A/N: This story revolves around another of my interests. Even if you're not old enough to remember the doll in this story, it should be noted that she really did exist at one time, and she is part of my fondest memories. I couldn't resist writing a story that incorporated her. This one's shorter than my usual fare. The next story will probably be another flashback collection, once I find a theme. Meantime, enjoy!
§ § § - March 22, 2007
It was one of those flawless days that so characterized life on the island, sunny and balmy with just a hint of perfumed breeze, but Leslie was working, since it was a Thursday and another weekend was approaching. Stepping into the pool area, she shrugged off her black-trimmed white jacket and slung it over one shoulder, casually clutching it in place with a thumb and forefinger, while meandering along the poolside, glancing occasionally at the occupants playing merrily within. Squeals and shouts filled the air, backdropped by frequent splashing and the occasional report from the reverberating diving board as an eager swimmer took a header off the end. Not till a wayward splash sent water sailing through the air to leave a large wet spot on one pants leg did she pause to really take a look at who was in the pool, and then she muttered an annoyed curse to herself, trying to wring out the moisture, with little success.
"Whoa, that was a potent one," observed a teasing voice from nearby, and her attention was diverted from the kids in the pool to the surprise sight of several of her friends sitting around a table, enjoying drinks. It was Myeko who had spoken. "Was it that bad?"
"I didn't exactly come here to swim," Leslie grumbled, ambling over to the table and, after a moment's hesitation, giving in and taking a chair they offered her. "Really, this has been the crummiest day."
Myeko, Camille, Maureen and Tabitha peered curiously out from under the umbrella beneath which they sat. "Looks nice enough to me," Maureen commented.
Leslie threw one reflexive glance at the sky, split in two by a contrail drifting some four miles above them, then made an impatient face and shook her head. "No, not the weather," she said. "This would have been my mother's seventy-fifth birthday."
"Oh," her friends murmured, glancing at one another.
"You've gotten through your mom's birthdays in the past without saying anything about it," Camille noted. "What's so special about this year?"
Leslie made a face. "Oh, I don't know, maybe I'm just feeling nostalgic for no good reason. It's probably got something to do with that convention that's going to be here next weekend. That, and the fact that for some reason your brother was playing a 70s medley on the radio this morning."
"What convention is that?" Tabitha asked.
"A Dawn-doll convention," Leslie replied, almost wistfully.
"A what?" Camille's voice was blank.
Myeko had brightened. "No kidding! I didn't even know they had Dawn-doll conventions! Geez, I better make sure I can get there!"
Camille was staring at her in disbelief. "You mean you're actually interested in this thing? I never thought you were somebody who played with dolls. You used to turn up your nose at the whole idea whenever Michiko invited us over to play Barbies."
"That's because I don't like Barbie and never did. Barbie's a bimbo, I don't care how many freaking careers she's had. Naaah, I was a Dawn fan then and I'm a Dawn fan now. I mean, seriously—where d'you think I got my daughter's name?"
"You named the kid after a doll? Does Nick know that?"
"Does he have to? He liked the name, and that was good enough for me. I just didn't tell him where I got it. You can't tell me you don't remember any of this."
"Well, I don't. The only other ones who can verify it are Lauren and Michiko, and they're not here. Don't tell me you had this secret Dawn-doll stash when you were a kid."
"I not only did, I still do. I had six dolls as a kid and I've still got them. I think they're tucked up in the attic somewhere, I'll have to go look for them. Hey, Leslie, what do I have to do to get admittance to this convention?"
"Who's holding it?" broke in Maureen. "That's what I'd like to know."
"Remember Diane Kezanian?" Leslie said. "She graduated with us and was one of the kids from Coral Island. She married Bobby Waialoka."
Her friends recognized that name, too. Tabitha gasped. "Not that guy whose fishing boat went down in that hurricane that hit Christmas Island all those years ago."
"We graduated with him too, didn't we?" Maureen asked.
"Yeah, that's right. They'd been married barely three years, but that was long enough for her to have his daughter. Anyway, Diane came to Father and me earlier this month and asked if it would be possible to use the old opera house to host a Dawn-doll convention. I'd never known about these conventions either, but apparently there are Dawn collectors out there, and every year there's one somewhere in the States. The same thing happens in England, she said, with a doll named Pippa—Diane says Pippa is England's version of Dawn. The gatherings are never very big, maybe three dozen people or so at the most, and they last only a day. But according to Diane, they're a lot of fun and everybody has a great time."
