Remembering Barbie

24836-thumbnailShe clearly remembered her mother’s bed in the old house on Avalon Drive.  Not that she had ever been permitted to sleep in it.  Barbie was certainly adamant about that.  No matter that Juliet suffered from terrible nightmares about the death camps in Nazi Germany.

…And the irony of that was definitely not lost on Barbie, either, since her ex-husband was a self-loathing Jew who denied being Jewish.  She remembered how he used to joke with her (only it was no joke) that he wanted to wear a pin which read  “No, its a German name.  I am not Jewish.”  Which was laughable, considering his name.  David Abraham Schwartz!  Of course, upon meeting people he didn’t exactly announce his middle name or anything, and if nosy people pushed, he gifted himself with the middle name of Alexander.  Having delusions of grandeur to begin with, the name Alexander and its connotations  fit in quite nicely with all of his many contrivances.

Back to the bed, which is, after all, a big part of the story.  The point is that Juliet would never have given it a second thought if not for something profound that had occured there, which she had only recently remembered.  After all, we have already established that she had never slept in it, not the way most most little girls who had horrific nightmares would most assuredly have been permitted by their single moms.  ( Allowing of course, that said little girls were loved by their mothers.)  Juliet liked to lie in Barbie’s unmade bed after her mother had gone for the day, snuggling into the pillows that smelled of Shalimar and stale tobacco smoke.  Barbie’s very distintive odor…The headboard of the bed was a bookcase, and Juliet still remembered some of the titles all those years later.  “Is Paris Burning”, “Naked Came I” and of course, The Holy Bible.  Juliet secretly called it “My Father’s Book”.

One day Juliet was lying in Barbie’s bed daydreaming, and all at once she had a very clear image in her mind of the woman she would someday be.  Strangely, she felt betrayed by that woman, because she doubted very much that she would remember the acutely lonely and sad little girl who used to creep into her mother’s room and daydream in her bed.  So she sent a message into the future: shot it like an arrow through time.  “Remember the little girl you left behind.  Don’t forget who you used to be.”

Oddly enough she had only just recently remembered the little girl and her message.  She was happy that she had not betrayed herself and let the little girl she carried around inside her, (the little girl who was still in there too deep to ever dislodge) down.  She started thinking really hard about the details.  Mind, there was something unforgettable about her experience.  She remembered one particular day, the aftermath of a truly horrifying nightmare she had the night before still clinging to her…she had gone into the room and sat on the bed, the dust motes dancing in the shafts of light streaking though the blinds.  Remember, she had never known her father David, and had no idea he was Hebrew.  For another, Barbie had no idea just what a focused and brilliant little girl she had.  Juliet was a world her mother had never visited; she knew nothing about her own child’s sleeplesness…Very often Juliet would would not sleep for days at a time, so after Barbie left she would crawl into her mother’s bed, seeking comfort in her absense.  She would hear the birds singing outside the window; she could smell the flowers that Barbie had planted in the garden that had just bloomed, and occasionally when it was very still, she could hear the bees buzzing around them…And all of these gifts from God would sometimes permit her to find the sleep that so often eluded her.

One day she was dreaming of a very old man with long white hair and a long white beard who was with a little boy.  He said to her in the dream “This is my little boy.   God gave him to my wife and I in our very old age.  Did you know that you are my daughter too?”  Juliet woke up with a start, still picturing the ancient bearded man who told her strange things.  She picked up the Bible and began reading.  She read all the way through Genesis, and all at once everything clicked in her mind.  Abraham was the old man in the dream!  And Juliet was surely one of those descendants that would have been more numerous than the sands of the sea or the stars in the sky…She knew that this was a life altering experience.  For as long as she could remember she had spoken to God most intimately, and now she knew that her Father was affirming His reality to her.    She knew she would never be the same, because her Father had spoken so clearly to her!  For the longest time Juliet had thought that everyone was a child of God, and that everyone spoke to Him and loved Him.  The first time she had asked Barbie to take her to church she was stunned by the response.  “Juliet, you are Jewish, and Jewish girls do not go to church”.  This was news to her.  This was the first time there was any mention of being Jewish.  In fact, when the children picked on her and called her ugly names she would tell them she was German, and that there were lots of German people with that name.

