Tattered and Torn

Debbie Russell

© Copyright 2011 by  Debbie  Russell


Photo of an old toy shop.
There on the very top shelf sat a tattered and torn stuffed rabbit.  With one ear missing and a not so bushy tail he had long given up the idea of someday being held, played with and loved by someone, anyone.  He would just have to be content to be held by the owner of the toys.  She would pick him up and dust him off, give him a hug and put him back on the top shelf all alone. He noticed that when the old woman would hug him, he could feel a tear dropping on his tattered and torn material. Why was she so sad when she hugged me he wondered?
He sat there day after day and looking down on all the other toys and animals made from the finest material and some even had pearl buttons as eyes.  There was even one very special toy that was loved more than any of the others.  She had long golden hair made from the finest silk that could be shipped in from India.  She had the fairest porcelain face with ruby red cheeks and a painted smile.  Oh how the tattered and torn rabbit longed to be loved like that.  He sat and watched every day how the owner of the toys came in and took the doll from the shelf and showed her to the customers who came into the little shop.  They would ooh and aah and hold her and then gently put her back.  They would walk around the little shop and admire the toys from years gone by and tell stories of how things were back then.   
Day after day the old woman who owned the toys would tell the story of how the toys came to rest at her shop.  She told of how the wise old owl had once belonged to a prince and after years of loving the old owl, he became all grown up and no longer reached for the much loved toy.  The wise old owl made his way to various shops along the way on his journey to the old woman’s shop.  She had seen him while on a trip to France sitting all alone in a window of a tiny shop.  She felt drawn to him somehow and after holding him, she noticed he had some tears and some stuffing missing.  She just couldn’t leave him there all alone in the window front so she brought him back to find his home among the other toys who lined the shelves of the tiny shop.
The old woman told of how the fair porcelain face doll had once belonged to a Southern Belle from way down south in Georgia.  Her father had been a Merchant and bought the doll over in Spain and brought her back to give his daughter.  The little girl was so excited that she took the doll everywhere with her and even slept with her at night.  But soon enough, the little girl out grew the doll and no longer brushed her long golden hair or dressed her in the fine clothes that accompanied her the day she arrived.
She told of the stories of each of the toys there on the shelves one by one.  But as the tattered and torn rabbit anxiously waited for his story, it never came.  Why oh why he wondered.  Was I not ever loved he thought, was I not a child’s favorite toy.  Why was she not telling about me? These were the old rabbit’s daily task, to sat and look upon all the other toys and longing to hear how he came into existence.  Wanting to belong to someone, to be loved and wanted.
The old woman wasn’t coming into the shop as much.  Some days she didn’t come at all and the tiny shop was dark and lonely.  The old rabbit wondered why she was not coming in and why the toys were left uncared for. 
Days turned into weeks and weeks into months and finally one day the door opened, the sunlight came rushing in and landed on the faces of the toys.  The old woman slowly walked around the shop and one by one picked up and held the toys, she hugged them to her chest and squeezed as though she would break them.  The rabbit saw tears coming down the old woman’s face and he didn’t understand.  As she began to place each toy into wooden crates, the old tattered and torn rabbit knew.  They would no longer be displayed upon the shelves of that tiny old shop.  They were being packed away.  Would they be forgotten forever or were they being shipped to another shop to become yet another story for someone to tell.  Oh how this made the old tattered and torn rabbit sad.  As the little old woman picked up each toy, she told how much she loved it and how she would miss them all.  Since the rabbit was on the very top shelf, he had to watch each and every toy being packed away.  Even though they were being taken from the shelf, he noticed each one was being given lots of love as they were placed in the grate, the old woman being careful not to break or tear any of them.
Finally, the old woman reached up to get the tattered and torn rabbit.  As the old woman gently lifted the rabbit from the shelf, she began to cry.  The old woman carried him past the wooden crates.  The old rabbit did not understand why he was not being placed in the crate with his friends.  Was he too tattered and torn to be sent to a new shop, would they reject him.  His fears were soon put to rest.  The old woman held him close and began to tell him the story he had longed to hear.  
The old woman stroked the tattered and torn rabbit as she told of the day when she was just a very small child and her grandfather brought her the rabbit.  Oh how you shined when you first came to me she continued telling the rabbit.  I could not stop admiring you and holding you tight.  I toted you everywhere I went.  When I learned to ride a bike, you were there with me sitting on the handle bars.  When I had my 12th birthday party, you were there among the guests.  I remember when I went off to college and I packed you up in a crate and took you with me.  You soon found your place among my many books on the shelf.
When I married and had children of my own, they played with you and listen to the stories of how you came over on a big ship with their great grandfather. Years passed and the children grew up and their children played with you as you were handed down from generation to generation.  Now they are all busy and have gotten old as well and unable to take care of an old woman like me and her tattered and torn old rabbit. You were played with so much that your fabric started to fade and wear thin, your ear fell off and you lost your tail. But you still shined.
No matter how many customers came into this shop, I kept you high on the shelf so they would not bother you.  Now my friend, it seems as though I am unable to take care of myself so I must ship the toys off to another shop.  But you my old and dear friend, you are going with me to sit on my shelf at my new home.  And when I can no longer see you or hold you, then my friend and only then will you be placed in a crate to continue your journey.  The old tattered and torn rabbit finally knew why he was placed so high on the shelf and he no longer minded the missing ear or the not so bushy tail.  He had been loved and cherished by the owner of the toys.
As I passed the old shop window on a recent trip to England, I noticed a tattered and torn rabbit.  He looked as though he had been placed there and forgotten.  As I reached to pick him up, I felt a slight connection.  As the shop keeper placed him in a bag I whispered, we’re going home.

Debbie Russell is a previously unpublished writer.  She lives in Brandon, MS, where she works full time.


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