Summertime in A Doll's Life For Me

Summertime in A Doll's Life For Me
May is the time for toasts and tea!

Monday, May 11, 2020

Since We've Been Gone

Hello, everyone. Elsa here. Long time no post, right? Well I just wanted to say that I hope these words find you well. The world is chaotic right now, and luckily, She's family has been spared from most it. They continue to remain in good health and in good spirits as the days blur together one after the other. Although there is little I can do to help my loyal readers, especially over a format like this, I decided that updating the blog is the least I can do. May this be a small distraction for you during these trying times.
***
This February, Loki had been working on a blog post series accounting all of our adventures during Christmas and New Years. He was interrupted when the schools began to close, shutting down She's university and bringing her home. It's not secret that Loki either did, or still does, have a crush on She, and he's always been soft on her. He immediately forfeited the laptop so that She could use it to continue her classes, which would run until early May. But we have had new dolls that joined the family since then, and it's only fair that we introduce them to you in this small update post.
Loki's series is still going to be published, but we'd like to hear your opinion on when that should be. Should we hold it back until next winter, or release it this summer? Please let me know in the comments.



The first arrival was Maja, who joined the family back in December. She is an Amazon Exclusive Funko Pop of Elsa. Maja is wearing Elsa's nightgown from Frozen 2 and holding an ice shard with the emblem of the water spirit. Her finding day was December 13th.
We spent a while trying to choose a name for her that wasn't "Elsa", and she liked "Maja" best. "Maja" is a Norwegian name that means, "splendid", "bitter", or "of the sea". The last meaning was her favorite because of what Elsa did during the climax of Frozen 2... no spoilers, here, but it's on Disney Plus now and we watch it nearly every weekend.


Our second arrival was a long time waiting. This is Kamala Khan, the very same one that Wanda knew back in the warehouse when she was first found. Kamala comes from the comic series "Ms. Marvel", and she is a "Marvel Rising Secret Warriors" doll. We found her on eBay and we were very fortunate to have this exuberant hero come into our lives on December 21st, right before the last-minute rush of holiday shopping. 


This next doll came on Christmas Day, like the majority of She's collection did. Meet Valkyrie, from the 2017 movie Thor: Ragnarok. She is the same doll as Carol, a Marvel Legends action figure. Equipped with a cape and a sword, she truly captures the resilient spirit of the women warriors that she was named for.



Merida was a doll that we never knew we needed. Our human had been searching for a doll of the popular Scottish princess for quite some time and she was found, once again, on eBay. She was ordered on February 10th and entered our home on March 14th. Merida also comes with her very own cape and weapon, but unlike Valkyrie, she has that trademark accent everyone identifies with Merida.


I have to present one last doll... er, dolls. She loves poetry, as is obvious by her own writings, but Edgar Allan Poe is one of her favorites. When She found out that Books-A-Million had and exclusive Funko Pop of the poet on March 19th, a curbside pickup was definitely in order. This Poe Pop comes with a raven friend called Eliza, named after Edgar's own mother in real life. Poe is quite the artist himself and likes to believe that he is an reincarnation of Edgar Allan Poe himself. That may or may not be true, but he certainly does write a lot, using one of Eliza's feathers as a quill.
And I saved the best piece of news for last. On February 29th, Leap Day, She took Nessa and Vision out to the park for a social distancing date and Vision proposed! Nessa and Vision are now engaged. Vision had been planning this for some time and trusted Anna and I to make a nice photoshoot for them whenever they came home. What do you think?


The miniature flowers were a nice touch. It turns out shotglasses are the perfect vase size for dolls.


Nessa and Vision's "ship name" is Visionrose. Isn't it the cutest?


Vision wanted propose on Leap Day since it only occurs once every four years, making their anniversary extra special. I guess the two of them will have to decide if they want to celebrate on February 28th or March 1st from now on.


All the flowers we collected were from the humans' backyard. The white ones were ________, the pink ones were ____________, and the purple were ______________.


But they were quickly destroyed to create an adorable photo of Visionrose in an indoor flower field.


The photoshoot concluded with a sweet kiss from Nessa.
Well, I think that's all that needs to be said before we get back to the main storyline of our lives. Now that she is out of school, Loki has his turn with the laptop and now he can finish writing about what happened last December. I'd like to hear your opinion on when you want that released. Should it be this summer or shall we wait until this December comes around?