Juliet winced as Barbie lit one of her Pall Malls, twisting one into the cigaret holder that she always used.  (Juliet loathed cigaret smoke and Barbie knew it.  Very often she would light a cigaret to get her daughter to leave the room.)   “Uh, mother?  I have been thinking about what you said, and I have no idea why you never told me before that I am Jewish.  But I would very much like to go to Temple.”  Barbie dragged deeply on the cigaret, exhaling the the smoke in a steady stream right in her daughter’s face.   She looked at her as though she were an insect under a microscope.  “From where are you getting these bizarre notions?  There is no God, and there will be no attendance of any religious institution by anyone in this house, rest assured.  I mean, since God is a fantasy that weak-minded people made up, people, I might add, that can’t handle life, well that would make any kind of church or temple attendance awfully stupid wouldn’t it?  Barbie turned away so that Juliet saw her profile.  She marvelled that such a beautiful woman could be so vaccuous and cold.  She could not recall having ever received any warmth or affection from this woman.  She saw her mother as one to whom she owed respect…and she cried into her pillow night after night to muffle the sound of her sobs.  She knew that if Barbie ever heard, she would either ignore it or come into her room to investigate.  She also knew that if she were ever to give a name to her sobs, it would be met with denial and disdain by her mother.  She knew clearly that Barbie did not love her, she knew that in fact she was barely tolerated.  When her mother drank, which was all the time, she was brutally honest.  She said terribly cruel things, at least that which was intelligable.  In spite of her mother’s deliberate cruelty,   Juliet longed for her love, ached for it, cried out to God for it.  Barbie did not love her daughter, that much was clear.  One night Juliet whispered into the darkness from her bed, in the middle of the night when she could not sleep “Father?  How could I come from a family of people like this?  Surely I don’t belong with these people?”  God whispered back to her “You are not a member of this family.  You are a member of my Family.

“I do believe in God, mother.  It would not be pointless for me to attend church or temple.”    Barbie leaned over to tap the ash of her cigaret.  “You really don’t know what you believe, do you?  How could you, after all, at your age?  For one thing, Jews reject Christ.  You didn’t even know that, did you?  Hmmmm?”

Juliet blushed, lowered her eyes and smoothed her dress.  “Well how could I mother?  Most of the other children’s parents allow them religious instruction  I have never received any.  So naturally I don’t know any theology!”   Barbie’s eyes widened.  She threw her head back and laughed raucously.  “Now that…”  She could barely speak, she was laughing so hard.  “Theology?  That sounds absurd coming from a…how old are you?”  Barbie’s laughter trailed off and finally stopped.  She examined her little girl, raising an eyebrow.  Juliet was stung.  She fought back her tears.  “I am almost five, mother.” 

“Well what a solemn little thing you are!  At your age, you shouldn’t even be thinking about God.  And most kids would be singing hosannas that they didn’t have to be made to suffer through a church service or a bible study.  You really are very strange, Juliet.  Have you any idea how weird you are?”  Barbie crushed out her cigaret, flipping her long platinum blonde hair behind her shoulders.

Juliet cringed.  Not again!  Being called strange and odd and weird by all of the other children was bad enough, but being so called by her own mother was unbearable!  Wide eyed, she looked at her mother.  Barbie had a faraway look in her eyes and was obviously thinking about something else.  “Yes, mother.  I have a pretty good idea just how strange I am.  Like mother, like daughter.”  Her daughter’s words didn’t penetrate her at first.  Juliet could hear the ticking of the clock on the wall.  All at once, Barbie jerked and and her eyes narrowed to slits.  She studied her daughter for a moment.  She practically spat out the words “Oh no you don’t.  I was popular.  When I was in high school I was not only the Class president but the Prom Queen as well!  Don’t you dare ever compare your odd little self to me!  You don’t fit in anywhere!  The other kids don’t like you.”  She leaned in closer to Juliet…”Now why do you suppose that is?”  Barbie snatched her Pall Malls off the table, and screwing one into the black enamel holder with the gold trim, she gave Juliet a a self-satisfied smile.  “Hmmm?”  She lit the cigaret with a slim gold lighter, inhaled deeply, and settled back into the sofa.

“Mom, you can say what you like.  But there are plenty of ways to be weird.  Trying to make something as gross as smoking look elegant is weird.  Rejecting your own daughter isn’t exactly the norm either, is it?  But weirder than that is that you are so smug and self-satisfied and…well, arrogant!”  Juliet bit her lower lip.  “Because you can’t even keep a man,  Barbara!”  She emphasised her mother’s name, saying it as though it were a dirty word.

