Email – Aunt Jenny’s Doll

Hello M,

Attached are photos of Aunt Jenny’s doll.

I inherited Jenny’s doll.

There’s a special clause in Jenny’s will regarding said doll.

The doll must go to me.

But carrying no explanation.

Jenny’s doll is at least 60 years old.

Our cousin JR mailed the doll to me.

In pink tissue paper in a cardboard box.

I don’t remember the doll.

I don’t remember her name.

A happy childhood anecdote linked to this doll?

JR does not know details.

Just that Jenny always wanted me to have the doll.

JR does not know the doll’s name.

Her temporary name is Margaret.

The name of my childhood friend.

Gretchen and Margaret mean the same thing.

We both wore bows in our hair.

All our aunts are gone now.

Would anyone in the family know the story?

Did I spend my toddler years with this doll?

She must have been as tall as me then.

But not cool for a teenager.

Poor doll, re-wrapped in pink tissue paper.

Wearing a boring flannelette nightie.

What shall I do with her now she’s mine?

Love Gretchen


Email to My Cousin © Gretchen Bernet-Ward
Friday 3rd April 2020

Remnants of Mary

Arm Chair 03
Mary’s Chair

The old lady across the road died alone but at a good age after a good life, well, that’s what the family said as they stripped her house of all its fixtures, fittings and 1960s furniture.  They singled me out from the group of neighbours on the front verandah and asked me if I would like anything from Mary’s junk, er, they cleared their throats, her mementos and stuff.  I raced home to my mother and being politely greedy I raced back with her message that we’d take anything they didn’t want, and also Mary was a lovely old gal.  She was too, she used to worked at the university and was clever, always keeping up with radio bulletins and had newspapers delivered from London and New York.

Mrs Anglesea and her toddler were standing at their front gate, wiping eyes and sniffing about poor Mr Roberto gone, gone forever.  No more bark-bark said the toddler.  Mary’s terrier Mr Roberto had been bundled into a pet carrier and taken to the local vet.  The carrier came back empty.  Even my mother blinked at that.  But to help the family with their clear-out, she gave them a load of flattened cardboard boxes from a high-end removalist company.  My mother didn’t know they cost money so it wasn’t until she saw them in the back of some bloke’s ute did she twig that they’d sold them on.

So, it was with the feeling of recompense that we were offered, and graciously received said my mother, a framed drawing of a grey English village, a chrome-legged brown laminated table and an old armchair.  I was pretty annoyed we hadn’t been given the choice of some of the good things like her TV or bookcase or favourite figurines but I had already spotted a woman trundling them out to her white van.  I knew she sold stuff on eBay and sent them a million miles away.  I wondered if Mary had followed her belongings or left her soul in the house like my mother said she would have . . .

AUTHOR NOTE This story has been temporarily withdrawn  . . .  it was rewritten, submitted, and subsequently awarded Third Place (and won a cash prize) in a short story writing competition with the option for publication.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Old Woman Sitting Reading