It's good to be back,
Queen Elsa Rodgers

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

A Doll's Life File: Rapunzel

Happy Christmas Eve, everyone! How's your day been? The Room She Lives In right now reminds me a lot of a glacier... a chill surface with a deep, hidden underbelly. Luckily, this is one of excitement. This will be the kids' first Christmas and they can't wait to get a visit from Santa Claus tonight. Those of us who are Santa Claus can't wait to get a moment's peace for us to place the presents under their tree. Thalia, Kate, and Meiling all requested stuffed animals, but Adrina and Oliver, who are a little more mature than they are, wanted sweets. Pocahontas and Anelle have spent the day trying to keep both of these goodies away from the humans' dogs, but I think it's Sven we really need to worry about. Oh well. It's only for one night, right? Things are sure to cool down soon.
Anyways, here's a short and sweet post for you all about my Doll's Life File interview with the newest member of our doll family, Rapunzel.
***
Elsa (Me): *approaching Rapunzel, who is painting with Bob Ross and Nessa* Are you busy, Punz?
Rapunzel: Um... kinda? *steps away and closes one eye, holding one thumb in front of her painting*
Nessa: Bob is giving us a painting lesson!
Elsa: I can see that. 
Bob: *walks over to observe Rapunzel's painting. He winces a little at her work and starts tapping out a comment* I thought we agreed to do landscapes, Punz.
Rapunzel: What? Really?
Nessa: *glances over* It's a portrait. Abstract. I like it.
Rapunzel: *shyly* Oh... I wasn't going for abstract. 
Bob: That's okay. It's your art. You do it however you want to do it.
Rapunzel: Yeah, but I was trying to make it as realistic as possible and... *sighs and turns to me* Okay, Elsa, I'm no longer busy.
Elsa: Don't you want to finish your painting?
Rapunzel: Not the way it's going, no. What did you want me for?
Elsa: An interview, if you're up for it.
Rapunzel: *sets her brush in a shotglass of paint water* Okay. I'm ready.
Elsa: On the bed, if you please.
Rapunzel: *observes the height of She's bed and swings her hair forward, the pink braid immediately wrapping against the bedpost and catapulting her upwards. She lands on the bed with ease*
Elsa: You've been practicing!
Rapunzel: For three months now.
Elsa: *climbing up the side of the bed* Ever since you arrived?
Rapunzel: *nodding* Since day one.
Elsa: I can believe that. You're good at it.
Rapunzel: It seems to be the one thing I'm good at.
Elsa: I'm sure you're good at other things.
Rapunzel: Not anything I've tried! I've done painting, sewing, baking, dancing, and even candle-making. It's everything my character likes to do. But I'm not good at any of it.
Elsa: Have you tried thinking out of the box?
Rapunzel: How?
Elsa: Well, I mean, like... *struggling for words* what if you did something your character wasn't good at? Something that she never tried before?
Rapunzel: Then I wouldn't be a Rapunzel, would I?
Elsa: *noticing Punz's sad expression* Hey. You would be. It's in your name.
Rapunzel: *doubtful* Sure.
Elsa: *opens She's laptop and begins a new post, eager to change the subject* This interview will be published onto my blog, is that okay?
Rapunzel: *moving in beside me* I guess so. Isn't that how you've done it for everyone else?
Elsa: Yes, but how did you know that?
Rapunzel: Nessa told me. She said you've had the blog for about five years now?
Elsa: *shocked* Yeah... wow. The anniversary would have been last November. I can't believe we didn't even do anything to celebrate.
Rapunzel: It's not to late. Everyone loves a party.
Elsa: Okay. Yeah. Maybe later. Anyways, let's get back on track. What's your full name?
Rapunzel: *sheepishly* Um, I don't have a full name... but my kingdom's name is Corona. Does that count?
Elsa: *typing* Of course it does. What about your finding date.
Rapunzel: September 23rd? 
Elsa: Yep. Species?
Rapunzel: *confused and slightly disgusted* Species?
Elsa: Like... kind of what you consider yourself to be. Olaf's a plushie, I'm a sixteen-inch singing doll... stuff like that.
Rapunzel: My old box said that I was a twelve inch Disney princess doll. But I haven't seen that box in ages.
Elsa: That's probably right. *remembers* That's right, you didn't come with a box, did you?
Rapunzel: *shakes her head* Nope.
Elsa: Alright. You're done, Punz. You can go back to painting class now.
Rapunzel: *glances worriedly over her shoulder at Bob and Nessa conversing below* That wasn't as long as I thought it would be.
Elsa: No, they never are. Nessa said the same thing whenever her interview was over.
Rapunzel: Elsa?
Elsa: Yeah?
Rapunzel: I don't really want to go back to the painting class.
Elsa: That's okay. You can sit here with me. Watch me work.
Rapunzel: That would be nice. *leans over so that her head is resting on my shoulder* Can you tell me about your powers?
Elsa: Um... yeah. *is slightly taken aback because no one has ever asked about my powers before. It was a natural thing in our doll community. So many dolls had powers, we even had our own Avengers group. Magic was not as magical as it used to be* 
Rapunzel: How did you get them?
Elsa: I don't know. I guess I was born with them. Er... made.
Rapunzel: Nessa keeps talking about trying to convince She to take her to Frozen 2. Maybe your powers have more explanation in that movie.
Elsa: I think they will. But I have to realize that my character is not me. Even if it is revealed how Elsa gets her magic, it won't be the same since I'm a doll.
Rapunzel: Yeah. Maybe you're right. *uncertain* How did you learn to control them?
Elsa: I always could. My powers are only activated whenever my switch is turned on.
Rapunzel: Your singing switch?
Elsa: Mm-hm. And then I can only make ice if I'm singing. *nudges Rapunzel* Kind of like your character. Hair that glows when you sing.
Rapunzel: Not mine.
Elsa: Well, like I said before, you're not everything your character is. That's the great thing about being a doll. You never know who you're going to be unless you try.
Rapunzel: Yeah, I should be feeling that way, but I don't. *sighs* Sometimes I feel like my only worth is my hair. It's like the only thing that roots me to the real Rapunzel. Well, okay, not real, but you know what I mean. She has long hair, so I should, and if that's the only trait we have, I need to cherish it. *straightens out the end of her braid* Like Rapunzel says, "a gift like that- it has to be protected."
Elsa: *pauses* Rapunzel, I have some advice for you. I can see you don't have much of your own identity-
Rapunzel: *groans* You know me.
Elsa: -I think you should spend time outside your comfort zone. Think of Jocasta. Her original intention was to be an art doll. A model. Sit still, look pretty. Now she does anything but remain still. She's constantly moving, constantly training, sword always at her side. She's a warrior now.
Rapunzel: You're saying I'm a warrior?
Elsa: Not exactly. Just saying that you should experiment more. You can find your true self that way.
Rapunzel: I can, doesn't mean I will.
Elsa: Would the "real" Rapunzel be a pessimist?
Rapunzel: *closes her mouth sternly* No... I'll try my best, Elsa. Thanks for you advice. What do you think I should do first?
Elsa: You're good at using your hair to get around. Steve is downstairs playing darts. I'm sure he'll teach you to make your hair look more than just "beautiful". He can show you how to use it as a weapon. 
Rapunzel: Are you serious?
Elsa: Sure! Anything's possible. If I can do this... *turns on my switch and swirls my hand around in the air, creating a fluffy white snowball* ...you can do anything with that hair. Trust me.
Rapunzel: Elsa?
Elsa: Yeah?
Rapunzel: Thank you. 


Full Name: Rapunzel of Corona
Finding Place: Ebay, originally from Florida
Finding Date: September 23rd
Species: Twelve inch Disney princess doll
Strengths: Will try anything once, good at socializing, sweet
Weaknesses: Insecure, somewhat vain, cowardly

Status: This eager learner still has a lot to learn- about herself.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Preparing for Christmas

Well, everyone, Christmas is quickly approaching and it's high time we get ready for it! Thank goodness our doll family is bigger than ever, because there was certainly a lot to be done before the big day arrived. It's the kids' first Christmas, which made things even more exciting for everybody involved. Here's just a few pictures I took from yesterday whenever we were doing our Great Christmas Checklist, as Loki calls it. He says it doesn't have to be in any particular order.
(Also, a quick update on the Halloween post that She said I would be posting later... I think it is best if I publish it next October. If I get a request for it, I will publish it earlier than that, but it doesn't make sense to me to have a Halloween post until "spooky season" returns. Sorry about that, guys! Thank you for remaining my loyal readers.)
***

Step one to catching the Christmas spirit: get festive with some new clothes! Accessorize with warmer things to wear like hats, mittens, and capes. Definitely capes. One of Olaf's favorite part of Christmas is putting on his green-and-red knit hat. 


Step two: fire up the oven! Dorothy and Idina just love baking and decorating cookies anytime of the year, but especially December. This year, they made royal icing by hand, which had a whipped texture and a mouth-watering crunch (well, if doll's mouths could water).


Step three: play in the snow! Don't have snow? A friendly Elsa doll might be able to help you with that. Don't have an Elsa doll? Well... an indoor snowball fight with large white pom-pom balls works, too. Luckily, She got snow for Christmas this year, and the kids were able to build the snowman they've always dreamed of. (Thanks to my magic, they could bring it inside.)


Step four: get cozy! The best way to do this is to build a fire, cuddle up in some blankets, and turn on a nostalgic Christmas movie. Thalia tends to fall asleep every movie we try to watch together, so A Charlie Brown Christmas is the perfect length for us. Of course, hot chocolate or any other hot beverage is a requirement for step four.


Step five: catch up with some old friends. Since we dolls all live together, this is very easy for us to do, but not so for humans. One of She's Christmas traditions is writing cards to all of her friends and family that She doesn't get to see very often. It's always a nice way to keep in touch and tell people that you're thinking of them and wishing them the best.