Barbie’s hand shot out and slapped her daughter so quickly that Juliet didn’t see it coming.  She reached up and felt her cheek, red and stinging wher Barbie’s handprint was still visible on her face.  Juliet got up from the floor, where she had been sitting at her mother’s feet.  While she was fumbling to get up, Barbie grabbed a handful of Juliet’s hair and jerked her head back, so that her face was just inches above hers.   “Go and make your mother a drink”, she hissed from between clenched teeth.  She let go of her hair and shoved her head so it hit the coffee table, opening a gash in her forehead.  Blood ran down her face, dripping on the coffee table and the white shag rug.  “Beautiful, Juliet.  See what you made me do?  I’ll make my own drink and you…you clean up this mess!  If that rug is stained you’re going to be meeting that precious ‘God’ of yours a lot sooner than you had planned!  Barbie stood up, smoothing her powder blue cashmere sweater over her hips.  She muttered under her breath “That God-damned girl is good for nothing!”  She went to the bar and made herself a vodka and tonic, which she called because she splashed tonic water over vodka.  She drank it down in one gulp and made herself another one.  She noticed that Juliet appeared to be frozen.  Barbie pointed at her with the ice tongs “If you think I am angry now, Just let that blood settle in and stain the rug.  Go and get the hydrogen peroxide!”  (Apparently getting blood stains out of things was old hat for her.)   Juliet still had fresh blood pouring down her face.  “And little girl, if I have to take you for stitches you are going to wish you were never born!”

Juliet took a mental snapshot of her mother.  She was standing at the bar, ice tongs in hand, pointing them at her.  Barbie, with her long blonde hair, perfectly made up and beautiful face, powder blue turtle-neck sweater, (just tight enough to show off her gorgeous figure), white mini skirt and go go boots…she looked like a model with her long legs and perfect body.  Juliet thought to herself that her mother was quite possibly the ugliest woman she had ever seen.



14 Responses to “Remembering Barbie”

  1. A very sad but none the less heart-warming account of finding the Love and care of God over the tragic fact that your own mother did not love or care for you here. Your mother clearly had very many problems and issues apart from her alcoholism. The fact that you sought the only comfort and love you could from her by lying in her bed and smelling her scent on the bedding after she had left the home shows how much you yearned for some affection and love back from her but where denied it cruelly still. That God was there to comfort and Love you where this large hole was left in your heart by His acceptance into His family as a child of God shows that He is there to help when this Love is needed.

    The very heartless cruelty of your mother counterpoised against the love that God gave you to sustain you at this difficult time is self evident here. The fact that you did not in the end betray your younger self and did indeed remember these incidents just shows how God’s love has cared and healed these deep wounds that you sustained from your mother, and turned you into the caring and loving person that you are now is a testament to God’s love and your own inner determination here too. Your young self would have been very proud of the person you have grown up to be; the very antithesis of what your mother was in her life sad life. That arrow that was shot in time certainly hit its target all these years later.

    You are indeed well blessed here Juliet. May God continue to bless you still throughout your life. A great piece as usual and I look forward as ever to reading more of your works.

    It is indeed a pleasure to know you and read your beautiful words here.

    Love, Gus : )

  2. God says He is “A Father to the fatherless”, and He certainly was for me. It is interesting that I had to, on many occasions, be the voice of reason with my mother and ended up mothering her right up to her suicide. She could not handle that emptiness inside, and tried to fill it with everything but God, and I think that is the saddest thing in the world. In fact, when I remember her I always feel sad for her, i never hated her. I did think she was ugly, even though she was a very beautiful woman.
    I very purposely left my brothers out of the story, because she didn’t hate them, for some reason she zeroed in on me, and I think it was self-loathing on her part.
    I think I am going to continue publishing chapters of this, and I figure that if God wants it to be read that somehow readers will find my blog.
    I am thinking about a daily devotional too, but then again I think I should wait til I get the numbers up.

  3. Addendum:
    How could i forget to thank you? Very obviously you got every possible point in the story. You missed nothing. You would not believe how many people read a story and really couldn’t tell you any of the details afterward. You are an excellent reader: with your eye for detail you miss nothing.
    I am very appreciative that you enjoy my writing, and thanks for convincing me to go with my real name after you read the proof last night. (I didn’t think it was important to the story, but Gus felt that people should know this was not fiction.) If you happen to read this message i would appreciate your input on that point.
    I think you were right after all, because I am trying to convey the message that God is a Father to the fatherless and He was the reason I was able to deal with all of the abuse and neglect without becoming a bitter and hateful person. If telling it as a real story makes it more powerful (and of course it does…duh!) then that was the right way to go. Anyone out there know a young person in a situation like this? Tell them my story, and they can know God for themselves…

  4. Unfortunately, i don’t know God and don’t believe in God anymore. I just believe ‘Goodness’..

    • Well, since badness reigns supreme in this world, I don’t know how you could have much faith in goodness. If not for God, I would have long ago given up if “goodness” were all I had to go on.
      …Like the “goodness” of my mother?
      Sorry, but goodness is an attribute of God that you are putting your faith in, and that is a form of idolatry. God is the only One who has the characterisic of “goondness”, so in essense, you are idoloising a part of God nevertheless.
      You may not believe in God, but God is Goodness, God is love…in fact everything good in life is an expression of God. I pray that you will realise this before the return of our Lord.
      If not for God, there would be no “goodness”.

