Giddy and Gleeful
Snowshoe's job was important. Snowshoe was Princess Samantha's royal guard dog. He was also her royal steed, since Marguerite didn't have a horse toy. Snowshoe was Marguerite's only four legged plush; the plushie being a yellow duck named Miss Buttercup. And, but for Prince Basil, (who was actually a Luke Skywalker action figure stolen from Marguerite's brother) Snowshoe was the only male toy Marguerite owned. This made his job doubly important as if was up to him to protect Princess Samantha and her doll friends from the gross, brutish beings in brother Armand's toy chest.
Marguerite was also allowed to take one toy with her when she went on car trips. And though Princess Samantha was pretty and Marguerite could comb her hair, she usually preferred to take one of her stuffed animals. Sometimes she took Miss Buttercup, but usually she took Snowshoe.
Marguerite favored Snowshoe. She was not allowed to get a dog of her own (Armand had allergies) and Snowshoe was a very well made husky pup; the dark gray fur on his head and back very handsome, his eyes bright blue and his tongue soft and pink. He had a bright red collar that he wore proudly. He was about the size of a cat, and floppy. His head, feet and tail were densely packed with stuffing, and his middle and legs were filled with beads that made him very soft and loose.
Snowshoe's job didn't involve sitting out on the stoop for hours at a time, as the husky had been up to this moment. Earlier, a wet, warm rain had fallen from the sky. It was uncomfortable to the husky, and the moisture threatened to get inside and bunch up his stuffing and make things grow within his fabric. But Snowshoe did not move.
Toys can move and speak on their own, but they rarely do. It is sort of an agreed upon taboo that toys do not reveal themselves as alive. A toy is meant to be a sort of a blank slate to be drawn upon my the mind of their child. Everything about a toy- from it's name to it's gender to its voice- is decided by a child. Why, when Snowshoe was first bought from the store, he had no personality. He didn't even know he was a husky. But now, after Marguerite, he was brave, curious, and funny. Or so Marguerite said. Every thought, personality trait and quirk he had was because of Marguerite. A toy's owner decides every facet of that toy's personality, but a toy's personality can be changed at any time as well. If Marguerite decided one day that Snowshoe was mean and short tempered, then of course Snowshoe would be.
If Marguerite ever found out that Snowshoe was real- that there was a consciousness behind the stuffed dog, it would have messed up the playing experience. Though she would have liked for Snowshoe to be real, she had always known and been comfortable with the status quo that she was really just playing with herself. If she found out Snowshoe had a mind of his own, she would never trust herself to create his personality again, and so Snowshoe would lose the personality he had. There was also the danger of adults finding out that their children's toys were more special than they thought. Toys were meant for children only.
Snowshoe could have saved himself from the rain, but he didn't. Marguerite had put him here for a reason. If he wasn't in the place she expected to find him when she came back, she could become upset. Besides, what harm could a little rain do? The shower passed quickly and the Paris sun came out again.
She had woken with a sort of cough. Marguerite had. She had actually coughed through the night- a breathy bark that bothered Snowshoe and the dolls, though they had not the knowledge to know what it meant. The next day Marguerite's mother put a thermometer under the little girl's tongue, and what she saw when she looked at it told her that her daughter didn't have a fever. So the gave the young girl a white pill from a box with a picture of blue skies of clouds and sent her on her way.
Except that Marguerite didn't get far, and when she got out to the stoop, she was overcome by a coughing fit that made her drop Snowshoe and fall to her knees. Marguerite's parents let out panicked noises while Armand kept asking what was wrong. Marguerite started to turn a weird color, and then her father picked her up and ran with her to the car, and, still making panicked noises, the family drove away, squealing out of the driveway. Snowshoe was left alone.
It was, perhaps, the longest day the husky bean bag had ever experienced. Time simply went slower when he was not with Marguerite. When he was away from her, he felt like a part of himself was missing. Something as important as a tail or a stuffed foot. Usually, he was left in Marguerite's room and the dolls kept him company. They, too, felt the absence from Marguerite, but since they were not played with as often they didn't feel it quite so acutely. The exception was Princess Samantha, who most the attention when Marguerite was home. Snowshoe was jealous of her, but Princess Samantha was also jealous of Snowshoe. So they turned their shared jealousy into a strained friendship.
