At last, I've got a little time on the computer! Beast'sbelle was working on her checkbook for several hours this afternoon (something about a math error or two...she was really stressed out!), and I was beginning to think I'd never get a chance to do this post! :}
Like I mentioned in either an earlier post or an earlier comment, last Saturday my friends came to help me get my room ready before the wedding. I still felt really self-conscious about being the only one with a room of my own, but none of the other girls seemed to mind. They've all been really nice about it. Rapunzel even pointed out that I was the logical one to get my own room, since Belle was Beast'sbelle's favorite Disney Princess. It still made me feel weird to be so favored, though.
Before we got to work, we all sat and visited for a while. I'd really missed being able to visit whenever I wanted (yet another reason I'm not a fan of my room: it keeps me too isolated!). Cordelia was not able to make it, as she'd recently been moved to the curio with Marguerite and Raoul, but Tiana, Isabella and Rapunzel all came. It was kind of nice that way, though. These three were the ones I was the closest to.
"I can't believe the wedding's less than a week away!" I said with a mixture of excitement and nervousness (remember, this was Saturday). ;)
Rapunzel smiled over at me. "I'm so happy for you and Robby, Belle. Married life is wonderful. You two will love it!"
I blushed. "It's just crazy to think that by this time next week, I'll be Robby's wife. I feel happy and nervous and giddy and a little queasy. What on earth is wrong with me?"
Rapunzel laughed. "I think that's pretty normal. I had to make myself eat the week before my wedding. I was so on edge that I couldn't get rid of the butterflies in my stomach!"
"Still, in spite of your nervousness, you must be very pleased, no?" Isabella remarked in her lovely French accent. "To be getting married to the one you love more than any other...it is so romantic!" And she let out a huge, dreamy sigh.
Rapunzel and I giggled, and Isabella joined in. I never would have thought that I'd come to love this dramatic, dreamy, fashion-obsessed doll as a dear friend. When she first arrived, I thought she was shallow and waayy too excited about clothes. But little by little, I'd come to know the real Isabella, the doll who was fiercely loyal to her friends, always keeping her eye out for others, and full of passionate ideas and dreams. She also had an absolutely gorgeous singing voice, even better than Rapunzel's! Sigh. I would feel slightly better if at least one of the other dolls Beast'sbelle brought home was tone deaf like me. ;)
She still tended to randomly change her outfit every few minutes, but it didn't annoy me as much as it used to. I was still glad for my less involved wardrobe, but I didn't see why I had to get so worked up over something so harmless that brought her so much joy.
Tiana had also become a special part of our group in a very short amount of time. She was one of those dolls that you couldn't help liking. She always had a smile on her face and always had a positive, upbeat outlook on life. Plus, she could sing just like Anika Noni Rose (the voice of the actual Tiana).
"So, what did you have in mind for us today, Belle?" Tiana asked in her sweet southern drawl.
"Well, I'd like to get some decorations up on the walls, and maybe organize my other things. I don't know...I think some stuff will just have to wait until Robby gets here and we decide the best place for things together."
Tiana nodded. "That's understandable. But I'm sure we can spruce this place up in no time!"
"First things first, though," I said with mock seriousness. "You were going to tell us a little bit more about yourself, remember?"
Tiana looked embarrassed. "I guess we did have that conversation, didn't we?"
We all nodded. Rapunzel and I waited expectantly, while Isabella settled herself on the floor and leaned back against the bed.
"Are you sure you don't want to work on the room first?" Our newest friend seemed uncomfortable in the spotlight.
"It can wait," I encouraged her.
"Well, as you know, I started out at the Disney Store, just like you two." She motioned to Rapunzel and I as she said this. "It wasn't a bad place to be, although I wasn't a big fan of the twist ties and the confined box."
I shuddered just remembering my original box. I was so glad that Beast'sbelle liked opening her dolls. Well, most of them. My gaze wandered over to her boxed Belle dolls across the room. I was really glad I wasn't fancy enough to be one of them!
"I'll never forget the day I was put on the shelf," Tiana continued softly. "They had so many of us, so I ended up being a few boxes back from the front row. I was a little claustrophobic at first, but then I noticed the doll in the box next to me...a Naveen doll." Her eyes brightened as she mentioned him. "Of course, at this point, I didn't really know anything about our movie or who he was, but it was pretty easy to tell that he was supposed to go with me. We were in matching outfits, and all of the Tianas like me were paired up with Naveens." She chuckled lightly. "One of the first things he did was to turn his head my direction...as much as he could in his box...and wink right at me. It kind of shocked me, but it was sort of cute at the same time. And he was so handsome! I suddenly didn't feel trapped anymore."
