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Bored with waiting in the chair beside Dr. Osborne's desk, Haldis Macher Varney leaned forward, setting aside the card she'd been looking at, and touched the fetus doll nestled in the plastic uterus on the desk top. Gently she pushed the baby through the birth canal and into her waiting hand. If only it could be this easy!
A slight sound from the door startled her and she turned to find Dr. Osborne watching her.
"In our permissive times," he said, "you'd think a medical doll would be definitely male or female, wouldn't you, Hally?" Approaching the desk, he lifted the fetus from her cupped hands. "Yet this is as sexless as any baby doll you played with as a girl."
She watched him replace it in the plastic uterus. "I've never owned a doll."
The doctor raised his eyebrows. "Strange. A feminist mother, perhaps?"
Hally shook her head. "I've been told my grandmother, my mother's mother, was old country Italian and superstitious about dolls."
Settling himself in the chair behind the desk, Dr. Osborne said, "How would you feel about your own child having a doll?"
She smiled wryly. "If you can find a way for me to get pregnant, I'll think about answering the question. Morgan's beginning to hate my ovulation graphs. He calls them fertility charms and tells me I might as well walk diasil-that's sunwise--around bonfires or wear dried figs around my neck. The only thing he agrees with you about is my not working."
The doctor nodded. "He has a point there. As for the dolls--it's interesting about your grandmother's taboo. My colleague down the hall would have a field day with that, offering all sorts ofinterpretations of how the ban affected your life. You've seen his sign--William James."
"I've seen the sign. He's a shrink." Her voice was flat.
"Hey--I'm not making a referral. Although I can hear Bill suggesting you compensate for your childhood deprivation by cuddling a few baby dolls here and now--like you were cuddling this fetus a minute ago."
He reached across the corner of the desk and patted her shoulder. "Relax, enjoy a year without tension. Acting must be almost as nervewracking as practicing medicine." He grinned at her.
"Hug dolls? For a year?"
"All I'm advising is for you to try to be a child again. Have fun. Play. More than one of my happy mothers will testify that relaxation works wonders."
Hally shook her head. "It's obvious you don't know Rule One in TV--keep your face before the camera. I've got contracts now, I've done some films, not just commercials and soaps. I'm on my way up. If I take a year off, no one will remember my face or my name--I'll have to begin all over again. At thirty-one."
He shrugged. "You're the one who wants to become pregnant."
She sighed. "I suppose you're right." As she rose, she knocked a card from the edge of the desk.
Picking it up, Dr. Osborne glanced at the card.
"Maude's Hodge-Podge," he read aloud. "Garden Grove. Reusables and Refusables. Desks, Dishes, Doilies and Dolls." He held it out to her. "This must be yours."
"Oh, that's from Phyllis--my husband's secretary. She's into antiques and trying to convert us all into becoming collectors of the past. I prefer the future."
He smiled. "I rather enjoy dabbling in the past. But even if you're not interested in antiques you might consider paying a visit to Maude. Dolls are fertility symbols, you know, like the dried figs and the bonfires your husband mentioned. Why not investigate Maude's dolls? You move as tensely as a coiled spring. Picture yourself holding a doll and think of it as a dress rehearsal for holding a baby. It might help you to relax. To flow."
All very well for him to say, Hally thought as she stepped from the air-conditioned medical building into the sere heat of Santa Ana weather that made a mockery of the winter day. Just where the hell am I supposed to flow to?
In the clear air there wasn't a trace of smog and the San Gabriel Mountains were etched against a hard blue sky. She shrugged out of her jacket and, warm even in the thin tank top that matched her gold pants, strode toward the yellow Porsche.
Copyright © 2005 Jane Toombs
Posted August 1, 2012
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Posted January 12, 2011
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