"So what do these dolls look like, anyway?" Camille asked.
"They're sort of Barbie-ish," Myeko said, "but they're prettier, if you ask me. They're fashion dolls, but they're only six and a half inches tall. Dawn had a whole bunch of friends and some guy pals too. It's awful, I can't even remember which ones I've got. I have to get into the attic and look around for the box they're in."
"I'll check with Diane for you if you want, and see if you can go," Leslie offered. "I'm told that usually a convention will register a certain number of attendees, and once the limit's been reached, that's it and nobody else can get in. But Diane's trying to keep hers a little more open. I guess there aren't too many people coming."
"I'm not surprised. I never heard of Dawn," Tabitha remarked.
"That's because she came out for only three years back in the early 70s," Myeko explained. "The company that manufactured her went belly-up in '73, and that was the end of her. I didn't understand that at the time, and I spent most of the rest of the 70s looking for Dawn dolls every time we went to a toy store. I still miss 'em. Gee, Leslie, you just made my day—thanks for reminding me of mine."
Leslie cracked a smile for the first time that day. "It's amazing, we've been friends all these years and yet I never knew that about you."
Myeko grinned. "Hey, we all have our dirty little secrets, don't we?"
"Seems so," Camille commented dryly. "Met you in first grade, and I didn't know about your Dawn fetish either."
"You know," Leslie mused, reminded very much out of nowhere, "now that I think of it, I had two Dawn dolls myself. I don't know what happened to them, though. Probably they were destroyed in the Susanville fire." She let her gaze drift out of focus, trying to recall the dolls and the times she had played with them as a child. Unfortunately, she could no longer remember when or where she might have put them away for the last time.
Myeko seemed to sense her mood and tapped her wrist, making her look up in surprise. "Can you come to my place and help me look for my dolls? Maybe you'll remember which ones you had, once we find mine. I know you're working, but it's not the weekend, so maybe Mr. Roarke won't mind if you take a little time off."
"I'll check with him," Leslie agreed, very much caught up in her friend's enthusiasm. "I'm not really doing very much anyway, just checking with everybody to make sure whatever's supposed to be in by now is in. I can do the rest of my rounds after lunch."
"Lunch is on me," Myeko promptly offered. "Anybody else want to help?"
Tabitha smiled. "I'd like to, but I have children to feed, including a newborn. I hope you find your dolls, though."
"Yeah, I've gotta get my kids out of the pool and home," Camille agreed. "We've been here since breakfast. I tell you what, I'm glad spring break'll be over soon. It's been just about the longest week this year so far. The boys have done nothing but complain about how bored they are and how there's nothing to do."
Maureen laughed. "That's what Brianna's been saying all week too. I don't want to go through that litany again, so if you want, Myeko, you can leave Alexander and Noelle and Dawn here while you and Leslie look for your dolls. I'm sure they'd complain if you insisted they come home with you now."
"I had the same idea in mind, but that's mostly because I didn't want Noelle and Alexander jeering at me for hunting down some dolls." They all laughed, and Myeko grinned and shoved her chair back. "Thanks, Maureen. Well, let's hit it, Leslie."
They stopped by the main house, where Myeko talked a blue streak at Roarke before Leslie could say a word, startling him enough to finally raise his hands in surrender. "Your reasons are of no concern to me," he said, half laughing, "but I would suggest to Leslie that she change her clothing before she endeavors to search your attic."
"Good idea," Leslie agreed. "Be right back." She hurried up the stairs.
Myeko watched her go, then offered, "We'll have lunch at my house, Mr. Roarke, so you don't have to worry about finding her."
"That's all quite well and fine," Roarke riposted humorously, "except that Christian and the triplets may wonder whether she's been kidnapped. You might stop at Christian's office on your way home and let him know so that he doesn't worry, or perhaps accuse me of secretly sending Leslie back in time for some fantasy."
