by Julie Carpenter
Camping with Barbie and Ken
The following story is based on actual events
He must have trembled from his vantage point in the shoe box under the bed
When he saw them packing the plastic motor home with sleeping bags made from old washcloths and toilet paper.
Maybe the first time he thought it would be fun.
He probably didn’t understand when three of the Barbies were plucked out of the box before the trip by the small hands.
Nurse, Doctor, Reporter said the owners of the small hands.
He must have been puzzled but maybe not afraid.
The manipulations of the small hands were the substance of his life.
But after that time?
The motor home surely smelled like fear.
He was never chosen as Nurse, Doctor, Reporter – he drove.
Skipper was always a passenger too – always.
Sometimes Midge and Theresa went, sometimes they stayed.
Sometimes along with Ballerina Barbie they were chosen to be Nurse, Doctor, Reporter.
Cut up Malibu Barbie was always a passenger as well.
She had no expectations – maybe the fear had dried up in her.
Her breasts and hair had been hacked away in the hopes of making her a boy.
She would die. She always did.
The small hands were sometimes kind to Skipper.
Some days she lived. Some she died.
Ken never died. No he was never allowed the peace of death.
Unlike the Barbie who had been buried and forgotten, he was forced to carry on.
Every time he was the witness.
Sometimes after the small hands had plunged the motor home off the side of the ditch,
He found himself crawling with a broken leg trying to drag Skipper to safety
He’d given up on cut up Barbie – she was always dead.
Sometimes the small hands pushed the camper down the steep hill
Bouncing, careening towards the inevitable stump or tree
Ken’s hands were never on the wheel
Reporter Barbie showed up to take pictures
And Ken watched her dispassionately taking notes
She was glad to be on the sidelines this time – no room for compassion.
Then to the hospital – cut up Barbie always DOA
Covered with a horrifying tomato blood
If the small hands could steal it.
The others were in various stages of death, twisted up.
Once Midge was decapitated.
Ken crawled out to find her head staring at him, next to one lime green shoe.
Back in the dark box there was nothing to do
But wait to pay again for sins he’d never committed
The small hands would come again tomorrow.