Bungalow Dog

December 24, 2008

by Ashley Burdick

     It was a terrible rushed morning at the dolls’ house when the sun did not peek into the windows for the clouds and Molly and Rita did not stir in their beds until it was almost too late. Molly was in danger of being tardy to a very important date downtown.


     Molly was a model, and a fairly famous one at that. She had gotten her big break because of a nightgown advertisement. Then, she had worn a nighttime ensemble that was fashioned from silky pink fabric and a plethora of pink ostrich feathers, and despite the showiness of the number, people took note of Molly’s placid expression and the lush false eyelashes that had been applied to her upper lids. The eyelashes became Molly’s trademark.

     “You’re not forgetting anything?” Rita called, but it was too late. Molly was already gone, the door shut behind her.

     The house that Molly and Rita shared was not what you would regularly call a dollhouse, but it was small enough to be called a bungalow. At first the realty man was skeptical that such a slight figure as Molly could possibly buy such a property, but Molly proved herself with the proceeds from her first successes.

Rita      From the onset, Molly was the working doll and Rita was the homemaker. Molly’s limbs were fully posable, and Rita was made of softer stuff. While Molly was fine–and even relished–having her face and figure scrutinized by strangers, Rita felt much too small for it all. Rita admired Molly’s ability to earn their daily bread, but she was content to make things comfortable inside the bungalow. Even their little dog George was on his own for his morning, afternoon, and evening walks.

     George had shown-up chez Molly and Rita one cold December night, just as the dolls were sharing a warm cola after a long day of posing for Molly and tidying-up for Rita. In spite of Rita’s miniature size, she was the more opinionated of the two and claimed the little dog for her own and named him. He seemed to come from nowhere, and putting up signs yielded no results. It was just as well, Molly thought. She was glad that Rita would have a companion while Molly was out for extended periods of time. The dog was like a holiday gift.

George     The dog’s manners were as remarkable as his sudden appearance. He never barked the way that some dogs do—except, say, to give an excited yip when Molly presented him with his favorite crackers. He never put a paw where it was not wanted—the tulip bed, for instance—or ate food from anyplace but his own bowl. Molly and Rita agreed that George had a wise face, and the little dog nodded knowingly when the dolls confessed their daily worries to him.

     George seemed to know that Rita could not often bring herself to set foot beyond the garden’s boundaries. She watched from the window as George skipped merrily down the suburban sidewalk, his puppy-like ears playing in the breeze. Rita left the back door unlatched so that the little dog could let himself out.

     That morning, there was an unexpected telephone call: “Rita?” The connection was bad. “Rita?” Molly said again, “I’ve forgotten my purse with all of my make-up—I am very sorry–I have no choice but to ask you to come downtown to bring it to me!”

     Under normal circumstances Rita would have been petrified at the request, but she did not allow herself to consider her own feelings. Rita knew that Molly’s career came first, which depended on Molly’s designed insouciance.

     As it happened, the train ride was considerably less uncomfortable than Rita imagined. People did of course stare at her out of curiosity to see such a small character standing and walking on its own. Rita tried to say as few words as possible so that she would not give these onlookers an added reason to be interested in her.

     Molly met Rita at the downtown train depot. Molly was so thankful to Rita, she treated her to lunch after the important job’s end. All was jolly as the dolls took the train back together—but then they got back to their bungalow and opened the front door. There standing on one of Rita’s handmade rugs was George who paused for a moment—as if for courtesy’s sake—before he rushed past them and down the garden path. Rita then knew that she had neglected to remember about George’s unlatched back door.

     Rita insisted that they make it up to George, and Molly proposed that since Rita was now used to out-of-bungalow adventures they take George to the Huntington Library with its lovely gardens.

     The visit had to be made in stealth, because the Huntington had very strict rules. It had just begun to let dolls come to its galleries and grounds. Dogs were strictly prohibited, but Molly and Rita felt that George was better-mannered than most people. They hid him from the Huntington guards in a knapsack.

     The dolls and George came to the Japanese Garden, where Rita was so charmed by the ready tea service inside the paper house, she started to tell Molly that they should let George have some tea. Molly protested, saying that they were not allowed to touch and that a guard was nearby. But, Rita was a true doll, especially when it came to tea…

     In the end, the guard was more lenient than he might have been, only giving the dolls a stern lecture. It really was George’s doing that they did not find themselves detained or fined.

     The little dog had yipped because he had been uncomfortable with the prospect of sitting at the table, alerting the guard. However, it also had distracted Rita from doing any damage to the set-up.

     “It’s lucky that George is such a good dog,” Rita said, “and he doesn’t like eating at the table.”

     “I suppose, “ Molly replied. “I’m just glad that I won’t be in the tabloids tomorrow.”



6 Responses to “Bungalow Dog”

  1. OLEG Says:

    I want to be part of the doll family – that in itself should tell you how terrific I think your story is.

    You win the “precious” award because the “precious” rating on your story has exceeded its meter. Anyone who doesn’t go “Awwwwwwwwwwwwwww…How cute!” during at least one point of the story is no true dogger in my book.

    …The Huntington! Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwww…How cute!

    Good idea about taking pictures too.

  2. Ashlinn Says:

    I second that emotion!

  3. Hillary Says:

    This is awesome, Ashley. The creepy warmth of the lighting in the photos…just the perfect mix of adorable and weird. Did you ever read the Lonely Doll books? Yours could be the next series.

  4. Misty Says:

    I second Hillary’s comment about it being a mix of the “adorable and weird.” The tone is great. Really like the way you open up already in this dolls’ world you’ve fashioned. Like the allusions to there being human involvement too, like the way George appeared out of nowhere. More please.

  5. Ashley Says:

    Misty! I am so glad that you got that part about George appearing out of nowhere–I wondered if anyone would!

    Once upon a time I had very lively doll imaginings, from which I drew for this story. Dolls are precious, but I’ll admit that there are some very disconcerting elements in this story. For instance, it’s sometimes hard to tell what the dolls are doing on their own and what’s directed by some human involvement…

    Note to self: check-out Hillary’s book recommendation.

  6. Austen Pell Says:

    I really enjoyed the story and thought it very cute and funny. However, from reading the comments above, I think that I missed the point. I thought that the story is about the real dolls we see on TV and comparing their lives to those of play dolls. However it looks like it is the other way around. Nevertheless it was great.
    My favourite part was “But, Rita was a true doll, especially when it came to tea…”

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