Mama? Mama, can’t you hear me? Please…

She stops, just for a moment, and I think she has heard me, that she’ll pick me up and help me, but after a moment she just mops her cheeks with her little black-bordered handkerchief and goes on packing my books and my watercolour box into the boxes.

Celia was my doll, not inherited from my sister Anne but made for me, with shearings from my own head for her hair. I haven’t played with her as much for a while – getting too old, I suppose – but when the scarlet fever came I wanted her like nothing else. I remember her cool porcelain face pressed against mine as I grew hotter and hotter, weaker and weaker. It’s the last thing I recall before…

…waking up as I am, cool and stiff, tiny, and completely unable to move. The nurse was setting me down on the nightstand, as Mama wept and wept by the bed…

No! Mama, please! You can’t pack me away in that box! Mama, you have to hear me! I’m not dead, Mama, I’m right here! Mama! Please!

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