Once upon a time there was a little rag doll. She lived in a little rag house with lovely cloth shutters upon the windows and little furniture made of cloth as well. When the little rag doll woke up each morning she would go and cook a breakfast of cotton fluff, linen, and on special occasions, a little bit of silk in her little cloth kitchen. And everyday she would look out the kitchen window as she at her breakfast admiring the other houses around her.
Then one morning the little rag doll noticed something that was not there before, another cloth house almost as her own. The little rag doll was so excited. She might have a neighbor just like her self. Unlike her other neighbors that were made of plastic faces and industrial sewn bodies that liked to say how they were important. One of the ways the plastic people felt important was to tell the little rag doll how unimportant and how ugly she was, For they were better than she was because she looked weird sown together with bits and ends of cloth.
The little rag doll went to her room and took out her sharp silvery needle and carefully sewed her stitches over taking care that they would not rip if she fell on her way to the other little cloth house. Making sure she looked her very best she pulled out the cotton fluff cookies from the oven and carefully made her way to the other little cloth house.
With each little pat-pat her steps, the little rag doll became increasingly nervous. What if whoever lived there did not like her either? The plastic people did not. Shaking, the little rag doll knocked her little cloth fist upon the door with a soft pftt.
She heard soft footsteps very much like her own from behind the door.
"Who is it?" called a voice.
"The little rag doll," she squeaked "I'm your new neighbor and I brought you some cotton fluff cookies!"
"Cotton fluff? That's my favorite!"
The cloth door swung open with a squeak and revealed behind the door was a little rag boy, but unlike any other rag boy the little rag doll had ever seen. His hair was rainbow of different patches that fell over his eyes in the front and stuck out in all directions in the back. His smile was crooked and wide that any other time would seem strange to the little rag doll but felt friendly on his face as he welcomed her into his house and led her into the kitchen. As they sat at his table that was very much like her own he asked her a question.
"What's your name, little rag doll?"
The little rag doll blinked in confusion. She had never been asked this question before. She had never been called anything but the little rag doll.
"The little rag doll, I guess…"
He looked at her from underneath his rainbow hair.
"You have a real name, mine's Jack and I found it because it was my missing piece." The little rag doll felt very confused.
"Your missing piece? You look very well sewn together to me, Jack."
Jack laughed; He leaned back in his chair still laughing. The little rag doll felt quite embarrassed and knew by the burning on her cheeks that she was blushing. Jack saw that she was embarrassed, stopped laughing, and still smiling kindly came over to her.
"Your missing piece has nothing to do with the pieces of cloth or rag of which you are made, little rag doll," he smiled and put his hand upon his chest "it's the missing piece inside."
The little rag doll put her hand upon her chest as well. Nothing was underneath her cloth but cotton fluff or so she thought. That is what she always thought. The little rag doll thought some more. Did she have a name as well?
"I am still very confused Jack." Jack smiled, with his smile the rag doll felt a blush creep across her face again, and she did not think that it was from embarrassment. "That is okay, little rag doll, you'll know in time."
Everyday the little rag doll would go and spend the day at Jack's house. It would start with breakfast, normally brought by the little rag doll, and lunch would consist of whatever Jack felt like fixing, whether it be wild and strange made with different types of cloth brought back from Jack's quest to find his missing piece or something completely normal like fried linen. For dinner the little rag doll and Jack would go to the fancy restaurants that the little rag doll never dared to go because of the looks from the plastic people would normally drive her away, but Jack did not care what the plastic people thought, he said they were only dolls like him and her and what they said did not mean anything.
"Little rag doll, they think they are better because they are 'different'" he would say making quotations with his cloth fingers in the air. "but really if you'll look closely, dear little rag doll, you'll see that really they are all exactly the same. I mean really look around, what color are everyone's hair?"
The little rag doll glanced around the restaurant very carefully not to be noticed staring.
"Brown, red, blonde, or black."
"Exactly! Are there any other colors? No. not a single one and you will not see another person that has hair any different! No I swear! Little rag doll, why should these people," and when he said people he spit the word out. "say they are better than you?"