Rapunzel and Isabella let out a simultaneous sigh, and Tiana and I laughed.
"We were in the store for a few months, always side by side, so we had a good chance to get to know each other a bit. It was a little hard to hear each other through the plastic and cardboard of our boxes, but we managed. Every night, when the dolls would have their sing alongs, Naveen always sang out at the top of his lungs. He had the most wonderful voice! During the day, he would purposely try to make me laugh whenever a human came by. He was such a tease." She shook her head, smiling at the memory.
"The more we got to know each other, the closer we became. I couldn't imagine life without him. We both hoped that we would be selected by the same human, and our chances seemed pretty good, since we were always next to each other. What would be more logical than for a human to select the Tiana and Naveen right next to each other?" Tiana's smile dimmed slightly as she continued. "Well, the day finally came when someone lifted my box off of the shelf. But something was wrong. She wasn't even looking in Naveen's direction! She just kept looking me over from head to toe, as if she wanted to make sure I was just perfect. She turned me over to check the back of my box, and I found myself face to face with my Naveen for the first time. I noticed that his face mold was a little uneven on one side, but he was still the most handsome doll in the room in my eyes." She stopped suddenly, as if the memories were too painful.
Isabella sniffled and wiped her eyes. Rapunzel and I sat on the edge of our seats, waiting as Tiana collected herself.
"Our eyes met for one brief moment, and we saw our worst fears mirrored in them. We both knew instinctively that we wouldn't be going to the same home. But Naveen held my eyes with his and said as clearly as he could through the plastic: 'Tiana, I'll never stop looking for you. We will be together someday, I promise. Don't forget me!' I just had time to nod before I felt my box moving again. The woman took me to the counter and paid for me, and I was put in a bag that blinded my vision. But I could hear him calling after me the entire time: 'Don't forget, Tiana! Wait for me!' "
After another brief pause, Tiana continued. "My new home was nice enough, I suppose. I was freed from my box, but held in place by a doll stand with such a firm grip that I couldn't escape, even when everyone was asleep. There were a few other collectible dolls there, but they weren't very sociable. I was never posed or played with. And every day and night, I thought of my beloved Naveen and wondered how he would ever find me."
"So how did you end up at Goodwill?" I asked curiously.
Tiana looked pained. "I'm not really sure what happened. Maybe I wasn't fancy enough, maybe she lost interest. Whatever the reason, the woman decided to donate me. But I'd rather not talk about that place," she said with a shudder. "The workers are nice enough, but there are some really rough dolls there who have been through a lot. They were unfriendly just because I was in such nice shape and..." she rubbed her arm uncomfortably. "Well, I'm just glad that Beast'sbelle found me when she did!"
"So you never saw Naveen again?" Rapunzel asked softly.
Tiana shook her head. "No," she answered. "But I've never forgotten him, and I never will. I still hold on to the hope that someday he'll find me, or I'll find him."
It seemed pretty unlikely to me. It was an awfully big world for two dolls to try to be reunited in. But even as my logical side pointed this out, I found myself hoping that Tiana and Naveen really would be together again.
Isabella was unashamedly wiping tears from her eyes. "That was such a beautiful story!" she sniffed. "I am sure that someday you and your true love will be reunited! It would be too cruel if you didn't." She sighed again. "Ah, to be loved like that!"
Tiana gave her a gentle smile. "Thank you, Isabella. All I can do is hope. And I'm sure someday you'll find someone special too." She glanced slyly over her shoulder towards the shelf where Ben sat with the others. "Maybe he's not that far away."
Isabella looked down at her hands resting in her lap. "I don't think so," she whispered. "He does not seem to notice I exist." She blushed.
Tiana reached over and took her hand. "I'm sorry, Isabella. I just thought you seemed interested...I didn't know."
"He's...recovering from losing someone he loved," I explained briefly.
"Or perhaps two someones," Rapunzel added under her breath.
I elbowed her, and she hid a smile.
"Well, it's about time to work on the room, don't you think?" I said a little too quickly.
Everyone agreed, and we all got started holding things up to the wall to see where they would look best.
We didn't get everything done, but it was a good start. They gave me some great ideas, and as of today, I'm nearly ready. :) I hope Robby is happy with the results.
That night, as I lay awake in bed, waiting for sleep to claim me, I thought back over Tiana's sad story. Once again, I found myself wishing that her special Naveen would somehow be able to find her. I remembered that Beast'sbelle had mentioned ordering a Naveen from the Disney Store. I decided not to mention it to Tiana. I mean, what were the odds that he would be the Naveen? That would be a pretty amazing coincidence.