Step six: take some time to reflect. Christmas is not always an easy time for everyone. With so much to do, it can be stressful or even saddening whenever we think about the people or dolls we won't be spending the holidays with. Remember to put yourself first, or else you sacrifice any strength you would have had to help others. Think about all that you've accomplished thus far and remain optimistic about your goals for the new year.


Step seven: decorate a Christmas tree! This is my personal favorite part. The humans have two trees of their own, the tall one downstairs and the smaller one in the upstairs hallway. We dolls have already had a tree of our own, but the kids got their own this year. They wanted a special tree for themselves, so this one glitters and even glows!


This year, Jocasta was voted to be the one to put the star on the top of the tree.
So what about you guys? Are you prepared for Christmas? What are your traditions, and what do you do to get into the holiday spirit? Feel free to leave me a comment! I'll be sure to respond.


Ready for Christmas,
Queen Elsa Rodgers

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Pocket-Sized Avengers: Assembling the Heroes P.4 (Rhodey, Thor, and Vision)

Chapter five: A Vision Unseen
Deep within the bowels of district one, warehouse number three, a doll laid within a package, focused and stiff as a corpse.
He was the one doll that saw things whenever he closed his eyes, although he was not sleeping.
He saw visions of the future, of what will be and what currently was, and in his mind he saw six dolls, each with their own separate lifestyles, slowly coming together like pieces in a puzzle.
One day they would be there for him.
But today was not that day.
Today, they were fighting for their lives.

Chapter six: Better Late Than Never
Recuperation wasn't easy after the red woman exploded.
Kamala Khan had led them on, that much was obvious. Rhodey had suspected she was a double-crosser all along, the wild goose chase she conducted only further cemented his theory. Loki, blind with rage, had banished her, forbidding her from every joining the bounty hunters again. Kamala had been lucky. Other traitors had died for their crimes immediately. Rhodey guessed that Loki still had a soft spot for her. She might as well be dead now, though. Bounty hunters were everywhere in the warehouse. Rhodey could only hope that Kamala would get out and find a home soon.
Rhodey didn't have that kind of hope for himself.
He'd been with Loki's gang for nearly three years now. Three unhappy years spent with the bounty-hunters, where your identity became a number. Yet, Rhodey knew there was safety in numbers. His occupation had allowed him to afford a fairly comfortable lifestyle. He had his box well out of the humans' sight, and furnished with air pillows and packaging peanuts, a luxury, really. Still, it was a lonely existence. The bounty hunters under Loki's control were probably nearing the thousands, and Rhodey knew only a few by name. Even then, they weren't his friends. It was difficult to make friends when everyone was a number.
Rhodey knew he had been at a crossroads in his relationship with the bounty hunters before he saw what the red woman could do. He liked safety, but he was lonely. He liked luxury, but he hated the hunt required to gain it.
It the red woman who made him choose a side.
It should have been a normal day.
Loki had assigned them another target. A Scarlet Witch All Stars figure, about three and a half inches tall, about four weeks old. Easy. But... Loki had paused here, he liked the drama... she was a Blazing Soul. His minions muttered worriedly, but Rhodey had been expecting this. Bounty hunters don't target useless dolls. And if this Scarlet Witch doll didn't have money, she had to have power.
And power she did have.
Karl had turned her in. He would be heavily compensated later for such a gift, but unfortunately, the Scarlet Witch doll was not naive. Karl was her mentor, her friend, and maybe even her family, but everyone knew that she used to be a Rogue Soul, and that title was not to be taken lightly. She came out of hiding on fire, and that fire grew with each minion she kicked out of the way. She was this controlled chaos that struck a chord within Rhodey. She was an oxymoron. She was like him.
But when he took their leader, Loki, by the neck and hurled him through the air, things changed. This Scarlet Witch doll, the woman blazing with a bright red light, was not like him. She was better. Better than Loki, even.
Rhodey decided then and there to leave his life forever, and all that he knew, and follow her. Both literally and figuratively.
He pretended to be wounded in the battle. He collapsed to the ground when the others ran after Kamala Khan. Underneath a slightly closed eye, he saw a flash of red as the doll crawled away to safety. Rhodey waited for the warehouse to resume stillness again, and then he somersaulted upwards until he was standing, then walking... walking out of his old life and into a new one. He did not know where the red woman would go, but at this point it wasn't important. All Rhodey had to do was work on being a few steps behind the red woman and her new crew, yet not close enough to be noticed.
There would come one day where he was noticed, but that wouldn't be for a while, when times had certainly changed.

Chapter eight: The Naive God
Warehouse three was a place of many gods.
Literally.
Thor 54 was one of them; one of many other Thors who existed there for however long they had to exist until a human came to collect them. Thor felt neutral about the whole idea. He did not care whether he went or he stayed.
He did not care that he was treated like a god among men, a doll that people practically worshipped for the sake of his character's strength, humility, or beauty. Women called at him from the shadows, eager to get better acquainted with his scruff and chiseled muscles, but he paid neither of these groups any attention. Thor had a one-track mind. Nothing mattered to him unless it had to do with reaching his goal: finding Loki.
A lot of dolls were looking for Loki in those days.
The hunters were becoming the hunted as more and more people in warehouse three became tired of living under Loki's reign of terror. But Thor was not searching for the Loki, he was searching for his Loki. This Loki he believed to be kind, patient, and understanding- the exact opposite of the one with a target on his head. Thor claimed to have seen this Loki in a dream on the day he first came to life, and whenever he told this story to other dolls, nobody believed him. They had lived in a world of malice for so long, they did not think a world of compassion could exist.
Because of this dream, Thor was mostly alone.
Still, he never gave up hope. He wandered the warehouse day after day, only stopping to sleep whenever humans were around. There would come a time when he wandered a little too close to the humans' reach, and he would be put into a box and shipped away to another home.
It didn't bother Thor.
He would just learn to look elsewhere.

