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Fiction #247
(published October 6, 2005)
Playing Barbies
by Gwendolyn Joyce Mintz
At the knock on my bedroom door, I turned from my closet and glanced over my shoulder. My friend Bethany opened the door and stuck her head in.

"Hey," I said. I hadn't seen her outside of school for weeks.

"Hey," she replied, entering and flopping down on my bed.

"How's it going?" I asked, though I knew something was up from the frown on her face. Though there was only Bethany, her older sister and her mom, things could get crazy over at her house.

Bethany shrugged. She eyed the clothes strewn across my bed and the floor. "What's up?"

"Looking for stuff for the school yard sale." I returned to the shirts I was sorting through.

"You're getting rid of these?"

I looked over to see her peering into a box on the foot of my bed.

"No way," I said, joining her on the mattress. "We swore we'd never get rid of our Barbies."

Bethany's frown deepened. I knew she was remembering when her mother got rid of her dolls one summer when we were at Girl Scout camp.

"I was sooooooooooo jealous of you when you got her," Bethany told me as I pulled out the reissued Malibu Barbietm.

I twirled the doll around on her pointed toes. Bethany rummaged through the box until she found Kentm.

"Hey Barbie," she said in a husky tone, walking the doll toward me.

"Hi Ken," I said in my best Barbietm voice.

Bethany and I looked at each other and giggled like the little girls we once were.

"I saw Midgetm today. She's so happy being married," the tanned doll shared. "When are we getting married? Or at least engaged?"

"Oh, not again," her boyfriend grinned.

My doll was quiet.

It'd been so long since my frined and I played with dolls; I didn't know what to say.

"Well," my doll finally said in a harsh tone through her perpetual smile, "we don't have to talk again until you're ready!" The doll strode away, blonde hair flying.

Meeting Bethany's look, I rolled my eyes, laughed and put the doll aside.

Bethany reached into the box again, pulling out my teenage Skippertm. A doll in each hand, she spoke for each.

"Hi Skipper."

"Hi Ken. Are you here for Barbie?"

"Already saw her."

The two dolls stood there, facing each other.

"Huh," the male one grunted. "You've got tits now. Not as big as Barbie's but you probably won't grow up to be a bitch like her."

I was thinking I should say something, but I was paralyzed watching as the guy doll strutted toward his girlfriend's younger sister.

The teenage doll moved away.

"Hey, what's with you? I was just letting you know I thought you looked good. What the fuck—you can't say 'thank you'?" he said, getting in the young girl's face "Maybe a kiss to show you appreciate the compliment."

The teenage doll moved back again but her sister's boyfriend was right there, against her.

"Stop it!" she screamed. "Get away from me! Stop it!"

He wrestled her down on the bed and began moving against her.

"Stop it! Please," the teenage girl pleaded.

I looked up at Bethany. Her face was still, her attention full on the dolls in her hands tussling on the bed.

I reached over, finally, and caught Bethany's wrist in my hand.

She was stilled. Bethany let the dolls fall quiet against the bed. Without looking at me, she jumped up and raced out of my room

I chased after. Catching up, I grabbed her arm and turned her to face me. "What's going on?"

"Nothing," Bethany told me, her voice quivering. "I was just kidding," she swore. "I was just playing Barbies. I was just kidding."

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