Every time Snowshoe heard a car come up the lane, he hoped it was Marguerite and her family. Every time her heard feet walking on the sidewalk, and strained to hear if it sounded like Marguerite's or one of her parent's footsteps. He wondered about Marguerite. Why had she left him here, of all places? And why had she turned such a strange color? It was actually pretty frightening, now that he thought of it, especially when he considered the reactions of her parents. Was she ill, or something? Snowshoe hoped she didn't have to go the hospital. Marguerite was afraid of hospitals.
Snowshoe had no way of measuring the time, so he didn't know that it was three hours later when Nico came trotting by. Nico was a real dog- a jack russel terrier to be exact, and on this morning, he was naughty. Having slipped out of the door of his master's second floor flat, Nico had encountered some luck when a couple of movers were hauling a couch in through the front door, propping it open. The small, real dog had only needed to run down the landing steps and under the mens' legs to gain access to the street.
Nico's pursuer, a young man named Mr. Lajoie, was not as small as Nico and could not just run under the mens' legs. The small space of the landing was already quite taken up by men and furniture, andt he front door wasn't going to be accessed. Mr. Lajoie had to run out the back door and cut through two small yards to the street. He spotted his naughty dog on the other side of the road, tail wagging furiously, nose to the sidewalk. He called the dog's name, then made his big mistake: running toward him. Never run toward a naughty dog. Nico thought that this was a great fun game, and ran from his master.
Mr. Lajoie chased Nico several blocks, to the street where Marguerite's parents had their home. The dog had put much distance between himself and his master by this point and was gingerly hopping trotting down the street smelling everything that caught his interest. The toy bean bag got his attention, because it smelled of people, food, and little girl things. He smelled it furiously.
Snowshoe decided to speak. Talking to an animal is perfectly fine. "Hello, real dog. Nice to meet you. Can you tell me about my little girl, and her family? My little girl's name is Marguerite and she's seven has curly blond hair and she and her family left in a blue minivan this morning. Do you know where they are and when they'll be back?"
If the real dog understood Snowshoe, it ignored him. He grabbed the toy- which was almost as big as him- by the back foot and dragged it off the step. It's mouth let out a rumbling noise and it started to throw its head with Snowshoe in it back and forth.
"What are you doing? I might get hurt!" But Snowshoe did not protest any further, because a human was jogging up the lane. Mr. Lajoie trotted up to his dog- apparently all entertained with some kind of stuffed animal.
"Nico, what are you up to?" He grabbed the animal- some kind of bean bag dog- from his jack russel, but the dog did not want to let go. A small tear appeared in the leg of he toy as the dog tugged back. "Let!" Mr. Lajoie commanded and the dog relinquished its grip. He then scooped Nico up before he could run away again. The jack russel reached for his new play thing, but Mr. Lajoie pulled it out of reach. "No way! This thing is garbage. You have good toys at home." He dropped the plushie in a trash bin close by.
Mr. Lajoie held Nico at arm's length "You've been a bad boy. A very bad boy."
Nico licked his face. Mr. Lajoie sighed. "No wonder you get away with hell."
Dog and owner, reunited, left the street, having no more business there. In middle of the trashbin, the toy husky tried to take account of what had just happened. The bin was not a pleasant place to be, filled with all kinds of half eaten foods that would certainly get in his fur. Sandwich crusts, apple cores, napkins, potato chip bags. The walls were sheer and metal, and had some oozy juices stuck to them.
Snowshoe had been very surprised that the real dog had attacked him so fiercely. Marguerite said that real dogs were wonderful and so funny. Snowshoe had not expected them to be so cruel as well. And after that, he had been called garbage. Garbage! He wasn't garbage. Garbage wasn't wanted or needed. Garbage was ugly, and it was in the way. Garbage was sent away to a place where people didn't have to look at it. Snowshoe was a well made husky pup who was brave, curious, and funny. Or so Marguerite said.