Chapter nine: The Mysterious Bird-Man
Wanda had learned to move on quickly. Every day, when Karl, or the Ancient One, or Kamala Khan entered her mind, she shooed those thoughts away with a reminder of her gratitude. Their small group of Avengers were all she had now, and they were enough.
By day, they traveled across the warehouse, sneaking by the humans' watchful eyes, and by night, they hid and rested, being wary of any sounds around them. Just because they had escaped didn't mean their past was willing- and ready- to catch up to them.
Despite this, Wanda felt she could relax. Sure, there was a target on her back and big and bold as the red leather jacket she always wore, but she felt protected among the guys. More protected than she had with her previous "family", who always warned her of danger that she had not even encountered until the day they had betrayed her. Chris, Tony, and Hawkeye didn't pay much attention to their present situation. Chris and Tony would always come by with a witty quip or pun or distract everyone, and Hawkeye never slept, allowing the others to let their guard down. Because of that, he was considered the leader of their group. Chris, since he was more responsible than his partner, became second-in-command. Tony was then designated to comic relief. Wanda wasn't sure what she brought to the group, if anything, and she was desperately eager to find her place. She wasn't going to settle for being the "token woman". Anything but that.
The role soon came whenever Chris and Tony were discussing their plans to leave the warehouse one night. Hawkeye was standing outside their hiding space, acting as a guard. Wanda's eyes kept darting to the entryway. She heard voices outside.
"Anyways, if we're ever going to leave, we're going to have to get the humans' attention somehow," said Tony. "They won't take four measly dolls shipped together. We need a bigger group."
"I heard somewhere that an Ant-Man doll got out in a group of six hero figures."
"Yeah, but he can get small," Tony sighed. "It's not fair."
"Not this Ant-Man," Wanda added. "I heard this, too. That Ant-Man wasn't a Blazing Soul."
"A what?"
Wanda shook her head. She felt like that should be kept a secret. It had certainly hurt her head whenever Karl and the Ancient One first revealed the secrets of the world to her. "Nevermind."
"It doesn't matter what he is. What matters is that he got out. In a group of six, huh?" Chris scratched his chin. "That doesn't seem too bad. I figure we can recruit a couple more dolls by the end of the week."
"Why the end of the week?" Wanda asked.
"Christmas." Chris said grimly.
"Christmas." Tony agreed, in the same tone of voice.
Wanda hadn't been living under a rock, although it had felt that way at times, what with the dark and cramped spaces. She knew that Christmas was important to most humans, and somehow, this important time meant a lot of toys were being ordered. After that time though, as soon as January came, any toy left behind in was sure to remain until next year. Nobody ordered nearly as many toys during the rest of the year than they did at Christmas.
Wanda sucked in her cheeks. "Well, you boys can leave that to me. The Ancient One used to provide sanctuary to lost and hunted dolls. Maybe we can do the same, and then we can take them to the humans and then," she shrugged. "Who knows what then. Hopefully we'll get shipped out and end up somewhere nice."
"Ain't that every doll's dream?" Chris laughed. "Okay, Wanda. You seem to know what you're doing; we'll leave you to it."
"It's the... 13th. December 13th," Tony said. "We'll give you until the 20th to find two more dolls. That's a week from today. Can you do that?"
Wanda smirked. "I'll try. It's not like I'm wanted dead or alive or anything like that."
"That's the spirit. We'll tell the plan to Hawkeye tomorrow."
At the mention of his name, Hawkeye's shadow dipped away from the entryway as he came in through the hole in the box that was their makeshift room. He cast his eyes upon Chris and Tony suspiciously.
"Hi, Bird-Man. What's up?" Tony asked casually.
Hawkeye grunted in reply.
"Who were you talking to?" Said Wanda.
"My brother," Hawkeye replied. "Saying goodbye." And that was all he said about that.
Chris watched Hawkeye cross the room and crawl into his box without so much as a backwards glance. He clapped his hands once. "Alright! Bedtime."
Chris and Tony went to their separate boxes, yet Wanda didn't move. She didn't have a box anymore. She had left it at the Ancient One's sanctuary, and with good reason. Hawkeye had warned her that going back was dangerous. Any identity outside of yourself was like painting a target on your back for the bounty hunters. Hiding was more important than comfort.
"And Wanda, hey," Tony hissed, minutes after Chris was breathing softly beside him. "It would also be okay for you to pick up a third doll for us."
"What? Why?"
Tony cocked his head at Hawkeye's box. "As a replacement for that guy. I don't fully trust him. I feel like he could be working for the..." he lowered his voice even more. "...the other guys."
Wanda secretly felt the same way. She didn't want to believe that she would be betrayed again. She knew that Chris and Tony had good hearts. Their actions were simple and intentional. Karl had been shifty, moving without noise, thinking deeply before speaking, and always avoiding eye contact with Wanda. He was afraid she could read him. She could. Chris and Tony were earnest. They hid nothing. Hawkeye, however, had his eyes concealed behind his purple glasses. He wore them all the time, but did he wear them when going to bed? Would he notice if someone took them away?
"Tony," Wanda whispered back. "I can read him. I mean, I can read his mind. I can do it tonight."
"Wanda, I'll love you forever," Tony settled back into his box. "You're excellent, you know that?"
Wanda smiled. She was excellent. People thought she was excellent. She wanted to prove that title correct. Wanda waited, sitting cross-legged to keep awake in the same way the Ancient One had taught her to. Tony's breathing followed, a deeper murmur than Chris's. Still no sounds from Hawkeye. Wanda groaned internally. Did the man ever sleep?
When the light began changing outside, Wanda decided that it had been long enough. It was now or never. She crawled across the floor until she reached Hawkeye's box. He was settled rigidly into the clear plastic casing, one hand an open fist and the other gripping his bow. It was unloaded. Wanda ran a finger across his palm delicate as a snowflake falling on hair. Hawkeye murmured, but not comprehensively. Yes! He was asleep.
Wanda locked her fingers under the glasses and lifted them away from Hawkeye's face. His eyes were ready for her now, shut in multiple creases that made him look old and worried. No wonder he wears these all the time, Wanda thought. She rested her hands on his temples and closed her eyes. Time to dive in.
There was the sucking sensation as his dream was transferred to her mind, which which common. Wanda had been expecting this. What she didn't expect was the voice that she heard, clear as day, fading in and out around her.
"My brother," were the words. "Saying goodbye."
In her mind's eye, they were outside the lair. It's brighter outside; it's not safe. She saw herself in Hawkeye's body, which would have been a welcome change had she not been distracted by another man that stood before her, hunched over and nursing a broken arm like a baby. He spoke to her.
"It's not so bad- really, it's not. Stop worrying about me."
"I should be worried," Hawkeye's voice responded, coming uncontrolled from her mouth. "I thought you died. I thought you died along with her."
The man looked up. It's another Hawkeye. It was like staring into a broken mirror. His eyes are shining with sorrow. "Yes. Her. Tatanya. I'm so sorry."
"Apologies won't bring her back," Hawkeye snapped, but then softened. "No, I'm sorry. It wasn't your fault. It isn't your fault she is gone. If anything, it's mine. I took the shot. I couldn't catch her when she fell," he paused. His head felt ready to burst. "I couldn't stop Loki from breaking your arm."
"I told you- it's nothing. You've been through worse than I have. I can get another arm... somewhere, somehow. You can't get another Tatanya."
You don't think I know that? Hawkeye screamed inwardly. In reality, his jaw was set. The glasses didn't show his emotions. He was composed. He was cool.
"But I see you have another woman in there. Who is she? Looks like-"
"Emily," Hawkeye finished. "It's not her. Another one like her, but not her. She's got powers. Big ones. She single-handedly defeated Loki and all of his minions. I saw it myself. I'm sure you heard of that, too."
"No wonder you're keeping her around," the other Hawkeye said, trying to make light of the situation. "I have heard of it from another source. I was kicked out of the bounty hunters whenever he broke my arm. What good is an archer if he can't shoot, right? Not like I was a good shot, anyways... they miss you, though."
Hawkeye clenched his fists. "Miss me? I'm replaceable. Loki saw me as nothing but a pawn in his little game."
"Yeah, but you were a special pawn. You were the queen... or whatever. Something like that. I've never played chess," the other Hawkeye waved his good arm around in the air, the one not bound together by packaging tape. "How is it, knowing that you'll never be safe in here again?"
"It's wonderful," Hawkeye sniffed, his jaw raised. "Refreshing, even. I have more freedom than I've ever known before."
"Yeah, and no fear of expiration, not with Emily 2.0 to protect you."
"I'm starting to worry that that's exactly as I see her," Hawkeye confessed. "Her name is Wanda. Not Emily. And yet... I feel that, by keeping Wanda by my side, guarding her, conversing with her, making sure she's never lonely... I feel like I'm redeeming myself. What I did to Emily was unforgivable, I-"
"I'm sure she forgives you," other Hawkeye said. "Emily was never one to hold a grudge, for as long as I've known her," he blinked, as if suddenly realizing or remembering something. "Oh god, my sister. I've known her forever. My sister. Emily."
"Hey," Hawkeye rested a hand on other Hawkeye's shoulder. "Do you need to come inside? You could sit down for a while. Chris and Tony are pretty accepting. You don't have to tell them that you were a bounty hunter. I didn't."
Other Hawkeye shook his head. "No, no. No. I'm fine. I'm okay," he inhaled and stood up as straight as he could. "Kamala has been kicked out, too. I'm living with her for now, and she gets all panicky whenever I'm out too long at night."
Hawkeye nodded once. That was understandable, given everything that had happened to them. "Be safe heading back, alright?"
"I will be," other Hawkeye turned on his heel and began to hobble away, but then he stopped. "I won't see you again, will I?"
"No," said Hawkeye grimly. "I have a feeling that Chris and Tony will want us out of the warehouse before Christmas. That's when most of us will be packed away."
"I don't think I will be. I'm a broken doll now. Nobody wants damaged goods."
"Not at a full price, anyways," Hawkeye managed a smile. He ran a finger under his friend's chin. "Keep your head up. Kamala is one of the smartest dolls I know. She was Loki's right-hand man for a good reason. I guarantee she'll have you in a box by the end of the week, even if she has to drag you there."
"She might have to." the doppelganger chuckled.
Something rustled close by. Both dolls sprung into action, like statues ready to strike.
"It's nothing," said the other Hawkeye. "A red light. Maybe from the warehouse alarms?"
"Yeah, maybe."
The doppelganger fell against Hawkeye in a half-hug. "We had a pretty good run, Clint. I'm glad you're my brother."
"Mm-hm." Hawkeye murmured. The words he wanted to say were building up inside him like rain in a cloud. They were bound to come out if he didn't leave now. And they were pushing Wanda away. Pushing her, forcing her, out of his head. Almost like... he was waking up.
Wanda lept back just in time, crouching in the shadows by the side of Hawkeye's box. He was sitting up now, rubbing the places where Wanda's hands had been. She tried to still her breathing, although it was difficult after all she had seen. How was Hawkeye still so calm?
"Wanda, I know you're in here." Hawkeye said. His voice was clear as day.
Wanda slunk further away from Hawkeye's vision. It didn't work.
"I can see you, Wanda."
"Hi, Hawkeye," she said sheepishly. "Just... um... checking up on you. I thought I heard something."
"You saw something," Hawkeye corrected, standing. "You were poking around in my head without permission."
"I had to!" She blurted. "Tony was thinking of kicking you out of the group. He thought you were up to something. He thought you were, you know..." Wanda stood and brushed off her dress. "Part of the bounty hunters."
"I was for a while," Hawkeye confessed. "I left whenever my job killed everything and everyone I loved. I know more about the ins and outs of their team than anyone else. It would be stupid to get rid of me."
"I know," Wanda bowed her head. "I'm sorry about what happened to you. It looks like neither of us had a very good start."
Hawkeye cleared his throat. "No. Things will be better when we get into a home. That's why we're leaving. Tomorrow."
Wanda started. "Tomorrow?" She hadn't even thought about which dolls to recruit next. They had no chance of making it out with just the four of them.
"I can tell Chris and Tony when night falls again. But Wanda-" he pointed a finger at her, more in fear than in warning. "You mustn't tell them what I was. This is the only chance I have to leave the life I destroyed. The dolls here won't rest until I'm dead."
"Yeah, me too." Wanda whispered.
"Come and take my box for the night. I can't sleep any more."
Wanda felt awkward and overwhelmed. She had seen enough for one day, and she wasn't about to refuse a comfortable bed. Hawkeye stood by the entryway again, probably thinking. Wanda assumed he was the kind of doll to think a lot. She wondered if that was good for a person. She didn't have to wonder for long. Sleep seized her hungrily as soon as her eyes were shut. Good thing, too. Tomorrow, she might be elsewhere.

