Snapshots from Eldredge

The life and writings of TJ Alexian

A Damsel in Distress

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“The best place to find a helping hand is at the end of your arm.” Swedish proverb

Today was such a beautiful one in the city of Eldredge that Corb and I decided to set aside working on the office project and instead focus some much-needed attention on doing yard work around Green Victoria. Between the work on the Chandelier Shack and the New Office, our exterior hasn’t gotten the love it deserves this year.

I was assigned to wind machine duty for the first half of the day. It’s actually a leaf blower, but I think calling it a wind machine makes it sound more interesting, don’t you? And as I was in the midst of pummeling the leaves and needles underneath one of our dogwood trees into submission, I happened to look up at the old decaying house next door and stopped, dead in my tracks.

“Hey, Corb. Look at that.”

There, hanging out from one of the windows. A doll that had clearly seen better days, sitting on the window’s ledge, her legs delicately swinging to the left in a ladylike way. She was wearing a pink dress. Her hair was swept up to highlight the delicate features of her face, especially the smears of dirt around her forehead and cheeks. Just relaxing, clearly, and taking in the view from the second floor.  

The house she was perched in has been abandoned for about two years, although it had fallen into decay many years before that. The roof is caved in and the wood is rotted, but the previous owner had allowed his son, something of a recluse, to live there for years. About a year ago, son was kicked out and two inept developers (father and son) bought the property. Their goal has never been to restore the property to its former glory, although at one point it was probably quite beautiful. The place has been around since the mid-1800s, and may have once served as an inn. Instead, they want to tear it down and build two single family dwellings on the property in its place. The march of progress, right? 

Anyway, since the developers haven’t yet gotten around to leveling the place, they apparently lent out the joint to the local fire fighters. We found that out second-hand, about a week ago, when we noticed a lot of fire trucks hanging around, taking up space in our front lawn. Since the developers hate us (maybe because we call them inept), we called up the fire department to find out what’s what. Turns out the old place is being used to conduct training exercises

One of the firemen must have placed the doll on the windowsill, as a joke. 

But still, the doll must have been there, all these years. It looks pretty old. I doubt the firemen brought it for their exercises. Or maybe they did, to practice rescuing damsels in distress? Nah. It must have been hiding in a corner and gathering dust, all this time.  

I have decided to call her Virginia Creeper. Virginia because she has kind of a Southern charm. Creeper because she’s kind of…well, aren’t all old dolls kind of creepy?

Frankly, I think it’s kind of nice that Virginia is getting some final moments in the sun. She must have been laying around in that old house for quite awhile, forgotten and abandoned. I’m sure whoever owned her and loved her originally reached adulthood many decades ago. 

But here she is now, boys. Virginia Creeper lives again. Camped out in this windowless window, surveying the territory for all to see. Reliving those glory days.

I hope the firefighters keep her perched up there. I very much like the idea of basking in the glow of her Southern comfort for a while longer. Looking down upon us, feeling the excitement of the firetrucks and the fire drills, and the hustle and bustle of the house construction going on around her. 

I don’t think Virginia needs to know her house is going to come tumbling down. Let her enjoy the view she’s been blessed with, instead. Let her enjoy the dizzying heights, and who knows, maybe some kind firefighter will sweep her off her feet and take her away with him when all these training exercises are all over. There. There’s the happy ending I want for Virginia Creeper. That. 

In the meantime, Virginia, I look forward to having you keep a close eye on us in the days ahead. You’ve got a fan in me, doll.   

–May 9, 2021

Author: TJ Alexian

T.J. Alexian lives in Attleboro, Massachusetts in a renovated green Victorian, along with seven ghosts and his long-time (and long-suffering) partner. He also has three kids and one spiritual kid, and their stories and their spirit form the heart and soul of his novel, Pictures of You. A profiled author in the Writer's Digest book Writer with a Day Job and an award-winning communications specialist, Pictures of You is Alexian's first novel, although he has two more being prepared for distribution: The Late Night Show and Confessions of a Diva Rotundo. Pictures of You is a young adult thriller that combines Alexian's love for social media with the macabre. A ghost story for the dispossessed, the novel tells the story of a young girl haunted by events in her past that never seem to die. But more than that, the novel is about being heard, about giving voice to voices that don't fit the norm. Some that lack the courage...and some, that hide in the shadows.

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