Sorry it's been so long since my last post! Between Beast'sbelle's room rearranging, traveling, and her family's sickness, there hasn't been much to report. Robby, Rapunzel, Eugene and I have been staying in the same spot for ages, waiting for the day we can escape.
Today was the day we were finally able to get up and move around a bit more than usual. Beast'sbelle got out a lovely new Christmas dress for me to wear. Since Rapunzel didn't have a very Christmasy dress, I let her borrow one of my favorites.
Beast'sbelle had decided that our corner looked a little drab, so she let us borrow a string of lights to drape over the doll boxes however we chose.
Robby and Eugene set to work immediately. Rapunzel and I offered our advice as they worked...I'm not sure whether they appreciated that or not. ;)
I was so relieved that Beast'sbelle at least let us have some lights. I'd watched as the 18 inchers on the other side of the room decorated their rooms with all sorts of beautiful and festive items. I'd felt quite forgotten in our little corner on the curio. Secretly, I'd hoped for a Christmas tree of our own, but I knew I couldn't expect that much. It wasn't as if we had a display or room or anything.
"How's the dress?" I asked Rapunzel suddenly, realizing I'd never had a chance to talk to her about it.
She smiled in her calm, gentle way, but her eyes sparkled. "It fits perfectly. Thanks for letting me borrow it." She squeezed my hand. "I know how special it is to you."
"No problem," I stated quickly. "You had to be festive too." I glanced at my friend approvingly. "I have to say...that dress makes your eyes look amazing."
Rapunzel laughed. "Eugene's been going on and on about my eyes ever since I put this on."
"I can see why," I chuckled. "They look greener than ever."
At that moment, Eugene appeared at Rapunzel's side. "All righty, they're all plugged in. I'm going to go get the girls." He stopped for a moment. "Man, Babe, your eyes are just...wow!" He leaned in and gave Rapunzel a quick kiss on the cheek.
She glanced over at me with a coy look. "What did I tell you?"
I tried to hide my smile.
"If you're going to get the girls, I can come with you," Robby piped up from behind us. He said it casually, but I knew him well enough to recognize the desperation in his voice. He was really ready to get away from the curio while he had the chance.
Eugene nodded. "Sure!" He glanced at me and Rapunzel mischievously. "That is, if these two can stand being without us for that long."
"We'll try to endure," Rapunzel said in a dramatic voice, winking over at him. They kissed again before Eugene headed to the end of the curio. I blew a kiss to Robby just before they disappeared over the edge.
When the boys had gone, Rapunzel and I settled ourselves comfortably next to each other. It had been ages since we'd had time for just the two of us.
Well, sort of "just the two of us". It was so horribly awkward to share the curio with three of Beast'sbelle's boxed dolls. I knew that Deluxe Belle's plastic was pretty thick, but I wasn't sure about the other two. Just how much did they hear of our conversations?
I went back and forth between frustration and pity. How miserable it must be to be stuck in one's box, watching other dolls freely move about just in front of you, acting like you weren't there! But I never knew how to include them in things. I had to repeat everything to Deluxe Belle, and even if Broadway Belle and Special Sparkles Belle could hear, there wasn't much they could do with us, confined as they were.
"I'm so glad Beast'sbelle finally finished rearranging things. It's really nice knowing that we're not just stuck here forever," Rapunzel's sentence interrupted my complicated thoughts.
I nodded. "The new shelves have worked out really nicely for Robby, too, so that's a relief. I'm glad he doesn't have to do so much jumping and dropping."
(I just realized that you guys haven't seen Beast'sbelle's new arrangement yet, so here's a picture.)
"How's Robby been doing?" Rapunzel asked.
"All right," I answered. "Staying in one place for too long is hard on his joints, but he gets tired if he does too much, so it can be difficult finding the right balance of activity and rest." I picked at a bit of lint on my dress. "I'd really hoped that by now things would be a little better for him. It's been a year since the injury..."
"I'm sorry," Rapunzel said compassionately. "I can't imagine how hard it is for you to see him going through all that and not be able to help."
I nodded. "And I have to be careful not to bring it up too much, because he gets embarrassed about it."
I picked up a small candle that Beast'sbelle had left beside us (with strict instructions NOT to light it...she was slightly paranoid at the thought of all of us going up in flames). ;)
"I suppose in some ways it's gotten easier..." I mused as I took off the lid of the candle. "Even though it's still painful, I think he's getting used to coping with it."