Chapter ten: Like a Target
Rhodey had not expected them to leave the day after the two Hawkeyes reunited.
They abandoned their boxes early into the night, as soon as the last human left, and began their way across warehouse three to the packaging center.
"We'll be there first thing in the morning." The Captain America doll had said optimistically.
"Yeah, maybe they'll still take the four of us together," the Iron Man doll added, giving the red woman a small punch on the arm. "We'll be an exclusive set. People have seen sets of six. They haven't seen us, though."
The Hawkeye doll and the red woman were both tight-lipped for most of the journey. Each one kept continually glancing at the other nervously.
They reached the packaging center at dawn.
Tony pretended to hold a microphone to the mouth of his suit as he comically said, "Last stop: district one, home of warehouse three's packaging center. Here dolls of all shapes and sizes will be forced into cardboard prisons for any time between 2 days and 2 weeks to arrive at where... well, we don't know where. Good luck to you, brave cadets. This is the end of the line."
"Toot toot." Chris said, making a train noise.
Wanda shook her head gravely. "Buncha dorks. You shouldn't make so much noise. Loki could still be around here."
"Or someone Loki knows," said Hawkeye. "He's got eyes everywhere."
The four of them stopped to look around, holding their breaths as they scanned the scene. Nothing. No doll dared to be out when the humans were so close to arrival. Except Rhodey, who had cleverly been grabbing on to the underside of a work bench as they talked.
"Eyes everywhere? Sounds like a medical condition," Tony joked. He seemed to take nothing seriously. "Come on. Let's go find ourselves a nice box."
They came across one that was the perfect size. Well, it seemed perfect, until they looked harder.
"This one's already occupied." Said Chris, peering in. A curious red face stared back. Rhodey thought at first this was the famous Magenta, with how strange he looked, but no, this was a Vision.
"Are the four of you leaving?" The doll asked politely.
"That's the idea."
"Then come in. I've got room for more. I was just on my way out as well." Vision patted a spot beside him, offering the others to sit down. They clamored in, surprised at his hospitality. Rhodey sneaked along the side of the box, his ear pressed against the cardboard to listen in.
"How long have you been in here?" Hawkeye asked.
"Goodness knows," Vision replied. "I've just woken up. Somehow I've always been here, ready to get sent out. But nobody ever bothered to pick me. I wonder if it was because I didn't have enough dolls with me to do so," he locked eyes with the red woman and titled his head. "Yes... I feel that this is the right place for all of us."
They sat awkwardly in silence until Hawkeye coughed and asked someone to check the time.
"Eager, are we?" Said Vision.
"Maybe I've got a good reason to be."
"My apologies. It is five minutes to six. How unusual. Five of us, and five minutes left until we go."
Five minutes that couldn't pass quick enough, especially for Rhodey, who was struggling to find even the smallest amount of a disguise.
"Psst. James! Hey, James!" A doll whispered from the racks below.
If dolls had a heart, Rhodey's would have stopped then. He glanced over his shoulder. A small, feminine doll, with green skin and ombre hair, was standing below the workbench, waving her arms like she was attending a concert. Gamora, a doll who might have been his one and only friend, but still definitely a bounty hunter. James jumped to the ground as quietly as he could.
"What were you doing over here? Loki's been off the wall looking for you," she tapped a pointed finger on his chest light. "You're not that easy to find, you know. All you are is a little red light in the darkness. Wandering. Like a cat chasing a laser pointer." Gamora was grinning in her accomplishment before noticing that Rhodey wasn't.
"What's the matter with you? We gotta go back. The humans are gonna come in soon."
"I know, Gamora," he swallowed. His voice sounded too desperate for his own liking. "I gotta go."
"What do you mean, go?"
"Like, go. Leave forever. Find a home," he grabbed Gamora's hands. "I'm done here. Loki doesn't need me. He never did."
Gamora ripped her hands away. She started shouting. "What's gotten into you? We need you and you know it! You're coming back with me and reporting to Loki. Now."
Rhodey looked into Gamora's eyes and saw ruthlessness. If he let her go, she would run back and fetch Loki, but if he went with her, he'd be seeing Loki anyways. There were still five minutes left on the clock. He had to trust that Gamora couldn't run that fast.
He activated his jetpack and blasted away, but Gamora had been expecting this. She took off at an angry sprint, expertly dodging benches and boxes on her way to district three. Rhodey launched himself higher until the red woman and her team were within eyesight again. Rhodey alighted slipped into a neighboring box that was barely big enough to hold a set of matches. It would have to do. He compacted himself into a corner and held his breath. Please, Gamora. Please understand me this one time. Trust me, if you've seen what I've seen, you would want to leave, too.
The alarms sounded across the warehouse, piercing Rhodey's ears. But this time, he welcomed the ringing. Doors swung open and humans filed in to the floor. His box was shut and taped over, then strung together with the red woman's box. Rhodey breathed a sigh of relief. Sure, he was a still target, but at least he was a moving one now.

