birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Doll Jail

Flush with the ceiling, stretching from wall to wall above my bed was a glass enclosed shelf. Separated into three sections, each section had two sliding glass doors. Behind the doors was my doll collection. Or rather it was a collection of the dolls that had been given to me as a child and had survived the journey to still exist, intact, when I went to junior high school.

To my super efficient mother, this was the solution to "preserving" my dolls by keeping them dust-free. My mom liked a neat room and it was my job to keep it that way. So uploading the dolls to a shelf above my line of sight works fine for me as well.

As I grew older, I thought of it as my doll jail. Those old friends and acquaintances were allowed to watch my life, and I could look at them, if I cared. But there was no touching, no connection. I never pulled up a step ladder to take any of them down to remember my childhood. I could see them looking down at me. I didn't wonder about them.

When it was time to clear out the shelf as an adult, the dolls were in various states of disintegration. They felt dead, lifeless, suffocated to death in their glass jail. I didn't mourn them. I didn't remember playing with them.

The other day, my daughter and I were clearing out an attic space and opened a dusty box to discover the baby doll she had named "Baby Hayley Fager" after herself. It was a miraculous rebirth of the doll's role in her life. We both screamed with delight. It sits on her bed waiting for her next visit home.


The only orderly room