They were best friends, after all.

by Lura Langenback

© 03/01/03

The raindrops splattered on the dirt, dotting the beautiful sapphire blue dress with mud. Emily sobbed, heartbroken. Her best friend ran away and left her here, lost and alone. But then, Cassie was a child so Emily could not actually blame her. Her Mama had called Cassie and she went away with her new best friend, Annie. The worst part, after Cassie leaving her, was that Emily could not get up out of the dirt before the rain turned everything into a mud circus. That had to be blamed on the boys that threw her into the dirt in the first place. Besides ripping her gorgeous dress, they nearly tore her arm off.

She lay there for what seemed to be hours. At least it was under a huge tree in the park, protecting her from more rain. The problem was that she could not tell anyone. After all, only Cassie was able to hear her speak. It works that way with best friends. Oh. Cassie has a new best friend. Emily whimpered. What am I going to do now? No one loves me anymore. Depression was starting to set in.

Emily had nothing but time to think about what had brought this about. This morning started pretty nicely. Cassie had taken Emily with her to breakfast, as usual. Afterward, they played together, like they always did. Of course, Emily could remember back when she and Cassie did not know each other. Maybe if Emily started from the beginning that would help. Then perhaps she could figure out what to do. The old man. It had been a long time since she'd thought of him.

The old man had a wonderful shop filled with toys, all kinds. But his bestest thing in all the world was the people he made, like Emily. She could recall when she was born. Oh, what a marvelous thing it was. When the old man gave her life, it was a beautiful day. He loved her into existence. That was the only way she could think of it. He had a picture of what she was to look like and there she was. Come to think of it, it's been really nice looking just like Cassie. The old man called it "custom-made", whatever that means. Emily had heard him talking to another man about her! That other man was Cassie's Daddy. He had bought Emily from the old man. That's how she was able to be with Cassie in the first place.

Right away, Cassie and Emily became life-long friends. They were inseparable. If you saw one, you saw the other. Then Cassie became very sad and cried a lot. Emily did not know what to do about that. She tried to help by playing the best she knew how but it did not work, not at first anyway. When all the people were in the house, Emily overheard someone say "cancer. He was so young. What are they going to do now?" but she did not understand that. All she knew was that Cassie was sad and that made her unhappy too. They were best friends, after all.

Finally, after a long, long time, Cassie wasn't crying anymore. She enjoyed playing again. They got to go to the park every day with her Mama even though she still looked so sad, just like Cassie had. But the park was the most fun because Cassie put her on the swings every time. She never forgot. And they ran around too!

Emily started feeling sad again because now she recalled that today Cassie found a brand new friend. That's why she was forgotten. Emily began to cry again. Surely, she would come and get her soon. But it was taking so long! The rain had stopped but now the birds were coming to peck at her. Oh, why can't I get someone to come and get me?

Shuffling along the path, came a stooped-over, whitehaired old man. He was always whistling a little tune. Just as he was about to pass the giant oak, he spotted a broken doll in the dirt.

"What is this? Someone has left you here? My goodness, you are such a mess. We are going to my shop and you will be looking new again." He grabbed Emily, carrying her like a baby. "Those birds have hurt you, haven't they, little one. We shall fix that, my Father and I."

Emily's heart was beating so fast! It was the old man! He had found her. She knew that she would be safe now.

The old man worked well into the night, fixing holes, mending an arm. But the best thing was that he put a brand new dress on her. It looked exactly like the other one. The sapphire blue gleamed in the beam of the overhead light. She looked just like a princess again.

"Well, little one, now you are good as new. What happened to you? Where is your child?" He could not figure out why a child would leave such a beautiful doll in the park like that. Emily stared at him with her unblinking eyes, big brown curls hiding part of her face. After a moment, he bowed his head, like he always did.

"Father, I do not know where the child is that owns this doll but I pray that You bring her here to find her treasure. Thank You, Lord, that You are in charge of all things. In Jesus' Name. Amen."

He put her down so that he could fix a comfortable place on the counter where she would sit and watch all the people walking by the shop in the morning. Someday, the girl would come and claim her friend. After cleaning up, he went upstairs to bed.

Emily felt so much better now that she wasn't dirty and wet anymore. All of her parts worked again but the bestest thing of all was that she could be in a safe place while she waited for Cassie to come. When the old man talked to his Father, things always happened. She never had seen his Father but He was there, that she knew. Every now and then, Emily had felt his Father's touch too. Love came from Him.

Many days past. Emily stood watch on the counter while people past by the big window each day. A lot of them became familiar to her because they came into the shop to talk to the old man. Some bowed their heads just like him and talked with his Father along with the old man. Some came in crying, like Cassie used to do, but the old man helped them to get happy again. That was always nice. Lots of people came in to buy new friends and other toys. To Emily, that was the happiest time of all because she knew that those people would take care of the new friends, like Cassie had taken care of her. Well, until that day. Emily began to be sad again, missing Cassie so much. Why hasn't she come for me yet?

Months past by. The golden, yellow and brown leaves were falling from the trees around the shop. In the back, the old man whistled another wonderful tune. Emily loved those so much. They made her feel safe and happy. She had not given up hope because of them. One day, Cassie would find her.

The sun was shining in Emily's eyes when the sound of the bell on the door tinkled. "I will be with you in a moment." hollered the old man from the back room. From what she could see, there was a lady and a girl coming in the door. The girl did not want to be here, that was for certain. She was crying.

"Mama, I don't WANT a new doll. If I can't have the one Daddy gave me, I don't want one at all!" she sobbed.

"Honey, can't we just look around? What will it hurt?" asked her mother.

"Please don't make me get another one. PLEASE!" The pain in the child's voice was enough to make anyone cry with her.

The old man came out of the backroom just in time to see the sobbing girl.

"What is this? Such a beautiful day to be so sad. What is the matter, child?"

It was at that moment that Emily saw who it was. CASSIE!! Oh please, look at me Cassie. But the little girl was too heartbroken to see her.

The old man stooped down to Cassie's eye level. "Child, surely the problem can be solved. What could be so wrong?" he enquired.

"My Mama says that I should get a new doll but I don't want another one. My Daddy gave me one a long time ago. Then he went away. I lost my doll in the park. It was awful. When we went back to get her, she was gone! I don't WANT a new doll! I don't, I don't, I don't. Mister, please don't make me take a new one." Once again, Cassie sobbed as if her heart would break in two.

The old man stared at her. Then he looked at Emily and back to Cassie. When recognition hit, he smiled the biggest smile he had in him.

"Child, I think we can help. You will not need to have a new doll."

Cassie's mother was about to object to that when he held up his hand. "Mrs, I know your husband though I did not ever know his name. He came into my shop to buy a very special doll for his daughter. I made that doll exactly as he wished, looking like his daughter. It was to be a gift for her, a rememberance for when he could not be with her anymore."

With tears streaming down his face, he lifted Emily from her spot on the counter and presented her to Cassie. A cry of delight split the quiet morning as Cassie and Emily were together once more. The only truly dry eyes were Emily's.

After a long conversation, Cassie's mother told the old man that they had to leave but that they would be back. They were friends, after all. Cassie, her mother, and Emily left the shop, a family reunited. The old man stared out the window for quite a while. Then, others from the back room beckoned for him to finish them so that they could find new friends too. As he turned toward the rear of the shop, he whispered, "Thank You, Father."