Chapter eleven: Suddenly Elsewhere
A last-minute addition was suddenly kicked into the box, loose with the rest of them. They didn't care about bubble wrap or styrafoam. They just wanted to be gone.
The doll tumbled head-over-shoulders and landed before them. He paid his fall no attention. Rather, he beamed up at them like this was the best day in the world. That was not so surprising. The dolls didn't know one Thor that didn't radiate sunshine 24/7.
"Nice to meet you all. My name is Thor." Were his first words.
"What do you know, we'll be a set of six after all." Said Tony happily.
"If you know what's good for you, you'll shut up right now." Hawkeye told them.
"There are a lot of dolls in here. Have any of you seen my brother Loki?"
"You mean the Loki who's currently trying to kill us?" Chris asked.
"No, no, surely not!" Thor babbled. "My Loki is a nicer one."
"You sure about that, point break?" Tony asked, a sorry mistake.
Thor began to shout, spiking the nerves of everyone in the box. "That out there is not my brother! I've met him in my dreams, and I know that he is kind, and I know that one day-"
"I'm sorry, but shut up." Wanda whispered, before sending a tendril of magic to Thor's temples. He immediately was taken into a wide-eyed, dreamlike state of focus and silence.
Hawkeye signed her a "thank you", and Wanda nodded. She didn't need to understand ASL to know he was grateful.
"What's the scoop on Loki?" Tony asked. "Can he take on a human? How about more than one human? That has to be easy to do if he can just paralyze them, right?"
"What?" Hawkeye gawked.
"He's got the scepter."
"It doesn't work." Wanda and Hawkeye said in unison. They turned to look at each-other, each one more confused than the other.
"It won't be of any use to him," Hawkeye concluded. "He doesn't have any powers."
"He's not a Blazing Soul," Wanda agreed with a nod. "He's Tier Three."
"Alright, great, I'm glad you guys know that and we don't." Said Tony.
"Regardless, he's still a threat," Chris said. "We'll be safe as soon as we are in the truck. Until then, lay low and keep your voices down. Remember that all cardboard looks the same."
That became the team's mantra as they passed from conveyor to conveyor, hand to hand. All cardboard looks the same. All cardboard looks the same. They began to convince themselves that the humans had everything under control. They began to believe that the entire doll army would not be able to find them in time before they were packed away. They began to let their guard down, just a little. All cardboard looks the same. All cardboard looks the same. They will never find you. You will never see this place again.
The box shifted, and the dolls tumbled headfirst into a corner like marbles in a tin can. Cool metal flooring radiated from under the box. They were in the truck. There were a shriek and a thud with the doors shutting behind them, and the tiny window the packaging tape had formed was no longer letting in light. The fight was over.
"We're on our way to a new home." Vision whispered. He locked eyes with Wanda. "Things will be better now, won't they?"
"You tell me, Snorlax." Tony quipped. "We found you alone and asleep without a care in the world. Meanwhile, we've been running for our lives."
"I was not sleeping," Vision insisted. "Although I admit I was dreaming. Of horrible, terrible things... beyond imagination," he blinked. "I feel like they are supposed to mean something. Like... a vision, if I may say... of the past or the future. I cannot tell which."
"Let's hope it's the past," said Chris. "This is the chance for a new life. We don't need to carry any tragedy with us."
"Your story is hardly tragedy." Vision scoffed.
"Like you know!" Tony argued.
"This isn't helping." Hawkeye grunted.
"Haweye is right. We're all arguing like mortal enemies. I thought we were trying to be a family." Said Vision.
"We're not family." Said Hawkeye, embittered by the word.
"What are we, then?" Wanda asked.
No one knew. They embraced the rumbling of the truck rumbling beneath them, the tilt and shift with each turn they made to exit the lot. The increasing acceleration let them know that whatever they had left was far behind them now. For a couple of days, an ill-padded cardboard box and an Amazon delivery truck would be their lives. And then what? Somewhere in a child's toy chest, or in a glass display case in a fan's collection, or lost and forgotten under a bed or in the attic.
"We're out. This is the highway now," Chris stated. "Wanda, you can lift your spell on Thor?"
"I can't hold him much longer, anyways," Wanda admitted, pulling her hex away from Thor's head and back into her hands. "His mind is very strong, surprisingly."
Thor spluttered back to life like he was resurfacing from the sea. He shouted something incomprehensible in what everyone assumed was Norwegian, then watched, unphased, as Thor paced around the interior of the box, hitting walls and stumbling over the ground. Eventually, he ran out of fury when he hit his head- and hard. He wobbled, fell, and began snoring.
"Wonderful," Tony commented. "He's definitely not going to remember anything about us."
"We can play along when he comes to," Chris laughed. "Pretend like we've never seen him before, re-introduce ourselves. He might give us a break about finding his brother."
"He will get cold laying like that." Vision observed. He tugged at the ends of his cape, hoping it would become loose from his shoulders. It was firmly stuck. Vision shrugged and rolled onto his back, laying at Thor's side so that his yellow cape would cover Thor's sleeping body. Vision folded his fingers over his stomach and closed his eyes peacefully. No one was sure what to make of such an action. It was like a robot trying to replicate empathy.
"Not gonna lie, a nap sounds nice." Said Tony.
"I swear you've just read my mind." Said Chris, laying next to Tony as they set their arms around each-other's shoulders.
"That's Wanda's job," Tony pointed at Wanda, whose mouth turned up in a sad little smirk. She was feeling awfully tired after holding Thor steady for so long. And a nap would make the time in the box pass a little quicker... "Come join us, mind-reader."
Wanda shrugged and curled into a fetal position at Thor's other side and watched as Hawkeye stared down at them, the shadows in the box obscuring all emotion in his face.
"You too, Hawkeye?" She asked. "Come on. It's December out there. You'll freeze if we don't conserve as much warmth as possible."
"I'm fine."
Wanda titled her head. The smallest gesture; the quietest question. Hawkeye rolled his hands and laid down at Wanda's feet, no magic required to convince him. Wanda smiled as she felt Hawkeye grab her heel. It wasn't going to be enough warmth from her body to carry on to his, but it was a start. Hawkeye wasn't a bad egg, she thought. Besides, all eggs can be cracked. Wanda hated when anyone felt left out, and luckily, she had only begun to find his weak spots.
The Pocket-Sized Avengers, as they had later decided to be called, were to awake in the new home by January 3rd, 2018. It was a new year in a new home.
And maybe... just maybe... it would be a new family.


