Disclaimer: I don't own the Toy Story movies or characters.
Start All Over
By Jennifer Collins
"Okay, kids get closer together. I want to get a picture before we go," Mrs. Davis ushered her kids in front of the door to Molly's room. Andy and Molly smiled obediently for the camera. "Oh, I can't believe my little baby's starting kindergarten today," she gushed as she snapped the photo.
"Mom," Andy groaned. "Promise you won't embarrass her."
"I promise," Mrs. Davis said with a smile. "Now here, take one of Molly and me." Andy rolled his eyes, but Molly laughed as she obliged.
Across the hall, several toys were listening with their ears pressed up against Andy's door. "So… it's a big day for Molly," Buzz observed.
"Yup," Woody agreed. He was watching from the window as Andy's mom gave him a quick kiss on the cheek before he stepped onto the bus. Then she settled Molly into her car, still fussing over the fact that Molly was carrying a backpack.
"The coast is clear," Woody called as they pulled out of the driveway.
Buzz quickly gathered a few toys to start up a game of picture charades, hoping to take everyone's minds off the fact that Andy had not played with any of his toys before school that morning before anyone could linger there. Woody made his way down to the floor. "Where's Jessie?" he asked when he came up behind Buzz.
Buzz shrugged. "I haven't seen her yet this morning. Maybe she's in Molly's room."
Woody nodded. "She probably wanted to see her off on her first day of school."
Buzz thought for a moment. "I should probably go check on her. Make sure she's okay."
"Good idea," Woody replied. "I'll keep an eye on everything here."
"Thanks, Woody." He placed a hand on his friend's arm. "And you did really well this morning. I'm proud of you."
Woody managed a small smile before Buzz ran out of the room.
Since no one was home, Buzz walked across the hall in long strides. He paused in the doorway when he saw Jessie leaning over Molly's Itsy Bitsy Baby doll crib. She appeared to be talking to the young doll, who Molly had affectionately named Becca.
Buzz knocked softly on the door. Jessie looked up, but she didn't say anything, and Buzz knew that today was going to be one of those days. He sighed softly before inviting himself in and he walked up to Jessie. Becca cooed softly and he smiled as he waved to her.
Jessie moved away from the crib and sat down on the floor with her back against the dresser. She pulled her knees up to her chin. "A lot of changes are comin,'" She said quietly.
Buzz nodded. "I know. Andy didn't even play with any of us before school this morning."
Jessie looked up at him. "Molly's in school now and Andy will be startin' junior high next year."
Buzz sat down next to her. "It'll be okay. We all knew it would happen sooner or later," he said, wrapping a strong arm around her shoulders. "At least we have each other."
Tears started to brim at the corners of Jessie's eyes. "Well, no one told me the first time," she whispered.
Buzz was quiet for a moment. It had been more than two years since Jessie had come to stay with them in Andy's room. She'd had quite a rough past, but she'd built strong friendships and she'd been doing so well. He was afraid this day would bring back painful memories, and it looked like he was right.
Buzz tightened his hold on her. "I'm here now," he reminded her.
"Oh, Buzz!" She threw her arms around him as she broke down. "I didn't even know what was happening and then-" She stopped abruptly and shook her head.
Buzz traced the ring at the bottom of her pullstring. "Go on," he said gently.
Jessie started to pull away, but Buzz held on. "You can't block it all out forever," he told her.
"I've been doing okay so far," she said as she wiped the tears from her eyes.
Buzz folded his arms. "You need closure. You have to just let it go, because Molly's not Emily."
"But still," she sniffled. "The end result will be the same. It starts all over."
Buzz shook his head. "You don't know that."
"You said so yourself, Andy didn't play with any of his toys today," Jessie pointed out.
Buzz was silent. "That doesn't mean it has to be the end. Besides, if he does start paying less attention, we're going to need you."
"I can't. I can't do this."
Buzz pulled her head down to rest on his shoulder. "Ssh… it's okay. We'll all do it together."
Jessie sighed. "Molly looked just like Emily right before she left. Not totally the same, but similar."
Jessie picked her head up and shrank away from him. "No. We're not talking about this anymore." She stood up. "Come on, let's do something else."
"You never told me about her," Buzz whispered.
Jessie tugged on her braid. "You already know what happened."
"But you never told me," he repeated.
"What, do you want all the gory details? You already know." She turned to walk to the window.
"You told Woody," Buzz said quietly.
Jessie whirled around. "What did you just say?"
Buzz was silent.
Jessie placed her hands on her hips. "Buzz Lightyear! Why does it always have to come back to that? I can't believe after all these years you're still making me choose when I've already chosen!"
Buzz reached for her, but she pulled away. "I'm sorry. That wasn't fair."
"No, it wasn't," she agreed.
"You and Woody have a special relationship, and I respect that. I apologize. I just wish you would open up to me about some things."
Jessie sighed. Buzz started to move closer to her. She didn't go to him, but she didn't pull away either.
"It might help to finally talk about it," he gently pressed.
"But what if it's too hard?"
"Then I'll be right here," he promised.
Jessie looked into the Itsy Bitsy Baby crib, but Becca was asleep. She turned back to Buzz with wide eyes. "Emily wore a denim jumper with black and white saddle shoes on her first day of school," she started.
Jessie sat down on the floor again and patted the space next to her. "Her hair was up in pigtails, just like Molly's was today."
Buzz joined her on the floor and brushed a loose strand of yarn behind her ear as he listened intently.
"She was so excited when she got home from school that day. Real proud of herself, like she knew it was her first step to becoming a big girl," Jessie continued with her eyes on the floor. Every now and then she would look up at Buzz and smile when she saw that he was still interested. She hadn't realized how long she was talking until she heard the Davis's car pull up into the driveway.
"I'll tell you the rest some other time," Jessie said.
"Really?" Buzz asked hopefully.
Jessie gave him a friendly smile. "Yeah."
Buzz hugged her close. "Good."
Jessie returned the embrace. "That was… a little easier than I expected it to be," she admitted. She looked at him with panic in her eyes when they heard Molly on the stairs. "You don't have enough time to go back!"
They froze just as Molly threw open the door. She bounded into the room and grabbed Jessie up right away.
"Jessie! Jessie!" She exclaimed. "I had the greatest first day of school ever! And Miss Mancina is the best teacher, and I made two new friends, and they're coming over to play tomorrow!" She paused in her excitement when she saw Buzz laying on the floor. "What are you doing in here?" She wondered idly. She picked him up in her other hand and returned him to Andy's room before carrying Jessie down the stairs.
"Come on, I'll tell you all about it while we have a snack," she said.
Buzz stood in the open doorway and looked at Jessie, who was slung over Molly's shoulder. He could still hear Molly chattering excitedly as she made her way slowly down the stairs. Jessie smiled at him, and Buzz winked, giving her a thumbs up.
Woody came up behind Buzz. "You guys were gone all day. How's Jessie?"
Buzz smiled. "She's doing good. She's doing real good."