The little rag doll sat and thought. Jack looked at her as she thought. The little rag doll's thoughts seemed to spin in her head. Jack was right. There was not a single reason for the plastic people to claim superiority. The little rag doll smiled as she looked up at Jack.
"Nothing." She smiled wider, "nothing Jack, there's not a single thing that would make them better than me."
Jack smiled at her proudly and the little rag doll blushed.
The next day when the little rag doll met Jack for breakfast, he had a picnic basket on his arm and a grin on his face that was especially crooked, which meant that they were going to do something especially mischievous. When she inquired to where they were going Jack said but "it will be fun. I promise" So the little rag doll followed. They soon left the little town behind and began to go towards the woods. The little rag doll balked.
"What's wrong, little rag doll?" Jack said when he noticed that she was no longer following him. He traced her glance towards the woods. "Don't worry little rag doll I have a needle and thread if either you or me get ripped."
"Do you not care about rips, Jack?" the little rag doll asked as she began to follow him once more. He shrugged as he kept going.
"Not really. I mean, we can be fixed, you and I, little rag doll, and a rip is merely a new opportunity to make myself more unique." The little rag doll glanced up at him from behind. Jack's clothes were nothing like her own plain clothes they were all different shades and colors. "We're almost there, little rag doll."
When Jack said that the little rag doll noticed that there was a clearing coming up ahead in the forest darkness. Finally they stepped out into warm sunlight and the little rag doll peeked around from behind Jack. She saw a little house made of wood with a straw roof.
"This is where the wise man lives, little rag doll. He is a kind of hermit, but he does enjoy visitors, just not visiting people." Jack said as he went up to the door and knocked loudly.
"Who's there?" yelled a gruff voice that made the little rag doll squeak with fear and jump behind Jack.
"Who do you think crazy old man?" called Jack back with equal roughness but a smile upon his face.
The door swung open to reveal a very old but strong looking man that immediately swept Jack up into a hug. The little rag doll fell with a soft pftt upon the ground as she watched.
"And who is this?" the wise man looked at her with a smile and intense, but twinkling eyes. "What a beautiful little darling! What is your name, little rag doll?"
The little rag doll felt like this was a very important question and looked at Jack. He smiled encouragingly and nodded making his rainbow hair flop in all directions. She looked at her feet that were stuck out in front of her and then looked back up at the man.
"I am not sure anymore, sir, I thought it used to be the little rag doll, but now I feel as if I should have a real name like Jack does, but I do not know what it should be." She said slowly with realization. The old man smiled kindly and offered a leather hand to help her up off the ground. As she took it the little rag doll saw Jack beaming at her and she smiled widely back.
"Very thoughtful answer, little rag doll, soon you will find your name." the man tilted his head to the side and leaned down to whisper in the little rag doll's ear. "But I do not think that your name is your missing piece though."
After that the little rag doll and Jack added visiting the wise man once a week to their agenda. There would be days that they would go up and spend days at the wise man's house listening to stories, talking and laughing about the plastic people. Then one day on her way to Jack's house with her plate of cotton fluff cookies, the little rag doll felt someone behind her. She spun around quickly and found herself face to face with the plastic people that had put her down for so long.
"Where are you going, little rag doll?" one of the blonde-haired people sneered with a mean smile. "To your little ugly boyfriend? You should get married then you can carry on the species of ugly rag children."
The others laughed but strangely the little rag doll did not feel hurt at all. In fact, she smiled. How stupid were these people? She almost felt sorry for them…almost.
"You are so stupid." She said sweetly and the little rag doll felt empowered as she saw the shocked looks upon the other dolls faces. "How dare you say that I'm the one that's stupid? You have said the same insult to me every time that you have ever spoke to me! You cannot come up with anything better." The little rag doll shook her head and turned to walk away but suddenly something came to her and she spun on her heel to say it. "My name is not little rag doll, that is what I am and I'm not ashamed of being a little rag doll, but it is not my name, I know my name now. My name is Rose, the little rag doll."
