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Alice Gets Lucky at the Toy Mall

He comes to life in aisle six, nestled between a Play and Go Captain Calamari and a crib/floor mirror. Remember me? the toy-boy says to Alice, his eyes glistening wistful blue, the rest of him in lead alloy cast, perhaps the arms and legs made from sawdust and glue. I'm the toy you once tossed away.
Alice fidgets and feigns dumbness, recalls the feeling of having a dream surfacing to water while she is crouching at the edge of the pond, throwing worms at her reflections, dropping breadcrumbs in her father's cereal.
Remember the elm tree in the backyard, the toy-boy says, the one that wrapped its arms around the days like a lonely grandfather? Remember when you said you no longer could afford me?
Her lower lip quivers, the way she imagines herself sliding out from her womb-wolverine life and shivering in her slimy mottled skin. Her mother always reminded her, in some way or another, that Alice's pre-natal life was parasitic and ghostly. Around the time of her first period, Alice had the sensation of the teeth of tiny combs inside her turning, scraping, causing her to confess which friends' secrets she had given away.
But it is so good to see you again, Mother, says the toy-boy. I knew we'd meet again. Do you want to know how my life has been up until this moment? I've been stuck on a shelf, a substitute item in inventory. I'm not even high-maintenance. O Mother of Real Parts, why did you ever give me up? Because I ran on long-life battery and wireless need?
It wasn't a normal conception is what Alice wants to say but curbs the intention to short-speak, to cheapen old love, to mince meanings. They were extensions of each other.
I can't take you home, Alice says, the house is too cluttered. My wind-up husband and his remote-controlled mistress couldn't handle the strain of another spilled secret. There's just too much red frequency.
She tries to phrase everything in terms he can understand.
But, she thinks, she could disassemble him, keep the parts in the shelter of the attic, the diagrams in some part of her brain where it doesn't leak rain, grow mildew. Where no one catches tiny frogs, turns them into impossible schemes.
I could make you laugh with my flashing eyes, he says.
She carries the toy-boy under her arm, whisks him to the checkout, where she lays down a piece of plastic. The numbers on it cause Alice to wonder how many combinations of them would break the genetic code to happiness and warmth. Then nothing would have to be thrown out. Nothing had to float back.
Outside, at the edge of a curb, the toy-boy raises one hand, tells Alice that it is all right--she doesn't have to give him a normal life, if there is such a thing. He doesn't want to be a burden, capable of rust. At least he is off the shelf. Does he really have any rights with machine parts, anyway? He throws two arms around her Slim-Fast waist, kisses her belly, turns, and marches out into the street. Alice screams to come back. Come back, my little boy!
Voices screech. Brakes wheeze. Curses collide in mid-air. Car doors slam with gross metal hysteria.
But the toy-boy has made it to the opposite side of the street. He waves to Alice and fades into the prairies of other parking lots and highways too endless for anyone.
And within that distance, Alice, once again, is pregnant with joy.
The End
This story was first published on Monday, January 26th, 2015
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