Myeko giggled. "Sometimes I'd kill to do that. Spring break's been murder this year. The kids keep carrying on about how they've got nothing to do, so a bunch of us took ours over to the pool this morning. I figure if mine burn off enough energy, they'll leave me in peace for the rest of the day."
Roarke chuckled and said, "Several of my employees have expressed similar sentiments. I am terribly sorry that the amusement park has been closed all week, but the timing of the needed repairs and maintenance was unfortunate and I could do nothing to alter it."
"Safety first," Myeko said. "We get it, even if our kids don't. Well, thanks, Mr. Roarke." Leslie was just coming down the stairs, now dressed in a tank top and shorts. "Are you ready, friend?"
"Lead the way," Leslie said.
They did stop at Christian's office when Myeko recounted to Leslie what Roarke had said earlier. Christian blinked at his wife when she came in. "You weren't wearing that this morning. Are you off on some messy adventure?"
"You could say that," Leslie said with a small smile.
"She's gonna help me track down my Dawn dolls. There's a convention this weekend, and I want to find mine so I can go. They're probably up in the attic, and you know attics—dusty and musty and usually jam-packed with junk." Myeko grinned at him.
Christian eyed her a little blankly. "Oh? I didn't grow up with an attic, not as you describe it. Although I should say that the disused servants' quarters in the castle's south wing were certainly musty and dusty. I should know." He made a face at some memory and shook his head. "If your attic's as bad as that, then I hope the two of you survive this little excursion."
"Thanks, my love. I'm eating at Myeko's, so don't worry if I don't show up for lunch," Leslie said.
"It's that urgent, then? Tell me, exactly what are you looking for that warrants this?" he inquired with interest.
"Like I said, my Dawn dolls," Myeko explained.
"What are Dawn dolls?" asked Christian.
Myeko rolled her eyes, and Leslie snickered. "It has to do with that convention I told you about the other day. The little fashion dolls, about seventeen centimeters tall. I had a couple of them when I was a kid, and Myeko still has hers, or so she says." She tossed her friend a teasing glance. "I haven't thought of them in ages."
Christian smiled with comprehension. "Well, then, if it excites you that much, by all means, enjoy yourself. Let me know if you found your quarry, then, will you?" She nodded as he arose, and they exchanged a kiss before he smoothed her hair once and squeezed her shoulder. "Have a good time, my Rose."
"He handled you with kid gloves, didn't he," Myeko remarked as they settled back into the Enstads' car and Leslie turned it west out of the town square. "How come?"
"Oh, he knows why I was upset this morning, about it being Mom's seventy-fifth and all," Leslie said. "I think he's happy to see me enthusiastic about something. Have you been able to remember which dolls you had?"
"No," Myeko said, voice animated, "but I can tell you what dolls were in the line. There was Dawn herself, of course, and she had three pals originally, Angie, Dale and Glori. Dawn was blonde and blue-eyed, Angie had brown hair and eyes, Glori was a green-eyed redhead, and Dale was a knockout African-American. The next year they got some guy friends. Gary had black hair and blue eyes, Van was a hot African-American guy, and Ron had blue eyes and either brown or green hair—"
"Green hair?" Leslie echoed, shooting her a startled look. For some reason she was reminded of an old movie she had once watched with her mother, entitled The Boy With Green Hair, though she couldn't remember who'd been in it.
"Well, it was supposed to be blond, but for some reason the paint came out this weird olive-type color. It's harder to find brown-haired Rons than green-haired ones. Anyway, they also got two more new buddies. Jessica was a stewardess—well, flight attendant now, I guess—with really short blonde hair and blue eyes, and then there was Longlocks, with hair down to her knees. Then there were these two dancing dolls, Fancy Feet and Kevin, both of them blonde."
"Fancy Feet!" Leslie blurted, beginning to laugh. "Longlocks I can see, but who came up with that silly name? It's not as if they were going to run out of names."
Myeko shrugged good-naturedly, laughing with her. "I know. I always privately called them by names I came up with for them. Can't remember what they were anymore, but I thought those names were dumb even then. Especially since I figured they could give Kevin a real name, how come they couldn't do the same for poor Fancy Feet? Well, anyway, finally, the last year, Dawn supposedly opened this model agency and got five more friends. They were Melanie, Maureen, Dinah, Daphne and Denise."