-Loki

T.E.A. with Benny and Napoleon

Despite our absence for almost a month now, no, the blog is not dead.
As Elsa will probably mention in her Halloween post (due to come out in early November), October is a busy month in my family. And now that I'm a college kid, midterms were stacked onto that already-congested schedule. Well, I guess saying "kid" is a stretch now, since I had my birthday this month, and the number is big enough to tell me otherwise. And while Elsa, Moana, or Loki, could have used this time to write, what was there to write about? Life was pretty simple for them when I was always away from home. I figured I could reach a happy medium between my active life and their boring on the day of Halloween, when I decided to pull Benny and Napoleon aside to carve pumpkins with them.
Welcome to T.E.A. with She and the nutcracker brothers!
***
Benny and Napoleon were strange characters on the blog.
Elsa had written their stories back in Christmas of 2014, and ever since then, they seemed contented with remaining the extras in the movie of their own lives. Hadn't their stories continued on? Why was nobody including them? Perhaps they were, but as I was reading the posts past to present, neither Benny nor Napoleon interacted much with the other dolls. I get enjoying solitude, but it had to get lonely after a while. I would know, so that made me the perfect person to pull me into the fun of life.
I found the brothers in what the dolls had dubbed "the library". In reality, it was my parent's bedroom, with the computer room connected, where my dad had bookcases full of hundreds upon hundreds of books. I'm a poet, probably, so I had little interest in the books he bought. Biographies, state attraction guides, and survival manuals, and of course, American history books. I had no doubt that Napoleon loved these, and Benny was just tagging along to help his brother learn to read.
"No, look here. It says providence. The capital of Providence in Rhode Island." Benny explained, pointing to a book that was stood open in front of Napoleon.
"Not residence?" The other nutcracker asked.
"No."
Napoleon straightened his collar. "At least I got the second part right."


"You guys doing okay?" I asked tentatively, passing through the doorway to the library and trying to keep my footsteps as loud as possible as not to surprise them.
"Yes, we're alright," Benny sighed. "A little frustrated, I suppose. Napoleon has been needing a refresher course after losing most of his American history knowledge to amnesia that one time."
"Things were a lot easier back in the gift shop. All they would have to do is play videos. Documentaries every day on repeat. A much easier way to consume knowledge." Napoleon huffed.
"I remember." I said. When I was, God, I should say... maybe five years old? Older or younger... I'm not sure... my grandpap took me to a national park up north somewhere. The park to me didn't matter, as I didn't have much appreciation for nature when I had seen a shiny Christmas nutcracker in the gift shop when we had went in to pay for tickets to the incline. That nutcracker all I could think about. I must have annoyed my grandpap enough during the incline ride and the hike around the park, so he went back into the gift shop and bought it for me. The trick was, I had to wait until Christmas. I agreed, even though Christmas was six months away. It's amazing what lengths kids will go to whenever they want something bad enough. 
And now there he was, standing before me, alive as anyone you'd run into on the street. It was a weird world I lived in, yet certainly a less lonesome one now.
"I'm glad you can remember." Said Napoleon bitterly.
"I'm sorry. Poor choice of words. Can I make it up to you?"
"How?"
"Well, if you guys are willing to take a break... I got some mini pumpkins that need carving, and I've got a couple hours to spare before class..." I stopped talking, as they could see where this was going. They made no argument against putting their book down for another day and helping me set up the bedroom for a pumpkin carving session, complete with tools, buckets, and old mail laid out to protect the floor.


"Is this a Christmas catalog?" Benny asked, his whiskers prickling with intrigue as he flipped through the pages.
"Yeah, I guess. They've sent us those magazines for years, but we never buy anything. They're just fun to look at."
"I'd imagine you'd get some good ideas from it." Napoleon mentioned. 
"As a matter of fact, I might be," Benny said. "Do you have any more white pumpkins?"
"Downstairs." I said vaguely, concentrating more on cutting a perfect circle around the stem of my pumpkin than the mischievous nutcracker who had just run out of the room.
"What do you think he's up to?" Napoleon asked.
"Trouble."
"That much is obvious."
Napoleon stared at his pumpkin for a while, a squat orange one, before realizing that he hadn't yet hollowed out the middle.
"Stumped on the design?"
"Not terribly. I just realized this is my first time ever pumpkin-carving. I never thought I'd be able to. Every year I smell pumpkin like this right before Halloween, but I always thought it was someone baking a pie, or a cake, or something tasty."
"No," I laughed in agreement. "I would not eat pumpkin guts."
"I wouldn't, either, even if I could," Napoleon winced. He reached into the hole at the top and came out with armfuls of stringy, odorous slime. "This is stickier than I would have thought."
The door burst open, though probably not intentionally, as another small white pumpkin, similar to the one that was already at Benny's carving station, rolled through. Benny came in with a stumble in his step, holding a third white pumpkin that covered his entire line of view.


