with it, accepted it.  It was strange, but it was as if she'd blacked out and she couldn't feel anything, not the floor, not her clothes, not even her body.  She was rushing down a tunnel — not a black one with light at the end, but something that felt plastic and looked a little pink.  What the hell is going on?  Am I passing out?  Did this guy do something to me?  She tried to look around, but her senses were screwed up.  Nothing was making sense.

And just as quickly, her senses returned.

She seemed to be standing — or laying back, she couldn't really tell.  She knew she was dressed differently; she felt the short dress and the sandals, not the pants and sweater and pumps that she had been wearing.  Her hair felt strange; longer, fuller, not short and cut so that it framed her face.  Lucy wanted to look at it but she couldn't turn her head — or raise an arm to touch it.  It was as if she were paralyzed.

She could look straight ahead, but her vision was slightly obscured.  It seems almost as if she were looking through a distorted windshield.  Everything had a murky, semi-fluid appearance.  What the fuck?  Have I been drugged? Lucy thought.  Again she tried too look around, to move, but she couldn't.  It was then she realized that she was laying back in something--a mold of sorts.  Something plastic had been contoured around her body.  Now Lucy was really starting to wonder what had happened.  If she didn't know any better she'd swear she'd been put in a . . ..

But that couldn't be right! she thought.  I mean, how could I be in a box?  The only boxes around me are

And it hit her.

Just then the man stepped into view, but this time he was huge.  Gigantic.  His face was even with Lucy, but it was enormous compared to her.  Either he got really big, or . . . Lucy tried to gulp, but couldn't.  Or I got really small.

Like a . . ..

The man picked up her box and examined her.  "You look very nice, Lucy.  Very worthy of being Jessica's closest friend."  He turned her so that she was now looking at the Jessica Simpson doll.  "She?  If she could talk she'd tell you that you're her best friend.

Seeing how the Jessica doll was now as big as she was, Lucy could only surmise the following—

She was now a doll.  A real doll made of plastic.  A doll just like her best friend Jessica, made for posing and dressing and being played with.

Somehow this guy had . . . changed her.  Given her the wish she'd made.  The wish to be like Jessica, to be her friend.  Only instead of being the real Jessica's friend, she was a friend to her doll.

Lucy wanted to panic as the man took her and the Jessica box to the counter.  She wanted to scream, she wanted to yell, she wanted to pound on her plastic prison and go I'm not a doll!  I'm a real woman!  But she didn't.  Not couldn't, but didn't.  She should have been pissed off, but instead she felt calm.  She couldn't say why, but she did.

"Don't worry, Lucy," the man said softly.  "I'm a collector, and I take very good care of all my dolls.  I'm going to put you and Jessica on display in a very prominent part of my den, and you'll spend all your time looking very pretty, and you'll be next to Jessica all the time, and you won't ever have to worry about how much your life sucks anymore, because you're Jessica's best friend and the two of your can chat and imagine singing together and going out doing things."  The man hugged the box.  "I'll take very good care of both of you."

The strange thing was Lucy felt he was telling the truth.  Already she should hear Jessica saying, Don't worry, Lucy.  You're my bestest friend, and we'll have so much fun together, being displayed and lookin' pretty . . .  you just wait!  You're gonna love it!  And a part of her knew as she was being rung up and put in a bag next to Jessica that she would never have to worry about the future ever again, because from now on her future would consist of standing on a shelf somewhere, a stand holding her in position, and Jessica and her chatting away forever and ever.

Given all that she'd been through lately— was this such a bad life?


The End

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