"Oh, you should've told Maureen there was a Dawn friend with her name," Leslie remarked. "She'd have gotten a kick out of that."
"They don't look anything alike," Myeko said. "Melanie and Maureen both had black ponytails and brown eyes. Denise had this blonde topknot ponytail, and Daphne had two red topknot sausage-curl ponytails. Dinah was my favorite model. She had long pale-blonde braids the exact color of Maureen's hair."
"Wow. That really is quite a crowd. I guess Dawn was a popular girl."
"Yeah, I gotta admit, if she'd been somebody I went to high school with, I probably would've hated her on principle. She'd have been that overachieving nuisance who was head cheerleader, class president, valedictorian and homecoming queen." They both broke into laughter at that.
At the Okadas' home, which was empty and quiet save for the sounds of some of Nick's patients from the converted barn some hundred yards back from the house, Myeko pulled two cans of soda from the refrigerator and handed Leslie one. "Well, let's tackle Mount Everest. One nice thing about this house, it's old enough that it has a real attic, instead of a crawl space that you can access only through a trap door in the ceiling."
"That should save us having to negotiate a rickety pseudo-ladder," agreed Leslie, who remembered such attics from visiting school friends in Connecticut. "Just how much stuff do you think we're going to have to plow through?"
"Got me. Taro and Sayuri don't have attics, so we ended up getting all the junk they had no room for in their places. And of course, in Taro's case, that includes whatever crap his kids brought along when they moved here from Samoa. So there could be all sorts of junk up there. I just hope it's all labeled."
To their relief, a fair amount of it was; there were sealed boxes of all sizes strewn across the attic floor, many of them marked with someone's name. In most cases the names in question belonged to either Taro, Sayuri, or one of Taro's children. Those that remained were noticeably dustier, Leslie saw, and she chose one unmarked box at random and gingerly brushed away some of the dust with one hand. "Hey, did you think to bring up a box cutter? I have a feeling most of these are sealed, if not all of them. This one is."
"Oh crud, it never crossed my mind. Be right back." Myeko clattered back down the stairs, and Leslie heard the door bang against the second-story hallway all and footsteps rapidly fading from hearing. She grinned and set down her soda can, then picked at a corner of the sealing tape till she had worked away enough to grasp it with a finger and thumb and start pulling. To her amused surprise, when she had peeled away the tape and lifted the flaps, she saw inside what was unmistakably a wedding dress. By the time Myeko came back, she was laughing softly and shaking her head.
"What's so funny?" Myeko asked.
"Why are you keeping your wedding dress boxed up like this?" Leslie wanted to know. "I'd have thought you'd have it under dry-cleaning plastic in a closet."
"I hate having anything in a closet that I'm not wearing," Myeko admitted. "It just takes up space." She handed Leslie a box cutter, a roll of masking tape and a Sharpie marker, then peered at the dress thoughtfully. "But maybe I should make an exception in this case. It needs professional cleaning anyway. Might as well set that near the steps so I'll remember to carry it down with me."
Leslie grinned, knelt and printed MYEKO'S WEDDING GOWN in block letters on one of the flaps before using one foot to shove the box across the wooden floor. Leaving it at the top of the steps, she set about exploring more boxes; for a while there was only the sound of the box cutters slicing through tape, grunts of disappointment, and the ripping sound the new tape made as it was separated from its roll and used to re-seal boxes. Each time they revealed the contents of a box, they would write on the top what was inside.
There were still several stacks remaining in the corners when Leslie removed a small box from atop a large one marked NICK'S VET TEXTBOOKS, blew some dust off the top and slashed through the tape. Bending back the flaps, she folded aside some faded pink tissue paper and found herself staring at six small dolls lying haphazardly atop a layer of bubble wrap. "Myeko, I think I found them," she called.
Myeko scrambled across the attic and peered over Leslie's shoulder, then squealed with delight. "Hey, yeah, you did! Thanks, Leslie!"
"I'd forgotten what they looked like," Leslie admitted, looking on as Myeko took the box from her and cradled it in her arms, reaching in to lay the dolls face-up and side by side. They kept tumbling back onto one another, and she grunted and poked at the bubble wrap to flatten it, to no avail. "Let's take these downstairs."