"Have you considered asking Ben about it?" Rapunzel said. "He might have some suggestions."
Ben was our resident doll physician...or at least the closest thing we had to a physician. The fact that he had been a former love interest of mine complicated the matter a bit, though.
I chewed my bottom lip carefully. "I've thought about it, but it has to be Robby's decision, and he can be kind of stubborn." I smiled slightly. "That would be slightly awkward for me to talk to Ben about Robby anyway."
Rapunzel shared my smile. "Hasn't it gotten any easier to talk to Ben after all this time?"
"Maybe a little..." I answered slowly. "But he's still so somber. I was really hoping he and Isabella..."
"You and everyone else," Rapunzel interjected, "including Beast'sbelle."
I laughed. "Yeah, I'm not sure how she's going to do if Ike and Rowena end up together. I'm pretty sure he was Beast'sbelle's second choice for Isabella." I bent over and sniffed the candle. "Oh, wow, have you smelled this? It's amazing!"
"Whoa, wait a minute...Ike and who?" Rapunzel asked incredulously.
I stopped enjoying the candle and looked up, suddenly realizing my mistake. I'd never talked to Rapunzel about my suspicions!
"Whoops...I forgot I never mentioned that to you," I said casually, setting the candle aside. I knew my friend would have no interest in it now.
"I've just noticed that Ike and Rowena seem to be getting pretty close," I said, blushing a bit. "Don't tell Robby! He'll think I'm meddling."
Rapunzel smiled gently. "Your secret's safe with me...although making an observation is not the same thing as trying to arrange their lives." She paused. "I'm assuming you haven't done that..."
"Heavens, no!" I protested. "If I'd done anything, which I wouldn't, it would have been to try to get Isabella and Ike together. I think they'd make a cute couple, don't you? Besides, it would help her get over her disappointment with Ben."
We looked over towards the shelf where our friend stood displayed next to the other Belle and Rapunzel dolls.
"Don't worry about Isabella," Rapunzel reassured me. "These things take time...you know that more than anyone!" She looked thoughtful. "Hmm, a Rapunzel doll and a Beast/Prince doll. I didn't see that coming!"
I nodded. "I have a feeling it might take Beast'sbelle a while to get used to the idea. You know how she is about movie accuracy and everything." I rolled my eyes, and Rapunzel laughed.
My gaze drifted to our curio space and my thoughts drifted to other subjects. "I must say, this is not how I expected to spend my first Christmas as a married doll."
"What do you mean?" Rapunzel asked curiously.
"Oh, I don't know," I said in embarrassment. "I guess I was hoping for...well...at least a tree of our own or something. And perhaps a few more romantic getaways or something."
Rapunzel smoothed her skirt. "I'll admit it's not the most festive corner of the room," she began, "but Christmas is what you make of it. If you have each other, that's all that really matters, right?"
I nodded quickly, feeling silly. "Of course!" I answered firmly, more for my benefit than hers.
"We're back!" Eugene's voice called from the end of the curio.
A look of delight came over Rapunzel's features. She sprang up and raced over to her family.
For the last half of the year, Beast'sbelle had decided to store Abigail and Emmaline in one of her plastic drawers, so Eugene and Rapunzel had only been able to visit them. Rapunzel had sent Pascal with her daughters to keep watch over them. He'd been instructed to come alert her at the slightest sign of trouble. Still, the separation had taken its toll on my friend. So last week, they'd asked Beast'sbelle if they could keep the girls with them during the Christmas season. Thankfully, Beast'sbelle, being a mother herself, had understood Rapunzel's plight and said that the girls could stay with them from now on. I think she felt a little embarrassed by the unintentional pain she'd caused.
The girls looked quite comfy. Emmaline was strapped next to Eugene's waist with his belt, and Abigail looked quite snug in his satchel.
I noticed that Pascal had joined the party, too. He was perched comfortably on Robby's shoulder.
Rapunzel took both girls into her arms the minute she reached them. Pascal, longing to be closer to Rapunzel and the girls, jumped from Robby's shoulder to Eugene's, and then settled himself on Eugene's belt. The babies cooed and cuddled against Rapunzel while Eugene and Pascal looked on.
I watched the tender scene before me with a smile on my face. I was so happy for my friend. She and Eugene had adjusted well to being parents and were very happy with their little family. Someday, perhaps, that would be Robby and I, but I wasn't sure I was ready for that yet.
