Katrina sat on the red bench, her shiny Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles lunchbox to her left, and Little Miss Dotty Doo tucked under her right arm. The sun felt nice on her face. She absently swung her feet, which almost (but not quite) touched the ground, back and forth.
She hadn't particularly wanted to go to the movies today – not after what had happened. Instead, she had decided to come to the park. It was such a lovely day, and she knew Little Miss Dotty Doo loved the sunshine.
She had packed herself a lunch: one apple, a juice box, and a granola bar. She'd wanted to make a sandwich, but all the lunch meat had spoiled long ago. It didn't really matter, she supposed. She could enjoy the sunshine even if she didn't have her absolute favorite sandwich in the world, as long as she had Little Miss Dotty Doo with her. As long as she loved Little Miss Dotty Doo, and Miss Dotty Doo loved her, everything was okay.
It wasn't that Katrina didn't notice the looks the kids on the street gave her and her lovely house, because she did. She simply didn't care. They were probably just jealous, because Little Miss Dotty Doo didn't love them. Even when some of the big kids were mean, she knew they were just mad. She could tell because sometimes they tried to take Little Miss Dotty Doo away.
But Little Miss Dotty Doo would not tolerate it. She only loved Katrina, and Katrina loved her. And Miss Doo would not allow anyone to separate them.
So everything was okay.
"Hey, weirdo," came a voice from behind her. A mean voice. A big-kid voice.
Katrina stood and turned. She left her shiny Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles lunchbox on the red bench, but kept Little Miss Dotty Doo tucked under her right arm. It wasn't just a big kid. It was Morgan, the biggest kid of all. The biggest bully in the eighth-grade class. She had her scraped-up arms folded high on her chest and her dirty baseball cap with the brim to the back of her head. Her freckled face was scrunched up it the way it got when she was looking to pick a fight. Katrina thought it made her look like a pig.
"You're supposed to be in school." Katrina shifted her weight from foot to foot and clutched Little Miss Dotty Doo tightly. It always made her uncomfortable when Morgan's face got scrunched up like a pig's. It was kind of scary.
"I got suspended. I hit Peter Charles on the head."
"That's a mean thing to do." Katrina was never sure how to speak with Morgan. She could never tell what the bigger girl with her scraped-up arms would say next.
"No shit, Sherlock." Morgan spat, a great big gross glob. It landed on the red bench, where Katrina had been sitting.
"Please don't curse," Katrina shifted her weight. "Little Miss Dotty Doo doesn't like it when you curse."
"Your doll can't think, dummy." Morgan spat again. This time, it landed on Katrina's shiny Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles lunchbox. "It's made of plastic. Sorry-not."
"Little Miss Dotty Doo can think," Katrina insisted. "She loves me."
"Jesus, why do you have to be so weird?" Morgan scratched her scraped-up left forearm. Her face scrunched up even more. "Living all alone in that creepy house and not even coming to school, like, ever, and sitting there in that mothy dress while it's hot out, it's weird. No wonder nobody likes you. It's cause you always have that fucking doll, you little psycho."
"Little Miss Dotty Doo loves me. And I love her, too. I don't need more friends. I don't want none."
"You are insane. I saw what you did to Lenny. Man, I don't know what it was but you're a psycho, and everyone knows it. Everyone knows about Lenny, and no one is ever going to be your friend. How do you like that Miss Mothy-Dress?"
Then, Katrina heard a whisper. Little Miss Dotty Doo spoke to her, and told her what to say.
"If I'm so crazy dangerous, you probably shouldn't be talking to me." Katrina's voice was strong and clear, the way it only got when Little Miss Dotty Doo was helping her. "I might make you disappear, too. If you had any brains, you would have realized that by now, Morgan." And she smiled sweetly.
Morgan stood for a moment, stunned. The gears turned in her head, processing Katrina's words. Then, her face scrunched up the tightest Katrina had ever seen it. She rounded the red bench, stomping her booted feet, her hands clenching and unclenching as her breathing grew heavier.
"Give me that, you little BITCH!" Morgan roared, and she tackled the smaller girl to the ground. Katrina held onto Little Miss Dotty Doo as tightly as she could, but of course Morgan was stronger. Little Miss Doo left Katrina's hands and she felt the cloud begin to creep up behind her eyes. The emptiness began filling her, starting in her toes as Morgan began to run, holding Little Miss Dotty Doo under her arm like a football. It grew stronger and stronger as Miss Doo moved farther and farther from her.
But she knew everything would be okay. Little Miss Dotty Doo loved her, and she loved Miss Dotty Doo. She knew Miss Doo had a plan. They only had to be apart for five minutes. Little Miss Dotty Doo would protect herself, like she always did.
Then they would have a new friend.
Katrina huddled her feet underneath her as Morgan crossed the empty street and entered an alley, leaving her line of sight. She rocked back and forth as she waited. The emptiness filled her up but she resisted crying. She had to be strong for Miss Doo.
Then, there came a scream from the alley. Katrina checked quickly to make sure no one else had heard it and would investigate, but the street and the park were deserted.
Katrina stood, retrieving her shiny Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles lunchbox from the red bench. She walked quickly across the street and into the alley, feeling the emptiness draining from her as she went.
Close to the other end of the alley, she found them. Little Miss Dotty Doo lay flat on the pavement. Next to her sat a beautiful porcelain cup and saucer. They were white with blue patterned designs around the edges.
"Miss Dotty Doo, it's beautiful!" She picked Miss Doo up and cradled her in her right elbow, then retrieved the cup and saucer with her left hand. "We have a new friend. Let's go home."
They would never be separated. Katrina had all the friends she needed at home.
And she loved Little Miss Dotty Doo, and Miss Dotty Doo loved her.