Except...he was damaged. He felt the place on leg where the fabric had ripped and, as he recalled, there were even a couple of beads on the ground that had fallen from him. That had never happened to him before. He found the prospect of something that should have been inside of his body on the outside to be very terrifying indeed. He stretched, just a little, to see his torn leg and to verify that he had actually been damaged. The tear hurt.
Did that tear make him garbage? He hoped not. He certainly didn't want to be sent to a place where people didn't have to look at him. All he wanted to do was be with Marguerite again. His beads felt very heavy as fear gripped him. What if Marguerite didn't want him anymore, because he was damaged?
And then he realized: wouldn't it be best to let her decide that? The only person who had actually called him garbage was a stranger- someone who Snowshoe didn't even know and whose opinions he hardly gave any weight to. Marguerite had never called him garbage, and neither had her parents. Certainly she would still love him, despite his damage?
Snowshoe knew one thing: if he wasn't in the place she expected to find him when she came back, she could become upset. Snowshow couldn't let that happen. He had to get out of his bin. He looked about himself, and up the walls. It was a very high jump- a jump a lot higher than he could make without the help of Marguerite's arms. But he had to try. Only his first attempt jumping just made him sink further into the soft surface of balled up napkins, and when he tried jumping again, he just sunk deeper. He tried digging himself with his paws, but these motions just made him sink more. "Help! Quicksand!" He called.
"Kids playing a game..." what was that? A voice? Snowshoe became very still. He nose and eyes were now under the top surface of trash. Now he heard two sets of footsteps. Snowshoe would have to wait until the humans moved on, and then he could resume trying to escape.
The trashbin started to move and jiggle with him in it as it was lifted up by one of the humans! The movement made the heavy toy fall deeper into the light trash- almost to the bottom of the bin. He didn't stay there, however, as the bin was turned almost upside down and its contents spilled out. Snowshoe had no idea what was going on, only that suddenly there was much, much more trash around him!
A few minutes later, the floor underneath him started to rumble and he felt his body being dragged backward. It wasn't unlike the feeling of being in the family car. Again, Snowshoe tried to dig his way out, but this time there was much more trash to fight against- more unsteady land that gave way under just the tiniest bit of pressure, and Snowshoe sunk deeper, and deeper, and deeper. Not to mention, that, every one in a while, he would feel a great squeezing as he was pushed against pieces of trash. He was frightened, and he called out:
"I'm not garbage!"
He could hear voices around him- other toys and knickknacks calling out, but couldn't understand what they were saying through pieces of junk. The truck made frequent stops, but always started up again. And Snowshoe know that, the more the truck moved, the farther away he was carried from the place where Marguerite had left him.
There came a time where the truck hadn't stopped for a long time. It rumbled down a road, then turned around with a loud beeping sound. Then, with jolt, it suddenly tipped. Again, Snowshoe was thrown and tumbled about with the other trash. He fell with a cascade of trash, and another cascade fell on top of him. Just when it seemed there wasn't enough trash in the world to keep falling, it stopped.
The truck drove away.
The pile of trash left to its own devices. Spreading out on all four sides of the pile, an alien environment most toys had never seen the likes of.
“Will Powers, the world’s greatest superhero! For over a decade Will Powers has protected our world, defeating evil organisations and evil nemesis Professor Chaos. With super cool action motions, real army attire and replica weapons, Will Powers really is the world’s greatest action-figure. Want to help save the world with Will Powers, then head on down to your nearest toy store and collect him for just $6.99. Will Powers!”
As the commercial finished showing Will Powers in his cool, trademark pose, Peter looked down at his very own Will Powers action figure. ‘Wow, do they still sell these things?’ he said to himself. Today was the day Peter was due to start University. He pulled the action-figure out of a box full of other child friendly items. Along one side of the box read the words in capital letters, JUNK. Peter stared at his toy, moving its head, arms and legs, putting it in to positions he once did when they were on a mission to save the world some few years ago. As he did this, memories of his childhood come flooding back to him. The memory of his eighth birthday, the day he opened Will Powers from his paper-wrapped box, a present from his parents. It was the best birthday present he ever had. Boy, the missions they went on. Will Powers was not only Peters best toy, but Peter once considered him his best friend. The best friend every little boy could dream of. Will Powers! The action-figure of Will Powers was once a must have toy for all boys. Peter remembered that almost every boy in his school owned a Will Powers action figure, had Will Powers wall paper or posters upon their bedroom walls.
