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From the author: A mysterious doll and a shitty museum date.
Little doll, buried under dust and sand,
Little doll, what do you have in your hands?
“It’s obviously a sacred figurine,” my date said. “And you can tell it was from a matriarchy, given how many female shapes there are.”
“Uh-huh,” I said, non-committedly.
“It was obviously a fertility cult, too, you see how big the hips are.”
I stifled a yawn. In my head I could see the hands, my hands, folded across my belly. I tried not to think about it; I hate my stomach. It bulges too much.
This museum display made me feel comfortable, though. There was just one in this case, with a sign next to her full of words about who had found her, where, and what she possibly represented. She pressed her hands on her belly, too. It was found somewhere in Mesopotamia, one of the earliest ever figurines. Clay.
My date was trying to hustle me on. He majored in History, although I was unclear how that mattered when he’d never taken a class on the ancients. Still, he seemed so sure that I found myself nodding along. As he droned on, I pressed my palm against the glass, staring at the figurine.
Something in my hand—a piece of cloth, with scribblings on it. I knew what those marks were. I felt the insides of my cheeks pressed against my teeth in a smile, the crinkling of my eyes in pleasure, the deep breath containing the surge of triumph.
I jumped. “Huh? Oh, sorry.” No cloth in my hand.
“Were you even listening?” he demanded.
“Oh, yeah, sure,” I lied.
I went back to the display after my date had gone to the bathroom. I stared at the hands of the doll, wondering what could have been in it. I heard a song in the back of my head, a hum that promised peace and happiness and the overcoming of obstacles.
Little doll, resting in my little hand,
Little doll, help me cross the land!
The desert storm roared around me. I yelped, and fell backwards. Sand quickly found the crevices of my jeans and my bra, and I squinted my eyes. Not good. Did the doll bring me here? Take me back! I thought. Take me back! I thought again, in a language I didn’t think I knew.
Back in the museum. Back to looking at the doll behind the glass. The face, having been worn away by the elements of five thousand years, did not smile back, but I felt it was winking at me.
My date came around the corner. “What the hell?”
I dusted myself, cringing at the mess I was making on the floor. “Weird,” I said, smiling and trying to make light of it.
“What the fuck happened?” He was genuinely angry now. I figured there would be no second date. “Seriously, I gave you a chance, and you did this?”
I turned to the glass case. The figurine still smiled without its face. I knew it. I knew its magic, thrumming through my blood, an inheritance through fifty thousand mothers. I could remember the taste of the old language in my mouth as my tongue cast its magic.
He grabbed my upper arm. “Hey!”
I smiled the doll’s smile at him.
Little doll, rescued from the bottom of the sea,
Little doll, make this man go far away from me.