One afternoon, Debbie was sitting quietly in the Doll Room, thinking about life and what she wanted to do with it. She had a home, and lots of doll cousins, but still, something was missing. Deep down, Debbie wanted someone to care for, the way Ruby cared for the Waldorf dolls.
Wouldn’t it be fun if I had some younger dolls to look after? she thought. The mini dolls were mostly independent, and went about their own business. The cloth and Waldorf dolls didn’t go out much. And the bigger dolls were hardly around – not that they needed anyone to keep them in order. Being one of the few 10 inch dolls, Debbie felt a little left out – too tall to hang out with the minis, but too small to be considered a big doll.
As Debbie was about to leave the room, Wren burst in, her eyes wide as saucers.
“Debbie, Debbie!” Wren panted, stopping at the dresser to catch her breath. “Come quickly – boxes and boxes have appeared in the Craft Room while we were asleep!”
“Are you alright, Wren?” Debbie asked, more concerned about her friend than the subject matter of which she was talking.
“Don’t bother about me,” Wren huffed. “Come and see!”
They made their way down the side table and toward the Craft Room. As they hurried along, Debbie wondered what could possibly be in the boxes. Did Orchid order more yarn? I thought she had boxes full that she needs to use up. We dolls need some winter wear… perhaps she has some warmer wool for us?
Before she could ponder any further, Wren came to a halt at the Craft Room door. Moving closer to Debbie, she whispered, “Do you see that?”
Debbie certainly did see it. The craft table was piled high with boxes – so high that the dolls couldn’t see the light coming in through the window. And as she looked, Debbie saw something she had never imagined seeing, let alone in such quantities… boxes covered with the words Madame Alexander.
“It can’t be…” she murmured.
“What?” asked Wren, who hadn’t noticed the words printed on the boxes.
Debbie didn’t reply, but walked slowly toward the table. Carefully, she and Wren climbed up, and stood on the tabletop, wondering what to do next.
Weighing her words carefully, Debbie said, “I think these boxes are full of… dolls.”
Wren squealed. “Thank you, Orchid! And thank you, Mom… I know you had a hand in this!” Turning to Debbie, she asked, “Do you think we should knock on each of the boxes and see who’s inside?”
Debbie wasn’t sure about the idea. She knew that being in a box wasn’t much fun, especially if it had been years since coming out to see the world. Being woken up by someone knocking on one’s box wasn’t a very welcoming experience.
But before she could reply, Wren had already made her way over to the first box, and raised her hand to knock. Right as she was about to, Debbie called, “Wren, wait! I think I hear something. Listen.”
A faint humming was coming from the other end of the pile of boxes. Debbie and Wren exchanged glances, wondering, Shall we go and see? Wren, who was more adventurous, quickly made up her mind, and rounded the corner to peek on the other side.
A small doll, somewhere between Wren and Debbie’s height, stood in the middle of the box pile, a green watering can in one hand. She was humming a little tune, and looked a little lost.
“Um, excuse me,” Wren said, as Debbie rounded the bend. The doll turned her head and, at that moment, Debbie had a flashback. She recognized the doll instantly – the sleep eyes, the painted face, the delicate physique….
“You’re a Wendy, aren’t you?” Debbie asked, softly.
The doll’s eyes grew wide. “Indeed I am. And you must be one of the larger dolls. A, what’s it called…”
“Ah, that’s right. I thought you looked familiar. Back when I was at the factory…”
“Did you arrive last night?” Wren interjected, hoping the conversation wouldn’t go down a long rabbit trail. Debbie gave her a look that said, Don’t interrupt dolls when they’re talking – especially newcomers.
But the new doll didn’t seem to mind. “I arrived yesterday afternoon, actually. There was a lot of movement in the box, then a girl and her mom came to see me – or, rather, she came to see all of us…”
“All of you?” asked Wren, looking at the boxes, and suddenly realizing what the sheer quantity meant. “You mean you’re one of the dolls in these boxes… and each box has a doll?”
“Why, yes, I believe so,” the doll replied. “I wouldn’t imagine otherwise.” She too looked over the boxes. “I wonder how many came to this place. There must have been quite a lot of us that went.”
Debbie looked at the boxes as well, in disbelief. Her eyes swept over each box, silently counting how many there were.
As though reading her mind, the doll said, “It looks like there are about fifteen of us… oh, wait, that box is a doll stand or pedestal of some sort, but then that box has room for two dolls… yes, there must be fifteen.”
“Fifteen,” Debbie repeated, in disbelief.
“Fifteen!” squealed Wren. “That’s an entire village of dolls! Are you all coming to stay with us?”
The new doll thought about this. “I suppose so. This looks like a lovely place.”
Debbie, who wasn’t sure what to say, uttered an “Oh, my!” While the thought of so many new relatives was enthralling, she could easily imagine how quickly the Doll Room and Craft Room would fill up.
“What’s your name?” Wren asked the new doll.
“I’m Anais,” the doll replied, holding out her hand to shake. “Pleased to meet you.”
“And I’m Wren,” said Wren, shaking hands with Anais. “Very pleased to meet you too. Um, could you say your name again, so I know how to properly pronounce it?”
“Certainly. It’s uh-nye.”
“Are you part of a specific collection?” Debbie asked.
“Indeed I am. I’m part of the Renoir collection. And you…?” Anais couldn’t tell by the outfit Debbie was wearing.
“I’m a Debbie Reynolds doll. I was part of the Singin’ in the Rain Collection. This dress was made for me by Orchid, the girl who lives here.”
“Very pleased to meet you, Debbie,” said Anais. “I’m glad to know another Madame Alexander doll. It’ll be so much fun to get to know you and Wren.
“Now then,” said Anais, turning to look at the pile of boxes, “who shall we rescue first?”
To be continued….