"Benny, that pumpkin probably weighs more than you!" I exclaimed, taking the pumpkin from his arms and setting it down. "Just what are you going to do with it?"
Benny brushed himself off. "Thank you. I'm going to build a snowman."
"A snowman."
"Yes, that's what I said."
"With pumpkins?"
Benny shrugged. "Why not?"
"Fine, but I'm not helping you if it involves more pumpkin guts." Napoleon said, sloughing another scoop into the bowl beside him.
"No pumpkin guts." Benny stated.
"Count me in."
Napoleon dropped his work immediately to assist his brother with stacking pumpkins and placing pins to hold them together. They tied scarves and stabbed sticks in the same ways you would a regular snowman.
As I watched them work together, I couldn't help but smile. I thought about the brotherly bond they had, despite not being actual brothers. Sure, I knew that no one in the doll world was related by blood, as there was no blood between plastic, but I wondered if they knew that they weren't always this way. Napoleon was one of my first dolls, ever, which made him special enough to leave out all year 'round, even when it wasn't Christmas. Benny came a little later, but they probably didn't realize the time difference after Benny was being put in the attic year after year. Benny had not come from the same shop as Napoleon had. In fact, it was far from that. Benny was a dollar store nutcracker, a nutcracker people buy one year and toss out the next. They weren't practical by any means of cracking nuts, and only a few of them were "pretty". Something about Benny was different. I think he was one of the first things I'd bought on my very own. I was seven years old when I began receiving an allowance from my parents. It wasn't much, so the dollar store was the place to go for impulse buys at that age. Benny had been an impulse buy, too, but the difference was, I couldn't let him go. The fad never faded with him. How could I have one brother and not the other, after all?


"What do you think of our snowman, She?" Napoleon asked.
I set down my knife and looked over my shoulder at their creation. It was a snowman... I think. I titled my head to match it's tower-of-Pisa lean.
"Um... it's interesting." I said, as nicely as I could.
"Oh, we know it's ugly," Benny replied. "Admittedly, pumpkin carving is more difficult than we thought."
"And we didn't even carve it!" Napoleon added.
"What do you think of mine?" I grinned and rotated my pumpkin their way. It was a ghoulish thing, with narrowed eyes and a large, hungry mouth, with teeth marked in the orange flesh. It was pretty ugly, too, but intentionally so. Save the beauty for Christmas, right?
"I like it, but I feel like it's missing something." I explained.
"Hm... I think I know what it might be."
"What is it?"
Napoleon went back over to his own pumpkin and finally started carving. "You'll see. It'll be horrifying. David Pumpkins will be proud."
"He had better be," Benny sniffed. "We suffered long enough for these pumpkins."
Napoleon laughed. "You suffered? You haven't got a spot of guts on you!" He picked up a string of the innards that was lying limp on the catalog and tossed it at his brother. It wrapped immediately around Benny's shoulder. Benny squealed like a small rodent and threw it onto the ceiling.
And... it stuck there.
"Uh oh."
"It's okay," I said, not caring one bit. "Let's see how long it lasts up there. What's your bet? Wait until Thanksgiving or see if my parents notice before then?"
"What's the reward?"


"More pumpkin guts." I giggled, throwing another handful of the strings around.
Benny dodged it, squealing again. "Why are they so cold and wet? This is disgusting! I am never carving pumpkins again!"
"Aw, but I thought we were having fun," I paused. "Weren't you guys having fun?"
"It was nice until it became a food fight." Benny crossed his arms.
"Okay, okay, food fight over. But seriously. Why don't you guys participate more in the others' adventures? You know, the ones that are written on the blog?"
Benny and Napoleon looked at each-other awkwardly, looking for an answer.
"Well, it's not that we weren't invited. It wasn't a matter of invitation." Benny eventually spoke.
"We do other fun things," Napoleon said. "Whenever Elsa uses her powers to create a snow day, we'll do that, or whenever there's an air hockey tournament in the basement, we'll play a game or two."
"We're old souls, She. We've done everything there is to do."
"You haven't carved pumpkins."
"What Napoleon and I are trying to say is... we find entertainment in other things. Right now we're trying to gain as much wisdom as we can. When Elphaba's not using the iPad, we watch nonfiction movies. We spend a lot of time in your library. Sometimes we go outside and Westley tells us what leaves are from which trees, and what time of year you'll see certain birds... and well, maybe you don't understand at your age, but for us... that is fun."
"I just don't want anyone to feel left out. I didn't have a lot of friends growing up. Probably because I was obsessed with dolls," I managed a small smile, but it still hurt. "I feel responsible for you guys. Whenever something goes wrong, I want to be there. Whenever something good happens, I want to be a part of it. You're like my second family."
The nutcracker brothers fixed me like a sympathetic gaze. They looked truly appreciated.
"Don't worry about us, She," Benny said. "We're just two old men enjoying our lives as we see fit. But humans... humans can do so much more than we can. We're not jealous. We're not sad. We want to see you live your life in the best way you can. If that's spending time with dolls, that's fine. But don't forget what you are." Benny placed his little wooden hand upon mine. Both were alive, but only one of them was living.


Napoleon coughed. "Elphaba talks about dating apps. Do they have one for finding friends? Human friends?"
I laughed. "I dunno, probably. I'll look into it later. Or maybe I'll just stop being a coward and start talking to people."
"That's the spirit. 'Down with the cowardice!' That's what president Roosevelt always said."
"Did he really?"
"No, I just made that up," Napoleon chuckled, believing that to be the funniest joke in the world. He bent and lifted the miniature pumpkin which he had now finished carving. "Anyways, here's the pumpkin I made you."
"You made me a pumpkin?" I gasped, feeling suddenly like a mother feigning shocked over her toddler's arts project. It was a simple pumpkin, but it was a very good one. Sad, expressive eyes with an equally sad mouth, downturned into a frightened sob.
"I thought you might want to put it in your pumpkin's mouth."
"Like a cannibal?"
"Yes... actually, there was a cannibalistic event in America in the 1850s..."
"Stop, stop, okay, I've heard enough! Cannibal pumpkins are all I can handle." I wedged Napoleon's pumpkin in my own pumpkin's mouth. It was a perfect fit, both physically and metaphorically.
"Just wait until your family sees this nonsense." Said Benny.
"Oh, don't worry, they love creepy stuff," I said, taking the pumpkin into my arms. "Shall we put these by the fireplace?"
"Have you got any tealight candles? They'll look better in the dark."
"But of course," I replied. "Benny, let me help you with that snowman."


I placed them by the fireplace downstairs with the rest of the indoor Halloween decorations, including the pumpkin my sister had carved and our tiny army of gourds.
"There, all ready for Halloween," I stated proudly, stepping back to admire them. Yep, my parents were going to think I was seriously messed up after they got home and saw this. Whatever, I thought. It was fun. "Should I make some tea now?"
The nutcrackers decided yes. Our tea of choice was blackberry cinnamon and candy corn was our snack.


"It's nice to relax like this," Napoleon said. "Especially after what happened yesterday."
"Mm-hm," I agreed, taking a sip of my tea so I didn't have to talk. On the 30th, the dolls had their Halloween celebration, it was certainly a day they would not soon forget. But it wasn't my job to talk about it. It was my job to stand outside and give candy to the trick-or-treaters. Don't worry, a blog post is coming soon, and I think you'll like it.


See you when it's time for T.E.A.,
She