Rose smiled big and laughed at their faces of shock. She laughed even louder. "My name is Rose!" she sang out running, skipping, dancing toward Jack's house.
"Jack! Jack!" Rose called as she ran into the house and set the plate of cookies on Jack's table. "I know my name! It's Rose! My name is Rose!" Rose the little rag doll noticed that something was wrong. Her words echoed across the house. The house was empty. Jack would not have left without her, not on purpose. As she looked around the house, the sky grew dark and it began to rain. Rose looked out the window, and felt her chest hurt. Where was Jack? She needed so badly to tell him her name. Rose looked out the window again towards the forest. The wise man would know where Jack was.
And off Rose the little rag doll went.
The rain started to blow into her eyes as Rose made her way up the slope towards the Forest where the wise man was. When she reached the woods, Rose found she could not see any better because of the darkness the forest caused. The branches that had not bothered her on any of her earlier walks and journeys with Jack now began to scratch and rip terribly at her and Rose began to remember just how easily she became ripped and torn. Every time Rose fell it became harder and harder to get up. And every time she fell, it was harder for Rose to see and slowly as the world went dark around the corners of her eyes she whispered "Jack, you were my missing piece." Then the world went dark and Rose the little rag doll let her eyes close.
The little rag doll was falling.
Falling through a dark mist of dreams
Where was Jack? The little rag doll had to tell him something.
Something very important the little rag doll thought.
But I'm not just the little rag doll anymore
I am Rose. I am Rose the little rag doll
"Little Rag Doll, little rag doll, wake up, dear little rag doll."
Rose could hear the wise man saying her old name but she could not open her eyes. She was so tired she just wanted to rest but she had to tell the wise man her name that she had found her name. Rose slowly opened her eyes; the weights that had seemed to hold her eyelids down had been released.
"My name is Rose," she mumbled sleepily. "I'm Rose the little rag doll."
The old man beamed at her as he helped sit up. "You found your name then? Rose…Rose, the little rag doll. Very pretty, I do believe it suits you." He helped her up on her feet and Rose looked around.
"Where's Jack?" she asked.
"I don't know, Rose, I haven't seen him since the last time you both had come and seen me." The wise man said softly looking at her intensely.
Rose looked around the room again and caught a glance of herself in the mirror. She gasped. Everywhere that she had been ripped was covered in rainbow patches. Rose touched the face in the mirror. Her plain patch face with brown hair was still in tact but the rest of her was a rainbow of different colors. Where her legs and dress had been ripped were pink, yellow, and black patches and on her shoulder where the branch had ripped her stitches out she had been sown back together with thick thread that was different colors that changes every few inches or so.
"I'm… I'm beautiful." She whispered touching the mirror.
The old man laughed, "you were always beautiful, Rose the little rag doll." Then his voice turned serious, "I think I know where Jack is and you have to go and save him, I think he has been taken by the plastic people. While you were asleep, I went back to Jack's house and looked around for some clues and I found this-" He placed a little pink note with curly writing in her hand that read We have your ugly boyfriend and we're going to teach him a lesson in manners. If you ever want to see him, again you will give yourself for him instead. Rose looked up at the wise man and nodded.
The wise man began giving her instructions to be able to fend off the plastic people. "Fight as a last resort, Get in and get out. Use your needle if you have to. Their faces made be made of plastic but their bodies are as soft as yours and mine, but they are as well put together." He said with a wink and stepped back to look at her. He smiled.
"Any other questions?" He asked her when Rose put her hand on the door. She stopped for a moment and look back at him.
"What is your name, wise man?" He smiled widely at Rose tears in his eyes.
"It's James, Rose, its James." Rose nodded and stepped out in to bright sunlight as she waved goodbye and called "Good bye, James!"
Rose was on her way to save her missing piece.
Rose walked as quietly as she could into the main plastic people building. They were not that clever so it would not be that hard to find Jack. She ran down the long empty hall. Rose thanked James inside her head as she ran thanking him for sewing new and softer shoes on her feet that did not make noise as she ran. It was dark in the building but Rose could see a single door that had light creeping out from under the door. Rose held her breath as she slowly peeked into the room through a crack and jumped when she heard Jack's voice.