Robby caught my eye from across the curio and gave me a little smile. I knew he was happy for our friends, too.
Before long, we settled in the center of the curio together. I tried not to notice the grimace on Robby's face as he took his seat again. He would be embarrassed if he caught me staring.
Just as I got situated, Pascal sprang into my lap and cuddled up against my hands. It was the first time he'd ever done that! For the record, I'm really glad he was plastic and not a real chameleon. I'm not usually a fan of reptiles, but cute plastic ones are okay. ;)
"Well," Rapunzel grinned, seeing her pet in my lap. "Someone's become a fan of yours."
I laughed nervously. "I'm not really sure why!"
Rapunzel's grin spread. "He knows a good doll when he sees one."
Just then, Beast'sbelle came bustling in, scrambled about the room for a bit, and turned out the overhead lights.
"Perfect! Now we get to test out our new Christmas lights," Eugene joked.
Rapunzel rolled her eyes at him affectionately, and he kissed her forehead.
I turned to Robby and saw that he was watching our friends with a rather dreamy expression on his face. More specifically, he seemed to be watching their interaction with the little girls.
I looked away nervously. Was Robby ready for children already? We'd never really discussed how long we'd wanted to wait before adding to our family, so for all I knew, he was ready to start a family NOW. I hoped that wasn't the case. The thought of being a parent absolutely terrified me. What if I wasn't ready? What if I majorly messed up and scarred our kid for life? What if I got into it and realized I wasn't interested in taking care of a small doll for the rest of my life?
"Penny for your thoughts," I heard my husband whisper.
"Um..." I hesitated. "I was just noticing how...much you seemed to be enjoying our friends."
Robby looked amused. "Is that any different than usual? I hope to enjoy their company for a long time, especially since we're probably going to be stuck with them for a while." In the dim light I could just make out the wink he sent me at the end of his sentence.
I looked down at my hands nervously. "Robby," I began slowly, "are you...ready for kids?"
He seemed a bit surprised by my question. There was no answer for a while...he seemed to be weighing his words carefully. "I'm ready whenever you're ready," he finally said. "But yes, if you were ready now, I wouldn't be disappointed."
Panic gripped me. Now? I wasn't ready at all!! I mean, babysitting was one thing, but committing to full-time parenthood was another thing completely!
I tried to think of what to say without sounding horribly selfish or shallow. "Oh," was all I got out. A very quiet "oh".
I suddenly felt Robby's arm around my waist. "Belle, calm down."
How had he known I was freaking out? I hadn't even said anything! I guess he knew me better than I thought!
"Just because I'm okay with the thought of kids now doesn't mean you have to be," he continued gently. "I can wait as long as you need me to." He fingered my elbow tenderly. "I guess I just thought you should know that you don't have to wait for me when you're ready."
I nodded, slightly relieved but still reeling from the knowledge that Robby would be perfectly okay being a parent at this stage in our relationship.
My beloved's nose suddenly wrinkled in a comical fashion. "Do you smell anything...different?"
"Different?" I asked him, confused.
"Yeah, it's...fruity...or something."
"Oh," I said, "it must be the candle." I pointed to the big candle sitting right next to him.
"That would be it," he said dryly. "Why on earth is there a candle next to a bunch of plastic dolls? Isn't Beast'sbelle kind of paranoid about that?"
"She said we could use it as long as we didn't burn it," I informed him.
He gave me a hesitant look. "Do you...like...how it smells?"
I hid a smile. "Yes. I take it you don't?"
He made a face. "Not particularly."
"We don't have to use it," I offered.
Robby looked relieved. "Thanks...I'm already getting a headache."
I shook my head. At least I'd been prepared for this before marriage. Robby had never been a fan of overly fragrant things, especially candles and lotion. I stood up and put the candle up on top of the closest white shelf where the smell wouldn't affect him as much.
Once I returned to my spot, we sat and visited with Rapunzel and Eugene and laughed at the babies' antics. I thought back over my "kid" conversation. When I'm ready for kids, I thought to myself, I think I'd prefer to look for someone a little older. At least with a child instead of a baby, you'd have a little more freedom. Still, I'm not ready for that now!
At that moment, a slight movement near the edge of the curio caught my eye. I glanced over and gasped.
There was...a little plastic child standing there, looking a bit nervous.
Who on earth was she, and why had she appeared right after a conversation about kids? It was just a little too uncanny!
To be continued...