See, Will Powers was cool. In fact he was too cool. With his blonde, well styled hair, handsome face and muscular body, he was every boy’s idol. He wore combative attire, which consisted of a black vest, camouflage pants and black army boots. Powers’ trademark pose consisted of a raised eyebrow whilst keeping a serious facial expression. Peter copied this as he continued to look at the toy. He was surprised it was still in a relatively good condition despite the amount of time he spent playing with it. Peter sat on the end of his bed, the only thing left other than a television and the cardboard box, in his other-wise empty bedroom and studied the doll for several more minutes, reliving past memories. A knock on the door startled him. “Peter, are you ready to go?” said his mother standing at the doorway. Peter gave one last look at his Will Powers toy and smiled. “Yes, I'm ready”. He rose from his bed, placed the action-figure back in the box which he picked up and left the room.
The trunk of Peter’s father’s car was slightly dark and smelly. The box full of items from Peter’s room lay in the trunk, bouncing every once in a while when they hit a hole in the tarmac. The Will Powers figurine lay motionless, looking as serious as ever with one eye brow raised. Then suddenly it burst in to life. “Where are we going? Is Peter taking us to University with him? Oh, think of the adventures we could have! All the climbing, the crawling, the ...” He was interrupted by a rather damaged looking Cyclops figurine. “Oh, shut up Powers. We’re going to the skip, you idiot” ‘How could he say this?’ thought Powers. ‘Peter would never do such a thing. Not to him!’ “Come on, Winky, don’t say that, Peter would never do that to us”. ‘Would he?’ As the journey went on it dawned on him that Peter was no longer the little boy he used to be. He’d grown up. He was going to University. Would be really want to take a toy to University? Nevertheless Powers shrugged this thought out his mind before going back in to his motionless state. The journey lasted around ten minutes before the car came to a stop.
As Powers remained still he could hear the car doors open and shutting before the trunk popped open. Light spread through the trunk and although Powers could see Peter he remained still for this was an important law between all toys over the world. Rule One: Toys must never be seen moving or talking by humans. Peter took the box out of the trunk. It was rather quiet and smelly. It was much smellier than inside the trunk of the car. Peter carried the box a little further before setting it down on the floor. He knelt down next to the box and gave one last glance to the Will Powers figurine. He raised an eyebrow, copying the trademark pose of Will Powers before smiling and walking away. Powers, despite in his motionless state, could see Peter. Powers wanted to do nothing but release himself from this but he knew he couldn’t as he remembered Rule number One. He watched him walk away but still he remained motionless. The sound of a car engine starting up could be heard, so to the crunching of gears. The car then began to move, spitting stones and gravel from under its tyres. A cloud of dust emerging from the back of it as it sped away from the box.
Powers came to life once more a desperate look on his face and scrambled his way to the top of the box, standing on the Cyclops' head as he did so. With just his head appearing out of the box he checked for humans. All he could see was mounting after mounting of garbage and waste. Old clothes, a broken baby's pushchair, and a holey trainer. These were just a few of the things he could see. Nothing was supposed to scare Will Powers, but this place did. With no humans visible he climbed out of the box and with a mighty jump he landed on to the floor below. He ran a yard or two in the same direction Peter’s father’s car was heading, the dust making it nothing but a black shadow. ‘Peter, where are you going?’ thought Powers as he ran. Powers reluctantly gave up. As he stood there, breathing rather heavily, he watched his friend drive off in to the distance. The friend he had so many memories of. Gone. Powers fell to his knees, head bowed, eyes shut. Powers knew he was exactly what no toy ever wanted to be. Unwanted. Discarded.