"You won't scare her, you know, the little rag doll is smarter than that. She knows better." He said dangling from the ceiling tied up by his hands. Jack's eyes were fierce and from her crack, she could see the rips the plastic people had inflicted upon him.
"Shut up!" screamed one of the plastic people, Rose could hear another rip being torn across Jack, and she could hear him wince. "Wasn't she supposed to be here by now? I'm hungry lets go get some food."
The rest agreed and Rose hid behind a large vase as they came out and slipped in as they closed the door. As soon as their loud footsteps were gone, Rose locked the door and made her way to Jack.
"Jack," she whispered and he opened his eyes. "I'm here to save you."
She quickly took the scissors that James had given her and cut the ropes that bound Jack. He fell onto the floor rubbing his wrists and she pulled out her needle, thread, and began to sew up the cuts and tears as fast as she could.
"Little rag doll, you look different? Your really pretty, you were before but now you glow, little rag doll." He said rubbing his hand across her face. Rose smiled at him as he watched her work.
"I'm not just the little rag doll anymore, Jack, I found my name! My name is Rose!" she said hugging him. Jack hugged her tight back. "We've got to get out of here before they come back. The Wise man said not to fight them. He said it would be better to get in and out."
"Good plan, Rose. Only one flaw. No ways out." Jack said looking around. Rose pointed to the window. He smiled and nodded. He pushed her up to it and she pushed it open.
"Here Jack pull yourself up on the thread." Rose called. "Okay" was the answer Rose heard Jack say a few moments before he appeared. She held out her hand and he grabbed it. The two rag dolls sprinted across the dark village as fast as their legs would take them. Rose could feel her breath coming in her at sharp bursts but she did not dare stop until they had got to her house. Jack flung the door open and pushed Rose in before flinging it shut again with the loudest bang the cloth door could muster.
"Never again. Never ever ever again. We need to get out of here as soon as possible, Rose," Jack panted sliding on to the floor next to her. Rose just lay beside him with her eyes closed concentrating on taking deep and steady breaths. Before she could answer, a loud yell came from outside her house.
"Rag doll show your ugly face!" came a voice of the plastic people.
Rose opened her eyes and met Jacks with hers. She pulled out the scissors from her pocket and slowly walked outside.
"Don't make me hurt you. I don't want to hurt you. I just want to be left alone."
Rose said holding the scissors up letting the silver blades catch the glare of the street lamps outside the house. She saw that the scissors had caught the attention of several of the plastic people. Some began to walk away trying not to catch the notice of the leader standing in front. Rose met the eyes of the leader expecting to find hatred, anger, or anything other than what was there just emptiness. Rose looked around at the others and saw that the rest of their eyes were the same. Not any deeper than the leader. They had no depth and instead of laughing or feeling some sort of power, Rose only felt one emotion: pity.
"Do something Rose! They're going to kill us!" Jack said frantically.
"No, Jack, look at their eyes." Rose said quietly and from behind, she could hear him following her instructions. Rose heard his exclamation of understanding and pity that was similar to her own.
"Just go home." Rose said to the plastic leader, and saw her waver. She turned and with the others slowly began to leave. Finally when they were all out of site Rose let the scissors drop from her tired cloth hand. With the drop of the scissors, Rose slumped on to the porch and Jack sat beside her. She sat there until the sadness, pity overwhelmed her, and Rose began to sob. Jack reached out his arm, pulled her to him, and let her cry. Rose knew he had seen it too, the sad emptiness of those people that would sadly never be filled.
Finally when Rose's eyes felt drained and dry of all tears did she stop. When she opened her eyes again the sun was rising over the little town. Jack held her close as they watched it rise.
"So you found your missing piece, then, my little rag doll?" he asked.
Rose looked at him as he watched the sunrise and looked towards the blinding sun again.
"Yeah Jack, I finally did."