    • I think Jerry really hit the nail on the head with that one. And i think the difference between us was that I never needed Him to show me that He existed, what I asked Him was whether or not He would always be with me, since I knew there was no other way I could survive.
      The truth of it is, none of us could survive without Him, since He sustains everything and is in control of it all. Maybe you need to have some faith?

  5. Great site this and I am really pleased to see you have what I am actually looking for here and this this post is exactly what I am interested in. I shall be pleased to become a regular visitor 🙂

  6. I am really happy that you got something out of it. I was really worried that it might be thought that Barbie was over the top (and believe me, this was exactly the way she was) and a caricature or worse, that I am writing self-indulgant drivel.
    We are truly blessed to be in Christ.

  7. Juliet, your words are never self indulgent drivel. They are words that express as closely as possible back into English what your heart and spirit feels in these tragic periods. The sadness here is that like Arin above also there have been plenty of other people who have suffered similar fates here too. Not all may have made it through life without been broken further, but with the love of God in your life if you accept Him into your spirit then even the deepest wounds can be healed with His love.

    Carry on with all your graceful words my good friend and sister. The Lord speaks volumes through your beautiful words here as always.

    God Bless!
    Gus : )

  8. Like I said before, the acts of your mother are incredibly inhuman.
    What kind of person can treat a child so coldly? How can somebody some beautiful work in a paradox and contradiction and be so ugly and vile?
    She is an iconic representation that beauty is only skin deep; Why did she treat you this way? What was she thinking?
    For a five year old girl at the time, you were awfully smart. God obviously called you himself, look at the family, there was no Christian there to guide you and talk to you about the splendors of the Father.
    and the she laughs at you while your world falls apart then spits on the ashes.
    Your mother I hope will look at you on the day of Judgment and RECOGNIZE you and become painfully aware of the atrocities she’s done to you. I want her to feel every cruel word, every painful hit she gave you.
    This is but a short story, and I’m sure there are countless more of which we have not heard of. Sometimes a pretty face is not always what it appears to be, Lucifer was once the most brilliant being in the sky and became a dark and ugly figure corrupted from the inside. What a hard heart she has! But you Juliet, God chose you. And to him-you give honor.

  9. Oddly enough, when I remember Barbie now, it is with sadness for her because after all, she did take her own life.
    However there are occasions when I either reread this or think about her, and that ache I always felt as a child is still there.
    Honestly, I am not bitter but wonder what made her the way she was, and knowing how her parents were its not hard to see…
    Bottom line is that I still miss her love, and i doubt that will ever go away.

  10. prayerwarrior Says:

    Short Story: Where Are You God?
    Where Are You God? God There So many Children’s Crying Seeking For Love. God There So many Children’s Wondering the Street Children’s asking there self who really do love me?
    Father God in Heaven Why Don’t Parents takes time to Play with There children’s. Take Time to say I Love you?
    Father God in Heaven Why don’t Parents Take Time to look in there Children’s Eyes & See Children’s Smile. & See how much Love they have there Heart to give to there Parents. Father God Children’s is the best Teacher to Parents about Life, About Wonders of This World. Father God in heaven. Father God in heaven Children’s Has So many topic about this World. Children’s even ask where you are God, who are you God. Are you real God?
    Father God in Haven Do my Parents really pray for me? The family that prays together stays together
    Father God why do my Parents Have to Work so hard & to tired to play with me or help me with my home Work.
    Psalm 127: 3Sons are indeed a heritage from the LORD,
    the fruit of the womb a reward.
    4Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
    are the sons of one’s youth.
    Wrote By Prayerwarrior

    • PrayerWarrior,
      I thank you for reading my short story, which I sometimes wish to delete because I really am putting myself out there, you know? However, there isn’t a person alive who can’t, in some way, relate to it. We have all faced rejection, and there are times when we wonder ‘where are you Father?’
      However, I knew from the time I was a child that God was present with me, and even though I was crushed because my family didn’t love me or show my any attention or affection, God was there. I had no doubt about it. He even spoke to me many times, telling me once
      “You shall suffer greatly,
      But I will greatly bless you in your latter years.”
      Suffering is certainly present in the lives of God’s people, moreso than those who are not, I daresay. But remember this, my friend, that the more we suffer in this life, the more we will enjoy heaven. Think of the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. The rich man may have lived it up during his life, but what did it get him in the end? He didn’t even hame a name before God. Shepherds name their sheep, and the Great Shepherd does too.
      When you wonder at all the suffering in the world, remember that God is going to set things aright.
      The entire history of the world is a huge tapestry, and we are only able to see a few small threads.
      But I guarantee you, everything happens for a reason, and God says that “All things work together for good with those who love God and are the called according to His purpose”.
      We can’t see it now, we just have to trust Him.

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