Barbie Doesn’t Believe in Unicorns
Amy played in a quiet corner of the sand box. The weather was glorious. The air was filled with the waves of shrieking and laughing voices. It was Easter break from school and all around her children chased each other through the park in exhilarating games. It was a wonder that her little corner was so serene amidst all the swirling chaos.
Amy methodically created a little beach scene for her Barbie doll. In her bikini, Barbie reclined in a beach chair, made just for her. A scrap of striped fabric was spread like a towel beneath Barbie’s resting figure. Amy used a twig bearing some withered leaves to give Barbie shade. A small pink, plastic pony with a blue mane stood near the twig.
The Barbie looked as though it had been through quite a lot. She was not new. But she had maintained her figure and despite hard use, appeared resilient. Her hair looked like anyone’s hair would look after a day in the sand and sun.
Amy used a small bucket to pile sand up into mini-dunes. Some other found objects were strategically placed about the scene to suggest Barbie had indulged in a little picnic. It was a little Barbie paradise.
A shadow fell over the scene and Amy looked up to see a silhouette of Tom standing over her. She shielded her eyes with one hand.
Tom said, “Whatcha doing?”
“That doll’s going to get skin cancer if you let her lie in the sun all day.”
“I’m not worried.”
Tom plopped down and splashed sand onto Amy’s little area. Amy arranged the twig which had fallen over and shook excess sand off of Barbie.
Tom watched this process with little interest. He was in Amy’s class. He enjoyed teasing her.
“Why do you spend so much time with that piece of plastic?”
“Her name is Barbie.”
“You named the piece of plastic, Barbie?”
“She’s my friend.”
“Why not have a pet rock?”
Amy looked at Tom with a quizzical expression.
Tom kept pushing. “I’m serious. It’s all the same dead stuff.”
Amy leaned in toward Tom and spoke as if divulging a great secret. “A rock sitting on a lawn chair? That would be silly.”
“Yeah, I guess. But I think that’s my point.”
“Don’t you play with toy soldiers?”
“I used to. Before I realized how stupid it is, moving little pieces of plastic around. Pretending.”
Amy shrugged and continued about her business of adjusting Barbie’s accouterments.
Tom snickered. Amy looked up and asked, “What?”
“Oh, nothing. It’s just silly.”
“I figured.” Amy tried to ignore him.
“Well, I mean, you’ve heard that old saying, ‘dust to dust’?”
“Well then, you’re pushing sand around, and Barbie is made of sand. And you, will be sand someday. So…”
“Don’t you get it? It’s all sand! Even the air is full of dust. Just sand and dust everywhere you look.”
Amy looked at Tom and said nothing. After a few moments, she took a handful of sand and put it up close to her ear. She nodded while letting it sift through her fingers. Then Amy murmured in agreement.
Tom frowned. “What are you doing?”
Amy shrugged. “The sand disagrees with you.”
“What are you talking about?”
“It says you are wrong. That I’m alive and it is dead.”
“Yeah, right. How could it talk to you, if it was dead?”
Amy went back to her project. Someone called to Tom and he waved them away. He wasn’t giving up.
Tom, grabbed the pink pony and moved it through the air. “Whoooooo! I can fly!”
Amy yelled at him, “Put it down, Tom. It can’t fly. It’s a pony.”
“Yeah, a plastic pony.” He dropped it back into the sand. “Do you believe in unicorns, Amy?”
“It’s a pony. Not a unicorn. Can’t you see it doesn’t have a horn?”
“Yeah, I know. It’s not a plastic unicorn. But do you believe in real ones?”
“I hate to tell you this Tom, but there’s one sitting on your shoulder.”
Tom reflexively brushed his shoulder off.
Amy laughed. “Oh, now you scared it away!”
“Get serious, Amy.”
“Okay.” She returned to playing with her Barbie.
Tom was getting impatient, “You didn’t answer my question, Amy.”
Amy looked at him with some distraction. “Are you still here?”
“I asked you if you believe unicorns are real.”
“I’ll answer you, if you answer me.”
“Why do you care so much about unicorns, if they don’t exist?”
Tom looked at her as if he saw a trap.
Amy continued, “I mean, it sounds like you believe in them. It’s all you talk about. Are you a secret unicorn missionary?”
“But you believe in them?”
Tom hesitated. He suddenly felt defensive.
Amy clapped her hands, “Focus, Tom. Well?”
Tom yelled at her, “No!”
Amy was startled by the vehemence of Tom’s reply. “Okay then. I’m glad that’s settled.” She turned back to Barbie’s beach scene.
A shadow fell over Tom and he turned to see who was standing over him.
It was Amy’s father. “Amy?”
“Oh, hi Daddy.”
“Everything alright? I heard yelling.”
Tom scrambled to his feet. “Hi, Mr. Schueller. I have to go.” Tom ran to join his friends.
Amy’s father knelt in the sand and looked at Amy, “What was that all about?”
Amy came over to her father and hugged him. He hugged her back and kissed the top of her head. “I don’t really know, Daddy. I think he’s sad.”
“Kids sometimes feel lonely.”
“Not me. I know you’re always with me.”
“You ready to go? Mom will be waiting for us.”
“Let me get Barbie.” Amy broke away from her father and gathered her doll, the pony, and the accessories into her backpack. Each thing had its place. They walked to the car together.
As they drove away, Amy saw Tom standing with a bunch of his friends. He watched them pass and made a little wave of his hand as they passed by. Amy waved back.